Tiled walls and floors are designed to withstand staining, cracking and chipping and can usually survive years of abuse. Tiles are generally glued in place, then sealed with a cement-like substance called grout. Grout can become dirty or crumble, especially if it was improperly mixed. If your tiles look as good as new but the surrounding grout is showing signs of wear, it's time to think about regrouting. You'll need to remove the old grout by grinding or chiseling it away and then apply a freshly mixed batch of grout in the space you clean out.
Things You'll Need
- Hand-held grinder or chisel
- Scoring tool
- Safety goggles
- Large plastic bucket or paint pan
- Putty knife
- Grout mix
- Rubber grout float
Choose the tools you'll be using to scrape out the old grout. An electric grinder requires the least arm strength, but if you don't have one a carbide-tipped scraping tool, a small chisel or a flat-head screwdriver and a hammer will get the job done.
Attach the grout removal attachment to your grinder and position it in the center of the grout line. Move it slowly back and forth over one small section at a time, stopping when you see the unglazed edge of the tile. If you are using hand tools, begin by positioning the sharp end of the scraper tool in the center of the grout line. Angle it slightly towards your body, then pull the tool across the surface of the grout. Apply slight pressure to scrape out grout.
Chisel away any stubborn pieces of grout that remain--you can also use a flat-head screwdriver for this operation. Position the sharp end of the chisel or screwdriver against the grout, then use one hand to hold the tool in place at a slight angle. Hold the hammer in your other hand, then tap gently on the tool to chisel away any remaining sections of grout. Take care not to scrape your tile.
Continue scraping or grinding until all grout is removed. Sweep and mop thoroughly to remove all dust and debris from the tiled area, especially the spaces in between your tiles. Use a wet-dry vacuum to suction these out, if possible. Ensure they are clean and ready for regrouting.
Mix your grout in a container according to the manufacturer's instructions. There are many different grout types, but most come in a powder form and must be mixed with water. Add the recommended amount of water and stir with a wooden paint stir stick or a putty knife. The consistency should be thick and smooth, and will stick to your mixing utensil. If it appears runny, add more powdered grout in small amounts, remix and check it again.
Fill a small bucket with water and place it nearby. Keep this handy as you apply the grout to the tiles. Scoop or pour out enough grout to cover a two- to three-foot section of tiles. Hold your float at approximately a 45-degree angle to the tiled surface, then sweep it over the area to spread out the grout and push it into the joints. Continue moving the float in a back-and-forth motion until the grout has filled the joints completely. Move on to the next section once all voids are filled, keeping an eye on the clock. Return to this area in about 20 minutes.
Dip a sponge in your bucket and wring out the excess water. After 15 to 20 minutes, the grout should be set and not feel sticky--if it does, wait a few more minutes. Wipe up all the excess grout from the tiles once it is set, moving lightly over the joints you have filled.
Apply additional grout in small sections that you can complete with in 15 minutes or less, then wipe them clean. Allow the entire area to cure for 24 hours--do not walk on freshly grouted floors during this time.
Tips & Warnings
- Since grout begins to harden in 30 minutes or less, avoid mixing a large amount at one time. Instead, mix up enough to use in about half an hour, use it up then mix another batch.
- Protect your eyes by wearing safety goggles when removing old grout.
- Photo Credit tile installation image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com
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