The Best Way to Get Old Grout Out From Tile

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If your tile wall or floor looks worn and stained, the grout may need replacement, rather than the tiles themselves. Good tile can last forever, but the grout---the mortar in the spaces between the tiles---tends to stain, corrode and crumble after years of use. Regrouting can give the tile a whole new look, but you can't do that until you've removed the old grout. Getting it all out without damaging the tile itself presents the main challenge.

Grout Saw

  • If the grout has become soft and crumbly and has already started to come out of the lines, use a grout saw---the cheapest and easiest method, and the least likely to damage the tiles. This simple handheld tool consists of a handle topped with a square blade. You work the blade firmly and patiently along the surface of the grout to gradually break it up and dig it out.

Chiseling

  • For relatively solid grout with some cracking in it, you can use a small chisel (or sharp screwdriver) and hammer in conjunction with the grout saw. Use it for the portions of the grout that refuse to come up easily with the grout saw. Tap the chisel very gently to prevent chipping the tiles. Always chisel away from the solid part of the grout toward the part that's already out---not toward the solid part, which can break the edges of the tiles.

Carbide Grinder

  • For hard, well-set grout that's not crumbling at all and does not respond to a grout saw or chisel, consider a grinder---a small hand-held tool that features a spinning disc that has all kinds of purposes, including grout removal. Get a carbide disc attachment made for grout removal. Start the disc spinning, then slowly lower its edge into the grout line. Go slowly and lightly, letting the disc do the work. Stop and vacuum out the debris, dusting as necessary.

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