How to Remove Grout

How to Remove Grout. Over time, grout in ceramic or porcelain tile surfaces can start to look pretty messy and dirty, even though the tiles themselves continue to look just fine. You'll be happy to know that getting rid of that old ugly grout doesn't mean you have to get rid of your expensive tiles as well. There are actually a couple of ways to remove grout, the tried and true old hand powered way or the new power tool way (that could end up damaging your tiles if you aren't careful).

Things You'll Need

  • Grout saw
  • Lots of patience
  • Rotary tool and carbide bits
  • Eye protection
  • Masking tape
  • Grout scraper
  • Scraper with teardrop bit
  • Dust mask

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Getting Ready to Remove Grout

Cover the floor, tub or surface below the tiles with a drop cloth to protect it from damage.

Protect the edges of the tiles beside the grout lines with masking tape to help guard them from accidental nicks.

Wear eye protection and a dust mask.

Removing Grout

Consider using hand tools such as a carbide tipped grout saw and a carbide tipped grout scraper available from a tile store or home center. The saw has a blade about a one and a half inches long mounted on what looks like a bent screwdriver. The grout scraper looks like a screwdriver with a triangular head on it. Both are less than $10 and readily available from home centers or tile stores.

Consider using power tools as an option, like a rotary tool with carbide bits sized to fit the width of your grout lines. In addition, there are special attachments for rotary tools specifically designed for grout removal, but these cost in the area of $100 and only fit certain rotary tools.

Start by cutting a groove in the old grout with the grout saw or the rotary tool. If the grout is porous it will only take a few passes to cut a groove. However, if the grout is hard you'll have to work harder to make that initial groove. Apply firm even pressure to cut a smooth groove.

Expand the groove with the grout scrapper. The scraper literally pulls the grout out of the groove.

Alternatively, use a hammer and chisel to expand the groove by tapping the chisel gently with the hammer.

Chisel towards the open space in the grout so you don't damage any of the tiles once you've removed some of the grout.

Continue the process, cutting grooves, expanding them and using a combination of tools to get most of the grout out.

Use a scraper with a teardrop end on it to remove the last of the grout.

Clean the newly opened grout lines well so the new grout will adhere.

Tips & Warnings

  • Work carefully as the tools that you are using to remove grout (particularly the power tools) will also damage tiles or a bathtub. Removing grout is a long, trying process.
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