Grout is a cementitious building material that is used to fill gaps between tiles. It can be either sanded or unsanded, depending on the width of the gap. Grout provides a watertight seal and adds a finished appearance to the job. Occasionally you may need to replace a tile, which means you will have to remove the surrounding grout. You can do this with either a hand tool or a power tool with a specially designed drill bit.
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If you have to drill into a damaged ceramic tile in order to remove it, consider using a masonry bit. First scrape away the surrounding grout with a grout saw. Attach a 3/16-inch masonry bit to a power drill and drill six to nine holes in a series directly into the tile. Use a hammer and masonry chisel to carefully chisel out the old tile.
Roto-Zip Tool and Bits
You can remove grout with a Roto-zip tool fitted with a specially designed grout removal bit. Roto-zip grout removal bits come in different sizes, including 1/8-inch and 1/4-inch bits, to handle wide or narrow grout lines. These bits are diamond-tipped.
Rotary Tool Bits
Grout removal kits are available for rotary tools, such as a Dremel. These kits typically acommodate either corded or cordless rotary tools and include grout removal bits and guides. The tool guides allow you to adjust the depth of the cut while keeping the cutting angle uniform. Guides also help keep the bit in the center of the grout line to prevent damage to the adjoining tiles.
Bits that are designed for a Roto-zip or rotary tools are not designed for and should not be used with a standard power drill. If you do not have access to one of these tools, it is still possible to remove the grout around your tiles with basic hand tools. Position a thin chisel or flat head screwdriver on the grout at a 45-degree angle and tap it lightly with a hammer. This method can be tedious and time-consuming; but if you are careful, you can remove the old grout without chipping the surrounding tiles.