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Repairing and Replacing Tile Grout

Is the grout in your new home cracked, stained, or crumbling? Getting rid of dingy, damaged grout makes your bathroom or kitchen look brand new.

Fixing grout is an inexpensive home repair - and the results can be stunning. Depending on the amount of grout that needs repair, it may take a bit of time but the result will be worth it.

Match Grout

When matching grout, you need to think about matching not just grout color but grout type. Get a sample chart from Lowe's and find the closest color match. Keep in mind that dry grout powder is the best representation of its true color. Once it's wet, the grout will appear darker.

If you can't find an exact color match, you can adjust the color by adding more or less water when mixing your grout. More water lightens grout, and less water darkens.

After matching the color, select the right type of grout for your project. Grout is available in four types: sanded, unsanded, acrylic latex, or epoxy. Choose the correct type of grout based on the width of your tile joints and where the repair is being done.

  • If the space is larger than 1/8", use a sanded grout.
  • If the width is 1/8" or smaller, use an unsanded, acrylic latex or epoxy grout.
  • If you have marble tiles, use unsanded or acrylic latex grout.
  • If you're replacing a countertop's grout, use a grout that is mildew and stain resistant.

Remove, Repair and Replace Grout

Now you're ready for repairs. Follow the steps below to remove and repair your grout.

  1. Clean the broken grout area with a one-to-one vinegar and water mixture.
  2. Use a grout saw to remove all loose or damaged grout. Be careful not to chip the tile. Note: Always wear eye protection when removing old grout.
  3. Mix grout according to the manufacturer's directions. Note: Some products must stand for 10-15 minutes before spreading.
  4. Dampen the joints with water. Use a paper towel to absorb any water that puddles in the grooves.
  5. Use a grout float to spread the grout, filling the joints completely.
  6. Smooth the joint surface with a rounded stick.
  7. Remove the excess grout with a squeegee or slightly damp grout sponge. Rinse the squeegee or sponge periodically. Wipe the area once.
  8. Allow grout to set firmly.
  9. Clean the tile with a damp rag.
  10. Allow the area to dry until a cloudy haze appears on the tile.
  11. Polish the tile with a dry towel to remove the haze.

Seal Grout

In a bathroom, where the tile will be subjected to water, you'll want to seal the grout. Sealing grout improves its lifespan, makes it easer to clean, and can help prevent mold or mildew.

Typically, you must wait 7-10 days for grout to cure before sealing (check the manufacturer's instructions). There are two types of grout sealers:

  • Topical sealers offer a wet look.
  • Penetrating sealers have a natural look, protecting the grout without changing its look or texture.

Generally, there are two accepted methods for sealing grout:

  • Apply sealer to the grout joints, and polish off any excess on the tiles.
  • Apply sealer to the entire area - grout and tile - and then polish excess sealer off all tiled surfaces.

Important Note: When working with a tile sealer, be sure the area is well ventilated.

Don't let worn, discolored or cracked grout spoil the thrill of moving into your new home. Repairing your grout is a smart home repair that really makes a difference.

Check out other repairs and improvements your new home may need.

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