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How to Regrout Shower Tile

Why does tile in your shower look so dull? There are no visible stains, chips or scratches, but something is definitely wrong with it. Oh, the grout! It looks awful! It changed its color because of ingrained dirt, it is affected by mildew stains and there are also multiple holes in the seams where the grout pieces fell out. And what should you do with this? To re-tile the entire installation? Why, you’d better learn about how to regrout shower tile!

old bathroom grout

Actually, you might want to regrout your tile for several reasons. The first one is your desire to replace grout that looks worn-out and thus to refresh your tile project. Another reason is to change the design completely by changing the grout color – using different shades of grout you can achieve different effects, from neutral backgrounds to bold focal points. Whichever reason is yours, you need to learn how to regrout tile and you will be pleased to find out that it is much easier than you could expect. So, let’s get to work!

Tools Required

  • For your protection – safety glasses, dust mask and work gloves
  • For protecting the premise – plastic film or cloth
  • For grout removal – acid remover, scraping tool (choose from a rotary tool, drill, grout scraper, flat-head screwdriver or utility knife), vacuum cleaner, water, soap, sponge, primer, brush
  • For grouting – dry grout (if you don’t know how to choose grout, read this helpful article), water, bucket, pointing trowel or grout float, sponge, haze remover, dry cloth, grout sealer

How to Scratch Off Old Grout

At this stage you need to remove old grout and, frankly speaking, this is the hardest part of the whole project. No, you cannot skip the preparation stage by putting new grout over the old one, since your worn-out grout is likely to lose its initial properties over time. So, hold your breath and start removing the grout.

scratch off old grout

Since old grout is difficult to scrape off working only by hands, it is smart to use an appropriate power tool like a cordless drill, a rotary tool equipped with a fine-tooth blade for careful cutting or even a special grout removal attachment if you happen to have one. If you have none of them and the purchase is not on your list, then use a usual grout scraper. Don’t have it either? Then do read this review of the best grout removal tools to get properly equipped.

Also, there are some removers available on the market, which are specific for silicon sealants, mortar stains, etc. You can use them for the preparative treatment of grout joints in order to soften old grout and to facilitate its removal. However, you need to know which type of grout and seal was used in your tile project and choose an appropriate solution.

If you have all the tools on hand, then follow the step-by-step guide:

  • Apply a remover on the old grout and let it work according to the instruction. Make sure to follow the warnings, since some acid removers can damage the glaze of your tile. If you don’t have any remover, you can use water to soften the grout and avoid excessive dust during removal.
  • Use an available tool to remove the grout. Be especially careful with rotating tools, as you can damage your tiles, when forcing the tool into the joints. At the beginning of the process, hold it horizontally, and then slightly tilt the blade at a narrow angle to remove more grout.
  • When most grout is removed from the joint, work with your grout scraper to scratch it off completely. Also, you can use a screwdriver or even utility knife with dull blade instead of grout scraper.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner (preferably an industrial version) to clean the joints from dust and debris.
  • Wash the seams with strong soap solution using a sponge or an old toothbrush, rinse with clean water and let them dry completely.
  • When the joints are dry, apply primer with a thin brush to improve the adhesion of new grout. While waiting for it to work according to the instruction, move to the main stage.

How to Regrout Bathroom Tile

This stage starts with preparing your grout for use – mix dry mortar and water in a bucket. Follow the instructions of its manufacturer, since some details can vary depending on the type, but make sure that the mortar is rather thin, as thicker grout dries faster and you can fail to spread it evenly. Also, don’t mix too much mortar and prepare it just before applying.

grout preparation

As for your grouting tool, it is better to choose a grout float made of soft rubber or plastic, since it is more flexible and allows grouting without a risk of damaging tiles. However, you can also use your usual metal pointing trowel for applying mortar.

  • Take a small portion of your mortar with a grout float and put it in joints, trying to fill them completely without leaving any gaps.
  • Spread the grout evenly with the float, while removing its residues with the float edge. Move diagonally to achieve a better effect. Check that you put enough grout so that the joints are flush with the tile surface. Add some grout to fill gaps, if any.
  • When all your grout is applied, carefully remove its stains from the tile surface with a moistened sponge, but do not touch the seams. Let them dry prior to general cleaning (about 20 minutes).
  • When the mortar dries out a little, but prior to its complete drying, wash both tiles and joints with the wetted sponge. Don’t press too hard and don’t apply too much water – this can get the mortar out of the joints.
  • Let the grout dry completely. It can take up to 48 hours depending on the grout type, but in most cases manufacturers specify 24 hours for drying.
  • When the grout is dry, wipe your tile again with a special haze remover or water. Leave it dry again.
  • Apply grout sealer to protect your renovated joints from water, oil, acid-based and other contaminants.

Ta da! The job is done and you can enjoy the fresh look of your old tile! You can apply the knowledge obtained to any tile project, including flooring. To learn more about how to regrouting tiles, watch this video. Good luck with your DIY tile projects!