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Whether you’re tearing out an entire tiled surface to install something new, or you just want to replace old, dingy, and chipped grout while leaving the existing tiles in place, the first step is scraping away the existing grout. But removing this mixture of concrete, sand, water, and sometimes colorant is an admittedly tedious and dusty task.
Before continuing, it’s important to note that grout and mortar are not the same, although this is a common misconception. Grout is the substance used to fill the gaps between tiles, while mortar is the adhesive that fixes tile in place from underneath. Grout removal tools are designed for that purpose only; these are not tools to remove the tile itself or chip through mortar.
There are a variety of tools designed to remove grout, some powered by electricity, and some by your own muscle exertion. Power grout removers are undoubtedly faster and easier, but hand tools are sufficient when the job is small or your budget is tight.
We researched the top grout removal tools on today’s market, and then whittled the options down to the best for various purposes.
Here are the best grout removal tools for your next project.
Best Overall: Dremel MM500 1/8-Inch Blade
Quickly and effectively removes even tough grout
Won't damage nearby tiles
Can maneuver right up to a corner or wall
You need to already own or buy a Dremel Multi-Max
Many DIYers and crafts-enthusiasts already have a Dremel Multi-Max, which is a small oscillating power tool designed to hold a wide variety of different types of attachments for cutting, grinding, sanding, and various other workshop needs. One such attachment is the Dremel MM500 1/8-Inch Grout Blade.
Specifically designed to grind through and remove grout, this carbide blade attachment takes our top spot thanks to its high-speed capabilities. Its extremely rapid oscillations–tiny side-to-side motions–quickly cut into grout lines between tiles to remove the grout right up to the wall or corner, and it does so neatly, and without much effort from you. That means a lot less stress on your hands, wrists, and arms.
At just 1/8-inch thick, the Dremel MM500 removes grout without damaging the tile–an important factor when you just want to replace the grout, not the tile. Note that an oscillating blade like this one works best for long lines of grout where you can move quickly along a continuous line, rather than surfaces with a lot of zigs and zags between tiles.
Best Budget: M-D Building Products 49066 Heavy Duty Tile Grout Saw
Sufficient for small grout removal tasks
Easily reaches into corners or tight spots
Can remove one blade for thin grout lines
Few complaints that the tool left black scuff marks on surrounding tiles
This isn’t the right choice for large projects, but if you are watching your budget, and just want to scrape away the grout from between a few broken tiles slated for replacement or remove chipped grout from a small counter or wall before regrouting the space, the M-D Building Products Heavy-Duty Grout Saw gets the job done, albeit with some effort on your part.
With a double blade, the tool acts something like a reciprocating saw, only powered with your own muscle instead of electricity. Basically, you saw back and forth through the grout until it’s all removed. The tool’s rubber-contoured handle has an ergonomic shape for comfortable holding, and is long enough so that you can grasp it in both hands for a little extra oomph.
The double steel blades include one with deep serrations and one with carbide bits for extra effectiveness. Use both blades in tandem for most projects, but if working with very thin grout lines, you can remove the serrated blade to thin the tool down.
Best Electric: Regrout Tool Electric Grout Removal Tool
Gets the job done effectively
Doesn't create a lot of dust
Won't damage nearby tiles
There's a bit of a learning curve in getting the hang of the tool
If you don’t already own or want to buy a reciprocating saw or oscillating tool, but still prefer a grout remover driven by electricity rather than your own muscle power, then the Regrout Tool Electric Grout Remover is worth considering, especially since it’s reasonably priced.
This single-purpose electric grout remover includes two grout bits–one point and one chisel–for use in grout lines up to 1/8-inch thick. With a maximum speed of 7,100 rpm, as well as two lower-speed settings for detail work, you’ll get the job done quickly and without breaking a sweat.
But where the Regrout Tool really shines is in working around oddly shaped tiles–even round tiles–corners, counter caps, or other spots where a larger attachment wouldn’t easily fit or maneuver. Plus, the electric device creates very little grout dust, which is a big plus when working in a bathroom or other low-ventilation area. Use it for removing grout on kitchen counters, backsplashes, vanities, and bathtubs.
Best for Tight Spaces: Dremel MM502 1/16-Inch Grout Removal Blade
One of the few options for very thin grout lines
Effective and quick performance, even on tough grout
Doesn't create too much dust
Only works with the Dremel Multi-Max, unless you use a special adapter
Difficult to get into tight corners
Another attachment for the Dremel Multi-Max, this oscillating blade is a mere 1/16-inch thick, meaning you can use it to break through and grind away grout from even the tightest spaces. With the Multi Max’s extremely high speeds–up to 21,000 orbits per minute–the MM502 Grout Removal Blade makes quick work of removing grout, and it does so without hand strain or pain, and without producing a big cloud of grout dust, although, as with all grout removal tools, you should wear a dust mask and protective eyewear while using it.
This ultra-thin blade is especially good for removing grout when you don’t want to damage the tile. That can be an issue with many grout removal tools, especially when working in tight spaces. Use the attachment to remove grout on countertops, walls, or floors–wherever you need grout gone, the attachment will remove it right up to the wall or corner, meaning no sloppy edges you’ll need to remove by hand.
Best for Small Walls: Tile Grout Cleaning Grout Removal Hand Tool
Good for small vertical surfaces
Won't scratch or damage nearby tiles
Attached brush for whisking away grout dust
Only for small jobs
If you just want to remove some grungy grout from your shower stall, and are willing to put in a little elbow grease, there’s no need to break out a power tool. Instead, reach for the Tile Grout Cleaning Hand Tool, which is easy to use while working on a vertical surface.
The tool is basically a small steel saw assembly–you get two blades–mounted on a sturdy plastic handle that’s angled so you can hold it comfortably and work without bumping your knuckles against the wall. But what makes it really handy is the attached brush at the opposite end from the blade. That makes it easy to brush away accumulated grout dust while you work; too much dust makes it hard to see the often-tight line of the grout underneath.
The Tile Grout Cleaning Hand Tool measures 8.26 x 3.34 x 0.75 inches, so even large hands should easily be able to hold it comfortably.
Best for Small Counters: QEP 10020 Grout Removal Tool
Each of the three tips is a different size for various thicknesses of grout lines
Only for small jobs
Best for thick grout lines
While this isn’t the tool for major projects, such as removing all the grout from a large counter in preparation for laying new tile, it’s perfect when you just want to scrape away some old grout around a few tiles, or even remove all the grout on a small counter.
Although admittedly your arms and hands are going to get a workout, the QEP Grout Removal Tool’s rubber grip, with its comfortable, ergonomic design, helps to reduce hand fatigue as much as possible. But it’s the business end of the tool that gets the job done quite effectively.
The triangular carbide steel blade tip is held in place with a screw, which is easily removed so you can rotate the tip to whichever of the three sides best suits the grout-line you’re working on; each side is a slightly different size, including 1/16-inch, 1/8-inch, and 3/16-inch, so you can tackle just about any situation.
Best for Reciprocating Saw: Spyder Grout-Out Multi-Blade Set 100234
Works with any reciprocating saw
Doesn't create a lot of dust
Effective even on tough grout
If not handled carefully, will scratch nearby tile
Best for thicker grout lines
Here’s one more power-tool attachment to simplify your larger grout-removal projects. The Spyder Grout-Out Multi-Blade is a single-edge cutting attachment that works with any reciprocating saw. Unlike oscillating tools, reciprocating saws work in a back-and-forth motion, providing heavy-duty power to muscle through even large areas of tough grout.
The sawing motion of the blade makes it a little easier to use than an oscillating tool when removing grout from tiles that aren’t rectangular or square. Plus, as a general rule, reciprocating blades produce much less dust than most other types of grout-removing tools.
The attachment includes two blades: one 1/16-inch blade and one 3/16-inch blade. Both are made from carbon steel with a carbide grit edge for maximum ability to chew through even tough epoxy or urethane grout.
If you want to remove grout quickly and easily, and you already own or plan to buy a Dremel Multi-Max oscillating tool, you’ll appreciate the way the Dremel MM500 1/8-Inch Grout Blade (view at Amazon) muscles through grout without damaging nearby tiles and without leaving ragged edges. If you’re only tackling a small area of grout, however, and don’t want to bother with power tools, the QEP Grout Removal Tool (view at Walmart) effectively chisels away old grout and has a comfortable ergonomic grip to reduce strain on your hands as much as possible.
If you are not just replacing grout, but are also laying a new tile surface, heed the advice of Thomas Hawkins, handyman, master electrician, and owner of Electrician Apprentice HQ, who recommends, "For DIY tiling, get a whisk attachment for your corded or cordless drill so you can properly mix your grout and mortar, be sure to seal your tile when your project is complete, and use a mortar that is self-leveling so you're starting off with a completely flat surface before you set the first piece of tile.”
Grout Removal Tool Options
There are a wide variety of tools used to remove grout. The right one for you depends on the size of your job, the amount of time and energy you want to spend, and whether or not you already have suitable power tools on hand. The type of grout is also important; any of the following tools can handle regular unsanded grout, but sanded or epoxy-based grouts are much harder and require equally strong removal tools.
It’s not the fastest option, but an oscillating tool with the appropriate grout-busting blade is a very effective way to tackle grout removal, even sanded or epoxy-based grout. It’s also not as dusty as some of the other methods, which is a big plus as grout removal tends to produce quite a cloud of fine dust that settles everywhere in the area around your worksite.
A reciprocating saw with a grout-removal attachment is one of the best ways to attack very tough grout, including sanded or epoxy-based grout. These powerful tools get the job done quickly and without creating too much dust, but you’ll need to work carefully to avoid damaging surrounding tile.
If you just have a small counter or wall to de-grout, a rotary tool with the appropriate attachment will get the job done, albeit much more slowly than a oscillating tool or reciprocating saw. It will also create quite a bit more dust than either of those options. Still, for small jobs, this is an effective way to remove grout without using your own muscle power.
Electric Grout Remover
These one-trick electric tools are basically small grinders designed to wear away grout without a lot of effort. You probably wouldn’t want to take on a big job with an electric grout remover, but they are great for smaller jobs on counters or walls, or for removing grout in corners or tight spots. Note that electric grout removers work best on unsanded or sanded grout, but struggle a bit with epoxy-based grout.
Manual Grout Removal Tools
There are a variety of manual tools designed to chip, scrape, or saw through grout. The two most common designs are a jagged-edged blade attached to a handle, or a screwdriver-shaped device with a triangular or pointed tip. Whatever you choose, be prepared for a workout, as manual grout removal is a tedious, dusty, and slow job. Still, these tools are typically quite inexpensive, and if you only need to remove a small area of unsanded grout, this may well be all you need to get the job done.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article is edited and updated by Michelle Ullman, the tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home, but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs. For this roundup, she considered dozens of grout removal tools, evaluating each for basic features, extras, and customer feedback. She also received advice from Thomas Hawkins, handyman, master electrician, and owner of Electrician Apprentice HQ.