My partner and I are on a mission to transform our early 20th-century home room by room. Before we purchased our home, it was used as a rental property and Airbnb by the previous owner, and let’s just say it wasn’t cared for well during those years.
On top of the fact the house is old and has mainly plaster walls (groan), the previous work that was done in the house like painting, flooring, and trim wasn't very high quality. The bathroom in particular was a huge eyesore and has some quirks, but we’ve been putting off doing a massive renovation. The room is large enough, but for some reason, there are two showers—a tub and shower combo and a standing shower—which wastes a lot of space.
On top of that, the paint job was terrible, the plaster walls were bumpy and uneven, the hardware was outdated, and the grout was in need of some serious attention. Finally, after staring at this bathroom with hate in my heart for more than two years, I decided that it needed a refresh, even if we couldn’t do the big renovation of our dreams quite yet. So, I set out to find a way to give our bathroom a quick facelift without breaking the bank.
Some of the decisions were obvious: we’d need to fix up the walls a bit and a fresh paint job was definitely in order. But when it came to what to do with the grout, I was stumped. Regrouting the bathroom felt like way too much work (and we plan to rip everything down to the studs in a couple of years), but I could not stand the unsightly brown grout and white tile pairing that we had on the walls.
Luckily, it was mainly the color of the grout that was the issue for me. For the most part, the grout itself was in good shape and there was little to no crumbling or damage, which gave us some options. After scouring the internet for ideas, I came across this handy little pen on Amazon and I knew I’d found my answer: grout paint.
Rainbow Chalk Markers Grout Pen
This paint pen comes in singles or multi-packs in several different colors, as well as two different sizes. The product is also non-toxic and water-based. I chose the narrow marker in white and purchased two.
If I’m being honest, I was a little bit apprehensive about the idea at first—it almost seemed too good to be true. It definitely took a bit of convincing to get my partner on board, but the reviews were good and for the price, I figured, what’s the worst that could happen?
I received the products quickly (it is Amazon, after all) and immediately went to work. The pens come with pretty specific instructions about how to use the pens properly and, as it turns out, those instructions are super important. First, like other paint-based markers, you need to activate the tip of the marker before you start using it. This involves pressing down on the tip several times until the paint starts to flow. Once you begin actually painting the grout, you do not need to press the tip down as you go—doing so will only wear out the cotton tip faster. All you need is light pressure to guide the flowing paint in the direction you want.
I also found that it's much easier to paint from the bottom up, rather than the top down. This is because when you are going upwards the pen is kept in an upward position which keeps the paint flowing down through the tip properly. And while I didn’t run into this issue, it is also good to know that these pens may not work well on grout that has been recently sealed.
Overall, I'm very happy with the results. The grout paint did exactly as promised and the tile looks completely refreshed and clean. For a quick, budget-friendly solution I absolutely loved it and would definitely use it again. However, there are a few things that are good to know.
As other reviews have mentioned, the paint didn’t go as far as I expected, and the tips of the pens fray and wear out quickly (even with my careful hand during application). The two pens that I purchased covered about ⅔ of my bathroom walls, and I will probably need to purchase two more to finish the job. This isn’t a huge deal since the pens are so affordable, but I wish I had ordered more right off the bat.
The paint also definitely requires multiple coats, especially if you are using a light color to go over a much darker color, like I was. I ended up doing two to three coats across all of the grout to get a nice, white finish. This was painstaking but completely worth it in the end. Since it has only been a couple of weeks since I painted the grout, it's still unclear how it holds up over time (I don’t expect it to be a perfect long-term solution), but so far so good.
The final verdict? If you’re looking to clean up the look of your grout on a budget without regrouting your space entirely, then these paint pens are a great option. My only advice would be to purchase more pens than you think you need, and be prepared to hunker down and do multiple coats for the nicest finish.