How to Regrout Tile (It's Easier Than You May Think!)

  • 01 of 09

    So Easy, You'll Wonder Why You Didn't Do It Sooner

    Regrouting Tile
    Regrouting Tile. Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

    Regrouting kitchen or bathroom tile is one of those secrets of home remodeling you will be glad you learned.

    Far from being a time-intensive, challenging activity, it is actually dead-simple and fast--as long as you have the correct tools and materials.

    In limited areas--more on that below--grout removal and replacement can even be easier than cleaning bad grout that is too far gone.  

    Quick FAQs

    What happens with this process?

    Existing grout is removed with the aid of power tools and some manual...MORE scraping.  New grout is forced into the open seams of the tile with a rubber float.  Excess grout that remains on the tile surface (a normal part of grouting) is wiped off with a damp sponge.  Then, the resultant haze is wiped clean with special haze cleaner.

    How fast does this take?

    Here's where the "limited areas" part comes in.  After everything is set up, you can expect to remove a 4' x 4' section of 6" tile in about two hours.  Grouting will take about half an hour.  You can expect to finish a typical kitchen backsplash in one day.

    Regrouting an entire kitchen or master bathroom floor will be a more major project.  Because fatigue can set in after a couple of hours, it's recommended that you break this large project up into a smaller sections.

    How messy is this project?

    Mess is localized because the debris is heavy and, in the case of vertical tile, falls straight down.  It is not the whole-room (or whole-house) mess of drywall sanding or sawing wood.  Cover the floor in front of the tile.  If you wish, erect a plastic barrier around the area.  

    Scraping grout from a floor is even better at localizing the mess, but you will need to frequently suck away debris with a shop vac.

    Can you grout over grout?

    This can be done but it is not recommended.  Old tile grout's porosity has been compromised by years of soap scum and possibly tile sealant. The best course of action is to completely remove the old grout and replace it.

    Tools and Materials

    Grout Removal

    Your project will go far faster and easier with the purchase of one specialized tool:  either a rotary tool such as a Dremel or an oscillating tool such as a Ridgid Jobmax.  Manual-only grout removal is possible for very small areas.

    Grout Replacement

    • Several large buckets
    • Several sponges and rags
    • Ready source of clean, clear water
    • Grout in powder form
    • Grout float
    • Triangular trowel
    • Dust mask
    • Grout haze remover
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  • 02 of 09

    Using Power Tool To Remove Grout

    Remove Tile Grout
    © Lee Wallender

    A fine-tooth blade on your oscillating tool will remove the grout. Do not force the tool into the seam.  Instead, let the tool do the work, and be patient.

    Be careful of the tile edges--at this point--because if you force too hard, you can chip and nick those edges.

    Corded oscillating multi-tools may be too difficult to handle, and even too strong for the job.  This is one project where a lower powered cordless mutli-tool will work better than a more powerful one.

    Continue to 3 of 9 below.
  • 03 of 09

    Remove More Grout With the Power Tool By Hitting Edges

    Remove Tile Grout
    © Lee Wallender

    Once you have removed as much grout as possible by holding the tool horizontally, it's time to gently angle the blade to remove more grout.

    Do not linger on the edges or you will damage them.

    Grout should crumble quickly under the force of the blade.  So, if you find that yourself pressing hard, do not force it.

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  • 04 of 09

    Alternate Method: Manual Removal

    Remove Tile Grout
    © Lee Wallender

    Your power tool will not remove every trace of grout. Follow up and dislodge stubborn chunks of grout with a flat-head screwdriver or dull-bladed utility knife.

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  • 05 of 09

    Frequently Vacuum Debris When Removing Tile Grout

    Remove Tile Grout
    © Lee Wallender

    Be sure to liberally use the shop vacuum during the grout removal process so you can see what you are doing.

    And of course, you'll want to use it once again at the end to clean up your work site.

    Now that the grout is removed, it's time to go to the next step and apply new grout.

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  • 06 of 09

    Mix Up Batch of Tile Grout With Water

    Mix Tile Grout
    © Lee Wallender

    Now, with your seams completely free of old grout, it's time to apply new grout.

    Mix dry grout and water in your buckets.

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  • 07 of 09

    Apply New Grout To Tile With Trowel

    Apply Tile Grout
    Copyright About.com

    Using your triangular trowel, liberally apply mixed grout to the tile surface.

     

    Continue to 8 of 9 below.
  • 08 of 09

    Squeeze Grout Between Tile Seams With Float

    Squeeze Grout Into Seams
    Copyright About.com

    With the rubber float, further squeeze grout into the seams, removing excess grout with the edge of the float.

     

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Remove Excess Grout and Haze

    Remove Excess Grout and Haze
    Copyright About.com

    With a moistened sponge, remove excess grout. Be sure to thoroughly squeeze out the water from your sponge. Lightly stroke the sponge across the tile surface. Pressing too hard will pull grout out of the seam (you don't want this).

    This is a slow process. Continue to clean out your sponges and move them across the tile surface until all grout is gone.

    After the grout has dried, a haze will remain. Off-the-shelf haze removers are available which will take off the haze with little effort.