How to Remove Tile Grout Easily, Cleanly and Quickly

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Grouts can occur on the surface of a tile and between tiles, whether they be on walls or floor. Moreover, grouts can lose their pleasant color and become moldy.

Grout removal and re-grouting are tedious and monotonous jobs, which require lots of care.

Things can easily go wrong if you remove discolored, cracked, stained, molded or broken grouts to a depth less than between 0.08- and 0.12-inches.

But grout removal isn’t an end in and of itself. It’s a last resort effort if you’re unable to clean, colorize or patch a grout.

Moldy grouts can be salvaged with antiseptics, which give variable results, depending on the quality and durability of the active ingredients.

You can even make solutions for grout cleaning at home. But homemade solutions don’t guarantee positive results, but it’s good to know how to make them.

This post focuses on discussing how to remove tile groutrather than cleaning, patching or colorizing it.

Why Grout Removal is Necessary

  • Tile grouts containing molds can be more difficult to clean than remove.
  • Colors of grouts can turn visually unpleasant, and replacing grouts is more viable than colorizing them.
  • Chipped grouts fall out, becoming more necessary to re-grout than to patch.

Safety:

Power tools can chew through a tile, damaging it. This hazard usually arises as a result of pressing the tool hard and unevenly against the surface.

Tips to Remove Tile Grout in Few Steps

Grouts with molds and stains can take your more time and energy to remove them than to rake them out.

However, you may not need to re-grout tiles with black molds if you clean them properly.

Besides, molds can grow again if you don’t address the root cause of the problem: their source.

Grout Removal Tips

Brown molds aren’t molds actually; they are stains, which are quite common on wall tiles.

They mean one thing: there’s seepage of water between the wall and the tile whereby joints soak. Salts from wall paint dissolve in water, leaving brown stains in a joint.

All you need to do with brown stains is to identify where water seepage occurs and seal it – no need for re-grouting.

What is the Best Grout Removal Tool?

Different type of tools exists for grout removal. These include a wide assortment of power and hand tools, but an oscillating or a rotary tool proves more effective, time-efficient and popular.

In short, consider the following options:

  • An oscillating multi-cutter
  • Grout getter
  • Shop vacuum
  • Flat-topped screwdriver
  • A rotary tool
  • A safety glass
  • A utility knife

Grout Removal by Hand

Grout Removal by Hand

If you need to remove grout by hand, use grout rakes. Grout removal is what they were built for.

And the good thing with a grout rake is that you can replace or change old and worn out blades with new ones.

You can save loads of time using this tool instead of a nail.

All you need to operate this tool is to place it in a joint.

Then, push down the tool against the surface hard, moving it back and forth to grind the grout, making it easy to remove or fall under the influence of gravity.

You’d need to plow into the grout deeper than 0.08-inches as the material is hard.

Keep in mind that blades wear out; so, it’s important to have some spare ones.

Another point to note is that grout removal is a hard job that requires a lot patience; hence, be careful.

You don’t want to destroy the surrounding tiles either by marking, scoring or slipping them.

In addition, you don’t want to crack tiles accidentally, as, in the end, you’d meet the costs of replacing them.

Grout Removal with Oscillating Tools

Grout rakes are suitable if you’re working on a small area, but if you’re in a larger area, they’re impractical, as you’d take ages to get the job done.

And while some grout rakes come with double blades for a wider joint, it still remains quite ineffective, especially for an extremely wide joint.

Grout Removal with Oscillating Tools

Power tools come in handy in light of the downsides of a grout rake, but they bring with them a host of other issues. They can destroy the tiles. Therefore, practice in hidden areas before you embark on exposed areas.

With power tools, two options exist: a rotating tool or an oscillating multi-tool. What separates an oscillating power tool from its rotary counterpart is its incredible versatility and ability to penetrate difficult angles, spaces or areas.

Increasingly, an oscillating power tool is a necessity for any serious DIYer or a tradesman. It’s a tool that you can’t afford to be without given its affordability and convenience in removing huger amounts of grout than the rake.

Grout getters were designed specifically for removal but they’re inflexible; that is partly why multi-tools are increasingly popular.

And the expiry of Fein’s patent slightly over ten years couldn’t come at the most opportune time – a time when new entrants are disrupting the Fein-only market with new inventions.

With as little as $25, you can get an oscillating multi-cutter; so, price shouldn’t be a big excuse for not owning one. Even though, blades are expensive; and, unfortunately, wear out more often.

Just as their names suggest, they vibrate or oscillate the variety of accessories attached to them, swinging them side to side to a slightly flat angle as 3ºunder the influence of an AC- or DC-powered motor.

Other than the oscillating power tools, you can use a grinder, a reciprocating saw or a rotating tool to remove grouts. But these machines don’t give you control that nearly matches an oscillating tool.

  • Move the tool down, in the joints, applying an even and gentle pressure. Don’t press the tool hard and be careful not to destroy or chip the surrounding tiles. What’s awesome, the oscillating accessory can penetrate awkward or tight spaces, giving an unmatched edge.
  • Make sure use an accessory or blade built for grout removal.

How to Remove Remaining Grout in the Joint

Once you remove grout from the joints at a depth of between 0.08- and 0.12-inches, it’s time to remove what remove what remains in between the tiles.

Powdered grouts, falling off, require removal. Afterwards, clean the joint and re-grout.

Use a rigid brush made up of nylon, brushing out loose grout, debris or dust from the joint. Ensure that none of loose grouts remains.

Hoover a vacuum cleaner over the joint to clear all the dust.

Now the joint is absent. Get ready to re-grout the joint.

How to Remove Lumps of Grouts on the Surfaces of Tiles

During grouting or re-grouting, grouts can accidentally stick on surfaces of tiles, leaving small unsightly lumps. The latter needs to be removed, as they can become hard, reducing the overall attractiveness and tidiness of your job.

You’d need to remove or dissolve them, taking care not to damage the files. You’ve three options:

  • Scraping, scratching and rubbing the grout off of the surface.
  • Dissolving the grout.
  • Replacing the tile if unable to remove the stubborn lumps.

Removing a grout that’s completely dried and hardened is frustratingly time- and effort-consuming task, as you’ve to scrape, run, scratch and dissolve grout simultaneously.

Chip off the grout slowly to avoid destroying the tile.

Here are key tips:

  • Soak a sponge with warm water, wiping it over the tile surface.
  • Rub over the surface gently with fine wool made up of wire. Grout should come off and dissolve simultaneously.
  • Soak a cloth, dampening it, and clean the tile with it.
  • Leave the grout to dry.
  • Wipe over the tile surface with a dry cloth.

It’s important to note that adhesives made up of cement are resistant to dissolution in water. Instead, use a cleaner of bricks or patios.

These cleaners contain corrosive and fuming acid; so, wear eye protection and rubber gloves.

Some cleaners can even react with a tile or a glaze, etching and damaging it. Hence, make sure you test the cleaner by pouring a small drop.

How to Dissolve Grout

Before scraping and rubbing, lubricate and loosen the grout using warm water. But water is not the only solvent that does the trick. Here are solutions that dissolve grout:

  • Sugared water (10% sugar solution).
  • Acids
  • Vinegar
  • Cleaner for brick or patio
How to Dissolve Grout

Conclusion

You’ve learned how to remove tile grout through scraping, rubbing, scratching and dissolving.

We’ve discussed power and hand tools for grout removal, including a rake, an oscillating multi-tool, getters, grinders and rotary tools.

An oscillating tool proves to most flexible and versatile.

Water dissolves grouts whose makeup is Portland cement while acid-based solutions can dissolve adhesive-based grouts.

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Abraham
 

This is Abraham. Professional power tools mechanic with years of experience. Writing is my hobby. So I decide to share my experience with people by writing about all types of power tools review and buyers guide that I'm using.

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