Grout Care and Repair
Is your grout starting to look grubby? Dirty grout can really ruin a beautifully tiled floor or wall, and broken grout can be an even bigger problem. Solve your grout grievances today, with helpful tips for grout care and repair from tile flooring expert and Hometalker Kevin of KMS Woodworks.
What’s the best way to clean my grout?
“Grout cleaning can be a chore, or, if proper choices are made in advance, a breeze. I have grout in my kitchen tile floor that is over ten years old and it still looks as good as the day I installed it. The simple reason is it is dark brown in color, a nice match for the mottled brown granite tile. Picking a grout color in the darker spectrum goes a long, long way in looking good for years to come. Being a tile contractor, I tend to look at every tile project wherever I go with a critical eye. Public restrooms show some of the greatest contrast I have ever seen. In some, on first impression I think that they followed some rules of common sense and used a dark grout color. But as my eye looks to the edges or into the less trafficked areas I realize just how dirty and nasty the floor really is.”
Keeping grout clean often involves a combined approach. Grout is cement based, which means it is mostly a processed bit of limestone. Limestone, like marble, is damaged by acidic compounds — given enough time, it would dissolve like Mammoth Cave. Overuse of vinegar can damage the grout itself. Bleach is a bit better, but must be diluted as its strong alkalinity can also do damage. Cleaners in the neutral pH range will do far less damage (oxygen cleaners and hydrogen peroxide are great for this). Just keep in mind that you may need to scrub through a soap or residue “dirt barrier” for these cleaners to reach the affected grout.
How do I repair broken or damaged grout?
“Broken or missing grout in most cases is due to poor installation. Substrate flex leads the field in this regard. The other main issue is often use of the wrong grout. Non-sanded grout should not be used on grout spaces larger than 1/8″, sanded grout by comparison can be used on joints up to 1/2.
The best repair begins with removing all of the damaged grout as completely as possible. If the grout is really loose, this can be fairly easy. A thin screwdriver or putty knife can often be used to gently lift out the broken bits. When the grout is more firmly bedded, a ‘grout saw’ is the tool of choice. Mix up a very small batch of grout and apply it like you would when doing a large project. I often have many partial bags of grout left from various projects, so it is often a simple task. Use a large quart sized yogurt cup and putty knife for mixing, then apply the grout with a standard sized float. Clean up the area with a sponge after the grout sets, and the repair should be invisible!”