Although they may be fully functional, older tiles can easily look dingy. And unless the homeowner is very handy, replacing the tiles completely is probably not a DIY job. Fortunately, there is a happy medium between gutting the room and simply living with it. If the tiles are not cracked, a new layer of grout between them offers a fresh look. And while re-grouting requires elbow grease, it doesn't require any special expertise. Any homeowner can tackle this job with the right tools and preparation.
A tile pro could re-grout a bathroom or kitchen floor in a matter of hours, but that time frame is not realistic for an amateur. Set aside a whole weekend to work on this job. Gather all supplies before diving into the project, and chances are good that the kitchen or bathroom should be ready for use by the end of the weekend. The following tools are needed before starting the project:
- Utility knife or grout saw
- Mildew remover
- Grout float
- Grout haze remover
- Grout sealer
- Shop vacuum
- Caulk gun
While purchasing the tools for the job, also buy the grout. For a very small project, purchase pre-mixed grout. For a larger job, it is more cost-efficient to buy a large bag to mix up at home. Grout comes in two main types: sanded and unsanded. Unsanded grout is best for small joints, such as the joints between tiles in a bathroom shower. Larger joints, such as the joints between big tiles on a kitchen floor, need sanded grout. If the re-grouting project involves a shower, choose caulk that matches the grout.
Before diving into the job, protect the surrounding surfaces. For example, tape over a shower drain so that debris doesn't clog it, and remove faucets. If the job involves a tile wall, put down plastic sheeting to protect the floor. Then spray down the tile with a mould or mildew cleaner.
Remove old grout
Using the utility knife or the grout saw, slice out the old grout. If using a grout saw, be careful not to nick or scratch the tile. A utility knife shouldn't scratch the tile, but the blade might get dull quickly and need replacing. If the grout around the shower edges is extremely stubborn and doesn't come out, even with a lot of elbow grease, try applying a product such as 3M's Caulk Remover. Once all the old grout is out, use a shop vacuum to remove all the dust from the joints.
Apply new grout
- Start by preparing the grout. If using premixed grout, this involves only opening the can. If the grout is not premixed, follow the directions on the bag, and mix the correct amount of water with the grout to form a thick paste. Start with a small amount of grout, and mix more as needed.
- Use the grout float to scoop out some grout, and spread it at a 45-degree angle across the tile. If working on a wall, spread upwards. Only work on a small surface area at a time because it is necessary to remove excess grout before it dries.
- Remove most of the excess grout by tipping the grout float on its edge and running it over the tile surface again.
- Check in a few minutes to see if the grout feels firm. When it does, it is time to sponge off the rest of the excess grout. Dip the sponge in water, wring it out, and wipe down the tiles.
Finish the job
If the re-grouting job involves a tub, finish by caulking the corners and all the places where the tub meets the tile. Use painter's tape to mark off the joints, and then use the caulk gun to apply caulk. Remove tape right away. After the grout and caulk have a chance to dry, go over the surface again with a grout haze remover to make sure the tile is bright and sparkling. For maintenance-free grout, finish up by applying a grout sealer. This should keep mould and mildew in check.
How to buy supplies for re-grouting on eBay
You get a lot bang for your buck with a simple re-grouting project. The supplies are not expensive, but they can really make the bathroom or kitchen look brighter. You can make the project even more economical by buying the supplies on eBay. Locate the search bar on any page on the site, and perform a keyword search by typing in "utility knife" or "caulk gun" to view the inventory. If you opt to buy grout and caulk on eBay, make sure they are from the same manufacturer and match exactly.