If you are unable to clean your grout discoloration or staining to your satisfaction, the next thing to do is re-grout your tile. Don’t panic! Re-grouting your tile is not as difficult as you may think, although it does require some work.Grout Saw

The first thing you have to do is remove all the old grout. While this can be done with a number of tools, the easiest way would be to head on down to Home Depot or the like, and pick up a grout saw like the one to the right. While you’re there you may as well pick up grout, a grout float, and a sponge or two. If you’re using sanded grout, get some rubber gloves as well.

Provided you own a bucket and a source of water, these will be all the items you need to re-grout your tile. All these items should run about $25. Please don’t decide you won’t need the $7 grout saw. You will cost yourself about 300-400 dollars worth of work and stress trying to do it with something else. The most expensive thing you’ll buy is the grout.

Now comes the most difficult part, you have to “saw” the old grout out of the tile. The small blade on the saw has a carbide edge. By placing the saw into the grout line and slowly sawing back and forth, the old grout will turn to powder and fall out of the grout line. Sound easy enough? It is. It is not a difficult thing to do, it’s just time consuming.

Start slowly! I cannot emphasize this enough. Until you get used to how much pressure to use and how to move the saw in such a way as to not chip the tile edge, you need to get a feel for it. While it’s fairly simple in the straight lines, between the two tile corners, you need to be careful of the corners. It is possible to chip the tile edges and corners when you do this. Mostly this is caused by not keeping the blade straight in the grout line, not keeping it parallel.

It should only take you a few minutes to get used to it. If you have sanded grout, such as in larger format tile or on a floor, there is sometimes an additional blade included that looks more like a saw, use that one. You can use either for any type of grout, just use the one that works better for you.

You will need to remove as much of the old grout as you can. Ideally all of it should be removed but you must remove at least 2/3 of it. This is to ensure that the new grout has enough of the tile edge on which to adhere. Take your time, this is the thing that will take the most time. When you’re all done, just vacuum up the grout dust. Take a break and have yourself an adult beverage a Coke.

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A common misconception about tile and grout is that they are waterproof. Once you install tile in your shower you have a big waterproof box that will last forever. Ummm, no.

Tile and stone (as well as grout) will actually retain water. How much water it retains is directly related to the density of the tile. For instance, porcelain tile is much more dense than travertine. This means that travertine will retain more moisture and allow more water to seep through  to your substrate. If you happen to have travertine in your shower – don’t panic. As long as it was installed properly it will be fine.

So how do they figure this out?

When a specific type or brand of tile or stone is manufactured for production, the company will determine its density. There are four different categories into which each tile may be placed.

This is determined by weighing the particular tile, submerging it in water for a period of time, then weighing it again. The difference in the two weights determines the density or absorption of that product. Basically how much water it holds. It will then be placed into one of the four categories.

  • Non-vitreous: These are tiles that absorb 7% or more of its body weight. These are for indoor use only, normally on vertical surfaces such as backsplashes and wainscots.
  • Semi-vitreous: These absorb between 3% and 7%. These are also for indoor use only.
  • Vitreous: Absorb between 0.5% and 3%. These tiles may be used for interior and exterior applications.
  • Impervious: These are the most dense (porcelain) and absorb between 0.001% and 0.5% of their weight in water. They are suitable for all applications.

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When I started this site it was intended to only focus on issues of installation. Through research I discovered a greater demand for information related to existing flooring. This particular subject was at the top of the list.

So, like every politician has promised and failed to deliver, I will give the people what they want! Well, as much as I can, anyway.

Out of curiosity I typed “how to clean grout” and “tile” into Google. I only made it through two pages of sites before I was fed up with all the crap from so-called “experts”. Ninety percent of what I discovered was bull!

Common sense dictates that you do not use bleach or hydrogen-peroxide (same effect) on any type of colored grout at all – ever. Yet this was the suggestion of most “experts”.  If you happen to have white sanded grout in your tile, you’re set. If not, you’re gonna screw it up more.

What’s “sanded” have to do with it, you may ask. Exactly. Without knowing the product you’re cleaning, it will be difficult to clean it properly. That being said typed, let’s start there.

Sanded vs. Unsanded Grout

For something that confuses some so much, this is actually relatively simple. The difference? Drum roll please . . . sanded grout has sand in it. Fairly anti-climactic, yes?  The implications are greater, though.

Sanded grout is used for grout lines (the space between the tiles) greater than 1/8 of an inch. I use it for grout lines 1/16 and larger. The reason sand is added is to prevent the grout from shrinking as it cures. If you attempt to use unsanded or non-sanded grout for larger grout lines it will shrink (sometimes as much as 50%) and look like hell.

Sanded grout is also much more stable and durable. Unsanded grout is used in smaller grout lines because sanded is difficult to force into the space. Because of this using sanded grout in smaller grout lines leaves open the possibility of not completely filling them which will, in time, lead to grout cracking, chipping out, and a number of other things that make an otherwise perfect tile job look sub-par.

Do I have sanded or unsanded grout in my tile?

I dunno, I can’t see it from here.

Sorry, I’m a bit warped, I stare at floors all day. There are several ways to determine this (the type of grout, not whether or not I’m warped). If you have large grout lines chances are it’s sanded grout. If it’s a shower with 4 X 4 or 6 X 6 inch tiles chances are it’s unsanded.

Run your finger across your grout, if it’s rough you have sanded grout. If you run your thumbnail along the grout line and you scrape a bit of grout out of it, you probably have non-sanded. If your grout is smooth, it is non-sanded.

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