Over time, tile grout becomes dingy, dirty and/or begins to crumble and come loose. This is inevitable even if the tile was professionally installed. Repairing and replacing your grout when it begins to show signs of wear brings new life to your floors, counters or walls.
The decision to repair or replace is partially subjective, but generally it comes down to the age of the grout and the extent of the damage. If the grout is just dirty but not damaged, you can just add a new layer of grout for a fresh look. If the grout is relatively new and the damage is contained to a small section, repairing just that section is fine. If the grout is old and damage such as crumbling is widespread, it’s time to replace.
Luckily, both repairing and replacing are relatively simple DIY projects. If you’re not a DIY enthusiast, however, hiring someone to do the job is fairly inexpensive. Replacing kitchen tile grout typically costs anywhere from $200 to $600, depending on square footage.
How to Repair or Replace Tile Grout
Simply putting a layer of grout over the old grout can work if the existing grout is in good shape but dirty and dingy. Make sure you stick to the same color as the original grout and adhere closely to the manufacturer’s directions on how to properly mix the grout. You’ll need to add a precise amount of water to the powder to get the results you want. Be sure to clean the existing grout before adding a new layer. This may seem counterintuitive because you’re covering the old grout, but a clean surface will produce the best possible results.
Replacing grout is more labor intensive, but the results are generally better and longer lasting. Most people opt for a power tool such as grout saw – which is available in all home stores – although you can use a manual tool if you have the time and patience. This part of the process does require some precision. Make sure you’re cutting only the grout, not the tile. Take your time and don’t rush through the process to avoid damaging your tile.
Once the grout has been mostly removed (you don’t have to remove every last piece, just most of it), it’s crucial to thoroughly vacuum the tile and clean it with soap and water. Let the flooring dry completely before laying the new grout. Typically, you’ll need at least two coats. But use your judgement on this. Apply the number of coats that are needed to seal the surface.
If just a small area of your grout is crumbling or damaged – maybe you dropped something on the tile and chipped the grout – you can choose to repair just that area rather than replace all of the grout. Just be sure the colors match. Even if the color is a little off, the difference might be glaring. It’s surprising how noticeable subtle color differences can be.