Is your bathroom looking a little drab? There’s an easy way to fix that, and it’s called grouting. If you have tiles in the bath, adding a fresh application of grout works like magic to make things look like new.
I like grouting because it provides a relatively straightforward DIY project. There’s a definite start and finish—and the time between the two is usually a few hours or less. Some home improvement projects require power tools and watching endless hours of how-to videos. Not so with grouting! It’s inexpensive, quick and the results are nothing short of amazing.
Take a good look at the tiles in your bathroom. If you live in an older building, you might even have an entire bathroom that’s tiled! (That was a thing about 50 years ago—and many of those tiles are still decorating city apartments, especially in the Northeast.) In the space between the tiles, there should be a white line about three-eighths of an inch thick. If the line is yellowed, cracked or mildewed, it’s time to re-grout.
You’ll need some basic supplies:
- Something (besides chemicals) to clean out the old grout—the one I use looks like a giant toothbrush with wire bristles and costs about $5 at the hardware store;
- Grout (I recommend a tub of pre-mixed grout to keep things simple);
- A grout spreader—this is the key to easy grouting! Grout spreaders look like tiny squeegees: see examples here and here;
- Grout sealer (you don’t need this if your pre-mixed grout is epoxy-based); and
- Paper towels or rags.
Do you need “sanded” grout (that’s grout with sand mixed into it)? No. Tinted grout? No. Grout that comes in a squeeze packet like cake frosting? Probably not. Your basic grout will work just fine. Epoxy grout will seal better than grout without epoxy, but the latter is easier to work with.
And here are the easy instructions.
- Get rid of any loose or mildewed grout. Use the wire bristles to clean away the old grout if necessary. If it’s just old (not loose or moldy), you can skip this step.
- Apply the grout around a few tiles. You can use your fingers or a wooden paint-stirring stick for this.
- Use the spreader like a squeegee. This will even out the surface of the grout line and wipe the excess grout off your tiles.
- Let it dry for a while. The exact amount of time will be indicated on the grout product, but you don’t want to wait so long that the grout dries on the tile surface.
- Wipe away the excess grout from the tiles. Try to avoid the grout area while you do this.
- Repeat steps 2-5. As you get the hang of it, you can grout one area while another is drying.
- Let it dry. It should dry for at least 24 hours.
- Enjoy the new look of your bathroom!
It’s really that simple. If you want to get fancy, after the grout dries you can caulk the seam between the tiles and tub. You can also seal the grout but frankly I never have. Grout sealants have mixed reviews and I’ve found that by the time I’ve waited 24 hours for the grout to dry, I’m ready to take a shower.
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