There are few things more irritating than having grout in your floor’s tiles.
No matter how it develops, grout in tiles is extremely troublesome and it can lead to a host of all kinds of issues that your floor will face.
Yes, grout can lead to even worse floor issues, such as mold and cracking.
If you do not remove grout from your tiles, bad things will eventually happen.
So how does one remove grout from tiles?
Find out in this guide.
Things you should consider before removing grout from tiles
When removing grout from tiles there are a few things you’ll want to consider.
Removing grout can be done either by using simple hand tools, which will take longer and require more effort, or you can use a power tool such as a dremel or oscillating grout remover.
If you are using hand tools, you will need a utility knife with a dulled blade or a grout removal tool you can find at a local hardware store.
Keep in mind when working with edged hand tools of the risk of cutting yourself, so you will also need a pair of thick and/or cut gloved designed specifically with this hazard in mind.
Whichever method you choose to use to remove your grout, you will also need safety glasses as well as a mask to prevent breathing in the grout particles that you will release into the air from between the tiles.
When removing and loosening grout, the grout will dissolve into a dust form so a shop vac is best practice, however a wet mop or wet cloth can accomplish this as well and will also take longer.
Also, depending on the area from which you are removing grout, it is sometimes useful to set up a plastic sheeting screen to limit the area where you’ll be releasing the dust created by removing the grout. This is optional, but recommended.
For the sake of completeness, here are the tools necessary for removing grout from tiles:
- A dremel or oscillating saw blade specifically designed for grout removal.
- A dulled edge utility knife or grout removal tool
- A pair of thick and/or cut gloves
- Safety glasses
- Dust mask
- Shop vac or wet cloth or mop
- Plastic sheeting and strong adhesive tape.
Now that you know what is necessary, it is time to set up the work area.
Setting up your work area
When beginning the removal process, use your plastic sheeting and strong adhesive tape to section off the area you’ll be working in.
If you’re a contractor and you need to limit the space in the home in which you’re working, this is usually the best practice to limit the amount of eventual clean up.
Once you have the area you’ll be working in taped off with plastic sheeting you are ready to begin the process of setting up your workstation.
Depending on the tools you’re using there will be less dust in the area during the process so there’s no need to overdo anything at this stage of the process.
Have your shop vac plugged in and ready. There are varied methods for using your shop vac, however a good idea is usually to attempt to run your shop vac while in the process of removing the grout to catch as many dust particles as possible, especially when using a dremel or oscillating saw tool.
Before you begin removing the grout, make sure to have your safety glasses (typically glasses which provide coverage around your face such as goggles are best in this case), dust mask, and gloves all properly donned.
Keep these on while working and when you’re in the work area. You may not see the grout particles still in the air so keep these on when in your workspace.
Once your work area is set up and sectioned off you are ready to begin removing the grout.
It is important to note when using either power or hand tools to remove grout that you will run the risk of breaking or loosening the tiles placed. This is especially true depending on the age of the adjacent tiles.
This will indisputably be the case whether you are removing smaller grout areas between bathroom tiles (typically a 16th to an 8th of inch thick), or larger areas in the case of floor tiles (typically an 8th of an inch thick or more).
Unfortunately this cannot be avoided, so having extra tiles on hand is usually a good idea.
If you do not have extra tiles on hand, this will simply be a risk you will have to take as once they are set, the tiles, thin set underneath, and the grout all adhere into one solid layer that will not separate without the methods described below.
Removing grout using a dremel or an oscillating saw blade
Removing grout using a dremel tool or similar oscillating saw blade is much quicker and more simple than using a hand tool; Once plugged in, the power tool will do most of the work for you.
The key when using a power tool is not to apply too much force to the area you are attempting to remove the grout from.
Remember that power tools are designed for this purpose, so it will provide enough force. All you’ll need to do is touch the edge of the blade to the grout and it will begin the separate immediately.
Having your shop vac available becomes handy in this case.
If you are inexperienced, you may need your available hand to steady the dremel or oscillating blade. In the event that you cannot run your shop vac adjacent to the tool, do not worry; your sectioned off work area will trap the dust particles for later clean-up.
When using a power tool to remove grout, pay close attention to the lines the grout takes and steady the power tool along this path. Deviation from the grout lines will almost always result in damaging the tiles and once this is done, replacing the tile is the only option.
This means you must take your time while engaged in this practice.
The best method in this case is quite simply to run the power tool you’ve chosen along the grout lines evenly, taking care again not to dig into the grout, rather simply let the tool do the job.
At this stage in the process, you are likely to kick up a lot of dust so having your safety apparel on will save you the need to stop constantly to leave the work area and clean up around yourself.
Once you’ve successfully removed the grout from between the tiles, run your shop vac in all the areas where the grout dust has collected, and have your wet mop and/or rag on hand to deal with the loose particles that will have spread throughout your work area.
Removing grout using hand tools
Removing grout using hand tools is a much longer and more labor intensive process than using power tools, but the process is essentially the same.
This time however, we’re using man power.
This is why it will take much longer.
Fortunately, you do not need your shop vac when using hand tools as you will kick up much less dust into the air and most of the dust will settle below or next to your workspace, so using the shop vac afterwards in this case is essentially optional.
Be aware that when removing grout with a hand tool, both hands will be required to successfully and evenly remove the grout between you tiles. You will not be able to get away with using just one hand like you could with power tools.
Once you have your work station set up and you begin removing the grout, you will get the most work accomplished by moving your hands from above your head downward. This will be the case either working on a horizontal or vertical surface.
Use your chosen utility knife or grout removal tool as you would a scoring blade, from above your head downward once stoke at a time. When working from side to side, choose whichever direction you think is most comfortable.
Using your dominant hand, place your utility knife between the tiles and with your support hand, apply pressure and drawn the blade downward or from side to side depending.
You will need to apply some pressure, however grout breaks up easily and doesn’t require you to put your body weight into it.
Continue this process until a sufficient amount of grout has been removed from between the tiles you’re working between.
Keep in mind that when you use hand tools, you do not need to remove any more grout than you would when working with a power tool.
Applying too much pressure when working with hand tools is likely to result in the same cracking and breakage you will experience when applying too much pressure with a hand tool.
To clean up really quickly, simply run your shop vac along the edges of the grout you’ve removed. If you want to clean even more perfectly, run your shop vac along the entirety of the grout line you’ve worked on.
Removing grout by hand will sometimes leave behind particles that a power tool would easily remove and these small bits can be taken up easily enough by the shop vac when running over your newly removed grout lines.
Once you’ve run your shop vac (or swept if you do not want to use your shop vac), you can now ready to use your wet mop or rag to clean up the area that you’ve just removed.
Answer this one question:
Would you rather pay somebody to remove grout from your tiles or save yourself the money and do it yourself by just purchasing a few materials?
You should know the answer.
Yes, tile grout is troublesome.
Yes, removing it by yourself can take some time, especially if you are using hand tools.
But will it cost you less money than it would if you just hired somebody to do it?
Now that you know what you need to remove grout from tiles and how to physically remove said grout, you will never need to hire anybody to do this if you do not need to.