by Robert Ferguson, Demand Media
Removing old grout from tile is not an attractive job and it takes a lot of hard work. Grout is a cement-based material used to fill in the joints between tiles after installation. Available in a wide selection of colors, the grout is mixed with water and applied to the joints where it hardens. The two most common types of grout are sanded and non-sanded grout. Grout joints less than 1/8 inch typically use non-sanded grout while grout joints 1/8 inch and larger use sanded grout. Either type poses a significant challenge to remove.
The benefits of removing old grout are adding new life to an old floor. Grout is hard to keep clean and over time, the joints become stained, which affects the appearance of the entire floor. Installing new grout over an existing tile saves money by eliminating the cost of floor replacement.
Manually Operated Tools
There are a few different types of tools used to remove old grout. The old school method is to use a grout removal tool equipped with a carbide blade. The tool has interchangeable blades to accommodate different-sized grout joints. The drawback to this tool is that it requires manual operation, which can be quite labor intensive. A utility knife and floor scraper are also handy when removing grout manually.
Power tools reduce the amount of labor involved compared with manually operated tools; however, one drawback is they are more apt to damage the edges of the tile. A common grout removing power tool is an oscillating tool equipped with a 1/8-inch or 1/16-inch grout removal blade. Applying masking tape to the edge of the tiles helps avoid chipping during removal.
It is important to keep a sharp eye trained on the joint during grout removal to avoid damaging the tile. Using a vacuum cleaner to keep the grout joint clean helps you to see what you are doing. As the joint fills up with grout debris, taking a minute to vacuum the joint might save you from accidentally damaging the floor tile.
When removing grout, protective eye gear should be worn at all times to avoid flying debris. Removing grout creates dust. Wear a dust mask or respirator to avoid inhalation.
The key to this project is patience. By taking your time, you will decrease the chances of making a costly mistake and damaging the tile.
§ Ask the Builder: Remove Grout from Ceramic Tile
§ Grout Getter Co: How to Remove Damaged Grout
For more information or related articles, please visit: http://www.dremel.com
About the Author
Robert Ferguson has been a freelance writer since 2000. He enjoys writing and the opportunity to share with others his experience and expertise in all areas of home remodeling. Ferguson is a self-employed, licensed building contractor in Florida with more than 30 years of experience focusing primarily on residential remodeling, repair, renovation and construction.