Grout. It’s not one of the prettiest words in the English language. And when your tile’s grout gets all grimy and stained, it’s definitely not pretty. Luckily, removing old tile grout isn’t really a monumental task once you know what to do. Depending on the size of the tiled area, you can remove and replace old tile grout in as little as one afternoon. The job can be done manually, or you can make it way easier on yourself and buy an oscillating multi-tool. It’s inexpensive and well worth it. Using this tool, you can remove about fifteen square feet of grout on 4” by 4” tile in about an hour.

What You’ll Need

  • A rotary tool such as a Dremel, or an Oscillating multi-tool like the Ridgid Jobma  or Bosch Multi-X Oscillating Tool Kit
  • Safety glasses
  • Utility knife with a dull blade
  • Small flathead screwdriver
  • Shop vacuum

Step 1

Fit the oscillating multi-tool with the appropriate blade, which should be one specifically intended for tile or tile grout. Start by holding the blade horizontally or vertically, depending on the seam you’re starting with. Turn the power on and lightly press the blade to the grout. Don’t press too hard; let the blade do the work. It should cut through the grout easily.

Step 2

Angle the blade gently to remove more grout. Do this slowly and carefully so you don’t damage the edges of your tile. Resting your arm on a stable surface will help keep it steady and keep it from getting too tired. Use the Shop Vac throughout your project so you can actually see what you’re doing.

Step 3

Once you’ve removed as much tile as possible with the multi-tool, use a small flathead screwdriver to scrape out any loose pieces that haven’t been completely removed. If there are still stubborn bits that won’t come out, use your dull utility knife to remove them. You want the blade to be dull to start with because a sharp blade will dull quickly or snap off anyway. It also helps prevent any injuries.

Step 4

Once your old grout is completely gone, clean up your worksite to create a blank slate for the new grout. Our best tip is to steer clear of bright white grout. Dark grout is very “in” right now, but if you’d rather go lighter, try a biscuit or bone color. Stark white shows every little stain and spot much more quickly, making your tile and grout look and feel dirty even when they’re squeaky clean.

Whether your tile grout is old and moldy, it’s chipped and falling out, or you just don’t like the color, you can get rid of it fairly easily using the method above. Just remember the old special forces saying: slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. It might seem like a slow, tedious job, but taking the time to do it correctly means you’ll be saving time in the end.

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