If you need to remove grout from ceramic bathroom wall tiles it can be a daunting task. But sometimes it needs to be done, especially if you want your bathroom looking in top condition. Ideally the old grout should be removed to a depth of at least 3mm for this job to be worth doing.
Preparation Before you Start
Cover up your Bathroom
Hardened grout can be sharp, so it is a good idea to protect things which may get damaged. If grout is allowed to fall onto shower trays or baths, they may get scratched, especially if the removed grout is stepped on. Cardboard is a great material to use for protection, or thick sheets.
Protect your Existing Tile Edges
It is a good idea to protect the edges of your tiles from damage whilst removing the grout. You can do this by sticking masking tape or duct tape to the edges of your tiles.
Reasons for Removing Ceramic Tile Grout
Below are the main reasons why people need to remove grout:
- The grout has dirt, mould or lime scale inside it which is difficult to remove.
- The structure of the grout has weakened over time, possibly due to an incorrect mix or something else.
Safety Wear Needed
Gather all the safety wear you need in order to complete the job:
- Safety Gloves
- Safety Glasses
Removing Grout Using Manual Tools
Using a Hammer and Chisel
You can remove grout via a cold chisel. However, you will need to be extremely careful you do not accidentally chip the tile edges. Only use very small chisels, and do not hit it too hard with the hammer.
- Cheap to buy. You will probably have a hammer and chisel in your toolbox.
- No power is required.
- Chisels are not that precise when it comes to removing grout. Therefore you risk damaging tiles.
- Time consuming.
Hammer and Screwdriver
If you do not want to spend money on power tools, then you can actually remove grout using a hammer and flat headed screwdriver. In fact this was a common method used before power tools.
- Convenient as you will likely own a hammer and screwdriver.
- Very cheap.
- No power required.
- Very time consuming.
- Requires precision and skill. You risk accidentally chipping the tile edges.
- Removing the last bits of the grout will be extremely difficult using this method.
Grout Rake Tool
Grout rake tools are specially designed manual tools to remove grout. The usually have tungsten carbide grit coated blades. Most have a guide wheel which helps to prevent damage to tiles.
- Cheap to buy.
- Specifically designed to remove grout.
- No power required.
- Can be time consuming.
- Is easy to slip and scratch the tiles.
- When using this tool, ensure the blade does not make contact with the tile surfaces.
- Use a firm, even pulling motion.
Removing the Grout Using Power Tools
Miniature Rotatory Cutting Tool’s
One of the most common rotary tools is probably the Dremal. They are versatile tools that are perfect for preforming all kinds of jobs around the house. In addition Dremal allow a variety of attachments, making it suitable for many applications.
- Can be cheap to buy.
- Can be precise.
- Cutting blades can wear out quickly.
- Blades can break quite easily.
- Tool can overheat.
The Reciprocating Saw Method
In general there are two types of blades for reciprocating cuttings, toothed blades and abrasive blades. Toothed blades are used to cut through soft materials like wood and plastic. When it comes to cutting through grout an abrasive blade is required. Abrasive blades are designed to grind through hard materials.
- Cuts through grout easily.
- Although it cuts easily through grout, the tool can vibrate.
- Install the carbide-grit grout blade into your reciprocating saw so it points down while the saw handle is pointing up.
- Turn the saw on.
- Saw out the grout.
Using an Oscillating Cutter
Oscillating cutters allow you to cut things very precisely, as there is hardly any movement when in operation. These tools are different to other cutting methods. Unlike a power reciprocating or circular saw, it has a flat metal blade that oscillates side to side about 20,000 times per minute. In-fact the blade does not seem to move at all during operation!
- They are stable during operation as they oscillate rather than spin.
- Lightweight compared to other power tools.
- No kick back during start up.
- Does not grab during cutting, where other saws might.
- Can get into awkward locations.
- The oscillating cutter and blades can be expensive to buy.
- Ensure your oscillating tool is fitted with the correct blade. Ideally one that is specially intended for cutting grout.
- Turn on the power.
- Press your oscillating blade into the grout, taking care not to chip or damage the surrounding tiles.
- Cut along the grout lines using this tool. Remember to let the oscillating cutter tool do the work. The blade should easily cut through the grout.
Below is an oscillating cutter sold on the Amazon store.