How to Remove Grout from Tile

Grout removal from tile surfaces is a common task that many homeowners face when revamping their homes or when performing routine maintenance. Over time, grout can become cracked, discolored, or simply lose its aesthetic appeal, prompting the need for a thorough cleanup.

Here, we will discuss effective methods and tools for removing grout from tile surfaces with minimal damage, so you can restore your tiled surfaces to their original beauty. From using a grout removal tool to employing home remedies, there are various options available to successfully complete this task.

Types of Grout

Understanding the different types of grout is essential for proper grout removal and application. The two primary categories of grout are:

  • Cement-Based
  • Epoxy-Based


Cement-based grout is the most common type used in tile installations. It is composed of cement, water, and sand, with various additives to improve its performance. This type of grout is typically more affordable and easier to work with than epoxy-based grout.

There are three main categories of cement-based grout:

  • Non-sanded grout: Ideal for narrow joints up to 1/8-inch wide, typically used with wall and glass tiles.
  • Sanded grout: Suitable for joint widths ranging from 1/8 to 1/2 inch, common in floor tile installations.
  • Modified or polymer-fortified grout: Contains additives that improve the grout’s resistance to water, staining, and mildew, beneficial for high-moisture or heavy-traffic areas.


Epoxy-based grout is a two-part system consisting of epoxy resin and hardener, which provides extra strength and durability compared to traditional cement-based grouts. Epoxy grout is typically more expensive, but it is highly stain-resistant, impervious to water, and does not require sealing.

This type of grout is suitable for heavy-traffic or high-moisture areas such as commercial kitchens, bathrooms, and pool areas. However, the application process can be more challenging due to its fast curing time, and the final appearance might be glossy, which may not be suitable for all tile styles.

Epoxy grout must be mixed accurately:

ComponentMixing Ratio
Epoxy Resin2 Parts
Hardener1 Part

Failure to mix the components correctly can lead to poor performance and bonding problems with the tile substrate.

Tools and Materials

Removing grout from tiles requires the right tools and materials to ensure the job is done effectively and safely. In this section, we will discuss the essential grout removal tools and safety equipment needed to complete the task.

Grout Removal Tools

There are several tools available for grout removal, with some being more effective than others. The most commonly used tools include:

  • Grout Saw: A handheld tool with a serrated blade that scrapes away the grout. Grout saws can be manual or electric and are effective for small areas. However, they may not be as efficient for larger projects.
  • Oscillating Multi-tool: Equipped with a grout removal attachment, this power tool can quickly and efficiently remove grout from tiles. Oscillating multi-tools are suitable for larger projects and tight spaces.
  • Rotary Tool: Similar to an oscillating multi-tool, a rotary tool uses a spinning motion to remove grout. Rotary tools require specialized grout removal bits and can be adjusted to various speeds for precise control.

Regardless of the tool selected, it’s important to start at a low speed and adjust as needed to avoid damaging the tiles.

Safety Equipment

Removing grout can generate dust and particles that can be harmful if inhaled or come in contact with the eyes. Using appropriate safety equipment is essential for protecting oneself during the grout removal process. Recommended safety equipment includes:

  • Safety Glasses: Wearing safety glasses can prevent dust particles and debris from entering the eyes.
  • Respirator or Dust Mask: A respirator or dust mask can filter out harmful particles to protect the lungs.
  • Gloves: Wearing gloves can help protect the hands from potential skin irritations and abrasions caused by the grout removal process.

Having proper tools and safety equipment on hand will ensure a smoother and safer grout removal process, ultimately preserving the tiles and maintaining a clean working environment.

Preparing the Work Area

Before starting the grout removal process, it is essential to prepare the work area to ensure a clean and safe working environment. This will also help to prevent damage to the tile and surrounding surfaces.

Begin by clearing the area of any furniture, rugs, or other items that may obstruct your work or risk being damaged. This will give you ample space to maneuver and access the tiled surface. For adequate protection, cover any adjacent surfaces with plastic sheets or drop cloths. This step will safeguard these areas from dust, debris, or potential damage during the grout removal process.

Ensure proper ventilation in the work area by opening windows or using fans. This will help to disperse dust generated during the grout removal process, promoting a healthier working environment. Wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety glasses, gloves, and a dust mask is also crucial for your safety.

Gather all necessary supplies and tools for the grout removal process. These may include:

  • Grout removal tool (manual or power-operated)
  • Utility knife
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Stiff brush
  • Bucket and sponge

With the work area prepared, you are now ready to proceed with the grout removal process. Remember to work carefully and methodically, as hasty actions may lead to damage to your tiles or injury.

Manual Grout Removal

Removing grout manually is a cost-effective method that’s ideal for smaller jobs or areas that need precise grout removal. While it can be time-consuming compared to power tools, manual removal allows for greater control, reducing the risk of damaging the surrounding tiles.

Using a Grout Saw

A grout saw is a specialized hand tool designed specifically for removing grout. It has a narrow blade with a serrated edge that allows for precise and controlled scraping of the grout. To use a grout saw, follow these steps:

  1. Begin by positioning the grout saw at a 45-degree angle against the grout line.
  2. Apply pressure and start sawing back and forth along the grout line until the grout is loosened and removed.
  3. Remove debris and rinse the area with water after removing the desired amount of grout.

It’s important to take breaks and avoid applying excessive force, as this can lead to damage to the surrounding tiles.

Using a Utility Knife

A utility knife is another option for manual grout removal. This method is more suitable for removing small amounts of grout or in situations where a grout saw is unavailable. To remove grout using a utility knife, follow these steps:

  1. Place the utility knife blade at a slight angle against the grout line.
  2. Slowly and carefully carve away the grout by running the blade along the grout line, applying gentle pressure as you go.
  3. Repeat the process until the desired amount of grout is removed.

While using a utility knife is less precise than a grout saw, it can still effectively remove grout when used carefully. Ensure that you have a sharp blade and wear safety gloves to avoid injuries.

Although manual grout removal methods require more time and effort than using power tools, they provide better control for small-scale projects, helping to preserve the surrounding tiles. Practice patience and use caution when employing these techniques to achieve the best results.

Power Grout Removal

Power grout removal methods can be highly effective in speeding up the process and reducing physical strain when compared to manual methods. This section will discuss two popular tools for power grout removal: oscillating tools and rotary tools.

Using an Oscillating Tool

An oscillating tool is a versatile and highly effective power tool for grout removal. Equipped with a grout removal blade, it can quickly remove grout with fewer chances of tile damage. Most oscillating tools offer a variable speed setting, allowing users to control the pace and precision of the grout removal process.

When using an oscillating tool for grout removal, follow these steps:

  1. Choose the appropriate grout removal blade for your project, considering the size and type of grout joints.
  2. Place the grout removal blade on the oscillating tool and choose the desired speed setting.
  3. Hold the oscillating tool at the correct angle (usually parallel) to the tile surface.
  4. Slowly move the tool along the grout lines, allowing the blade to remove the grout with minimal force.

Using a Rotary Tool

Another power tool option for grout removal is a rotary tool, which uses a high-speed spinning motion to remove grout. Many rotary tools, such as the Dremel, offer specialized grout removal bits that allow for precise control during the removal process.

When using a rotary tool, follow these steps:

  1. Select the suitable grout removal bit for your rotary tool, based on the type and size of grout joints.
  2. Insert the grout removal bit into the rotary tool and set the preferred speed.
  3. Hold the rotary tool so that the bit is perpendicular to the grout lines.
  4. Slowly guide the tool along the grout lines, applying gentle pressure to remove the grout.

Whether using an oscillating tool or a rotary tool, it is essential to wear proper safety gear, including eye protection and gloves, and take breaks as needed to prevent fatigue or overheating of the tool. Regularly clean the tool to remove grout debris and ensure optimal performance.

Cleaning and Finishing

Once you have removed grout from the tiles, it’s essential to clean and finish the area properly.

Removing Grout Residue

Getting rid of grout residue is a crucial step in ensuring a clean and polished finish. Begin by thoroughly wiping the area with a damp sponge. Make sure to rinse the sponge frequently to avoid spreading grout dust. Next, use a plastic scraper or a non-abrasive cleaning pad to gently scrape off any remaining residue without damaging the tile surface.

For stubborn grout remnants, vinegar and water solution is effective. Mix equal parts of each in a spray bottle and apply it to the affected area. Allow the solution to sit for 5 to 10 minutes, and then scrub gently with a soft-bristle brush. Finally, rinse the area with clean water and dry the tiles with a soft cloth.

Inspecting the Tile

Once the tiles are clean and free of grout residue, inspect them for any damage or inconsistencies. Check for the following:

  • Cracked or chipped tiles
  • Uneven grout lines
  • Color inconsistencies in the grout or the tile
  • Missing or loose grout

If any issues are identified, take the necessary steps to rectify them before moving on to the final cleaning and finishing process.

By following these steps, you can successfully clean up and finish your tile surface after removing grout, ensuring a professional and polished look.

Grout Replacement Tips

Removing old grout and replacing it with new grout can significantly improve the appearance of your tiles. Before getting started, keep the following suggestions in mind to make the process more efficient and effective.

1. Choose the right grout removal tool: Select a grout removal tool that is appropriate for the size and condition of your grout lines. Manual tools, such as a grout saw or utility knife, are suitable for small areas, while power tools, like oscillating multi-tools or rotary tools, are more efficient for larger spaces.

2. Protect your tiles: As you remove grout, be careful not to damage the surrounding tiles. Use painter’s tape to cover the tile edges, and maintain a gentle pressure when working with power tools.

3. Clean the grout lines: Once the old grout is removed, clean the area thoroughly. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove any loose debris and a damp cloth or sponge to wipe down the grout lines. This will help the new grout adhere properly.

Grout TypeDrying Time
Unsanded Grout24-48 hours
Sanded Grout24-72 hours
Epoxy Grout4-6 hours

4. Select the right type of grout: Choose the appropriate grout for your project based on the tile material, joint width, and desired finish. Unsanded grout is better suited for narrow joints, while sanded grout offers more stability for wider gaps. Epoxy grout is a more durable and water-resistant option, but it may be more challenging to work with.

5. Mix and apply the new grout: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing the grout to achieve the correct consistency. Apply the grout using a rubber float, pressing firmly to fill the joints. Remove excess grout from the tile surfaces with a damp sponge, and allow the appropriate drying time based on the grout type (see table above).

6. Seal the grout: After the new grout has cured, apply a grout sealer to protect it from moisture and stains. This step is especially important in areas exposed to water, such as bathrooms and kitchens.

Leave a Comment