Regrouting a backsplash tile can help revive your kitchen or bathroom. With time, grout can become stained, cracked, or just look worn. Replacing the grout will make the whole backsplash look fresh and new again. Regrouting backsplash tile is possible for most homeowners to DIY. With some time and effort, you can give your backsplash an updated look.
What is Grout?
Grout is the material used to fill in the spaces between tiles. Its purpose is both functional and aesthetic. Grout helps seal the joints between tiles to prevent moisture from seeping through. It also gives a finished look to the tiled surface.
The most common type of grout used for backsplashes is sanded grout. Sanded grout contains fine sand particles that help it bond firmly in the joints. It creates durable grouted lines between tiles.
Unsanded grout is also available. It has a smoother texture and is best for narrow grout lines under 1/8 inch wide. Unsanded grout is more frequently used for wall tiles and mosaics.
Epoxy grout is a chemical-based option often used in showers. It resists stains and moisture better than cement-based grouts. However, epoxy grout is difficult to remove once cured, making it a poor choice for regrouting projects.
Signs It’s Time to Regrout
There are a few telltale signs that indicate it’s time to regrout your backsplash:
- Crumbling or missing grout: Grout can deteriorate over time, leaving cracks or vacant sections between tiles. This allows moisture to seep through, leading to potential damage.
- Discoloration: Grout that was once white or light in color can become stained and yellowed. Cleaning alone often won’t restore its original appearance.
- Grout haze: When grout loses its vibrancy, it can leave a cloudy haze over the entire backsplash. This dulls the look of the tile.
- Cracks or pitting: Tiny cracks and pops can form in the grout. These provide places for dirt, grease, and bacteria to accumulate.
- Loose tiles: As grout wears down, tiles can begin to shift or lift up. This requires regrouting to stabilize the tiles.
If your backsplash shows any of these signs, it likely needs new grout. The process of regrouting will refresh the look and help prevent further tile damage.
Should I Hire a Professional?
Regrouting a backsplash is a manageable DIY project for many homeowners. If you are comfortable with home repairs and have basic tiling experience, you can probably handle it yourself.
However, there are some instances when you may want to bring in a professional:
- Your backsplash has intricate tile patterns or unusual shapes that make grouting difficult.
- You have natural stone tiles like marble or travertine that could stain if the wrong grout is used.
- The tiles cover a very large area like a full wall or commercial kitchen.
- There are signs the subsurface is damaged and requires repairs.
- You don’t have the time or patience for a lengthy regrouting project.
Pros can complete the job quickly with expertise. But if budget is a concern and the project seems manageable, a DIY regrouting can save money.
How to Regrout a Backsplash
Follow these steps to regrout a backsplash tile wall:
- Grout removal tool or oscillating multi-tool
- Grout saw or sharp utility knife
- Bucket for mixing grout
- Grout float for spreading grout
- Grout sponge
- Vacuum with brush attachment
- Tarp or drop cloth
- Tile caulk and caulk gun
- Tile sealing product (optional)
Step 1: Remove the Old Grout
Use a grout removal tool, multi-tool, or manual grout saw to rake out all the old grout. Work diagonally across the tiles to avoid digging into the grout lines. Take care not to scratch or chip the tile edges.
Vacuum up all the grout debris as you work. Be sure to get into the corners and crevices of the mosaic tiles. Removing all old grout is vital for proper adhesion of new grout.
Step 2: Widen Grout Lines If Needed
Check your tile manufacturer’s recommendations for optimal grout line width. Many recommend 1/8 inch width for backsplashes. If your grout lines are very thin, use a utility knife to carefully cut them wider.
This provides enough room for the new grout to adhere properly. Wider grout lines also resist cracking better.
Step 3: Prep the Surface
Wipe a damp sponge across the entire backsplash to remove any remaining debris. Once dry, apply a tile sealer if recommended by your grout brand. This provides a protective barrier for porous natural stone.
If any tile edges have cracks or damage, use waterproof caulk to seal them. This prevents moisture from getting behind the tile.
Step 4: Mix and Apply New Grout
Prepare the grout mix according to the package directions. Only mix up as much as you can use in 30 minutes. Using a grout float, spread the grout diagonally across the tiles to pack the joints.
Hold the float at a 45° angle and use firm pressure. Ensure all gaps and corners are completely filled.
Step 5: Clean Excess Grout
Let the grout sit for about 15 minutes until slightly hardened. Then use a damp grout sponge in a circular motion to gently remove excess grout from the surface of the tiles. Rinse the sponge frequently to keep the water clean.
Work diagonally and take care not to pull grout out of the joints. Allow the grout to cure fully for 24-48 hours.
Step 6: Seal and Finish
Once cured, use a soft cloth to apply a final coat of tile sealer to protect porous grout. Caulk where the backsplash meets the countertop or walls. Finally, buff the tiles with a microfiber cloth to reveal their clean, revitalized look.
And that’s it! With some elbow grease and attention to detail, you can successfully regrout a backsplash and make it look brand new.
Tips for Regrouting Backsplash Tiles
Follow these tips and tricks for the best regrouting results:
- Choose a grout color that matches or complements the tile color for a seamless look.
- For heavy-use backsplashes, consider epoxy or urethane grout for maximum stain resistance.
- Apply grout release or wax paper over delicate tile to prevent staining before grouting.
- Don’t grout bottom or edge tiles until installing any adjacent materials to avoid leaving gaps.
- Grout lines wider than 1/8 inch may crack – use caulk instead for wide joints.
- Use only unsanded grout for polished marble tiles to prevent scratches.
- Change the grout sponge water frequently to avoid spreading a haze over tiles.
- Cure grout fully before sealing or applying final caulk.
- Grout sealers add protection but require reapplying annually.
Maintaining Backsplash Grout
With proper care, your newly regrouted backsplash should last for many years. Here are some tips for keeping the grout looking fresh:
- Sweep or dust backsplash area daily to prevent buildup of grime in grout lines.
- Immediately wipe up any food, grease or liquid spills on the backsplash. Don’t let stains set.
- Clean backsplash at least weekly using mild dish soap and warm water. Avoid harsh cleaners.
- Reapply grout sealer every 1-2 years as needed to repel stains.
- Recaulk where backsplash meets wall or countertop if gaps appear.
- Monitor grout lines for signs of wear or cracking and regrout affected areas.
- Consider partial regrouting only problem spots annually to maintain appearance.
- For heavy use kitchen backsplashes, completely regrouting every 3-5 years may be needed.
With attentive cleaning and sealing, your freshly regrouted backsplash can continue looking revitalized for many years before needing another full regrout.
FAQs About Regrouting Backsplash Tiles
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about regrouting backsplash tiles:
Should I use sanded or unsanded grout?
Use sanded grout for joints wider than 1/8 inch. The sand particles help it adhere firmly. For narrow grout lines under 1/8 inch, use unsanded grout which has a smoother texture.
Does all the old grout need to be removed?
Yes, it’s vital to remove all traces of old grout for the new application to bond successfully. Dig out every bit using a grout saw, multi tool, or manual scraping.
How long does regrouting a backsplash take?
Plan on regrouting taking 2-3 hours for a 6 sq.ft. area. Removal of old grout is the most time-consuming step. The actual grouting can be done in under an hour once prepped.
Can I just regrout parts of the backsplash?
Spot regrouting only stained or cracked areas is possible. Use a grout saw to carefully remove the old grout just in that spot before regrouting. Match grout colors.
How soon can I get the backsplash wet after regrouting?
Wait a full 72 hours before exposing regrouted areas to moisture. This allows the new grout to fully cure and prevent softening or washing out of the joints.
How do I prevent staining while regrouting natural stone tile?
Apply a quality grout release or wax paper prior to spreading grout. This creates a protective barrier if pigmented grout accidentally smears on the stone.
Should I seal my backsplash tiles when regrouting?
Sealing porous tiles beforehand provides added protection. But sealer isn’t mandatory for a regrout job. Apply a grout sealer once cured for ongoing stain resistance.
What’s the best way to apply new grout?
Hold a rubber grout float at a 45° angle and force grout deeply into joints. Wipe diagonally across the tiles to pack gaps. Let it firm up slightly before cleaning off excess from the tiles.
Can I use epoxy grout for kitchen backsplash regrouting?
Epoxy or urethane grout resists stains well in wet areas. But it is permanent and difficult to remove. Make sure you want to commit to epoxy before using it to regrout a backsplash.
Reviving your backsplash with new grout can make a dramatic difference in your kitchen or bath at a reasonable cost. With some elbow grease and attention to detail, a DIYer can achieve a successful regrouting.
Be sure to fully remove all old grout, widen joints as needed, and apply new quality grout using the proper float technique. Allow several days curing time before sealing or exposing the backsplash to moisture. Then keep it looking fresh with regular cleaning and maintenance.
With this process, you can extend the life of your existing backsplash tile and avoid a full replacement. Regrouting those worn grout lines will help your backsplash look as good as new again.