Regrouting a tile backsplash can completely transform the look of your kitchen or bathroom. Over time, grout can become stained, cracked, or just look generally grimy. Replacing the grout will make the whole backsplash look brand new again. It’s a relatively easy DIY project that you can knock out in an afternoon. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to regrout tile backsplash.
What You’ll Need
Regrouting tile requires just a handful of supplies:
- Grout removal tool – This handy tool has a carbide tip that helps scrape out old grout.
- Grout saw – For really stubborn grout, a grout saw can cut through and help pry it out.
- Grout haze cleaner – After regrouting, use a cleaner specifically formulated to remove grout haze.
- Grout sealer – Sealing the new grout prevents stains and damage.
- Grout – Pick a grout color that matches or complements your tile. Unsanded grout works best for narrow grout lines.
- Grout float – A grout float helps spread grout evenly across the joints.
- Grout sponge – Use a grout sponge to smooth the grout lines and remove excess.
- Bucket and sponge
- Painter’s tape
- Safety gear – Wear safety goggles and a dust mask when scraping out old grout.
Step 1: Remove Old Grout
Start by clearing everything out of your backsplash area – dishes, appliances, towels, etc. You’ll want plenty of open space to work. Use the grout removal tool to scrape out as much of the old grout as possible. Hold it at a 45° angle and work it back and forth across the grout lines to loosen the grout.
For really stubborn grout, use a grout saw to cut it out. Work slowly and carefully to avoid damaging the tile. Use a hammer and chisel if any bits still won’t come out.
Sweep away all the loose grout and debris as you work. Be sure to wear safety goggles and a dust mask during this step to protect yourself from flying debris.
Step 2: Clean the Tile and Joints
Once all the old grout is removed, wash the entire surface with a household tile cleaner or dish soap and water. Use a scrub brush or sponge to remove any remaining debris and haze from the tile and joints.
Rinse thoroughly and let the tile dry completely before moving on. It’s important there is no moisture left before applying new grout.
Step 3: Apply Painter’s Tape
Apply strips of painter’s tape along the countertop edge or any adjacent surfaces you want to protect from excess grout. You can also tape off decorative borders or accent tiles to keep them separated from the main field while regrouting.
Only apply tape to finished surfaces you want to protect. Don’t tape over any of the joints or tiles you’ll be regrouting.
Step 4: Mix the Grout
Mix up a small batch of grout according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Only mix up as much as you can use within 30 minutes. Grout will start to harden and become unusable after that.
Be sure to use unsanded grout for joints 1/8” or smaller. For wider grout lines up to 1/2″, use sanded grout. Add grout additive if specified. Mix the grout to a thick, peanut butter-like consistency.
Step 5: Spread the Grout
Apply the grout using a grout float held at a 45° angle. Push it diagonally across the joints to fill them completely and remove excess grout.
Work in small sections so the grout doesn’t dry before you have a chance to clean it off the tile. Go over each section several times from different directions to ensure joints are completely packed tight.
Step 6: Clean Excess Grout from the Tile
Once the joints are filled, hold the grout float nearly perpendicular to the surface and scrape it diagonally across the tile to remove excess grout and smooth joints. Take care not to pull grout out of the joints.
Let the grout firm up slightly until a haze forms on the tile. Then use a damp grout sponge to wipe off residual grout and smooth the joints. Rinse the sponge frequently and work in small sections.
Change the rinse water often to prevent haze buildup. Wipe diagonally across the tile so you don’t pull grout out of the joints. Allow the grout to dry for an hour or two. Then rub it with a dry cloth to remove any remaining haze.
Step 7: Remove Painter’s Tape
Once the grout has dried to the touch, carefully remove all the painter’s tape from the edges. Pull the tape slowly at a 90° angle to avoid lifting any grout from the joints.
Wipe along the edges with a damp sponge to clean up any grout that may have seeped underneath. Avoid smearing grout on the countertop or adjacent finishes.
Step 8: Apply Grout Sealer
After allowing the grout to cure fully for 24-48 hours, seal it with a penetrating grout sealer. This provides an invisible barrier that keeps stains from setting into the grout. Apply the sealer as directed on the product label.
Gently buff off any excess sealer with a soft cloth. Avoid walking on the floor or getting the backsplash wet for several hours after sealing. Apply a second coat of sealer if needed for maximum protection.
Tips for Regrouting Tile Backsplash
Follow these pro tips for the best results when tackling this project:
- Go slower than you think you need to when scraping out old grout. Rushing can damage the tile.
- Wider grout lines will be easier to regrout than super skinny joints. Consider wider spacing if redoing from scratch.
- Mix grout thoroughly and add water sparingly for a thick consistency that won’t sag out of joints.
- Limit your workspace to 3-4 sq. ft. sections so grout stays workable as you spread and clean.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby to frequently rinse sponges while cleaning off excess grout.
- Use steady, even pressure when wiping grout off tile to avoid pulling it out of joints.
- Make sure tile is completely dry before sealing grout for maximum absorption.
- Reseal grout once a year to maintain protection and prevent staining.
Common Questions about Regrouting Tile Backsplash
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about regrouting tile backsplash:
Should I use sanded or unsanded grout?
- For narrow grout lines 1/8” or less, use unsanded grout. It flows easily into skinny joints.
- For wider grout lines up to 1/2″, use sanded grout. It resists shrinking and cracking in wider joints.
Does all the old grout need to be removed?
Yes, it’s important to fully remove old grout for the new grout to adhere properly. Any remaining chunks can dislodge later and cause cracks or holes in the joint.
Do the tiles need to be sealed before regrouting?
Sealing tiles before regrouting is not necessary in most cases. Just be sure the tile is clean and dry before applying new grout.
How soon can I get the backsplash wet after regrouting?
Avoid getting the backsplash wet for at least 72 hours after regrouting to allow the grout to fully cure. After that, gentle cleaning is fine.
How long does regrouting tile take?
Plan on regrouting taking 2-6 hours depending on the size of your backsplash. Removing old grout takes up the bulk of the time. The actual regrouting goes fairly quickly.
Should I use a grout bag instead of a float?
A grout bag can be used for regrouting but isn’t necessary. A grout float provides greater control and forces grout firmly into the joints. Bags are better for installation of new small tiles.
How do I apply new grout into the very edges and corners?
Use a small handheld grout float or a grout finger sponge to work grout thoroughly into tight edges and corners. Take care not to drag grout away.
Can I seal the grout right after regrouting?
No, you should wait 24-48 hours for grout to cure before sealing it. Sealing too early can prevent proper curing and lead to issues like slow drying, efflorescence, and staining.
Refreshing the grout on a tile backsplash can make a dramatic difference in the appearance of your kitchen or bath at relatively low cost. With some time and elbow grease, you can handle this straightforward DIY. Just be patient during removal and take care to fully pack the joints when regrouting. Keep the space clean when finished and don’t forget to seal for protection. With proper care, your regrouted backsplash will look pristine for years to come.