How to Remove Grout from a Backsplash

Removing old, stained, or damaged grout from a tile backsplash can refresh the look of your kitchen or bathroom. With some simple tools and techniques, you can remove grout effectively without damaging the tiles. This comprehensive guide will walk you through all the steps for successfully removing grout from a backsplash.

What You’ll Need to Remove Grout

Gather the necessary tools and materials before starting to remove grout to ensure an efficient process:

  • Grout removal tool – A carbide-tipped grout saw, rotary tool, or oscillating multi-tool works best to scrape out old grout.
  • Hammer and chisel – Use a masonry hammer and cold chisel to chip away stubborn grout.
  • Putty knife or paint scraper – A stiff putty knife or paint scraper can also help scrape out grout.
  • Grout rake – This specialized tool has teeth to rake along grout lines.
  • Safety gear – Wear safety goggles, mask, and gloves to protect yourself from debris.
  • Vacuum – Use a shop vac to suck up grout dust and debris as you work.
  • Grout haze remover – A chemical grout haze remover helps remove a film residue.
  • Clean water and sponges – Have clean water and grout sponges on hand to wipe the tiles.
  • Drop cloths – Cover surfaces to protect from dust and debris.

How to Remove Grout from Wall Tile

Follow these steps to safely and effectively remove grout from a tile backsplash:

1. Prepare the Workspace

  • Clear the area around the backsplash and cover surfaces with drop cloths.
  • Have all your tools, materials, and safety gear ready.
  • Provide proper ventilation by opening windows or using fans.
  • Use painter’s tape to cover any walls or surfaces not being regrouted.

2. Loosen Grout with a Carbide Grout Saw

  • Mark out a section to work on, about 1-2 sq. ft. at a time.
  • Set the grout saw blade to a 45° angle and hold it firmly.
  • Run the saw along each grout line to scrape and loosen the old grout.
  • Apply light pressure and go slowly to avoid digging into the tiles.

3. Remove Loose Grout with a Grout Rake

  • Use short, light strokes and rake the grout rake diagonally along the grout lines to scrape out the loose grout.
  • Clean out all the grout debris as you go with a vacuum hose held close.
  • Avoid digging the teeth against the tile faces.

4. Use a Hammer and Chisel for Stubborn Grout

  • For any remaining grout that sticks, use a masonry hammer and cold chisel.
  • Hold the chisel at a 45° angle against the grout line and lightly tap.
  • The hammer impact will chip away the old grout.
  • Angle the chisel slightly under hardened grout edges to lift them up.

5. Clean with a Grout Haze Remover

  • Once all grout is removed, use a grout haze remover as directed.
  • Apply the remover to the tile surface and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes.
  • Agitate with a grout brush or white nylon pad to fully dissolve any film.
  • Wipe the tiles clean with a sponge and rinse thoroughly. Allow to fully dry.

6. Vacuum and Dispose of Debris

  • Thoroughly vacuum up all remaining dust, dirt and grout debris.
  • Dispose of the collected mess properly.
  • Wipe the tiles down once more with a dry microfiber cloth.

Tips for Removing Grout from Backsplash Tiles

Follow these tips and techniques for best results when removing grout:

  • Work in small sections – Don’t try to remove all the grout at once. Work in manageable 1-2 sq. ft sections.
  • Loosen on sides first – Loosen the grout on the sides where the saw can run vertically first. This allows the grout to release better.
  • Apply light pressure – Avoid pressing too hard against tiles, which can scratch or chip them. Let the tools do the work.
  • Angle tools properly – Hold grout saws and chisels at 45° to avoid gouging into tile faces or corners.
  • Rinse often – Rinse tiles frequently to keep dust and debris from building up.
  • Check for low spots – Occasionally wipe with a damp sponge to reveal any low spots needing more removal.
  • Be patient – Removing all grout takes time. Don’t rush and damage tiles or leave grout behind.

Removing Grout Haze from Tiles

Once old grout is removed, a cloudy grout haze often remains on tiles. Use these steps to remove it:

  • Mix a grout haze remover solution per product instructions. Apply it to the backsplash.
  • Let the solution sit for 5-10 minutes so it can dissolve the haze. Agitate with a stiff nylon brush.
  • Scrub tiles with a clean grout sponge in circular motions to remove residue.
  • Rinse the backsplash several times with sponges and clean water to remove all traces of cleaner.
  • Wipe down with a microfiber cloth once tiles are clean and dry.

Regrouting a Backsplash After Removal

After grout is removed and tiles are cleaned, follow these tips for regrouting:

  • Allow tiles to dry fully for at least 24 hours before regrouting.
  • Vacuum out any remaining debris from grout joints with a shop vac.
  • Use painter’s tape to cover walls, countertops, or surfaces not being regrouted.
  • Mix and apply new grout per manufacturer instructions.
  • Use a rubber grout float to spread grout into the empty joints.
  • Let it cure, then clean excess grout haze following product directions.
  • Avoid wiping or cleaning the new grout for at least 72 hours as it fully cures.

Common Questions about Removing Grout

Can I use vinegar to remove grout?

Yes, vinegar can help break down and dissolve grout residue. Mix equal parts white vinegar and warm water and scrub onto the backsplash with a stiff brush. Rinse thoroughly afterward. Start with an inconspicuous test spot first.

What is the fastest way to remove old grout?

For speed, use an oscillating multi-tool or rotary tool with a carbide grout blade attachment. Run the blade carefully along grout lines to scrape it out quickly. Just take care not to gouge the tiles.

Should I remove all old grout before regrouting?

It’s best to remove all old grout so the new grout can adhere properly. Any loose, crumbling grout left behind can weaken the regrouting job. Thorough removal also prevents different grout colors from showing.

How do I remove hardened grout from tile corners?

Use a carbide grout saw to cut out as much of the old grout as possible first. Then switch to a chisel and gently hammer at any remaining stubborn grout in corners. Take care not to chip tile edges.

Can I use an oscillating tool to remove grout?

Yes, an oscillating multi-tool with a grout removal blade is an excellent option. Run it along grout lines using controlled motions. Just avoid pressing too hard against tile surfaces, which can scratch them.


Removing grout from a backsplash or tile surface takes some work, but is doable as a DIY project. With the proper tools and techniques, you can eliminate old, failing grout and prepare the surface for fresh grout. Always test solutions and methods in inconspicuous areas first. Tile can easily be damaged if you aren’t careful. Take your time, work in small sections, and make safety a priority. The end result will revitalize the look of your backsplash.

How to Prevent Damage to Tiles When Removing Grout

When removing old or failing grout from a tile backsplash, it’s essential to avoid damaging the tiles themselves. Here are some tips to help prevent tile damage during grout removal:

Use protective materials – Cover countertops and surfaces with rosin paper or plastic sheets to protect from errant hammer strikes or debris. Use painter’s tape on exposed tile edges.

Take it slowly – Work cautiously in small sections, not rushing through removal. Go slowly with grout saws or chisels placed at proper 45° angles.

Follow directions – Closely follow product directions for any chemical grout removers to prevent damaging tiles or seeping under edges. Don’t let solutions sit too long.

Avoid excess pressure – Pressing too hard with tools can fracture tile edges or corners. Let the cutting action do the work.

Keep tiles wet – Frequently rinse tiles and grout lines with water to keep dust down. This prevents abrasive particles from scratching tiles.

Check for unseen damage – Periodically wipe tiles down with a damp sponge to reveal any scratches or chips that need gentle treatment.

Use clean tools – Buildup of grout debris on removal tools can scrape or scratch tiles. Rinse often.

Limit hammer use – Use hammers and chisels minimally near fragile tiles or thin grout lines. The impact can crack tiles.

Fill chip carefully – For minor corner or edge chips, fill carefully with a colored epoxy resin that matches the tile. Follow curing directions.

Hire a pro if needed – Some tile jobs may require calling in a professional grout removal company to prevent damage.

With careful precautions, you can successfully remove grout without harming surrounding tiles. Slow down and take extra care around delicate tiles or fragile grout lines.

Cleaning and Sealing Grout

Freshly cleaning and sealing grout after removing old grout and regrouting helps protect the finish and appearance of the backsplash. Here are some tips:

Cleaning New Grout

  • Allow new grout to cure fully for 3-7 days before cleaning to prevent smearing or haze.
  • Mix a mild pH-neutral cleaner with water per product directions. Avoid acid-based cleaners.
  • Apply cleaner to grouted area and let sit briefly before scrubbing with a stiff nylon brush.
  • Rinse several times with clean water and sponges to remove cleaner residue.
  • Vinegar and water or hydrogen peroxide solutions also work to clean grout.
  • Avoid harsh scrubbing, which can pull out or damage fresh grout.

Sealing Grout

  • Allow new grout to cure fully for at least 72 hours before sealing.
  • Choose a water-based penetrating sealer made for grout. Avoid film-forming sealers.
  • Follow product directions to apply a thin, even layer of sealer to grout lines.
  • Wipe away excess sealer and allow to dry fully before using shower or sink.
  • Reapply grout sealer every 6-12 months depending on usage and sealer lifespan.
  • Caulk perimeter joints between countertop and tile edges after sealing.

Sealing and protecting regrouted areas keeps moisture, stains, and dirt from penetrating the finish over time.

Grout Color Considerations

Choosing a grout color when regrouting a backsplash is an important design decision. Here are some color considerations:

Matching Existing Grout Color

  • If you want the new grout to blend seamlessly, match the color of the old grout as closely as possible.
  • Bring a sample of the original grout to the home improvement store for an accurate match. White and off-white are common backsplash grout colors.
  • Matching the existing color maintains a uniform appearance. Just ensure you remove all old grout so the colors don’t clash.

Complementary Grout Colors

  • Alternatively, choose a grout color that complements the tiles rather than an exact match.
  • Lighter grout colors accent darker tiles, while darker grouts can make light tiles pop.
  • For a modern backsplash, use bright white grout with boldly colored tiles.
  • Contrasting grout lines lend definition and visual interest to the tile pattern.

Grout Color Precautions

  • Stick with neutral grout colors like white, gray, tan, or black, which won’t clash later if you redecorate.
  • Avoid loud, trendy grout colors, which look gaudy and date the backsplash over time.
  • If using mosaic sheets of small tiles, white or very light grout is best to avoid a distracting grid effect.
  • Make sure to seal grout after installation to lock in the color and prevent staining.

The right grout color choice can beautifully complement the tile design or subtly match the existing look.

Grout Width Considerations

The spacing width of grout lines on a backsplash impacts the appearance and durability of the tile job. Follow these guidelines:

Standard Grout Line Width

  • The typical grout line width for most backsplashes is 1/8 inch. This is ideal for 4×4-inch tiles or larger.
  • Wider tiles should use wider grout lines of 1/4 to 3/8 inch so joints don’t look undersized relative to the tiles.
  • Mosaic sheets made of small tiles are also suited for thin 1/8-inch grout lines.

Benefits of Standard Widths

  • Grout lines of 1/8 inch provide a clean, uniform look on most backsplash installations.
  • Grout installed in these recommended widths cures solidly and offers good durability.
  • The width is thick enough to prevent cracking from tile movement or vibration over time.
  • Standard grout line sizes result in a proportional, balanced look consistent with industry norms.

When to Use Thicker Grout

  • Use larger 3/16- or 1/4-inch grout lines for natural stone tiles, which benefit from more grout.
  • Wider grout widths work better on floors than walls to account for more direct impacts.
  • Thicker grout lines add stability between uneven handmade tiles with dimensional variations.

Aim for the standard 1/8- to 1/4-inch grout line width when regrouting unless the tile or application calls for thicker grout.

Tips for Even, Attractive Grout Lines

Careful regrouting technique ensures straight, consistent grout lines that enhance the backsplash appearance:

  • Use tile spacers during installation to maintain even grout widths.
  • Hold the grout float at a consistent 45-degree angle to pack joints. Don’t angle it too steeply.
  • Apply grout in smooth, diagonal strokes following the joint lines to fill evenly.
  • Check for low spots as you go and repack if needed to prevent hollow joints.
  • Avoid excess water when sponging that can wash out grout creating low spots.
  • Gently cleanse and rinse grout haze in a circular motion to avoid pulling grout from joints.
  • Allow proper grout cure time and avoid heavy scrubbing that can distort lines.
  • Caulk edge joints between counter and tiles, not grout, for smooth finish.
  • Use sanded grout for wider joints, which resist shrinking and cracking.
  • Always seal grout once fully cured to maximize stain resistance and color consistency.

Proper technique and care will create durable, attractive grout lines that enhance your new backsplash.

Troubleshooting Grout Removal Problems

Removing old grout can sometimes run into issues. Here’s how to troubleshoot common problems:

Problem: Grout saw blade skidding on surface of tiles.

Solution: Ensure blade is held at proper 45° angle and apply light pressure. Dampen tiles first to reduce friction.

Problem: Grout breaking into chunks but not fully dislodging from joints.

Solution: Use chisel to carefully pry up remaining chunks. Widen grout lines with saw to get full removal.

Problem: Tile chipping or cracking during removal process.

Solution: Ease up on pressure applied. Carefully widen joints to release stuck grout. Prevent future damage by using protective materials.

Problem: Grout rake removing very little residue after loosening with saw.

Solution: Saw grout lines deeper to loosen fully. Vacuum often to clear debris so rake can scrape better.

Problem: Tiles have significant haze, residue, or scratches after cleaning

Solution: Re-clean with grout haze remover following directions precisely. Use pH-neutral cleaner and soft sponge. Consider calling a tile cleaning professional if damage is extensive.

Problem: New grout already staining or discoloring.

Solution: Verify full curing period was allowed before cleaning. Reseal grout with a quality penetrating sealer suited for the grout type.

Carefully follow all preparation, removal, and cleaning steps to prevent issues. Address problems promptly to restore tiles and grout to their best condition.

FAQs About Removing Grout from Backsplash

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about removing grout from a kitchen or bathroom backsplash:

What’s the easiest way to remove old grout?

For DIY removal, an oscillating multi-tool with a grout blade is often the easiest method. The powered blade simplifies scraping out old grout by hand.

Can I use an epoxy grout remover chemical?

It’s best to avoid chemical removers on tile as they can seep under edges and damage the tiles. Manual removal with proper tools is safer for tiles.

How do I remove sanded caulk from between backsplash tiles?

Use a utility knife or oscillating tool to cut through the old caulk down to the bottom edge. Then