Repairing cracked grout in a backsplash is an important maintenance task that helps protect the integrity of your backsplash. With time and use, grout can become dried out and brittle, leading to cracks that allow moisture to seep in behind the tiles. Thankfully, repairing cracked grout is a relatively easy DIY project for most homeowners.
Assessing the Damage
The first step is to thoroughly inspect the backsplash and identify all areas where the grout has cracked. Look closely at the grout lines between each tile and take note of any fissures or breakages. Pay special attention around the perimeter edges of the backsplash and around any protrusions like faucets or soap dispensers where grout tends to crack more frequently.
It’s also important to determine if the cracks are limited to the grout or if the tiles themselves are also cracked or damaged. Grout can be repaired, but broken tiles will need to be replaced.
Cleaning the Area
Before applying new grout, you’ll need to clean the area thoroughly to remove any dirt, grease, or grime that has built up over time. Start by mixing a solution of warm water and vinegar or a specialized grout cleaner per the product’s instructions. Apply the cleaning solution over the grout lines and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes.
Use a soft-bristle hand grout brush to scrub the grout lines and work the cleaning solution into the cracks. You can also use an old toothbrush for this. Take care not to scratch the tiles. Rinse the area well with clean water and repeat until the old grout lines are clean. Allow the area to dry fully.
Removing the Damaged Grout
For hairline cracks, you can likely apply new grout directly over the old. But for larger cracks or crumbling grout, it’s best to fully remove the damaged grout to allow for proper repairs. Use a grout removal tool, which you can find at any hardware store. Hold the tool at a 45-degree angle along the grout line and gently work it back and forth to rake out the old grout.
Alternatively, you can use a dremel tool with a grout removal bit to dig out old grout. Just be very careful not to scratch the tiles with the rotary tool. Thoroughly clean out all loose grout until you expose a clean, solid grout edge on either side of the crack.
Applying New Grout
Once the area is prepped, you’re ready to apply fresh grout. Sanded caulk works well for most backsplash repairs. Squeeze the grout directly into the cleaned cracks and gaps between tiles. Use a plastic applicator or your finger to press the grout into the voids, filling completely and smoothing flush with the tiles.
Remove any excess, wiping the surrounding tiles clean as you work. Allow the new grout to dry per package directions, usually about 24 hours. Once dry, take a damp sponge and lightly buff over the re-grouted area to remove any haze or grout residue.
Sealing the Grout
As a final step, seal the repaired grout lines with a penetrating grout sealer, which will provide added protection from moisture and cracking. Use a small paintbrush to apply a thin, even coat of sealer over all grout lines, wiping any excess off the tile surfaces as you go.
Allow the sealer to fully cure per the manufacturer’s directions. Reapply grout sealer annually as part of routine backsplash maintenance.
Properly repairing cracks and re-grouting your backsplash will help prevent leaks, mold growth, and further damage. With a little time and effort, you can keep your backsplash looking fresh and intact for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions About Repairing Cracked Backsplash Grout
What kind of grout should I use to repair my backsplash?
For small cracks, a premixed grout caulk works well for backsplash repairs. Make sure to use a grout caulk that matches the existing grout color. For more significant repairs, use a sanded grout that is suitable for joints wider than 1/8″.
How long does new grout need to dry before sealing?
New grout should cure for 24-48 hours before applying a protective sealer. This allows the grout to fully hydrate and harden. Sealing too early can lead to issues like soft or powdery grout.
Should I use epoxy grout to repair my backsplash?
Epoxy grout provides excellent adhesion and durability. However, it can be more difficult to work with and is not necessary for most backsplash repairs. Standard cementitious grout is easier to apply correctly.
Can I just apply new grout over the old?
For small hairline cracks, applying new grout over the old is fine. But for cracks wider than 1/16″ it is best to fully remove the damaged grout first to allow for proper repairs.
How can I match the new grout color to my existing grout?
Take a small piece of the original grout to the hardware store. They can do a custom color match and provide grout in the same color. Be sure to match the texture (sanded vs. non-sanded) as well.
What is the best grout sealer to use on my backsplash?
Look for a penetrating sealer formulated for grout. Water-based silicone or acrylic sealers work well to protect grout without altering the appearance. Solvent-based epoxy sealers provide the greatest protection.
How often should I reseal my backsplash grout?
For high traffic kitchen backsplashes, plan to reapply grout sealer every 1-2 years. Bathroom backsplash grout may need sealing every 6 months to 1 year. Inspect annually and touch up sooner if you notice wear, fading or cracks developing.
Repairing cracked and crumbling grout in backsplash areas helps maintain the appearance and integrity of the tiles. With some cleaning, scraping, re-grouting, and sealing, you can fix common grout issues and prevent further deterioration. Pay close attention to properly removing old grout and preparing the area before applying fresh grout. Sealing the grout provides lasting protection. With these simple DIY steps, you can keep your backsplash looking great for years to come.