This is a situation many people face. You buy a new house, and while using a squeegee on the tile on the walls of the shower, you notice muddy sand coming off the grout. Rubbing your finger along the grout produces a similar effect. What can you do when grout comes off when cleaning? Should you call a builder? A professional? What can they do?
We try to answer your questions. When you notice that grout is falling out, you should never ignore it. It is a sign that there is something wrong with it. Usually, it is because of one of the many grout-sealing mistakes made during the installation process.
Why Grout Falls Out?
This might not be your concern, you just want a new home that works as it should. But you still have to know the reasons. There are two main reasons why grout might suddenly fall out in some spots.
The first major reason is an improper amount of water mixed with the grout during the installation and mixing process. When builders add too much water, it creates an issue with the bonding of the substance. So what happens is instead of holding it strong, it becomes crumbly and falls out within a few months.
The second major issue is that someone attempted to do grout replacing without completely removing the old grout first. When you try to place new grout on top of old grout, it lowers the capabilities of the new grout and makes it likely to fall sooner.
Here are other common reasons why grout comes off when cleaning:
- Moisture issues
- Too much water
- Improper sealing
- Bad grout curing timing
- Wear and tear
- Cleaners that are too harsh
- Too much polymer additive
No matter the reasons, you should definitely address crumbling bathroom grout immediately. You might notice bits and pieces of the grout gathering around your bathroom floor or bathtub.
Grout and moisture
Moisture issues are quite common. And that is because grout and moisture do not get along. One of the biggest causes of peeling and cracked grout is moisture. What happens is moisture can find its way into the smallest and most porous areas of the grout. There, it becomes trapped and over time will cause mold and mildew to develop.
Eventually, it leads to premature disintegration of the grout. Remember, bathrooms are usually humid environments. It can happen fairly quickly if the grout has not been sealed.
Another area in your home that often encounters moisture issues is the garage. Taking proactive DIY steps to dehumidify your garage and other parts of your house can help you avoid the additional expenses associated with hiring a professional to address moisture-related problems.
Can you put new grout over old grout?
As you remember, we said previously this might be one of the reasons grout is falling off. You can apply new grout over the old grout if it needs replacing. Yet, it depends on the height of the grout.
If it is too high, the new grout will not fit into the grout joints. It will result in grout spilling over onto the top of the surrounding stone tiles. Eventually, it will crack and fall off.
Do you have to remove all grout when regrouting?
It is always a better idea that you do it. Yes, you can do with the old grout if it is not in terrible condition. But in most cases, you will need to remove all of it. Sometimes, you might not need to remove much.
Removing any dirty grout is imperative as the new grout will need something to bond to something.
As we know, grout is mostly made of cement. So, as it dries, it will harden and break off it is not properly bonded to a solid surface. In some cases, the solid surface is actually the old layer of grout.
DIY Grout Repair
In most cases, the best course of action is to call a professional that will get the job done. Yet, if you want to do it on a smaller budget as a DIY project, it is possible. Before you begin, make sure to clean the grout before removing any cracked or loose pieces. This way you can match the color of the existing grout with the replacement grout.
Remember safety considerations. That means wearing eye protection during grout repair and a dust mask so that you do not breathe in grout dust or mold.
Step 1 – Clean the broken grout
The best DIY way to clean broken grout is with a white vinegar and water mixture. Mix equal parts in a bowl or bucket, and then dip a clean toothbrush or scrub brush in the solution. Scrub the damaged grout until the dirt and grime come off.
Step 2 – Buy new grout
It is time to buy new grout, but get one that matches your existing grout color. That is unless you remove all existing grout. Use sample grout chips to find a color match. These are available in most home improvement stores. You can lighten the new grout by adding more water when you mix it. Use less water if the original grout color is darker.
Step 3 – Remove damaged grout
You can use a grout saw to remove the damaged grout. It is a small and handheld blade that fits between the tile. Place it over the damaged grout and move it back and forth. Think of it like scrubbing away the old grout. Be careful not to damage the tile floor. Continue until the top layer has been broken up into pieces.
Step 4 – Vacuum grout particles
Use the hose attachment on your vacuum cleaner to make sure pieces of the old grout are cleared out of the gap between the tiles.
Step 5 – Wet the tile
Before you can move into the grout repair process, you need to give your surface a thorough cleaning. With a wet grout sponge prepare the tiles for the new grout. Use a paper towel to absorb any excess water that puddles in the joints.
If you use epoxy grout, make sure the new tile is completely dry before any grout application.
Step 6 – Apply new grout
Use a grout float to fill the gaps with the mixture. Scoop some of the grout mixture out of the bucket using the padded part of your grout float. Be generous, and then press the mixture into the gap until it is completely filled.
Step 7 – Remove any excess grout
There can always be excess grout. So, hold the gloat at a 45-degree angle with the floor. Drag the edge of it over the gap to scrape up the excess grout.
Step – Let the grout set
Now it is time for some patience. Wait for up to 30 minutes for the grout to dry and set. After 30 minutes, you can clear away any excess grout with a damp grout sponge. Squeeze out all excess water before you use it. Do not use a soaking wet sponge. This might damage the new grout. As we said before, moisture and excess water are the biggest enemies of grout.
Step 9 – Apply a sealant
Grout repair is an effective way to refresh old and damaged tile grout. But always apply a sealant once you are done.
When to hire a professional?
If your grout continues to chip or crack after you have repaired it, it might be time to call in the professionals. This might happen because the tile underlayment is uneven and/or exposed to moisture.
Do not try to salvage the remaining grout. Chances are it is all defective, so it will likely fail soon. You need to hire professionals that will completely remove the grout and apply a new one to the tile joints.
So, when you notice grout comes off when cleaning, there are two options. Try to repair it yourself, or if you are truly a novice, call in the professionals.
In any case, it is not normal when grout comes off when you rub your finger over the grout line.