Easy tile repair

Extend the life of your tile floor by regrouting

By Gary Rudy


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Even a small hairline crack in grout will let water seep behind the tiles into the surface below. The good news is that if you catch the cracks in time, the fix can be as easy as scraping out old grout and applying new grout into the joint. But if it goes on too long, the tiles will become loose and you shouldn’t expect to secure them just by fixing the grout.

Grout is meant to bind tiles together, but it won’t keep them stuck down. If your tiles are loose or broken, first pry off the loose ones and cut down the ridges of old adhesive on both the tile and substrate. Let the exposed area dry, then reset the tile with adhesive. After that, you can repair the grout in the surrounding joints.

Removing old grout

Regrouting tile isn’t really difficult, but, depending on the size of the tiled area, scraping out the old grout can be a tedious job. A carbide-tipped grout saw will speed things up-it’s really the best tool for this job. The carbide cutting surface helps the tool stay sharp for a long time. That said, if you have a particularly large area to repair, there are a variety of power tools that can be fitted with carbide cutters to help speed up the work. Just keep in mind that tools with carbide cutters, both manual and power, will also cut ceramic tiles and anything else around them just as well as they remove grout. The key here is to go slowly until you get the hang of the tool’s motion.

How much Is enough?

How deep you need to go depends on how deep the existing damage is and how wide the grout joint is. The wider and more heavily damaged the joints are, the deeper the removal should be. Count on removing at least 1/8″ of material.

To do a first-class job, you should remove all the grout in the tiled area, but it’s OK to remove only the damaged grout and match the colour of the new grout to the old. You may have to experiment with grout samples to get a good colour match.

Once the grouting is complete, be sure to apply a sealer-it will help the grout stay cleaner and last longer. The tiles used in this project are terra cotta, which can be very porous, so if they’re in a potentially damp location, they should be sealed to protect them from absorbing moisture and dirt.

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