How to Remove Tile Grout


Removing old, stained, or damaged grout from tile can completely transform the look of a tiled surface. With the right tools and techniques, you can remove tile grout efficiently and effectively.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about removing tile grout. We will discuss the different options for grout removal, when you may want to replace the grout, the best tools to use, step-by-step instructions for manual and power grout removal, tips for achieving the best results, and how to apply new grout once the old grout is removed.

Whether you want to update the color or refresh a heavily soiled grout line, this guide will provide all the information you need to successfully remove tile grout yourself. With a little time and effort, you can give tiled surfaces a brand new look by removing and replacing old grout.

When to Consider Removing and Replacing Grout

There are a few key signs that it may be time to remove and replace your existing tile grout:

Discoloration and Staining

Over time, grout can become stained from moisture, soils, and everyday use. A formerly white or light colored grout joint can turn yellow, brown, or gray. Foods, drinks, and other household items that get on the tile surface can also cause stubborn staining. If cleaning alone does not restore the grout to its original color, removal and replacement may be necessary to give it a fresh, uniform appearance.

Cracks and Damage

Cracks in the grout joint are a common issue that occurs as the grout ages and shrinks or settles. The cracks provide a place for dirt and moisture to accumulate, worsening staining or discoloration. Badly cracked or missing grout should be repaired.

Unsightly Repairs

Sometimes DIY repairs are made to damaged or missing grout using a grout that does not match the existing color. This can leave obvious uneven patches. Removing the grout entirely will allow for a consistent appearance when new grout is applied.

Change of Taste

Tastes and design trends change over time. If the color of your existing grout no longer fits your vision for the space, you may want to replace it with something more modern. Popular choices like white and gray can give a more updated, clean look.

Preparing Surface for New Flooring

If you plan to install new floor tile or other flooring on top of the existing tile, you will need to remove the grout to smooth and prepare the surface.

For any of these issues, taking out the grout and replacing it is often the best solution for fixing the appearance and integrity of the tiled area.

Tools and Materials Needed

Removing tile grout requires just a few simple tools and materials:

Grout Saw/Rotary Tool

A rotary tool fitted with a rigid grout removal blade is the most efficient electric tool for taking out old grout. The oscillating blade pulverizes the grout so it can be scraped and swept away with ease. A grout saw blade can be used on a multipurpose rotary tool.

Grout Rake

A hand tool consisting of a handle fitted with a 3-4 inch blade designed to rake out grout. The ones with carbide tips work best. Can be used for manual removal on softer, more deteriorated grout.

Hammer and Chisel

For particularly hard, intact grout, a masonry chisel struck with a hammer can chip away at the grout line. Take care not to damage the tile edges.

Grout Brush/Old Toothbrush

A stiff bristled brush is useful for sweeping away grout debris and getting into corners once the majority has been raked or ground out. An old toothbrush works well too.

Shop Vacuum

Vacuums up the dust and debris created during grout removal. A vacuum with a HEPA filter is ideal to contain the dust.

Safety Gear

Safety glasses to prevent flying debris from getting in eyes, and a dust mask to avoid inhaling any grout dust. Knee pads can also make the work more comfortable when kneeling on a hard surface.


Once the old grout has been taken out, new grout will need to be purchased to replace it. Make sure to get a grout color that matches or complements the tile.

With these basic DIY grout removal tools, you can tackle this project yourself and avoid the cost of hiring a professional.

How to Remove Tile Grout

Once you have gathered the necessary tools, follow these key steps to successfully remove old, damaged grout:

1. Prepare the Workspace

Clear any items off of the floor or countertop surface where you will be removing grout. Have a vacuum ready nearby to continuously clean up dust and debris as you work.

Make sure the area is well-ventilated and wear a dust mask and safety goggles to protect yourself throughout the process. Knee pads can provide cushioning when working on a hard floor.

Cover any nearby surfaces like cabinets and walls with plastic sheeting to protect from flying debris.

2. Loosen the Grout

Use your grout rake, rotary tool, or hammer and chisel to begin breaking up the grout. Work at an angle parallel to the grout line to avoid digging into the tile.

If using a rotary tool, run it along each grout joint to pulverize the grout. Let it spin into the joint; don’t force or press it.

With a grout rake, work the carbide tip down into the joint to scrape and gouge out the grout.

Use light taps with a hammer and chisel to break up intact grout.

Remove all grout from the joint to a depth of at least 1/8 inch. Go deeper if it is badly stained or cracked.

3. Remove the Loose Grout

Once the grout is broken up, use the grout rake, an old toothbrush or the brush end of the vacuum hose to sweep out the debris. Run the vacuum regularly to remove dust and chunks of grout.

Check sides and corners for any remaining grout and use the rake, chisel, or brush to ensure the joint is entirely clean.

4. Clean and Prepare the Area

Sweep or vacuum thoroughly to remove the last of the grout remnants once all joints are cleared out. Clean the tile surface with water and a pH neutral cleaner to remove any remaining film.

Allow the tile to fully dry before applying new grout. Check for any remaining debris in the joint and remove it.

5. Apply New Grout

Follow manufacturer’s instructions when mixing and applying fresh grout. Work it deeply into the clean grout lines using a rubber grout float or squeegee.

After allowing time to cure, clean the excess grout haze from the surface with a soft, damp sponge.

Check for any low spots and re-apply grout as needed to fill the joint completely flush.

Once the new grout has fully cured, seal it with a penetrating grout sealer to protect from future stains.

With these steps, you can successfully revitalize a tile surface by removing old grout and replacing it with new, clean grout.

Tips for Removing Tile Grout Effectively

Follow these tips to get the best results when taking out old or damaged grout:

  • Go slow when using power tools – let the blade do the work, don’t force it.
  • Take care around fragile tile edges and corners.
  • Remove all grout debris as you work to maintain visibility of the joint.
  • Rinse tile surface several times with clean water to remove silt and grout film.
  • Make sure joint is 1/8 inch deep or more for adequate grout adhesion.
  • Allow new grout to cure fully before cleaning off excess haze.
  • Seal grout once fully cured to prevent staining and discoloration.
  • Work in small sections for easiest clean up and to prevent grout from drying too fast.
  • Use buckets of water to dip and rinse hand tools as you work to keep them clean.

With careful technique and by following these tips, you can achieve professional-looking results removing and replacing tile grout.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have some questions about removing and replacing tile grout? Here are answers to some of the most common questions.

What is the easiest way to remove tile grout?

For most tile jobs, using an oscillating grout removal blade on a rotary tool is the quickest and easiest way to take out grout. The spinning blade pulverizes the grout so it can be easily scraped and brushed out of the joint.

Can I use an angle grinder to remove grout?

Angle grinders spin too fast and can damage the tile edges. Variable speed rotary tools provide more control. Look for ones in the 25,000 RPM range along with grout removal specific blades.

How do you soften hard grout to remove it?

For particularly hard, intact grout, softening it first helps. Cover the area with a damp towel and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before attempting removal. You can also try gently tapping the grout line with a hammer to break it up before raking or grinding it out.

What is the best way to remove grout haze?

Grout haze is the thin film of grout residue left on the surface of tiles. Use a lightly dampened sponge in a circular motion to loosen and absorb the haze as the last step when applying new grout. Change rinse water often to remove haze effectively.

Can I use muriatic acid to clean grout?

Yes, a dilute muriatic acid solution can help clean stubborn stains from existing grout. Use extreme caution – wear gloves, eye protection, and work in a well ventilated area. Thoroughly rinse any acid cleaner off tiles.

Should I seal grout after replacing it?

Sealing is highly recommended to protect the clean, new grout from future staining and discoloration. Use a penetrating grout sealer specifically designed for grout. Apply it according to manufacturer instructions after the grout has fully cured.

Is it better to caulk around tiles instead of grouting?

Caulk should only be used where tile meets a change of plane, like the corner between a countertop and backsplash. All other tile joints should be grouted, which provides a more durable joint than caulk. Grout also resists mold and mildew better.


Removing and replacing old, stained, or damaged grout can give tile floors, walls, countertops and other surfaces a brand new look. With the right tools, proper technique, and by following the steps in this guide, you can take on tile grout removal as a DIY project.

While it takes some physical effort, the process is straightforward. Carefully removing all of the old grout, cleaning the joint, and applying fresh grout will leave your tile looking refreshed and clean. Be sure to seal the finished job to protect it.

With a little patience and hard work, you can save money on hiring a pro and tackle grout removal yourself. In just a weekend, you can transform the appearance of a tile surface by swapping out the old grout for new.