How to Stain Grout to Change Its Color

Changing the color of your grout can transform the look of your tile floors or walls. Staining grout allows you to alter the color without having to completely redo the grouting. It’s a cost-effective way to update the appearance of your tile.

What is Grout Staining?

Grout staining is the process of applying a penetrating grout dye or stain to change the color of existing grout. Grout stains contain pigments that are absorbed into the pores of the grout, altering its appearance.

Unlike paint or coatings that sit on top of the grout, stains penetrate below the surface and color the grout from within. This allows the color to resist wear and last longer than surface coatings.

Staining provides a permanent color change that won’t chip, peel, or rub off like paints. It’s also easier to apply than painting grout and doesn’t leave brush stroke marks.

Benefits of Staining Grout

There are several advantages to staining grout rather than replacing it:

  • Less expensive – Recoloring with a stain costs a fraction of what it would cost to regrout. Grout stains typically run $10 to $30 depending on the size of the project.
  • Long-lasting results – Grout stains are absorbed below the surface for a permanent color change that won’t scratch or peel. The color won’t fade over time like surface coatings.
  • Quick application – Staining grout goes much faster than regrouting. There’s no need to scrape out and reapply new grout.
  • Less mess – Grout staining is a cleaner process than regrouting. There’s no demo of the old grout or sanding required.
  • Maintains texture – Staining preserves the existing texture of the grout. New grout can look uneven as it settles.
  • Any color possible – Grout stains come in any color imaginable, allowing you to customize the look.

For a simple DIY update, grout staining is the easiest and most affordable way to change grout color.

Should I Stain or Regrout?

If your grout is cracking, crumbling, missing in spots, or becoming loose, then it may be time to re-grout. Staining won’t fix structural issues with failing grout.

But if the grout is intact and you simply want to freshen up the color, staining is the better option.

Factors to consider when deciding whether to stain or regrout:

  • Condition – If the grout has wear but is not severely damaged, staining can renew the color. If the grout is patched, missing, or cracking apart, regrouting may be needed.
  • Desired color – Staining allows you to transform the color to anything you wish. If you want a drastic color change, staining provides endless options.
  • Convenience – Staining is significantly easier and less time consuming than regrouting. Consider if you want a quick weekend project or major renovation.
  • Budget – Staining costs a fraction compared to a full grout replacement project. If budget is a factor, staining delivers an affordable fix.

Staining is ideal for refreshing grout color. For extensive grout repairs, a full regrouting may be required. Talk to a tile professional if you’re unsure whether your grout needs staining or replacement.

Cleaning Grout before Staining

Thoroughly cleaning the grout is one of the most important prep steps before staining. Grease, dirt, and soap scum left on the grout can prevent the stain from adhering and achieving an even color.

Follow these steps to clean grout:

Supplies Needed

  • Grout brush or old toothbrush
  • Bucket and scrub pads
  • Grout cleaner or mix of water and vinegar
  • Rags

Step 1 – Sweep or Vacuum

Sweep or vacuum the tile to remove any loose dirt or debris. This prevents spreading grime around while scrubbing.

Step 2 – Mix Grout Cleaner

Make a cleaning solution of either grout cleaner found at hardware stores or a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar.

Apply the mixture directly to the grout lines and let sit for 5 minutes. This gives the cleaner time to break down dirt and stains.

Step 3 – Scrub Grout Lines

Use a grout brush or old toothbrush to scrub along each grout line, applying light pressure. Scrub diagonally across lines to get down into the pores.

Rinse the brush and re-dip into cleaner as needed. Concentrate on any visibly dirty areas.

Step 4 – Rinse with Water

Wipe all cleaner residue off the tile and grout using a damp rag. Rinse the area with clean water and wipe again until all suds are gone.

Check for any remaining dirty spots and re-clean if needed. Repeat the rinse until all soap scum or cleaner film is removed.

Allow the grout to fully dry before staining. The grout should look dirt-free for the stain to take evenly.

How to Apply Grout Stain

Grout stains come in either brush-on bottles or paint-like cans. Follow these steps to apply either type:

Supplies Needed

  • Grout stain
  • Applicator brush or paintbrush
  • Small foam roller
  • Rags
  • Tape (for protecting tile)
  • Water bucket

Step 1 – Tape Off Tiles

Apply painter’s tape around the perimeter of the tiles to protect the surfaces. Press the tape firmly along grout lines.

Also, tape off any other areas like baseboards or cabinets that you don’t want stained.

Step 2 – Apply Stain

Shake or stir the grout stain to mix the pigments. Use either a small applicator brush from the kit or a paintbrush. Dip into the stain and apply directly onto the grout lines.

Apply evenly and work the stain along the length of the grout, making sure it gets down into the pores.

Step 3 – Let Sit 5-10 Minutes

Let the stain sit for 5-10 minutes so it can soak and penetrate into the grout. Reapply over any spots that appear dry.

Step 4 – Wipe Off Excess

Use a clean rag to gently wipe off excess stain that’s sitting on the tile surface. Wipe diagonally across the lines to avoid pulling stain out of the grout.

Change rags as needed to prevent leaving tinted residue on the tiles. All stain should be removed from the tile surface.

Step 5 – Roll for Even Color

Once the surface is wiped, go over the grout lines with a small foam roller to evenly blend the color and make sure all grout has been penetrated. Roll lightly over lines without pressing hard.

Step 6 – Repeat if Needed

For more vibrant results on porous or heavily stained grout, apply a second coat of stain following steps 2-5. Wait at least 2 hours for the first application to cure before adding a second coat.

Step 7 – Remove Tape

Carefully remove all tape within 30 minutes of application. Wipe each tile gently with a damp rag to clean residue.

Allow the stain to cure 24-48 hours before cleaning the tiles or using the surface.

Always test stain in an inconspicuous area first. Porous grout may absorb more stain and appear darker than expected.

Apply a grout sealer after staining to protect the finish and improve durability. Use a compatible sealer made for stained grout.

Grout Staining Techniques

Beyond the basics, there are some techniques that can help ensure an even finish:

  • Work in small sections – Stain 3-4 grout lines at a time before wiping off excess. This prevents the stain from drying before you can wipe the tiles.
  • Wipe diagonally – Wipe across lines diagonally rather than along the length. This avoids accidentally removing too much stain from the grout.
  • Distribute evenly – Make sure to move the applicator constantly to distribute the stain evenly and fill all the grout pores.
  • Maintain a wet edge – When working in sections, make sure edges stay wet and overlap them to prevent blotchiness.
  • Check absorption – Frequently wipe a small area to see if the grout is absorbing the stain well or if more applications may be needed.
  • Work floor to ceiling – On walls, apply stain from the bottom up to avoid drips running into lower grout and causing uneven coloring.
  • Allow to fully cure – Wait the recommended time before cleaning or using the surface so the stain has time to bond and seal properly.

With some careful prep and technique, it’s possible to achieve professional looking results staining grout at home.

Common Grout Staining Questions

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about grout staining:

How Long Does Grout Stain Last?

Grout stain can last 3-5 years or longer if properly sealed and maintained. Avoid abrasive cleaners that may slowly wear away the color over time. Reapply sealer annually.

Does Stained Grout Need to Be Sealed?

Yes, it’s highly recommended to apply a penetrating grout sealer after staining. This adds a protective barrier and prevents dirt, grease, and moisture from breaking down the stain.

Can You Apply Grout Stain Over Existing Color?

In most cases, yes. Stain can be applied over an existing grout color to create a new tone. Test first in an inconspicuous spot to ensure proper bonding and color results.

How Soon Can I Get Grout Wet After Staining?

Avoid moisture for at least 24-48 hours to allow the grout stain to fully cure. After that, rinse cautiously and limit scrubbing for a few additional days so the color has time to harden.

What’s the Easiest Way to Apply Grout Stain?

Using a small foam applicator brush that comes in most grout stain kits allows you to easily work the stain down into the grout pores for maximum adherence.

Mistakes to Avoid When Staining Grout

Staining grout is relatively straightforward, but here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Not cleaning the grout thoroughly prior to application
  • Failing to tape off adjacent tiles
  • Applying too much stain at once instead of working in small sections
  • Neglecting to wipe off excess stain from tile surfaces
  • Using too much pressure when wiping and pulling stain out of the grout
  • Not allowing enough cure time before exposure to moisture
  • Forgetting to apply a grout sealer after staining

Careful prep work, following product directions, working in manageable sections, and proper curing will allow you to successfully change grout color.

Removing and Changing Stained Grout

If you decide you don’t like the stained grout color, it is possible to remove it or apply a new color:

Removing Stain

Use an oxygen bleach cleaner formulated for grout. Apply the product, let sit for 5-10 minutes, scrub with a stiff brush, and rinse thoroughly. Repeat as needed until the original color is removed.

Applying New Stain

Once existing stain is removed, allow the grout to dry completely. Follow the standard staining process, applying a compatible grout stain in the desired new color. Test first in an inconspicuous area to confirm the results.

Keep in mind that removing all traces of the old color may take some effort and re-staining may not look exactly the same as the original unstained grout. But the process can be done to modify the color if you don’t like the staining results.

How to Stain Grout to Change Its Color – FAQs

Staining grout to change its color is an affordable DIY project that can transform the look of your tiled floors and walls. Here are answers to common questions about the grout staining process:

What kind of stain should I use for grout?

Look for a high-quality penetrating grout stain specifically designed for grout. These contain pigments that are absorbed below the surface. Avoid topical stains that sit on top of the grout.

How do I choose the right stain color?

Test grout stain colors on leftover tiles if possible. Grout that is porous or heavily worn may absorb more pigment and appear darker. Purchase a few stain shade samples from the store and try them in inconspicuous areas.

Can I use acrylic craft paint to stain grout?

Craft paint does not penetrate and stick to grout well. It will peel and scratch off quickly. Invest in a professional grout stain for lasting results.

Do I need to seal grout after staining?

Yes, sealing is highly recommended to protect the finish. Use a compatible penetrating grout sealer made for colored or stained grout. Reapply annually.

How soon can I get the grout wet after staining?

Avoid moisture for at least 24-48 hours. Rinse cautiously in the days after and limit scrubbing so the stain has time to fully cure and harden.

Will grout stain work over existing grout color?

In most cases, yes. Stain can adhere to an existing color. Always test first in an inconspicuous area to ensure the stain bonds and provides the desired results.

Can I stain just part of the grout?

It’s best to stain the entire area to prevent a patchy appearance from new and old grout colors meeting. But for small touch ups, carefully applying stain only where needed is possible.

How do I apply grout stain into corners?

Use a small brush to work the stain into tight corners. Cotton swabs can also help get into hard-to-reach grout lines and edges.

Is staining grout something a beginner can do?

Absolutely. Staining grout is an easy DIY project for beginners. Proper prep work is key. Following the product directions will help ensure first-time success.


Staining grout can provide a dramatic new look for your tile surfaces without the cost or labor of a full replacement. By thoroughly cleaning the existing grout and applying a penetrating grout stain, you can permanently change the grout color in a weekend.

With proper preparation, careful application techniques, adequate cure time, and sealing, grout stain offers an affordable and long-lasting change. Understanding what type of stain works best, how to apply it correctly, and common mistakes to avoid will help ensure beautiful results.

Staining allows endless color options to complement new tile or refresh the look of existing floors or walls. Before tackling a major re-grouting project, consider staining as an easy way to revitalize the appearance of your tiled surfaces.

With the right tools, patience, and some simple tips, staining old grout can transform the space with dramatic new color. Changing grout color is made easy and accessible with high-quality grout stains.