The following series of photos is pretty un-thrilling and even a little disgusting. Our poor little blue bathroom was way overdue for some new grout. There is only so much scrubbing you can do when the more you scrub, the more old grout comes out of the cracks. We had begun patching holes with bits of caulking, but I was discovering new ones every week. I was having nightmares of rotting walls so I figured I needed to do something about it.
I found a lot of tutorials on the internet that are really quite helpful. (I referred to this one over and over again.) If you are looking for step-by-step instructions, I wouldn’t recommend this post, however, but it might help give you the confidence you need to push through. If I can do it, it’s not that scary.
Let’s take a look at what we started with, shall we? A couple weeks after moving in, we dug out a bunch of super nasty black caulk and replaced it. We also cleaned and sealed the grout and it was looking okay for awhile, but the grout never really wanted to be clean and I suppose the mildew-y grout that surrounded the new caulk wasn’t helping much. Over the last year, my re-caulk job was looking pretty sad.
Some of the paint was starting to peel and crack as well. Here is an example of grout holes plugged with caulk.
I also had some peeling and cracking paint on this little bottom corner. Once I started removing the caulk and the peeling paint, these little tiles were barely hanging on. After all the stress, they did end up falling off. In all honesty, there were some other tiles that felt like they could easily pop off but I powered through. I really just want this bathroom to last us a couple more years until we can really fix it up. Fingers crossed.
Another sign of just how icky things were: we took off the shower knob to reveal a blackish ring around where it was.
After removing the caulk, I finally got to scraping out old grout. Not a fun job.
I did buy the little grout-removing attachment for my Dremel. It’s not terribly expensive and can really be helpful, however, these grout lines are incredibly small. I used it as much as I could but there were definitely spots that were just too thin. I was afraid I was going to kill my Dremel by forcing it through tile, so I wasn’t able to use it as much as I would have liked.
I used a utility knife for most of it. I had bought an extra pack of blades for it before beginning this project and I’m glad I did because I definitely went through them. They grab really well at first but they get dull pretty fast.
Since you don’t actually need to get 100% of the grout out, I just tried to get out as much as possible without making myself crazy. Most of it looked like this:
Ugh. After all that, my hands were incredibly sore and felt like little claw-hands. But then it was time to grout.
I really have never grouted before, save a couple random mosaic craft projects. I opted to go for a premixed grout since mixing the dry stuff sounded like a big fat mess to me. I used this Simple Grout in Bright White.
Picking the grout was kind of hard since everyone has something to say about it—dries too fast, dries too slow, too runny, too hard— basically, grouting is a mess, regardless. This was really hard for me to grasp. It just felt really wasteful dropping it all over the place as I was trying to scrape it into the cracks. I like to be really neat so I was a little slow at first.
As I made my way around, I got bolder. Maybe because my arms were really sore and I cared less and less about the mess I was making.
The other thing I was worried about was washing too much off or not enough. The first section, I wiped away a lot. I ended up going back over it because I was really worried I wiped too much off. But on the other hand, I was really worried I wasn’t washing enough of the residue off fast enough because the reviews all said this stuff dried really fast.
In the end, I left about this much on the walls.
And ended up scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing it off. I think it took me the next week just scrubbing tiles, bit by bit. It might not have been so bad but after all the grout scraping, the grouting, and the scrubbing, my hands were really, really sore.
I made it my mission to at least scrub off the haze from the tiles that would have any caulk on them. Then I was able to caulk all the edges. And it really did make a huge difference.
You can see, in the bottom left-hand corner where the little tiles came off. I ended up patching the wall there with some joint compound and sticking the tiles back on after it all dried.
I’m not sure if this is how one would normally fix this, but it seems to be working. I didn’t have any thin-set, and it’s such a small area, I just used some of this biz. It says it works on tile, so I was sold.
Look at ‘em all ready to be grouted and caulked!
The instructions I used say that this task can basically be completed in a weekend and you can be showering by Monday. Well, I’m getting better at assuming that everything I take on will take at least twice as long, so I wasn’t so naive as to think the whole thing would be completely finished in two days. The bulk of it was finished on the weekend, but since you have to wait to caulk for 24 hours once the grout is on, that took longer, and then the little tiles took extra time… I think we were officially back in this shower by Thursday of that week. In the meantime we used the downstairs shower. Which is a whole other story, but I was sure glad we had it while we were messing with this one.