Without Sealant Grout Can Become Very Brittle
Dear Eric, I just want to say thanks for the great information on your site. My husband and I bought a previously owned house and have been living here for about nine months now. The grout in our bathroom looked fine when we first moved in, now however we are noticing it is beginning to crack and break up near the tub at the back of the toilet and under our pedestal sink.
We think it may be because water gets by our shower curtains and sprays on the floor and our toilet had overflowed about a month back flooding our tile floor. Any suggestions as what we can do besides tearing up the floor to fix this problem. Debora M, Austin Texas.
Hi Debora, thanks for the accolades, I think I'm actually blushing. I believe the majority of grout problems arise from either poor maintenance of your tiles or improper installation in the first place. If your tile is allowed to go through normal wear through the years without sealant, after a while the grout will become very hard, brittle and compacted.
This in turn will make it very difficult to remove the old grout for tile repair, not to mention because the grout is very porous it will inevitable absorb dirt and grime over time making your bathroom tile floor appear old and worn out. The solution is preventive maintenance. Apply a grout sealer either yearly or every couple of years depending upon your bathroom traffic and the type of grout that you used.
Ok so your tile is beyond the simple maintenance of cleaning your bathroom tile floors and now requires repair. One thing you should be aware of is the pressure of the tiles adjacent to the damaged grout area when you attempt to remove the old brittle grout.
Take your time. There are numerous grout removal tools on the market ranging from hand held chisels to drill driven attachments. Though the hand held grout removal tools may take longer, the trade off is that you have more control and you reduce the possibility of accidentally breaking your tiles.
The important thing to remember is to be careful not to damage your tiles in the process or you will have a much bigger job than originally anticipated.