Grout is the space between tiles in your bathroom or kitchen floor or other tiled surfaces. It helps reinforce the structure of the floor and keeps the tiles from shifting around when you walk on them. But grout can become moldy if you don’t clean it regularly, and that can be dangerous to your health as well as unsightly. Here’s how to replace your moldy grout with new tile grout that won’t bring any harmful spores into your home again.
Figure Out What’s Causing the Problem
Depending on how old your home is, you might find that removing moldy grout is easier said than done. If you’re dealing with very old grout, you may need a special cleaning solution or will have to replace an entire section of grout rather than just repair it. If you find that a professional cleaning solution doesn’t solve your problem, try looking for construction sites in your area and asking if they have any extra grout (you can buy it in bulk). Just make sure it isn’t too old; more than three years out of date is usually a bad idea!
Removing Old Grout
Before you can replace moldy grout, you’ll need to remove any old grout from your walls. Start by washing down any residue from your walls with a cloth soaked in water and mild soap. If possible, let it sit for a couple of hours or overnight so that all residual moisture has a chance to evaporate before continuing. Then you can use a soft, flat-edged tool like an iron spatula or putty knife to scrape off any remaining grout. Be sure not to scratch your walls during removal—use light, consistent pressure if possible, and go slowly so as not to gouge your wall or doorways along where grouts were applied. Then give everything one last rinse down with fresh water just before moving on with replacement.
Replacing The Grout
Homeowners often ask whether or not mold will grow in the grout. The short answer is yes, it can—but that doesn’t mean your grout has to look moldy. If you have a mold problem, most of your effort should be directed toward removing or repairing any underlying moisture issues that caused it in the first place. Once that’s done, cleaning out any existing mold with a strong detergent should be enough to clear up an indoor mold problem without having to replace a lot of grout.
Step 1 – Baseboard Removal
Remove any baseboards from around your shower or tub. Removing their screws and taping them up so they don’t get damaged while you work. Then measure their distance from where you want your new grout lines to end. Usually within 1⁄2-inch of either side of a tub’s edge is best. Use a hacksaw to cut through any sections in your new grout lines that have old caulk or glue on them, which will make sealing easier later on. Any section with paint will likely take several days (if not weeks) of soaking with bleach or hydrogen peroxide before it can be removed; just leave these alone for now.
Step 2 – Tile Removal
The first step in replacing your old, moldy grout is removing tile. It can be tricky to know whether or not it’s safe to remove certain types of tiles. Some tiles are cemented directly into place and you may need a contractor for removal. Other times, you can carefully remove them yourself using a hammer and chisel for difficult tiles. If you aren’t sure what kind of tile you have, it’s best to let a contractor handle things. The risk is simply too great otherwise. When in doubt. Call a professional out who can assess your situation. And get you on track toward fixing your mold problem once and for all!
Step 3 – Clean Everything
Cleaning up mold can be a messy and complicated process. However, it’s easier if you break down each step of your repair into multiple steps. Start by thoroughly cleaning everything in and around your bathroom that was exposed to mold. That means starting by using a vacuum cleaner to remove any dust or crumbs that were brought in by water. This will help prevent new mold from growing on these loose particles. Next, wipe down walls, floors, and other surfaces with a bleach solution. (at least 1 part bleach to 10 parts water). Remove any fixtures or items you don’t want bleached; once they’re dry, use mildew-killing spray on them before replacing them back in their rightful place.