If your grout is cracked, falling out, or mildewed, it’s pretty obvious that it’s time for new grout. But there are other situations that might not be quite so obvious that might still call for new grout.
Grout is much less durable than the tile it surrounds. It is highly porous and that causes all kinds of problems: it rarely dries out completely if it’s in a wet place like the shower, it get dirty easily and can be difficult to clean, it naturally darkens with time and the accumulation of oils.
The good news is that grout is fairly easy to remove and replace. In fact, new grout is a good way to update your tile without completely replacing everything.
Cracked or Falling Out
If your grout is cracked or falling out, it’s pretty obvious that it’s time for replacement. If the cracks are limited to a small area, you can replace just the affected area rather than all of the grout. Otherwise remove grout with a power grinder or grout removal tool and replace with new grout.
This article relates to standard grout. Upgrading to a no-sealing-required-grout changes the game. Daltile recommends these:
These grouts don't require sealing and have less maintenace for a minimal overall cost per square foot.
Caulk is Lifting or Small Holes in Grout
It is very important to address even the smallest of openings in your grout or surrounding caulk. Anything that gets through a hole or crack in grout can affect the surface underneath and cause a much larger problem. Inspect your grout regularly and repair small holes right away.
Grout Keeps Cracking Even After Repair
If grout cracks are an ongoing problem even after you have replaced with new grout, the problem isn’t the grout, it’s the sub-surface. The tile may have lost its bond with the surface behind the tile, which allows too much movement and results in cracks. Call in the pros to give you an estimate on tearing the wall down to the sub surface and replacing.
Mildew congregates on grout because its porous nature creates a continuously wet environment. Usually you’ll see a black haze over your grout if you have a mildew problem. But mildew can also be pink, red, or green. If a good cleaning doesn’t do the trick, the mildew is lodged in the pores of the grout and you’ll need to replace. Consider professional steam cleaning for a deep scrubbing.
Sealing new tile and grout is a great way to protect it. Sealing makes your grout and tile easier to clean and can extend the life of your grout. It keeps moisture and dirt on the surface where you can easily clean it up and dry it off.
Wait a couple of days for new grout to cure before applying a sealer and allow it plenty of time to dry. Reseal your grout about every one to two years.