The majority of homeowners who renovate their master bathrooms make a change to their floors, with 91 percent upgrading this area, according to Houzz research. But you may not need new flooring to get a fresh look. New grout can help your bathroom — and, for that matter, your kitchen backsplash — sparkle again. Here’s what you need to know about doing it yourself vs. hiring a pro.
Kristy Noble Photography, original photo on Houzz
Related: Find More Bathroom Ideas on Houzz
Project: Regrout a tile floor, shower or backsplash.
Why: Regrouting is a great way to improve the look of a bathroom, backsplash or kitchen area without doing a full renovation.
It’s a good project for you if: You are a homeowner with patience, even a tendency to be meticulous. But if you can’t stand to obsess over details, this one’s probably not for you. A basic comfort level with power tools also helps.
Basic steps: Regrouting tile is a fairly simple process, but one that is also labor-intensive. To do it right, you need to scrape out the old grout, typically with a Dremel rotary tool or diamond blade saw. It’s important to remove the grout all the way down to the substrate, the setting material that the tile is set on. Next, wipe the degrouted area clean. Then it’s time to regrout.
Cutting out the old grout is important for longevity. If you lay new grout over the old, it probably won’t last as long as it should. “The challenge is that you have chemicals, things that have been added over time,” says Joe Smith, general contractor at Owings Brothers Contracting in Eldersburg, Maryland. These additions will weaken and damage the new grout over time. So start with a clean slate.
Carla Aston | Interior Designer, original photo on Houzz
Things to consider: When deciding whether to do the project yourself or hire it out, you’ll want to assess the grout line width and tile layout. If your tiles are very closely spaced, the work may be fairly difficult for a novice — you could damage your tiles. Smith suggests DIYers not tackle regrouting with gaps smaller than three-sixteenths of an inch. Instead, they should call a pro.
Take note of whether the area to be regrouted has good ventilation, including a window that you can open. DIYers should wear safety goggles and a mask.
“Regrouting tile is not rocket science,” says Gary Potter of Potter Construction in Seattle. He advises that homeowners try it if they are willing to invest in the tools they’ll need and if they think they might regrout again in the future.
Kurt Baum & Associates, original photo on Houzz
Beware of grout that is not only stained but cracked or falling out, advises Jon Pankau, tile installer at Timberline Tile in Minot, North Dakota. “If your grout is cracked or falling out, that tends to indicate that the tile wasn’t installed properly or the substrate wasn’t installed properly,” Pankau says. In this case, you’ll want to call a professional.
As an alternative to regrouting, Pankau suggests staining your grout. Many manufacturers make these products, which Pankau describes as “more like a paint or wash you put on, and it will change the grout color to whatever color you want.” Stains won’t adhere as well if the grout is overly hard or oily but can work well in normal circumstances.
Whom to hire: Look to a professional tile layer or tile contractor for this job, or a regrouting specialist if there is one in your area. Be sure to choose someone with a license and insurance. Your local tile supplier can probably provide a few good names. If you’re not sure who sells tile, the Houzz listings for tile manufacturers and showrooms in your area can be a good place to start your research, Potter suggests.
Susan Dearborn Interiors, Inc., original photo on Houzz
Cost range: Materials aren’t expensive, but labor rates can be $250 to $600 per day, depending on the location in the country.
Typical project length: Two to four days for an 8-by-10-foot bathroom
Permit: Not typically required
Best time to do this project: Since it’s an indoor project, any time of the year is fine.
How to get started: Assess your tile situation. Are the grout lines large enough for you to tackle? Do you feel comfortable using power tools? Then decide whether you’ll begin researching tile contractors and regrouters or get started on the job yourself.