Sunday, August 24, 2014

Seven Tools to Remove Shower Tile Grout

The grout in between the tiles in the Master Bathroom is cracking and pitting.  I patched the tile grout when I found an issue, knowing that eventually, I would have to remove all of the shower caulk and tile grout and regrout the shower.

I wasn’t looking forward to removing all of the grout in my bathroom and replacing it. Not because removing grout is hard but because removing bathroom grout is time consuming and messy.   Putting grout in between the tiles is easy and the clean up is well, as difficult as cleaning up usually is after a big project – better if you can get someone else to do it. If you can’t rope someone else into cleaning up your mess for you, a wet/dry vaccum makes the job easier. I mentioned dust flying everywhere, yes?

Two Recommended Power Tools for Removing Tile Grout and Three that Aren’t so Great

I recommend removing grout with a corded power tool instead of its battery operated equipment. While the power cord might get in the way, it also delivers constant and steady power to the tool while you are working. You will want this especially if you are removing grout from a large area like a shower stall.

Disclosure: I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience.

 There are several types and brands of oscillating tools and experience taught me when buying an oscillating tool, you get what you pay for. On the upper end of the price and power scale is DeWalt and Bosch. Both are good brands (I’m partial to DeWalt myself) but may not be what you want to spend on a tool if you plan on using it for a one time only project.

The Ridgid oscillating tool is one of the most recommended for removing grout because it is powerful, yet affordable. This is a good choice if you are using your grout project as an excuse to buy a decent oscillating tool (not that anyone ever does that kind of thing) but aren’t sure if you will be using it often in the future.

  • As much I like my Dremel rotary tool for small projects,  I do d not recommend the Dremel Multi Max Oscillating Tool or the traditional Dremel rotary tool for this type of project. The Dremel Multi Max is a deceptively weak oscillating tool and not powerful enough to do this large job well. That goes double for the Dremel rotary tool. I gave up using my rotary tool to remove tile grout after blowing though an army of cutting disks and barely making a dent in removing all of the grout in the small back wall of my shower. Keep this guy around for hard to reach corners or touchups only.

  • Grout Grabber grout removal toolGrout Grabber Blade that fits on a reciprocating saw I personally haven’t used one but the reports and reviews I’ve read give it a thumbs up for being powerful enough to make removal easy without accidentally chipping the sides of the tile. This might be your best least expensive option if you already own a reciprocating saw and don’t want to buy a new power tool for this project. The Grout Grabber blade I saw at the home improvement store was under 10 bucks.

  • Tapered diamond grinding wheel that fits on an electric drill. This is not the best power tool option for removing tile grout but it works. I know from experience, it is easy to scratch and take an accidental bite out of the side of the tile while you are removing the grout in between the tiles with a grinding wheel. 

Five Grout Removal Hand Tools for Small Projects

If you need to remove and replace a small area of loose, cracked, or missing grout in between tile or a difficult to reach area such as a corner, a grout hand tool might be your best option.
You can use any of these hand tools to remove a large amount of tile grout if you like but it might take longer than you like to the job to be.

1. Groutl saw It is a little hand saw you run back and forth over the grout line to cut through it and remove it. This tool works well if you have an area that does not have a chip or hole where you can poke the sharp/pointy end of a grout removal tool to start removing grout from the area.

2. Hand grout removal tool it looks like a screwdriver with a sharp triangle head because that’s pretty much what it is. This tool works best if you already have a slight hole or crack in the grout area you want to remove.

3. Five in one tool Unless it is absolutely necessary for the project, I don’t like buying one trick pony tools because I have a small shop with limited storage space. Instead of buying a special grout removal hand tool  I used the pointed end of a five in one painter’s tool to remove the chunks of grout my power tools loosened but left behind in between the tiles. It worked like a charmed and saved me $10 bucks because I already have it.

4. Dremel rotary tool with grout removal bit and guard or a diamond wheel bit. My Dremel isn’t powerful enough to remove all of the grout from my shower stall but it works well for removing grout from the corners of the shower and small patch jobs. In my experience the grout removal bit can jump around a bit and bit the tile if you are not using the slanted grout removal guard. The diamond wheel bit, while more expensive also works to remove small areas of grout without grinding itself down to a nub like a traditional Dremel cutting wheel can (and in my case did.)

5. Awl or screwdriver – I haven’t used it nor would I recommend it unless you already have it, don’t want to buy a new tool, and already have a hole in tile grout you need to remove just enough more grout to patch the area. In case, it works.

What do you recommend?

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