How To Regrout A Tile Countertop

Tile Countertop Regrouting Tips

By Troy Cantini

Tile countertops get exposed to lots of grease and grime and the grout can start looking dirty and discolored over time.  Kitchen countertops are typically exposed to lots of grease, grime and food products that can actually eat away at the grout. In most cases the only way to restore the grout is to remove the old grout and install new grout.

before after regrouting tile countertop

If there are wide grout lines with hardened sanded grout then there are better options available to restore the grout besides regrouting.   Trying to remove hardened sanded grout can be extremely difficult and you risk scratching or chipping the tiles when trying to remove this hardened grout. In these cases it is better to just clean the grout as best you can and fill in any areas of missing grout with some sanded grout of the same color. If you see that the sanded grout still does not look good and there are different shades of grout then it is best to colorseal the grout to restore the grout to like new condition.

When regrouting a tile countertop it is important that the newly installed grout is as strong and durable as possible.  You want to ensure you use as little water as possible when mixing the grout so that the grout will as hard and strong as possible. You also want the new grout to be as non porous as possible and you want to ensure that the new grout lines will not be sunken in too deep in the grout lines. Leaving the countertop grout lines high and flush with the top of the tiles will keep grease, grime and food products from getting deposited in the grout lines. Countertop grout lines that are flush with the top of the tiles are much easier to clean and maintain than low sunken in grout lines.

removing countertop grout with utility knife

Removing the old grout is the most difficult part about regrouting a tile countertop.  In many cases particularly with narrow unsanded grout lines the old grout will be soft and easy to remove. In these cases simply cleaning the grout with a strong degreaser and using a utility knife is all that is necessary to remove the old grout.

For harder grout lines it may require using some type of grout grinding tool or possibly using a multimaster type of oscillating tool with a grout removal blade for removing the old grout.   It is much easier and practical to remove unsanded grout as opposed to sanded grout in a countertop. Unsanded grout will break down easier and be easier to remove than sanded grout. Unsanded grout is also almost impossible to clean especially when it has been exposed to years of grease, grime and food products.

Mixing the new grout with as little water as possible is the key to successfully regrouting a tile countertop.   Use sanded grout for 1/8 inch or wider grout lines and unsanded grout for more narrow grout lines. It is important to use the only cement based grout that mixes with water and to choose the correct type of sanded or unsanded grout for your particular countertop. You want to mix the grout into in a thick paste like state so that it will not easily wipe out of the grout lines when cleaning the excess grout off the surface of the tiles. This will ensure higher and easier to clean and maintain grout lines.

applying new grout to countertop

Apply the grout with a grout float forcing the grout deep into the grout lines.   Use the grout float to form the grout lines so that they are as high as possible. Apply grout to about a 10 sq/ft section of tiles and allow the grout to partially dry for 10-15 minutes. Allowing the grout to partially dry will help ensure that you do not remove too much of the grout with the grout sponge when cleaning the excess grout off the surface of the tiles. Do not allow the grout to dry for too long or it will dry extremely hard and be difficult to remove with the grout sponge later.

Use a grouting sponge to gently wipe the excess grout off of the surface of the tiles.   The grouting sponge is also used to shape and form the grout lines so that they all look nice and even between the tiles. Do not over wipe the grout lines and keep the grouting sponge as dry as possible. The less water that is used when grouting the tiles the stronger, harder and more durable the grout will be.

Continue the grouting procedure for the next area of tiles.   You will see a haze form on the surface of the tiles over time. The grout haze can be cleaned up later after totally grouting the entire countertop. You should let the grout dry for 1-2 hours and then go over the entire countertop and remove the grout haze. White paper towels work well for removing this grout haze. Gently go over the entire countertop surface with the paper towels and gently remove the grout haze without damaging the still drying grout. After removing the grout haze you should inspect the tile countertop from all angles to ensure that all of the grout haze has been removed.

tile countertop with new bright white grout

You should allow the grout to dry for at least 72 hours before sealing the grout   Sealing countertop grout is important for keeping all the dirt, grease and grime from being absorbed by the porous grout. It is usually necessary to recaulk the tile countertop around the sink and also to caulk the edges of the countertop between the countertop and the backsplash tiles.

Regularly cleaning your tile countertop with a gentle tile cleaning product will keep the tiles and grout looking good for many years.  A gentle pH neutral tile cleaning product will gently clean the tile and grout without breaking down the sealers in the grout. Periodically you will need to use a stronger alkaline cleaning solution to break down the grease and grime on the countertop. Over time alkaline cleaners will break down the sealers in the grout. It is therefore necessary to periodically re-seal the grout to keep it from becoming stained with grease and grime.

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