A Complete Guide on How to Sand Grout

tile grout

Grout is the binding agent that keeps your tiles held firmly in place. Once the grout cures it’s rare to have perfect and smooth lines. It often dries with a few uneven surfaces and there may even be grout that adheres to the surface of the tiles. There are a few situations where you might want to use sandpaper to knock off the raw or sharp edges to create a smoother finish. You can also sand grout that has become stained or dirty to clean it up and give it a more aesthetically pleasing appearance. Here is a complete guide on how to sand grout.

Preparing to sand grout

Sanding grout is a delicate task that requires your full attention to avoid scratching the tiles near the grout you will be sanding. It’s essential to prepare before you begin sanding. Knowledge of what you’re working with and what to expect when you start the task will help. There are a few methods you can use to sand grout, depending on the type of tile surrounding it. Grout is the gritty material in between tiles. It dries to a hard finish. When it dries on the tile or is not smoothed during the finishing process, it can be uncomfortable to the touch, causing abrasions from the rough surface. It’s not difficult to sand grout to a smooth finish or to clean up grout that has become stained, but preparation is necessary to achieve the best outcome.

Assess your situation

The first step in preparing to sand grout is to assess the situation. If you’re working with grout that has an uneven finish, you’ll need to sand down the rough spots without damaging the tiles. Sometimes that has a shiny appearance may need protection. You may also want to use another method for removing the sand from shiny tiles so you don’t dull the sheen. According to Family handyman, it’s wise to cover glazed tile surfaces that do not need to be cleaned with painter’s tape. It’s easy to remove when you’re finished. This will protect the glazed finish from damage while you’re sanding the grout in between them.

Sandpaper dowel method

When working with thin tile grouting, as found in kitchen backsplashes or some shower areas, you can fold a piece of fine-grit sandpaper, then place it over a small diameter wood dowel that fits in between the tiles and allows the sandpaper to make full contact with the grout. This will help to shave down the high spots and it allows you to reach the areas beneath to achieve a smooth and even finish. You may need to sand down the dowel before you start, to ensure that it is thin enough. Make the tip thinner than the grout line, but not by much. Take a piece of sandpaper to the end of the dowel and gently sand the areas in between the tiles. This is a solid method for honing down the rough spots. it is also useful for removing any stains that are visible on the grout for a cleaner and smoother appearance and feel. Take care while you’re sanding not to apply too much pressure. You don’t want to sand through the painter’s tape and damage the tiles beneath. Remove the painter’s tape when you’re done. We recommend painter’s tape because it doesn’t leave a sticky residue on the tiles. The benefit of using the dowel method is that you achieve a rounded and uniform effect. Choose the dowel size to be slightly smaller than the width of the grout line to avoid damaging tile edges. This method is suitable for all grout line widths. It’s also the fastest and easiest way to remove stains from thin grout lines.

Folded sandpaper method

Hunker offers a simpler method for sanding grout that does not require the use of a wooden dowel. They recommend using a piece of medium-grit sandpaper and folding it to form a narrow edge for sanding. This method requires you to carefully sand the grout line, taking care not to touch the tiles on either side. Again, we recommend applying painter’s tape to protect any delicate tiles from scratching. Sand in a back and forth motion to even and smooth the surface of the grout. This is also an effective way to remove stains from the grout to revitalize the appearance.

Use a foam sanding pad

You can also smooth and clean grout with an angled foam sanding pad, available at most hardware and home supply stores. Use the thin edge of the angled foam sanding pad in a back and forth motion, rubbing gently along with the grout line. The foam pad is easier on your hands when you have a lot of territories to cover. It provides a larger surface area to rest the palms of your hands. Anyone who has used folded sandpaper can attest to the fact that it can cause spasms and cramping after a few minutes of work. It’s best to try a small area, then assess how well it is working to determine if more force is needed. It’s always best to start gently and increase pressure as necessary.

What kind of sandpaper is best?

Some experts recommend using medium-grit sandpaper, but others suggest fine-grit. This is a personal choice, but it depends on the size of the job, the width of the grout line, and how much work is required. It’s a valid question that deserves a thorough answer. If the grout lines are thin, you may need fine-grit sandpaper to fit in between the tiles. Medium-grit sandpaper may not fold in a small enough size to fit in between. Also, if you have a light job to do with minimal smoothing and stain removal, fine-grit sandpaper is likely the best choice. Heavy-duty jobs with grout that is uneven and rough with a lot of areas to smooth or heavy staining require stronger sandpaper with larger grit. It will make the job go faster and it is also more effective for tougher jobs. You can do over the surfaces with finer grit sandpaper later to make the edges even smoother. The finer the grit, the smoother the finished surface.

How do you clean grout off of tiles?

Most installers do a thorough job of cleaning off all the grout from installed tiles before it dries. If this is not the case, you will need to remove the dried grout carefully without damaging the tiles. You can use mineral spirits on a soft cloth to loosen the dried grout on ceramic tiles. Using a chemical to loosen dried grout is the most highly recommended method. If the job is immense and the installation resulted in a lot of dried grout on the tiles, all is not lost. If you cannot remove all of the grout from the tiles with mineral spirits, you can still use the sanding method to clean the tiles to a smooth finish.

Sanding grout from ceramic tiles

The first method is to use fine-grit sandpaper. You may use the dowel method or a fine-grit sanding sponge using the thin edge of the foam sponge. Lightly sand over the surface of dried grout. Take your time and use light pressure. Moving slowly and carefully helps to protect the integrity of the tile underneath. It’s time-consuming and requires patience but worth the effort. Gently sand away dried grout. These methods are best for removing small areas of grout from tile. If there is a lot of dried grout on the tile’s surface, this is not the most efficient way to do it. You may need to take an alternate approach for the sake of time.

Orbital sanding method

Tile that has copious amounts of dried grout on the surface requires a different approach. If there is a lot of dried grout on ceramic tiles, you likely want to do something to make it look better. Nobody likes having a kitchen or bathroom that has ugly. A tile with the surface rough and unattractive can be embarrassing and annoying. You may not be able to preserve the sheen of the tile beneath if the grout is everywhere it shouldn’t be. The tile beneath probably sustained damage by the dried grout’s grit. Sometimes you need to save what you can, but light sanding on ceramic tile isn’t necessarily a bad thing. According to Asking a lot, you can use an orbital sander to remove the unattractive rough grout surface and restore the tile to a smooth finish. You will sacrifice the sheen from glazed tiles, but it will improve the surface area and make it smooth. Asking A Lot experts on grout and tile installation recommend using fine-grit sandpaper of 220 grit with an orbital sander. You must proceed slowly to avoid removing any more of the tile’s surface than is necessary. The orbital sander will make the job go much quicker and you can achieve a smooth and uniform surface. The key is to use light pressure and to move the sander slowly and evenly.

Can you add more grout to the grout lines?

It would be nice to add new grout over existing grout to even out imperfections or cover stains. Unfortunately, this isn’t a viable solution to the problems. Adding a second layer of grout will result in disappointment and failure. Once the grout cures, there is nothing for the second layer to stick to. The two layers will not adhere. The second layer will come loose and fall away in time. Even if it stays in place in the short term, as time goes by, it will come loose and crumble, separating from the original layer. It’s best to replace all the grout instead of trying to add a second layer.

How to avoid the need for sanding grout

The methods we offer for sanding grout help when the grout has become stained or has dried to a rough finish. It’s best to avoid the need to sand down rough grout by cleaning up the rough edges. It’s essential to wipe grout from the tiles before it dries. You may want to work in small sections as you go. Taking this step will save you a lot of time and effort in the future. When installing tile with grout, it’s wise to do the job right the first time. A grout finisher is a tool with multiple tips used for smoothing grout joints when installation is complete. Use the tool to perfect your work and achieve beautifully smooth grout joints with no need for touchups later. Use an approved cleaner to maintain the beauty of your grout joints and keep them clean to avoid the buildup of substances that lead to staining.

Final thoughts

You can sand dried grout to help smooth out uneven surfaces to make the look and feel of the tile and grout surfaces more appealing. Walking across a kitchen or bathroom floor with excess and rough grout buildups can be abrasive and can even cut your feet. Brushing up against uneven and rough grout is another hazard that can cause skin abrasions and even cuts. It’s not something that you should let go of. If you’re careful, you can successfully sand these rough spots to give your grout an attractive and safer surface without damaging the tiles that are adjacent to the grout lines. There are many different ways to approach the task. We’ve provided you with an overview of the different ways you can use sandpaper to improve the appearance and texture of your grout lines. While it’s best to take care when installing grouted tiles, you may have inherited a situation because of an installer who didn’t take the time to ensure that they installed the grout the right way with a smooth and even appearance. Grout can also become stained. When it starts to look grungy, the best way to clean it is to use fine-grit sandpaper. Care is necessary to avoid damaging the tiles adjacent to the grout, but sanding grout is one of the best ways to restore its beauty and texture.

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