Tile grout, the cement-like material that fills in gaps between tiles, can get lighter over time and make your floor look old and filthy. In some instances, even a newly installed grout may appear too light to your liking. Luckily, it’s possible to darken grout yourself.
To darken a tile grout without regrouting, you can simply tint an existing grout with a grout colorant. This method is easy, inexpensive, and can last for many years. The key is to use a high-quality grout colorant that fits the type of tile you have.
You don’t need to hire an expert or use any fancy tools to change the color of your grout. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can darken your tile grout:
- 1 Step 1. Know Your Tile and Grout
- 2 Step 2. Choose the Right Grout Colorant
- 3 Step 3. Prepare the Cleaning and Painting Materials
- 4 Step 4. Deep Clean the Grout With a Brush and Grout Cleaner
- 5 Step 5. Prepare the Grout Colorant
- 6 Step 6. Apply the Grout Colorant to the Grout Lines
- 7 Step 7. Clean the Grout Colorant off the Tiles and Let It Dry
- 8 Final Thoughts
Step 1. Know Your Tile and Grout
The first step is to examine the condition of your grout.
If you have a damaged grout, painting it will worsen its condition. In this case, removing the damaged grout and regrouting is your best bet.
If you are painting an undamaged grout, the next thing you need to know is whether your grout is sanded or unsanded.
● Determine if You Have a Sanded or Unsanded Grout
Sanded grout has a porous, rough texture and is commonly used on wider grout lines. Unsanded grout, as its name implies, doesn’t contain sand, which gives it a very smooth texture.
Most grout colorants work for both sanded and unsanded grout. But to be sure, always check the paint label and choose a grout colorant that matches your grout. We’ll talk more about choosing the best grout colorant in a later section of this article.
● Know if You Have a Porous or Glazed Tile
An unglazed or porous tile, such as a natural stone floor, will absorb the grout colorant and can get stained in the process.
When painting on unglazed tile, you must seal the tile first with a liquid tile sealant. However, you must consider that tile sealer can soak into natural tiles and ruin the finish.
If you have a glazed tile, such as glazed ceramic and porcelain tiles, painting won’t stain the tile, so sealing won’t be necessary.
● Know How Much Grout Colorant You Need for Your Tile
Finally, you need to measure your room and the floor tile, so you’ll know how much paint you’ll need for this job. Generally, eight ounces or 240 ml (8.11 oz) of grout paint is enough to cover between 50 to 300 square feet (approximately 5 to 28 square meters) of tiles.
Step 2. Choose the Right Grout Colorant
You will need a type of colorant specifically made for grout—traditional wall or tile paint won’t work. There are different types of grout colorants available in the market.
● Different Types of Grout Colorant
When buying a grout colorant, be sure to check the packaging to determine the type of grout and tile it’s suited for.
- Penetrating grout stain: Grout stain can penetrate the upper layers of a porous grout. It offers a uniform appearance, and the color cannot chip over time. Grout stains are available in water-based and oil-based varieties.
- Epoxy-based grout paint: Grout paint is technically not paint, but more of an epoxy sealant with paint added as coloring. Compared with a penetrating grout stain, grout paint forms a film on top of the grout and can peel off gradually. It is crucial to choose the right grout paint and ensure you apply it correctly to make it last longer.
- Grout colorant and sealer in one: This variety simultaneously stains and seals the grout to prevent discoloration and protects it from mold and grime.
- Water-based grout pen: A Grout pen can be used as a quick fix for a small discolored grout area but is not ideal for coloring your entire grout surface.
Step 3. Prepare the Cleaning and Painting Materials
Depending on the condition of the grout, you’ll need to clean it thoroughly. Here are the materials you’ll need for cleaning and painting your grout:
- Vinegar or your preferred store-bought grout cleaner
- Heavy-duty mold killer if you are dealing with mold
- Scrub brush
- Water bucket
- Small paintbrush, toothbrush, or a v-tip foam brush.
- A trey or any container for the grout colorant.
- A damp rag to wipe the grout colorant off the tiles after application.
Step 4. Deep Clean the Grout With a Brush and Grout Cleaner
If you want your grout colorant to last a long time, you shouldn’t apply it over dirt and mold.
To clean the grout:
- Step 1. Apply mold killer: Apply mold killer or your preferred grout cleaner onto the grout and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Step 2. Scrub: Gently scrub the surface of the grout lines to loosen the dirt.
- Step 3. Remove the cleaner: Wipe off the cleaner and dirt with a cloth or sponge, then rinse with a clean, damp sponge.
Grout colorant will not adhere well to wet grout, so allow the grout to air dry for an hour or until it is fully dry to the touch.
Step 5. Prepare the Grout Colorant
To prepare the grout colorant, simply shake the grout colorant bottle well so that the color is uniformly mixed.
Pour a small amount of grout colorant into a paint tray or any container you have lying around. This will allow easier access to the colorant. You can add more paint to the tray if needed.
Step 6. Apply the Grout Colorant to the Grout Lines
If your grout is newly installed, you have to give it two days to cure before applying any grout colorant.
Before you start, make sure to ventilate the area and wear chemical-resistant gloves.
You will also need to check the grout colorant packaging for the recommended ambient temperature for application.
Use your applicator brush to test a small area and see how it looks. Don’t worry too much about going a bit over the lines. Keep in mind that you will need to wipe off the paint afterward.
When painting sanded grout, you will need to apply several coats to get the desired color. Let the paint set for 90 minutes before applying another coat of grout colorant. If painting unsanded grout, a single coat is often enough.
Step 7. Clean the Grout Colorant off the Tiles and Let It Dry
When painting your grout, grout paint will typically get on the tiles. Before the paint dries, gently wipe the excess paint off the tiles using a damp towel.
Continue until you’ve painted all of the grout. Allow the grout colorant to dry completely for the time specified in the paint label.
To clean your painted grout, choose neutral-based cleaners. Avoid using harsh acid-based cleaners such as bleach and vinegar, as these may damage the grout and grout paint.
By recoloring a tile grout with grout colorant, you can easily change the color of your grout or enhance the appearance of old, discolored grout.
You don’t need to hire an expert or be an expert yourself to do the job. Hopefully, with the tips I’ve provided, you will be able to give your floor tile a much-needed makeover.