How to Repair Cracks in Tile Grout

Cracks in the grout lines of ceramic tile not only are unsightly but also can allow water and moisture to seep into the cracks and weaken the tile’s adhesion to its subsurface.

Quick Repair

Repair cracked grout as soon as possible to help maintain the look and integrity of your ceramic tile installation. If there are only a few hairline cracks, they can quickly be repaired without removing the existing grout. Multiple hairline cracks, deep cracks and missing grout require a more extensive repair.

Step 1

Mix a loose solution of dry, non-sanded grout mix and water, or add a little water to a small amount of non-sanded pre-mixed grout. You will only need a tablespoon or so of the grout solution.

Step 2

Spray the grout lines with water and wipe away any excess.

Step 3

Dribble the thinned grout, using a spoon, over the hairline cracks. The grout should be thin enough to enter the crack. If it is not, thin it out a little more by adding more water.

Step 4

Push the grout into the hairline cracks by working it with your finger. When the cracks are filled, wipe off any excess grout from the tiles and let the grout line dry.

Step 5

Check the grout line after it has dried. If the new grout has shrunk upon drying, and the hairline crack is still visible, repeat the process of applying thinned grout to the hairline crack until the crack is no longer visible. Allow the new grout to cure for 48 hours.

Step 6

Polish the tiles and remove any remaining grout haze by buffing the tiles with an old T-shirt.

Extensive Repair

Step 1

Remove as much cracked grout as possible by hand. Use a stiff metal brush to help remove the grout and clean the joint.

Step 2

Mask off the tiles along the edges of the cracked grout. This helps prevent scratching the tiles as you are working on the grout line.

Step 3

Put on the safety glasses. Use either a hand-held grout removal tool or a specialty grout-removal power tool to remove the cracked grout. Remove 2/3 of the depth of the grout, leaving the remaining grout in place only if it is firmly attached to the substrate.

Step 4

Vacuum the area to clean it of grout dust and debris.

Step 5

Remove the masking tape from the tiles. Spray the grout lines with water and wipe down the area with a sponge.

Step 6

Pour the dry grout mix into a bucket and add water according to the package's directions. Let the grout mixture rest for 10 minutes. You can use sanded grout mix on wide grout lines, but do not use sanded grout if you have marble tiles.

Step 7

Scoop up some of the grout mixture with the grout float and press it into the grout lines, working diagonally across the grout lines.

Step 8

Dampen a grout sponge and wipe off any excess grout from the tiles, using light strokes across the tiles and grout lines to avoid removing the wet grout from the lines. Rinse the sponge often in a separate bucket of water.

Step 9

Allow the new grout to cure for 48 hours, and then polish the tiles and remove the grout haze with an old T-shirt.

Things You Will Need

  • Non-sanded grout mix, matched to existing grout
  • Pre-mixed non-sanded grout, matched to existing grout
  • Spray bottle
  • Sponge
  • Spoon
  • Old T-shirt
  • Stiff metal brush
  • Masking tape
  • Safety glasses
  • Grout removal tool, either hand-held or powered
  • Vacuum
  • Sanded grout mix
  • Bucket for mixing grout
  • Bucket for water
  • Grout float
  • Grout sponge

Warning

  • Do not rinse out your grout sponge in your sink. The grout can settle, harden and clog up your pipes. Use a bucket with clean water to rinse the sponge and dispose of the water elsewhere.

About the Author

Drue Tibbits is a writer based in Central Florida, where she attended Florida Southern College. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur and Your Home magazines. She has also been profiled in the Florida Today newspaper and the Writer's Digest magazine. In addition to writing brochure copy for local businesses, she helps new start-up companies develop a local image presence.