You might be tempted to throw in the towel with your dirty tile grout. Let’s face it, there’s a million cleaning hacks out there that promise fresh, bright grout.
I should know, I’ve tried most of them. But there’s a much easier approach that promises the same results. And it won’t leave you on your hands and knees scrubbing tile grout for days on end.
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Can you really paint grout?
If you’re asking yourself whether or not you can paint grout lines, just take a look at the painted tile floor trend that’s been floating around Pinterest lately.
If I’ve learned anything in my DIY adventures, it’s that you can pretty much paint anything your heart desires.
So yes, painting the grout lines on your tile floor can be a quick and easy update for your home, but you do want to make sure you’re prepared for this project in order to get the best results.
Grout Painting Tools
There’s plenty of painted grout line tutorials on the web, many of them showing the process of painting with specialty grout paint pens or small intricate artist brushes. And I actually tried this method for a quick hot minute before I decided to toss the brush into the trash in favor of a much easier approach.
The artist brush did nothing for penetrating into the grooves of the grout lines. Not to mention that most tile grout happens to be the sanded variety.
This rougher surface needed a more abrasive approach than simply coating the grout in paint. I really needed to work the new paint into the grout’s surface.
Enter, my handy toothbrush. I know, genius right? The tough bristles worked to spread the paint into the grout lines and really does make the best grout paint applicator out there (in my opinion).
Now I didn’t say it was a precise application. In fact, you’ll end up with some excess grout paint along the surface of your tiles, but not to worry. It scrubs right off.
How to paint tile grout (Selecting The Right Color)
I’ve used the Mapei Grout Refresh product in three of our homes now and each time I’m blown away by the before and after grout paint transformation. It’s a little bit of magic in a bottle.
Of course the biggest impact comes from the color paint you select. Mapei has nearly 40 different tile grout paint colors to choose from. Although I didn’t see nearly this large of a selection in my local Lowes store, so you might end up needing to order the perfect color match online.
To make things easier for you, I put together a guide of my top 5 picks for the best neutral grout paint colors. Grab your copy below!
Since we’ve painted several of our grouted floors before I had a stash on hand already and decided to test out two colors that I thought might work well with our beige builder grade tile.
From what I’ve seen so far, the color on the bottle doesn’t quite necessarily look like what you’d expect once it’s dry. In fact, I feel like it appears much lighter when applied and dry. Something to keep in mind when you’re trying to select the perfect paint color.
Since I didn’t feel like running out to my local hardware store just to buy another bottle (by the way, these bottles go a long way and will last you for several projects), I decided to just use the darker of the two shades and went with the color “Bone”.
It’s still not quite as dark as I wanted, but it’ll just fine to cover up the mismatched colors from our grout repair last week.
You might be tempted to simply paint your grout white, but I’ve done this before, and trust me, it’s not always the best color. If you’ve read about our tiled fireplace makeover, then you’ll know just how important it is to select the right color grout to compliment your existing tile floors.
So What’s the easiest way to paint grout?
I’m not going to sugar coat it. Depending on the size of your surface area that you’re painting, it can either take a little or a lot of time to get through this project. But, just to give you a rough idea. Our master bathroom is approximately 60 square feet and the entire process took me maybe 2 hours max.
Make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions on the product bottle. But aside from giving the grout paint a good shake to mix it up, I just dove right into painting.
I poured a good portion of paint out onto a paper plate so that I wasn’t constantly dipping a dirty toothbrush back into the bottle.
Side note. Make sure you thoroughly clean your floor’s surface of any grime and debris.
I vacuumed and mopped and found out that even that wasn’t really good enough. Maybe another round with the Swiffer would’ve helped, but I’m impatient and tend to just dive right into things. But trust me on this. Giving you floor a good cleaning will prevent you from pulling stray hairs and fuzz balls out of freshly painted grout lines.
Start working in small sections in the back of the room, so that when you’re finished painting you can easily step out without having to tip toe around fresh grout paint.
Dip your toothbrush into the grout paint, and using a generous amount, begin scrubbing into your grout lines. Don’t worry about being precise. The paint will end up on your tiles, and that’s okay. It’s similar to a latex paint and scrubs right off tile surfaces once it’s dry.
Helpful Handy TIP
DO NOT Try to wipe away the grout paint from your tiles before it’s had a chance to dry. You WILL end up removing it from the grout line as well.
Depending on the color of your original grout, you may be able to get by with just one coat of grout paint. In our case though, I needed to apply a second coat to fully cover our old brown grout.
Once the paint’s had a chance to dry (I waited about 2 hours) you can start to remove the excess paint from the surface of your tiles.
At first, I alternated between using a plain wet rag and a scrubbing kitchen sponge, and I actually found the wet rag to be the most effective at removing the dried paint. Go figure.
I think that’s because the excess water from the rag helped loosen up the paint first making it much easier to wipe away. The whole process of removing the extra paint probably took me about 30 minutes in total. And that’s out of the entire time frame of the 2-hour project. Not too bad.
Does Painting Grout last?
In my experience, most definitely. And I’ve used this method in both high and low traffic areas. I definitely think a lot of this has to do with the application method I used too (applying it in 2 even thin layers between drying times).
Is it really necessary to seal grout?
The short answer is yes, you need to seal your grout to avoid staining. But most of the pre-mixed grout products on the market today already come with a sealer mixed in. That includes the Mapei Grout Refresh used in this project.
I’m pretty pleased with how our painted grout turned out. It’s helped to hide the dirty dingy grout and made my bathroom floor look new again. Not too shabby for an $11 budget makeover.
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