How to Fix Cracked Grout in 5 Easy Steps

Lauren Wellbank
Written by Lauren Wellbank
Updated July 26, 2021
Detail of a modern bathroom
Diana Vyshniakova - stock.adobe.com

Fixing the cracked grout around your home will be a piece of cake when you follow this DIY guide

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Cracked grout around your home can not only look bad, but it can also cause problems for both you and your home. 

Grout is what fills the fine lines between the tiles on your floors and walls. It’s a mix of cement and sand and bonds your tiles together while creating a waterproof seal that keeps any spills or moisture from getting through to the sub-flooring or walls. 

Over time, grout can crack or chip away. This can cause tiles to shift and crack (hello, tripping hazards), and also lead to damage to the sub-flooring and drywall behind your tiles. But the good news: Taking care of your damaged grout is easy, even for a novice DIYer.

Difficulty: 2 out of 5

Time Needed: three days, including dry time

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Dremel

  • Extension cord

  • Grout saw

  • Hearing protection

  • Rags

  • Safety glasses

  • Shop vacuum

  • Utility knife

  • Spackle tool

  • Grout

  • Disposable gloves

1. Remove the Damaged Grout

First thing’s first: You’ll need to remove what’s left of your cracked grout. For grout that’s already loose and easy to remove, you can do it by hand. For harder-to-remove pieces, use a dremel tool or grout saw to grind or cut out as much as possible, then follow it up by using a shop vacuum to clean up any dust or smaller pieces. 

You should always remove as much of the old grout as you can before adding a new layer. Otherwise, newly applied ground won't bond correctly to the surrounding surfaces, creating an even bigger headache later on.

2. Color-Match the New Grout

Unless you’re replacing all the grout in your space, you’ll need to find a replacement that’s as close to the original color as possible. Otherwise, it’ll be very obvious where you regrout.

You can get help by taking a piece of your old grout to a home improvement store. An employee might be able to color-match the sample to one of their products.

3. Apply Your New Grout

Detail of a woman’s hand fixing grout on bathroom tiles
Alexander Pytskiy/iStock / Getty Images Plus via GettyImages

If you’re using a tub of prepared grout, scoop it out with the putty knife, spackle tool, or even a gloved finger and apply it into the area. Wipe any excess grout off of the surrounding tile before it dries to prevent it from permanently adhering to the surface.

4. Let It Dry

Whether you’re fixing the grout on your floor or your walls, you’ll need to let it dry completely before walking on the surface or allowing water to come into contact with it. Drying times vary by product, but normally grout requires 48 hours to fully cure.

5. Seal the Surface

An easy way to keep your grout looking its best—and prevent future cracks—is by sealing it. Depending on where your grout is located (in the backsplash of your tub or between the ceramic tiles of your living room floor, for example) you’ll want to seal your grout with a protective layer that prevents dirt and mold from building up over time. Plus, it makes keeping your tiles clean a much easier job for you and your family.

To seal your grout, clean the area and let it dry for at least 45 minutes. Apply a thin coat of the appropriate sealant with a sponge, quickly wiping any excess off before it has the chance to dry. Apply between two to three coats, being sure to allow an hour of drying time between each layer.

The type of sealant you use varies depending on the type of surface. For instance, your bathroom will probably see more moisture than your living room floor, so you’d want to make sure any sealant you use in that area has a waterproof component.

When You'll Need to Call the Pros

While many grout repairs are small (and easy) enough to be handled on your own, there are a few situations where you might want to leave it to the pros. If your grout issues have caused, or are caused by, structural problems like cracked floorboards or water damage, you may want to call an expert to help you get to the source of your problem before attempting to fix it yourself. 

Otherwise, fixing the damaged grout will only be a temporary solution to what could become a major problem down the line.

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