Do You Have to Remove Old Grout Before Regrouting?

Bry'Ana Arvie
Written by Bry'Ana Arvie
Updated November 17, 2021
A modern white tile bathroom with a double sink
denisismagilov - stock.adobe.com

Highlights

  • Remove most of the old grout before regrouting.

  • DIYing this project is possible with time, patience, and the right tools.

  • You can change your grout type when regrouting.

  • Pros charge $10–$25 per square foot for complete grout removal.

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

Your once bright and welcoming grout now looks like someone rained on its parade. You know it’s time to regrout, but will putting a new layer of grout on top of the old one solve the problem? In this article, we’ll discuss if regrouting over old grout is possible, plus other common questions about the regrouting process.

Can You Regrout Over Old Grout?

We know the appeal of slapping on a layer of new grout to cover the dingy, crumbling one is too good to pass up. And while you technically can do it, there are plenty of good reasons not to. 

It Won’t Stick

Grout's primary purpose is to adhere to tile joints and seal the gaps, not to stick to other grout. Instead of adhering to each other, it’ll eventually crumble off, leaving you with a mess to clean and more work, costing you time and money. 

Plus, if your existing grout is sealed, the sealant will prevent anything from sticking to it—including other grout.

Appearance

Another reason you shouldn’t apply a fresh layer of filler over an existing one is because of the noticeable difference between the two layers if you do a quick patch job. It’ll be the equivalent of painting only parts of your wall instead of the entire thing.

Underlying Problems

If you have black grout (and it’s not supposed to be that color), then there’s likely mold present. Mold can grow on top of or underneath grout and can cause health issues such as chronic coughing, headaches, and fatigue if left untreated. If you’re trying to regrout over old grout to cover up mold, you won’t be fixing the main issue. 

While you can clean mold that’s growing on top of grout with bleach, you may need to remove your old grout and tiles to identify any underlying issues. Also, adding more grout won’t fix the issue of loose tiles since this can be a subfloor problem.

Do You Need to Remove All the Old Grout?

Close-up of a worker removing old grout between ceramic tiles
Rusian - stock.adobe.com

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to remove all the existing grout. Not only will that take a lot of time, but it’s unnecessary sometimes. In most cases, you’ll need to remove most of it so the new layer can bond to the sides—not the top—of the tile. 

This also applies to grout that looks worn-down. You'll still need to remove it before applying a fresh layer. But the good news? If you do the job right and adequately care for and clean your tile, you won't need to regrout for at least another 10 years. Maintain it with routine grout cleanings. Alternatively, hiring a tile and grout cleaning service costs $150 to $1,030.

Can I Change My Grout Type?

Depending on where you’re trying to regrout over your existing filler, you’ll have to decide what type of grout you’ll need. Here’s what each type is best for:

  • Unsanded is best for joints that are less than 1/8-inch wide.

  • Sanded is used for joints wider than 1/8 inch.

  • Epoxy is used in areas that are more likely to experience stains.

Can I DIY Regrouting My Tile?

Yes, it’s possible for you to DIY tile regrouting. Some of the tools and materials for this are grout, a saw, a cleaner, a grout float, sealant, and caulk. It’ll take a few hours out of your day to complete the project.

DIY regrouting will also require you to mix your product using the right proportions, or it won’t set properly and possibly lead to cracks. Then, you’ll need to buff it, sponge off the excess, and apply the sealant and caulk, which can take 48 to 72 hours to cure for the best results. Exercise caution if you’re taking on regrouting yourself to avoid tile damage.

Do I Need a Pro?

If you have the time, patience, and materials to regrout your tile, then go for it while keeping our advice in consideration. However, if you feel more comfortable letting a professional grout repairer near you take over, you have plenty of options. Expect to pay on average $10 to $25 per square foot for complete grout removal when regrouting tile. 

Also worth noting is to let the pro know you’d like to remove the old product to avoid skim coating, or making it look good without actually fixing the problem. Typical prices for skim coating jobs are $1.70 to $5 per square foot when regrouting. 

Since removing all the old grout can affect the cost, getting the terms established from the beginning is essential when managing expectations. 

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.