Does any renovation project go without a hitch?
The answer is no. At least when it comes to our projects.
If you’re on our newsletter list, you know that we spent an inordinate amount of time and money on floor samples for the kitchen. We’re were a little indecisive and I like to tell myself it was because the kitchen is the most used room in the house, so #pressure.
Well, after 20+ samples, we FINALLY found a winner. You can read all about it and see the full space in the June Kitchen Renovation Update.
Today, I want to talk about the little hiccup called dried grout and how I nearly ruined our kitchen floor.
[post contains affiliate links, which means we may make a small commission, at NO additional cost to you, if a purchase is made. thanks for supporting north country nest!]
Let me set the scene:
It’s a Friday night. Brett had spent the week prior laying down all the tile and we were finally ready for grout. We started in the far left corner where the little window used to be and planned on both of us grouting and then I would start going back through with the sponge to clean it all up.
Well, about five minutes in, Brett started critiquing my grouting style.
Here’s the thing about Brett and I. Neither one of us takes feedback well. On top of that, we hadn’t yet eaten dinner and we both seem to turn into hangry two-year-olds on an empty stomach.
So anyways, he starts telling me how I should be grouting and needless to say, it didn’t go well. I took a breather and stepped outside while he continued to grout.
Once I cam back in, I started working on the cleaning part – we worked in silence for about 30 minutes. He made his way around the island and soon ran out of grout.
Sidenote: This is normal, it isn’t a Wittman project without at least one or two extra trips to Menards. 😛
So, he leaves and I continue to clean. I work my way up and down the strip of floor where the dining table will be, completely forgetting about the drying grout around the kitchen island.
Well, long story short, Brett gets home and points out the fact that I didn’t clean around the island. We exchanged a few loving words (of course!), he quickly finishes grouting the last section and then we went into full-on grout cleaning mode. We spent the next hour in silence, wiping the grout, changing out the water, wiping the grout some more, changing out the water again… And called it a night at around 10:30 pm.
The next morning, I got up early, did some research and then went to Menards to buy anything and everything related to cleaning grout. When I got home, Brett was also about to leave to buy what he could find for cleaning grout.
Great minds think alike, I guess 😛
When he got back, we spent the next five hours doing a solid once-over on the entire floor and found a good system that actually delivered! So, my friends, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, just know that it IS possible to clean dried grout.
The first mixture I found was to dissolve sugar in warm water. I did 1/4 c sugar to 2 cups warm water. It definitely works, but the downside is the sugar. It’s sticky – shocking, I know.
Over the next week, I went back through and did even more touching up and found that you don’t have to add in the sugar – warm/hot water works just as well!
The tools we used:
- Wire cup brush
- Hand chisel
- Nylon drill brush
- Warm water
- Nylon scrubber pad
- Large grout sponge
- Heavy duty acid cleaner
- Sponge mop
- Large buckets
- Floor scrub brush
- Mrs. Meyers Multi-Surface Cleaner Concentrate
At a high level, here was our process for cleaning the dried grout:
- Pour warm water over the entire section we wanted to clean
- Take a hand chisel and gently scrape it over the tile to rough up the grout
- Use the nylon scrubber pad OR the wire cup brush to scrub away the grout
- Wipe everything with a wet sponge
- Pour on a little more water (the drill worked best when the area was wet)
- Use the wire cup brush to clean another layer off
- Repeat the sponge-water-brush process until the tile is clean
Once we got a majority of the dried grout scraped off, we went over the entire floor with an acid wash.
The process for applying and cleaning with the acid wash:
- Brett used a scrub brush to work in the acid wash; we did this is sections
- It needed to be agitated for three minutes; Brett scrubbed, I timed
- Once the three minutes were up, I went over the area with a mop and warm water, cleaning up the acid solution as much as possible
- The most important part of this step is to not let the solution dry
- Brett moved down the room to the next section with the acid wash while I cleaned the first section
- Once we got half the kitchen washed and wiped, we used a cleaning solution (Mrs. Meyer’s All Purpose Cleaner) to go over the entire area
- Then, we went back over the entire section with a mop and warm water, repeating that part twice
- And then, we did that whole process for the other side of the kitchen
Overall, it looks a million times better; no haze and no large patches of dried grout.
A few more items to note:
I started with a nylon scrub pad which worked just fine but required a little more elbow grease; this would probably be your best option if your tile is more susceptible to scratches.
I think because our tile is textured, we were able to be a little more rough – so, do a test a run with the wire cup brushes in a small area, just to make sure.
We didn’t put up any plastic around the cabinets so there was grout splatter everywhere – it wiped off fairly easily but if you don’t want to take that extra step, put up plastic.
The grout is a very similar color to the tile, so it isn’t as noticeable; I guess this is a good defense for choosing similar colored grout?
As you can see by the pictures, the tile isn’t 100% grout-free – pretty far from perfect. However, on our side is the bonus that the grout is very close to the same color as the tile, making it not too noticeable.
The project didn’t go quite as we’d planned, but I think it’s safe to say I’ll never be making that mistake again… and the next tile project can only go up from here! 😛
All our best,
Pin for later!
Leave a Reply