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How To Soften Grout For Removal?

How To Soften Grout For Removal?

how to soften grout for removal

It’s one thing to apply grout. It’s another process to remove it. The main thing to keep in mind about grout is that you want to break it down without damaging your tiles. To do that you must know how to soften grout for removal.

There are several reasons why you’d want to remove grout. It could be that your grout is coming off, and you need to clear away the old grout to apply a fresh layer. Another reason could be that you have grout that has splattered and settled on your tiles during its installation process. 

No matter your reason for wanting to soften and remove grout, it’s good to know how you can remove it. For one, it’s a job you can do yourself. This comes in handy if you need to do a small bit of grout replacement and save yourself the cost of hiring a contractor. Additionally, knowing how to soften grout before removal will save you from potentially ruining your tiles. Your tiles can get cracked or discolored if you go about removing your grout the wrong way. 

That said, here’s how you can soften grout and remove it. Remember, it has to be in that order if you want to save yourself from hours of chiseling the stuff off. Soften first, remove after. 

Tools And Materials You Can Use For Softening And Removing Grout

You can use a heat tool to melt the grout and help it soften. Heat tools are ideal for wall grout. You can choose from any of the following:

  • A heat gun/ blow dryer
  • A steam cleaner

An alternative to heat tools, you can use an acid to dissolve and soften the grout. Using acids on floor grout is ideal as you can let the acid sit and do the work for you. Obviously, acids will be more impractical to use on softening wall grout.  Some acid mixtures include:

  • Lemon juice and warm water at a 1:2 ratio
  • Sugar mixed in hot water at a 1:4 ratio
  • Sulfamic acid and the appropriate safety materials (safety goggles and gloves)

We’ve mentioned using the above acids because they are the least likely to discolor your tiles. Other acids such as vinegar and muriatic acid are effective, but more likely to discolor your tiles. If you’d like to use them to soften grout, do a patch test first on your tiles to rule out unwanted discoloration. 

One you have your grout softened, you’ll need a tool to remove the grout once it has been softened. Any of the tools will work fine in scraping off softened grout. 

  • A scraper
  • An oscillating tool with a grout removal blade
  • A grout rake

Softening Grout

Before softening grout, always do a patch test with your acid solution. This will rule out any unwanted occurrences of discoloration to your tiles

Use A Heat Gun

One option to remove grout is to use a heat gun. Set it on a low setting/300 degrees and direct the heat along the grout lines. Keep it about 8 inches away. Within 2-3 minutes, the grout should have softened. 

Use A Blowdryer

If you don’t own a heat gun, a blow dryer will work the same way to soften grout. Set the heat on high and direct it along the grout lines. Again, keep it 8 inches away. Work your way through the grout for 3 minutes or until the grout has softened. 

Use A Steam Cleaner

Another way to apply heat to soften grout is with a steam cleaner. Apply a narrow nozzle of the steam cleaner and run it along the grout lines. Hold the steam jet over the grout lines at 1-2 inches. This method is especially effective for grout that is porous such as cement. The combination of heat and moisture should soften it for easy removal. 

Work the steam jet in 1 to 2-foot sections. Once you have a foot or two of the grout line softened, you can remove it with a grout removal tool.

Use Lemon Juice

A fantastic floor grout softening method is using lemon juice. Mix 1 part lemon juice to two parts warm water to create an acid solution that will soften the grout. Pour the mixture directly over the grout. The best part is, you let it do the hard work of softening the grout. Let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes before removing it. 

Use Sugar And Water

A mixture of sugar and hot water at a 1:4 ratio will work the same way lemon juice does. Use hot water to dissolve the sugar fully. Again, pour the mixture directly on the grout lines. Give the sugar water 10-20 minutes to work its magic before scraping off the grout. 

Keep in mind that the sugar water will become sticky once dry. This gives you an additional step in cleaning up. 

Use Sulfamic Acid

Last, and ideally, as your last option, use sulfamic acid. Sulfamic acid is your best bet for stubborn and hard grout. Sulfamic acid is the best method as well to use to soften epoxy grout. 

Wearing gloves and safety goggles, apply it directly along the grout lines. Once applied, scrub the sulfamic acid in with a scrubber pad. Let the acid soak through for 10 to 30 minutes. After it’s soaked, wash the tiles thoroughly with water. Finally, you can go ahead and remove the grout with your chosen grout removal tool. 

Removing Grout

  • Use An Oscillating Tool: You can use an oscillating tool equipped with a grout removal blade to remove grout. 
  • Use A Grout Rake: You can remove grout as you heat it through with a grout rake. You can do this yourself or ask someone to help you if you’re using a heat method to soften grout. As you direct the heat to the grout, begin scraping it off with a grout rake. Ensure that the grout is soft for this method to work well. 
  • Use A Scraper: When it comes to grout removal, a good old scraper is up for the task. A scraper is an effective tool if the grout is thoroughly softened.

Whether it’s a modest job of removing stained grout, or a complete overhaul of your tiled floor, softening grout before removing is worthwhile. You lessen the time, effort and difficulty of removing grout by softening it first.