Painting Grout Lines

We only have one operational bathroom in our house, so it is used for our needs as well as guests. The other bathroom is gutted down to the studs right now so this bathroom is it, for two adults and one baby. I mean, first world problems, right…three people sharing ONE bathroom, oh my! I really can’t complain.

Our current bathroom isn’t in terrible shape… It’s definitely livable. It was updated at some point, probably during the 90s, so there’s nothing major that is in dire need of an overhaul right now. However, the grout lines between the tiles were nothing short of icky.

dirty grout

I don’t think they had ever been sealed to begin with, so every bit of dirt just stuck onto the grout like white on rice. And I don’t think the grout had ever been cleaned either. In the photo below, it looks like the grout lines are brown/gray, but they’re actually supposed to be WHITE! It’s so dirty it just looks like they’re dark.

dingy grout floor

After living with it for a year, the grime just started to get to me. It made the whole bathroom feel dirty. Even after I tried covering it up with bath mats, it just made the whole space dingier and it just wasn’t a happy place to be. So finally, we headed to the Home Depot and picked up some supplies to remedy the situation.

We grabbed a bottle of Polyblend Grout Renew in Delorean Gray, which is a nice steel-gray color. I chose a darker color to ensure that it would cover up any dirt that still remained.

First, we cleaned with TileLab Sulfamic Acid Cleaner, a strong cleanser recommended on the grout paint bottle. You mix it with water (8oz to a gallon) and apply it with a toothbrush.

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It worked pretty well. You could really see the difference after using the grout cleaner.

grout contrast

It wasn’t quite good enough though. There was still quite a bit of dirt embedded in there. A good reminder to SEAL, SEAL, SEAL your grout if you don’t want to end up with a similar mess!

That’s when we broke out the Polyblend grout paint. The instructions said to use a toothbrush but we used an old craft paintbrush with pretty stiff bristles for better control.

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You apply the paint to the grout, working it back and forth with the brush so it really gets into the porous grout.

applying grout paint

It’s best to work in small sections at a time (for me, one section of one line at a time). Wipe off any excess paint on the glazed tile immediately, or it will start to dry and you’ll have a harder time cleaning it up.

It might be a good idea to start behind the toilet in case you mess up a bit at first.

NOTE: I wouldn’t recommend this product for use with unglazed tile or natural stone. It might stick on the tile and never come off.

remove excess grout paint

I used a piece of tissue, wrapped it around my finger, and ran my finger in a continuous line along the side of each grout line to remove the excess grout paint. This was the hardest part, and to be honest, it took me a while to get the hang of it so I wasn’t smearing paint everywhere.

You’ll probably still have some smears of paint on the tile here or there. Don’t worry. Just wait until the grout paint has a chance to set  for about 30 minutes. Then use a damp rag and buff the extra paint off the glazed tile, being careful not to scrub the paint off the actual grout.

The whole process took me about 2 hours, for a pretty tiny bathroom. It wasn’t quite as easy as I expected, but the results are pretty nice.

painted grout

The grout paint dried a tiny bit darker than when it was wet. It definitely covered up any dirt that was left after the grout cleaning, and it looks like grout, not like paint. In fact, our bathroom looks like it has been newly tiled!

how to paint grout

The faux marble porcelain tile wasn’t my favorite tile to begin with but the grout paint makes it look 100 times better. I like that the gray of the grout picks up the gray in the “marble” so it feels like it belongs (unlike the yellowish off-white grout before). And I LOVE that my bathroom doesn’t feel dirty and grimy anymore! The Polyblend grout paint is a paint and sealer in one, so I’m hoping the results will last for quite a while. And since we still have plenty of grout paint left, we can always do touch-ups later.

Again, here’s the before:

dingy grout floor

And the after:

how to paint grout

A subtle, but significant, difference.

Are you thinking of refreshing some old dingy grout in your home? If so, I’d definitely recommend using grout paint! Although it takes a bit of elbow grease, the results are awesome.

8 Month Update: The grout paint is holding up great by the way! See more pictures of the bathroom here!

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