Remove grout with a grout saw and discover removing grout is easier than you thought!

This ultimate guide combines knowledge from every grout removal guide from Tilersplace and combines it into one complete grout saw guide.

With professional Tile setter tips to a full list of tools required, this guide will teach you everything you need to know to remove old grout from tiles in the easiest way possible.

A grout saw is great for removing grout on the cheap
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Hi there and welcome to my Ultimate Guide To Removing Grout with A Grout Saw.

I have been removing grout for tile and grout replacement for over 20 years as part of my profession as a tile setter.

In fact, I have removed more grout in 2018 than I have in ten years of tile setting. It appears homeowners are wisening up to the benefits of replacing grout and refreshing their tiles without spending a lot of money.

If you are looking to remove tile grout yourself, then this removing grout guide is for you!

I’ll show you how a pro tiler removes old grout and teach you everything I know so that your next grout removal project is a success!

Before We Begin

This guide is ideal for small grout removal projects like a single bathroom floor, shower or kitchen backsplash.

If you are looking for a grout removal tool for large projects or simply want to remove grout the quickest and easiest way possible: then my Guide To Removing Grout With An Oscillating Multi-Tool is for you.

The Grout Saw – Quick Overview

The humble grout saw is the cheapest grout removal tool available and one of the most effective.

It has literally zero learning curve and anyone; be it an industrious teenager wanting to earn some money over summer or a retired grandmother wanting to spruce up her backsplash, can use one without issues.

It consists of a large handle to allow ease of use and a special carbide or diamond tipped blade that grinds grout to dust – that’s it.

The magic happens thanks to the carbide tip and the speed at which it removes grout is all dependant on the user.

A grout saw

To enable a grout saw to remove grout, all you need to do is saw at the grout like you would a wood saw.

I believe the absurdity of that sentence really highlighted how easy it is to use a grout saw.

Simply pick it up by the handle, press the carbide, grouting removing tip to your grout and saw at it with an up and down motion.

The grout saw is truly a cheap and effective method of removing grout and the reason the tool has been around for decades.

It features on my Best Grout Removal Tools Guide as one of the 3 best grout removing tools and for very good reason.

A Grout Saw Is Perfect For:

• Repairing Grout In Showers

• Fixing Grout Cracks

• Replacing broken or chipped tiles

• Removing just about any type of grout in any situation.

This grout removal tool is perfect for all these things as it’s cheap, great for small to medium jobs and is easy to use.

Keep reading to learn more in-depth grout removal techniques with a grout saw and how to prep your job-site before starting work.

The Best Grout Saws

Here are two of my favorite grout saws to use.

I have found that this handle design works the best as you can be more forceful with your strokes without sliding out of the grout gap.

Grout Saws with the raised handle like this one are an older design and tend to make work slower and more tedious.

QEP Professional Grout Saw

QEP Professional Grout Saw

This grout saw produced by QEP is my go-to grout saw and the one I use in this guide.

The design is slightly different but it’s the same one.

I love the large handle that enables two handed use and it translates elbow-grease better than other designs.

You can also replace the carbide blades once they go dull.

Goldblatt Professional Grout Saw

Goldblatt Grout Saw

This grout saw is slightly fancier and more comfortable in comparison to the QEP.

It features a more comfortable handle and thicker design, suited for longer use.

There are also cheap replacement blades available.

Reasons To Remove Grout

Before we start the guide, let’s take a quick look into why you’d want to remove your tile grout and what advantages you gain from removing old grout.

Remove grout in order to safely extract a tile – If you are wanting to replace a damaged or chipped tile, you will first need to remove the grout around it. This is to break the bond between the neighboring tiles and prevent them from getting damaged during the removal of your broken tile.

Update your grout to a modern and easier to clean grout – Chances are that you will have an older and outdated form of tile grout that is worn out and faded, and is also hard to keep clean as it’s so porous and attracted to dirt. By simply extracting that old grout from your tiles, you can regrout with a modern and more durable grout that will make cleaning and everyday living much easier.

Dramatically changing the look of a room without spending a lot – Many first homeowners or house flippers love to replace the grout in older tiled surfaces. It’s a cheap and effective way or refreshing an old surface while saving money. A full grout removal kit and a few hours of your time are much cheaper than removing and retiling a floor or wall.

Changing the grout color – Similar to the last tip. You might find you do not like your grout color, either because someone else chose it or your home decor changed. By removing that grout, you can regrout your tiles with whichever color suits your new designs and taste.

Fixing cracked or damaged grout – A common reason for removing grout is because it’s either damaged, flaking, cracked or heavily contaminated with dirt. This is especially the case in shower floors where the grout is heavily damaged and washed out due to the constant exposure to water. Removing the old tile grout and applying a fresh batch of modern is the best way to remedy these problems.

Removing odor near pet areas – You love your pet and they love you. Unfortunately, they do leave signs of that love indoors that can start to smell over time. 

No matter how hard you scrub or steam clean, urine can penetrate deep into your grout and be impossible to remove.

This is because standard grout is porous and liquids can penetrate deep into it and sit underneath the tile.

A tile replacement project. The first step was grout removal.

The best way to remove pet odor from grout is by removing it completely and replacing it with a new grout or even epoxy grout.

Epoxy is fully water resistant and won’t allow any messes to penetrate it.

This last tip also applies for other smells and odors, especially in wet areas like showers or around toilet areas. Smelly liquids can penetrate grout and sit beneath it, leaving an unpleasant smell that you can’t get to. Replacing it is your best option.

Now that we have the reasons behind wanting to remove tile grout, let’s look at the list of gear you need to remove grout effectively.

It’s time to assemble your grout removal kit.

Gear List – Tools Needed

A wet and dry vacuum cleaner is essential for grout removal

Wet/Dry Vacuum Cleaner

You need a wet/dry vacuum cleaner for every grout removal job.

They are the best way of sucking up all the grout dust and muck you’ll create while removing tile grout.

You’ll want the wet capabilities for any work in showers or if you opt to pre-wet the grout before removing.

*If it’s only a small project, a brush should be sufficient.

Wearing work gloves is essential for removing grout

Work Gloves

If you will be removing larger amounts of grout or are not used to working with hand tools, then a good pair of work gloves is ideal.

They will help you keep a tight grip on the grout saw and will also protect you from the harsh alkaline content in the grout dust. 

Lastly, they will shield your hands from any friction burns or rubbing you may receive from rubbing up against a rough tile or edge.

Workers knee pads are ideal for long periods of kneeling.

Workers Knee Pads

If you’ll be working on removing grout on floors, knee pads are a must.

Any decent pair of workers knee pads will do the trick or if you want the best knee pads, I reccommend the Rubi Gel Duplex Knee Pads, super comfortable, durable and made for extensive periods of work.

A Dust Mask for grout removal is great to protect your lungs.

Dust Mask

This one is a personal reccomendation, especially if you are removing grout in tight areas like showers.

You will get creating dust and working in an environment that holds bacteria and mold, it is best not to breathe those spores in for obvious reasons.

Get a dust mask like this one with a valve and you’ll be working in comfort and not inhaling any of those nasties.

Goldblatt grout saws are great for working in tight areas.

Grout Saw

The star of the show, of course you will want one of these!

You can view my quick overview on which grout saw is best in the top section of this guide, otherwise just choose the Goldblatt grout saw.

For small tasks, you won’t need to worry about extra blades as the one should suffice.

If you feel you’ll need a spare, you can find them here.

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Guide To Removing Grout

We have our gear and specialist grout removal tools, so let’s get going!
It’s time to remove grout like a professional!

Grout saw ready to remove grout!

Step 1 – Preparation

We start work on our grout removal project by preparing the job site.

Correct preparation is the key to every successful renovation project and removing grout is no different.

1.1 You can begin by removing any loose clutter and objects from the area you will be working in. This is to provide a clean and distraction-free environment.

If you’ll be working in the kitchen, for example, remove any:

• Loose cutlery and dishes

• Pot plants or decorations

• Food Containers

• Small electric appliances 

If there’s a lot of dirt or grease on your tiles, give them a wipe down with your favorite cleaning product.

1.2 If possible, open up any windows in the room you will be removing grout in so that you have ventilation and fresh air coming in.

1.3 Turn on the lights and if it’s a dark room or there’s not enough light falling on the ground, a portable work lamp would be ideal to further illuminate the work area.

You want a lot of light when removing grout with a grout saw, this is to help you see the grout gaps properly and ensure you remove all the grout.

A cheap portable work lamp like this is ideal for the task, they feature a long-life lithium-ion battery that’s rechargeable and the COB LED’s provide plenty of light.

You can set it anywhere you need it and it’s small enough to not be a bother to you.

These lights have saved me a lot of hassle over the years and I always carry two in my truck.

Portable work lamp for removing grout.

1.4  A grout saw is a fairly quiet and unobtrusive tool so you won’t need to clear out any pets or curious children but it does produce a squeak on some grouts. Keep this in mind if you have anyone in the home that is affected by the sound.

1.5 With all the distractions safely taken care of and your workspace ready, you can start putting on your safety gear.

Put on which Protection Gear You Require:

• Knee pads

• Dust mask

• Work gloves

Oh, and crack up some music! 

You want some good music to keep you pumped and motivated while you do this task that some would describe as tedious and slow.

So turn on that radio or portable speaker, turn up the volume and put on your favorite beats.

It’s time to remove some grout! 

💪

Extra Tips

Here are a few extra tips for preparation that could help in your circumstances.

How To Avoid Chipping Glaze On Delicate TIles

This is a great tip if you are wanting to replace a tile or are working with a tile that has a delicate glaze.

Since you will be only removing grout from the tiles you’ll be replacing, you can place masking tape around the grout lines. This helps add a safety barrier between your grout removal blade and the glaze of the tile.

It’s useful for ceramic tiles that have soft glazing and anyone working with grout saws for the first time

You can use a couple layers of tape for extra protection. Be sure to place it carefully, you are aiming to place the tape on the very edge of the tile. 

You do not want to cover the grout line as it’ll hinder your ability to remove it all.

If you are removing a lot of grout, maybe just do this for one tile or two, just untill you get the hang of it. Then you can go without the tape.

 

How To Eliminate Dust While Using A Grout Saw

A grout saw is the cleanest tool for grout removal that you can use as it’s rate of dust created is too low for it to get airborne, it’ll simply fall to the ground.

If you want to fully eliminate that dust, you can opt to prewet the grout lines with a sponge better starting work. Simply wet the grout until it changes color and gets dark.

The result will be a clumpier sort of mush that you can clean off the tiles easily before regrouting.

Wetting the grout line will also help in some cases as it’ll give the grout saw more purchase and bite.

It’s an entirely optional step but the option is to for you if you wish to take it.

 

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Step 2 – Removing The Grout

We have our tools for removing grout and we have a safe environment to work in, now let’s get busy removing some grout!

Ready?

1.1 If it is your first time using a grout saw to remove grout, start in an area that is less conspicuous – behind a door or in a far corner are two good spots for this. 

This applies to both wall tiles and floor tiles.

1.2  Get a comfortable grip on the grout saw and place it flat on the grout line you will start with.

You want the whole entire blade to be touching the grout line.

Start pushing the grout saw up and then down in a sawing motion, very much like you would cut a piece of wood.

The idea with a fresh grout line is to work a small groove into the grout line, this will provide you with a track to follow and allow you to go deeper into the grout without damaging the tile glaze.

Work a few inches at a time to keep it manageable and allow you to get head way.

The objective is to take it slowly and work systematically.

By moving the grout saw to all sides, you cleanly remove all grout from the tile.

1.3 With a nice guiding groove created, you can start sawing at the grout. Once you have most of the grout removed from the grout removed, angle the grout saw to the side and remove the grout from the edges of the tile.

*View The Grout Saw Animated Image For An Example*

The angle of the grout saw will remove the remainder of the grout in the tile gap and ensures that when you apply new grout, old specks of grout won’t show through.

Go steady and remember to be gentle, you do not want to damage the tile glaze!

1.5 With enough grout removed, you’ll see a large dark gap appear in the grout line, you can now proceed to the next section of grout and repeat steps: 1.3 – 1.4 until all the grout is removed.

You do not want to go any deeper than the grout line as your grout saw will start scratching the glaze of the tile with its metal hardware. This can cause a black mark to appear on the tile.

Have I Removed Enough Grout?

Take a look at the next image to see an example of a grout line that has been poorly removed.

The middle of the grout line has been removed but a large chunk has been left on the edges of the tile glaze.

This left-over grout will be impossible to cover with new grout and will show up like a sore thumb as it will be a different color and texture to your new grout.

The grout lines next to the offending grout have been removed correctly.

To remove the grout on the sides of the tile, simply angle your grout saw and continue scraping out the grout.

If your grout line looks like this, you need to remove more grout from the edges.

1.7 As you make process on your grout removal project, you’ll want to stop or have someone vacuum up the dust and debris you have left behind.

This helps in two ways:

• It will reveal any grout you may have left in the grout line.

• Prevent you kneeling on the debris and getting it into your clothes and skin.

Vacuum away the dust as you go along.

Keeping your work area tidy and orderly always helps in achieving a great result and provides a safer work environment.

1.8 As you get more confident with the grout saw and your skill increases, you can start sawing at the grout quicker, you will also develop a feel for the grout removal process and make more progress.

Remember to always maintain a firm grip on the grout saw and take breaks every 15-30 minutes to allow your hands to rest and prevent fatigue to your eyesight and body.

Is The Grout Saw To Slow? You might need an oscillating multi-tool, check out my grout removal guide for this powered grout removal tool. It’s much quicker than a grout saw and less taxing.

2.0 Once you have removed all the grout, get the vacuum cleaner out and suck up all the dirt and debris you have created.

Pay particular attention to the grout lines as a lot of grout dust will be remaining in the gaps and you’ll want to get it all out before applying new grout or extracting the tile.

2.1 With that you are done!

Congratulations, pat yourself on the back and heave a sigh of relief. It may have been time-consuming but trust me, what you just did was the cheapest and easiest way to remove grout from any tiled surface.

Take a moment to clean up your tools and equipment before putting them away. 

You can wipe down your grout saw with a microfibre cloth to prevent dust caking on it.

If you are going to continue on and grout your floor, I have a full guide on how to grout tiles here.

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Bathroom tiles with all the grout removed with the use of a grout saw.

Conclusion & Project Wrap-Up

Grout removal from porcelain or ceramic tiles can seem like a scary and tedious project.

It’s a specialist field that most every-day homeowners and DIYers do not have experience with and unfortunately, this can lead to mistakes and expensive damage caused to tiles and furnishings.

Of course, there are many guides to grout removal on the internet but I found them to be sorely lacking in detail or proper value.

A guide on removing grout cannot be summarized to a few vague bullet points and pretty photos and so I created this guide to fill in the blanks that those guides created.

This guide to removing grout with a grout saw aims to teach a complete beginner how to use the best removing grout tool in the business and enable them to remove grout like a professional tile setter.

With the right equipment and surface preparation, we were able to remove grout from any tile surface in a clean and effective manner without putting our property or health at risk.

Once all the grout has been removed, the tiled surface is ready for it’s next stage, whether that is tile replacement or complete regrouting of the tile.

I hope this guide has been of use to you and that it taught you how to remove grout properly and to your satisfaction.

If you found it useful, please share it amongst your social networks!

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