Over time, your light-colored tile grout can become darker as it collects more dust, molds, and other contaminants.
And because grout is so rough, getting it recolored may seem like a real hassle.
When grout becomes darker and dingy, it makes the entire tile floor look dirty, even if the tiles themselves appear practically new.
However, it is possible to lighten grout (or even darken it) to bring it back to its former appearance, just like new.
But before you get started to give your grout lines that newer look, it is important to understand why grout gets discolored in the first place.
Why Grout Becomes Discolored?
Grout has several uses in construction projects. It’s used as an adhesive for tiling floors and walls, connecting concrete slabs, filling in cracks, and even in arts and crafts projects like constructing colorful designs using tile mosaics.
The main reasons grout on tiles becomes darker or lighter over time involve dirt, mildew, and mold.
Because your existing grout on the tile installation is porous, these three elements have the biggest effect on the discoloration – these can get inside quickly and turn it darker over time.
Changing Grout Color from Dark to Light
To lighten the grout means addressing the discoloring as much as the presence of mildew and mold.
This means using products that can lighten the color while reducing the number of contaminants present.
Of course, you could dig up the grout and replace it, but that takes considerable work and effort.
There are alternatives that are not only less time-consuming than replacing the grout but much less expensive as well.
In fact, you may have some of these tinting and coloring products in your home right now.
What follows are three simple ways to lighten grout that has become too dark in color.
1- White Vinegar
Given the sheer number of times vinegar has been suggested as a cleaning solution, it may seem like this product can do it all.
Vinegar is an excellent product that can lighten the grout by removing much of the contamination from mold and mildew.
However, while vinegar is mostly harmless on many materials, there are some types of tiles that may not respond well.
This usually means that the white vinegar will cause some discoloration to the material. Such tiles that are negatively affected by vinegar include the following.
Do not use vinegar with those types of tiles. However, white vinegar will not harm ceramic, porcelain, or synthetic tiles, which constitute most types of tiles.
So, be sure to identify which types of tiles you have before using the vinegar.
Once you are ready, it’s time to put on the eye goggles, pick up an old toothbrush, and fill to near capacity a spray bottle with white vinegar inside.
Spray & Soak: Spray on the white vinegar and let it soak for up to 10 minutes in the grout. This will help loosen the mildew and mold inside.
Brush: Scrub with the toothbrush the grout that has been sprayed. Once you scrub it, dry it off with a towel.
Repeat the process until the grout becomes light enough to meet your standards.
Once you are through, rinse with water to eliminate the vinegar because it can cause a stench. But what if white vinegar doesn’t work?
You may be surprised that bleach is safe on most flooring surfaces, including tiles.
However, the grout itself must not be colored or dyed; otherwise, the bleach will also remove that. To use bleach, you will need to have the following.
- Chlorine Bleach: 5 tablespoons
- Water: Two-Gallon Bucket
- Scrub Brush
- Old Toothbrush
You can use oxygen bleach, but chlorine bleach does work better.
Prep the Bleach: You will need to put on protective gloves and open the windows. Then add five tablespoons or 1/3rd of a cup of bleach to one gallon of hot water and stir.
Apply: Dip the brush in the bucket and apply it to the grout. Let it sit for about five minutes for full saturation. Then dip the brush every 30 seconds and start scrubbing. Once completed, let the bleach soak in the grout for another ten minutes.
Rinse: Use a dry towel or perhaps a sponge and wipe up the area until all the bleach is gone. Use lukewarm water to rinse away whatever bleach remains.
3- Grout Colorant
If neither vinegar nor bleach works, you can always use grout colorant to change the color of the grout. First, find a good brand of grout colorant and a brush.
Apply: Add the colorant to the brush and then apply it to the grout. Try to keep it off the tile, but do not worry if some of the colorants do bleed over. Just wipe whatever colorant does get on the tile away with a cloth.
Dry: It generally takes up to 45 minutes for the colorant to work. Just let it dry on the grout, and the color should be changed to one shade lighter.
If that is not good enough for you, repeat the process, and that will lighten the grout with another shade. Keep going until the grout reaches the desired color.
It is true that instead of grout colorant, you can use a grout pen. While they are more convenient, the color change does not last as long.
If you have pigmented grout and none of the methods work, you will probably have to add a new coating of grout over the old one.
How Can You Darken the Grout After It Has Dried?
If you feel that the fresh grout you have applied needs to be even darker, fortunately, there are many ways to darken it after it has dried.
The best way to make freshly installed dried grout darker is by using an epoxy grout colorant or a grout enhancer over it.
Tinted epoxy grout colorants are available in various colors to choose from. Grout enhancers can also intensify the color of your grout and are available in either a clear or a color enhancer formula.
So, by using them, you can easily change the color from natural grey to a darker shade as per your liking.
Besides the above, some other ways are available to darken your grout. These include:
1- Grout Stain
A high-quality grout stain or a water-based pigmented sealer works best to change the look of your grout.
Many people use this modern method as it’s pretty easy and inexpensive.
Plus, a variety of grout stains and sealers are readily available these days in hardware stores nearby.
2- Dyeing the Grout
This is another popular method used to darken grout filler. Use either water-based or alcohol-based dyes for this purpose.
The advantage of using dyes is that they can penetrate deeply into the grout and thus change its color.
3- Painting the Grout with a Darker Color
If dyes aren’t your option, you can use a special grout paint to darken your grout.
Acrylic paint works best as a grout darkener. Use a dark color to recolor the grout darker, or if you need, you can use a lighter color to make the grout lighter.
Apply the acrylic paint to the grout with a small paintbrush and let it dry. You can apply a second coat if necessary.
4- Oiling the Tile Grout to Make it Look Darker
In my opinion, this is the best way to darken grout. For this purpose, you can use olive oil, coconut oil, linseed oil, or mineral oil.
Apply it using a paintbrush or a small piece of rag and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Wipe off the excess oil on the grout with a clean cloth.
5- Use a Grout Pen for Darkening
A grout pen or permanent marker works best, or you can make your mixture darken the grout lines.
If you plan to make your mix, you will need some grout colorant and a small amount of water.
Mix the two until you get a paste-like consistency. Apply this paste to the grout lines with a small paintbrush.
How Can You Mix and Make Tinted Grout for Fresh Application?
When you want to get creative with your tiling or arts and crafts projects- white and beige grout simply won’t do. You need color to show off your personality and artistry truly.
If you want to change the color of your white grout (before it’s installed), you can use grout tinting solutions like acrylic paint that comes in various colors, so you can choose one that best suits your project.
To color your white grout, follow these steps…
- Choose the color of acrylic paint you want from an arts and crafts store in squeezable bottles – it’s simpler to mix into the grout.
- Mix the grout with water in a container to form a paste of about peanut butter consistency.
- Gradually add acrylic paint to the mixture as you stir; if you want a darker color, add more paint.
- Keep stirring the mixture until it reaches the correct consistency and color, adding more grout, water, or paint if necessary.
- Stir continuously to avoid drying out while preparing colored grout.
Remember to mix enough grout for your whole project at once.
Mixing the grout color a second time will be difficult because there are no specific measurements for the amount of paint needed.
The Bottom Line
Grout is essential to any bathroom or kitchen renovation, but it can be tricky to get the color just right.
Once it’s dry, it’s difficult to lighten or darken the grout without starting over from scratch.
If you find yourself in this situation, don’t worry – we have a few tips that should help you fix the problem. Follow these simple steps, and your tile grout will look its best in no time!
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for more than a decade to serve the customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques that are being implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.
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