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Unread 07-27-2011, 05:41 PM   #1
Scojean
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How do I remove dried excess grout?

Had a handyman remove and replace grout in one shower surround. He also removed and replaced porcelain tile and regrouted another shower surround.

They're 4 X4 white porcelain tiles. The grout is unsanded white. He removed some of it by hand with a sharp tool but wisely quit when he began to scratch the tiles. The grout has not been sealed.

Long story short- I'm left with excess dried grout in lots of places to remove without destroying the finish on the tiles. Its also on surrounding painted walls, the soap fixtures & towel bars (embedded in the surround) as well as a door, metal door knobs and baseboards. He waited too long to remove the initial grout application which left a real mess.

How can I remove the dried grout? The only two bathrooms we have are unuseable. Can't afford to hire someone else. I need help fast. Exhausted from moving in or I'd search further. Thanks for your patience.

If this involves heavy acids please include safety precautions and thanks in advance. Jean
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Unread 07-27-2011, 06:04 PM   #2
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Welcome Jean -how long has this grout haze been drying?

I'd try either vinegar & water or sulflamic acid. Sulflamic acid is a mild acid sold at HD or Lowes and doesn't require anything special other than a pair of gloves and a stiff bristle brush. Follow directions on container. Less than $10 and will be plenty to do what you need.
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Unread 07-27-2011, 07:16 PM   #3
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What John said plus;

1- Work in small areas

2- Make some sort of effort to keep the bristles from the brush from flicking the acid all around the bathroom. Or aim well
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Unread 07-28-2011, 07:24 AM   #4
Scojean
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More details on excess dried grout

Hi & thanks for the quick response! I didn't explain the full extent of the problem....

Its much more than haze. In some places its as much as 1/4 inch thick, maybe more. There are broad stripes across the face of the tile and pile ups in corners and around edges. Sloppy drips on walls, tile floor, and the door.

Its been a full week that the dried grout has had time to cure. He worked off & on for several days including refinishing a tub (more on that problem later) with a helper in training going back and forth between the two bathrooms. On the heals of his departure we had to prep for extensive flooring work. That required using the bathrooms for storage. One still needs to be emptied before I can work in there.

I'm going to try the vinegar and water for areas that aren't so thick first. I'll get some sulfmamic acid as well. Given its an acid, do I need to be cautious about the time its on the surface? Does it need to be nutralized? Will it remove grout in between the tiles? Would it damage the tile/grout lines if it stays on too long? I'll ask my HD guy but I've recently learned they're not all experts.

Thanks again. Jean

PS: I'll try to get some photos to post.
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Unread 07-29-2011, 01:16 AM   #5
Tool Guy - Kg
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A 1/4" thick?!?

Time to call the worker back and have them rectify the insanely inadequate job of clean up they performed.

Can we get a picture of what you have? From the scratching comment, I'm wondering if the 4 x 4 tiles you said were porcelain are actually ceramic wall tiles. Also, a picture may help us understand if something like a 4" razor scraper (used flat against the tile) might help out.
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Unread 07-29-2011, 10:36 AM   #6
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Re: making progress removing excess dried grout

Hi John, Paul, and Bubba - Tiles have a "china finish" gloss to them. Here's an update & some pics. White on white is hard to shoot.

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Vinegar soaking, scrubbings, scraping, lots of elbow grease, and the right tools is working like magic! I'd looked in HD, Lowes, but couldn't find a tool to safely scrape the stuff off without marring the finish. I bought the razor. Haven't needed it yet.

Went to the grocery & found the perfect thing - a Dawn "Super Scraper". It has rounded "sharp" edges and is curved to boot. Allows me to use lots of pressure to scrape large amounts off. Also used a plastic scrubber with a handhold to scrub each tile. A narrow stiff bristle brush for tight spaces. A "Pampered Chef" 2X2 baking stone cleaner got into the really tight corners. It has a square and rounded corners. Only problem I've run into is the edges are wearing. Don't know how to sharpen plastic so I'll have to buy more....

Also managed to get grout off the mirror, some of the walls, the door, and some of the sink. Still working on that.

Thought I was done with one tub but..... when I got in to take a shower a bath puff got hooked on the spigot - added a bit of weight. Whoosh - it flew right off the wall caulk and all. Guess what- dried grout on the brass threads! I'm off to get a wire brush and decent caulk.

May have to regrout. Definitely have to recaulk. I'm working on the other tub & surround today. It started out in better shape - only regrouting done. But there's the buildup.... May have to use the sulfamic after all. See photos.

Thanks again for your help. I'm not about to get the guy back in and watch him make things worse. He lacks the skills and experience for tile work. Should have spoken up when I saw what was going on. Didn't want to get in the middle of a family squabble. Years ago I did this work myself when my health was better. Wishing now I'd done it this time.
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Unread 08-01-2011, 09:42 PM   #7
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Hi Jean,

Looks like you have basic 4x4 ceramic wall tiles. They are not porcelain.

A 4" razor scraper used flat on the surface of the tile can help by shaving away excess grout. But please be careful with the scraper as they are horribly sharp.

If you do use a razor scraper and you end up leaving little silvery marks on the tile, it's a tiny bit of the metal that's been rubbed off the scraper. They are commonly referred to as "metal marks". These are extremely easy to remove if you use powdered Bar Keeper's Friend mixed with a little water to wipe them away...these same marks are extremely difficult to remove using ordinary scrub pads, soap, glass cleaners, etc. Good luck.

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