Project-specific tools are a critical component of successful regrouting projects. Tile workers use specialised grout removal tools to ensure the full removal of aged and damaged grout without damaging the surrounding tiles. In addition to special grout removal tools, renovators use standard grouting tools to install a fresh, well-sealed and bonded line of replacement grout. With the right tools for the job, a do-it-yourself tiler can remove unsightly grout and rejuvenate the appearance of a tiled surface.
Hand Tools for Grout Removal
Chiselling is the most basic method of removing grout from a tiled surface. Although a mason's chisel and mallet are ideal for cutting through grout, many workers use a flathead screwdriver and a hammer. However, the most common manual grout removal method is using a specially designed scraping tool called a grout removal tool. Available at the average home improvement store, this grout removal tool is similar in shape and size to a grout brush. However, rather than bristles, the grout removal tool has an abrasive carbide-coated blade at its tip.
Power Tools for Grout Removal
Depending on the size of the regrouting project, tile workers use either large, disc-shaped cutting tools or small, hand-held power tools to remove grout. If grout lines are wide in diameter, tile workers attach masonry cut-off blades to standard portable circular saws or angle grinders and use the tools to slice through large strips of grout. On the other hand, most renovators prefer handheld rotary tools for thin grout lines. Although hand-held rotary tools vary according to manufacturer, most fit in the palm of one hand and accept miniature, drill-like or disc-shaped cutting attachments. The size of the rotary tool's cutting attachments allows the renovator to work within tight spaces and narrow grout lines.
A grout float is the traditional grout application tool. Essentially a specialised trowel, the grout float consists of a rectangular base and a U-shaped or L-shaped handle that protrudes from the base's top. Unlike a mason's trowel, the tile worker's grout float is made of a soft material, typically rubber, sponge or plastic. The float's soft base allows the tile worker to push, scrape and pull grout across a tile without scratching or otherwise damaging the tile's surface. A typical grout float has both rounded corners and square corners. The rounded corners help tile workers create smooth, concave grout lines and square corners as they scoop and scrape grout from a tile's surface.
Grout Sponges and Cheese Cloth
Following the application of grout with a float, tile workers must clean the regrouted surface with a grout sponge and a soft cloth. Despite the float's ability to scrape excess grout from a tile's surface, a thin, nearly imperceptible film of grout remains on the tile's surface following floating. If left until fully cured, the film permanently mars the tile's surface. To remove the excess grout, tile workers mop up excess grout with clean water and an oversized sponge, called a grout sponge. Following cleaning with a grout sponge, a secondary watered-down film, called "grout haze," appears. To remove this haze, tile workers wipe the surface with a soft cloth. Although tile workers generally refer to the cloth as "cheese cloth," it is not the same material that is used to remove moisture during the cheese-making process.
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