Removing grout is a special, small-scale demolition project that calls for specialised tools. Because tiles must remain in place during grout removal, a single slip-up can break a tile or crack its glaze. To avoid damaging surrounding surfaces during grout removal, professionals strip grout with task-specific hand tools and power tools. Grout removal equipment is available at the average home improvement store and, with the right set of tools, you can replace your grout without sacrificing your tile.
Chisel and Mallet
Nearly any chisel will cut through grout as long its tip fits within the grout line. However, using sharp-edged chisels to remove grout, such as wood chisels, will simply ruin the chisel's edge. A narrow mason's chisel and a mallet effectively strip grout from a tiled surface. On the other hand, many builders use a flat-headed screwdriver to remove grout in a pinch. Although a hammer can substitute for a mallet, metal-headed hammers tend to deform chisel butts and break screwdriver handles.
Carbide Grout Remover, Brushes
The carbide-tipped grout remover, also called a grout removal tool, looks similar to a utility knife with an offset, protruding blade. Unlike the average utility knife, the grout removal tool has an abrasive blade coated with carbide-grit. To use a grout removal tool, you simply scrub the tool's abrasive blade along a grout line. The blade scrapes, pulls and removes the grout. Grout removal tools are often used in conjunction with stiff-bristled brushes. While the grout removal tool removes the bulk of the grout, the wire brush removes residual bits and chunks of grout.
Handheld Rotary Tools
Handheld rotary tools are palm-sized power tools similar in form to a dentist's drill. Handheld rotary tools spin a variety of cutting, drilling and grinding attachments, including specially designed grout-removal attachments. The handheld rotary tool's grout removal attachment fits directly within the thin space between adjacent tiles and rapidly spins to grind away grout without damaging tiles. Handheld rotary tools offer an effective method of removing grout from thin grout lines, in corners and areas that are difficult to access.
Grinders and Circular Saws
For large projects involving thick grout lines, tile workers often use angle grinders or circular saws to remove grout. Equipped with masonry blades, standard angle grinders and circular saws are capable of stripping grout from grout lines. You set the tool's depth of cut to a dimension that cuts through grout without damaging the tiled surface's substrate and run the tool's spinning blade through the grout line.
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