How To Soften Grout for Removal of Tiles

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Joint slurry, even of the highest quality and most expensive, absorbs moisture particles and dust. Over time, the material becomes grayish. In silicone mixtures, fungi and mold can multiply, which ruins the appearance of the walls and threatens the health of residents. Tile grout is attempted to whiten, wash with soap solutions or disinfect, but it is much easier to remove the old compound from the joints and replace it with a new one. So, how to soften grout for removal?

Preparation for work

The ceramic coating is cleaned with a damp sponge soaked in warm water. Add a little detergent or 20-30 g of soap In the liquid. The tile is wiped with a damp cloth to remove dirt and grease stains, as well as prepare to remove grout. Moisture protects the ceramic surface from cracks, scratches and shavings.

Before starting work, gently tap the tile with a rubber hammer. If a muffled echo is heard inside, it is indicating that there are voids. Thus, the mechanical method is contraindicated. You cannot use the manual method if the tile is loose on the wall. A blade or drill will damage the cement mortar on which the cladding material rests, and you will have to remove the tiles and joints along with the grout and then make repairs.

Do not neglect protective equipment:

  • construction glasses;
  • breather
  • rubber gloves or thick fabric;
  • Long-sleeved clothing.

By removing the old grout in the air, dust particles that are deposited on the mucous membrane of the nose and bronchi rise, causing inflammation and coughing. A special respirator or a gauze bandage will keep the airways from irritation.

Someone who uses a grinder or drill is suggested to wear glasses. Mechanical removal of grout pieces can bounce off and penetrate the eyes, damaging the mucous membrane. When working with power tools you cannot do without thick gloves that will save your hands and fingers from cuts.

You need to take care of the furniture: sink, washing machine, bathroom. Objects that cannot be removed from the room are covered with old blankets and wrapped with a film on top so that you do not have to scrub the white surface from traces of dirt. Powder baseboards and grout residues protect the wide construction tape. If you need to upgrade the walls, put 2-3 layers of old newspapers on the floor.

Softening of cement and silicone compounds.

Wet grout is easier than dry one to be separated from the concrete base. The seams before machining are soaked with warm water or soapy water. Compositions of cement and sand and silicone varieties are softened with acids:

  • acetic acid
  • Lemon
  • sulfur

They run slower than synthetic solvents, but cost a dime.

You can also use vinegar to do it. Preparing a homemade solution with vinegar is simple:

  • Mix 20 ml of vinegar with one liter of water, and stir.
  • While wearing rubber gloves, use a sponge to soak the seams of the area.
  • Leave on for 12 hours before removing the grout.

The piece is diluted with water in a ratio of 1 to 2. The solution will make the grout softer in a day.

Vinegar gives off an unpleasant smell, so some people prefer softeners made of citric acid. A concentrated solution will be needed, so one sachet of the dry component is taken per 1 l of liquid. The water is heated to completely dissolve the citric acid. A hot liquid is filtered through gauze, cleaning crystal particles. Put the grout with a brush or cloth. Cement or silicone paste is abundantly greased with a solution of citric acid, and after a day it is mechanically cleaned.

Sulfuric acid is thinned with water in a 1:20 ratio. The synthetic substance is added to the liquid, not the other way around; otherwise, the piece will begin to foam and fall on the walls or skin. The edges of the tile before applying such a solution are glued with construction tape. The liquid impregnates the grout, waiting 5-6 hours. It is recommended to apply the solution with a fine brush. Keep your hands from injuries by wearing thick rubber gloves.

Acids, especially hydrochloric acids, emit toxic fumes. After softening the grout, the room is well ventilated. He enters the room alone on a respirator. After the mechanical grout has been removed, the tile is cleaned with damp cloths to remove any acid residue.

A safer solution for softening silicone and cement pastes is made of glycerin. Mix 100 ml of the ingredient with one full glass of hot water. Soak the seams with the agent and wait until the grout is soft and flexible. Glycerin is not washed with soap solutions. Hot water won’t help either. The remains of the substance are removed with a dry cloth, and then the ceramic surface is degreased with kerosene diluted with water.

Other formulations

Epoxy grout, which contains resins, is more resistant. Some special solvent material will soften this kind of grout. This product usually can be found in hardware stores. 

Solvents are types of perfumes: liquids and gels. The first variety is applied to grout with a brush. The second are gels, which is designed to handle hard-to-reach areas.

Solvents permeate the seams. The media are smoothed with rubber spatulas or fingers submerged in water. Synthetic solutions are left for several hours or days, and then the remains of the grout are scraped with damp rags or sponges. Softened epoxy compounds can be scrapped with a knife or spatula.

Synthetic tools work well with cement and sand pastes and silicone. They completely dissolve said grout, so that you do not have to scrape the remains of a spatula or a drill. After the use of chemical preparations, the seams are cleaned with wet cotton buds and brushes with hard bristles.

Mechanical extraction

The edges of ceramic tiles are sealed with adhesive tape. Take a paper knife or tile folder. Another tool with a fine sharp blade will do. The tip of the knife is kept in the center of the seam. Try to drive the tool as deep as possible to reach the concrete base.

The grout, soaked with acidic or synthetic solution, is shed in large pieces. The silicone paste or cement leftovers are cleaned with a knife. The blade goes from the edge to the center of the seam. It is necessary to try that the tool does not touch the surface of the ceramic, as otherwise scratches and cracks will remain on the tile.

Cleaning the seams with a drill will make the work faster. Power tools are equipped with a fine needle nozzle, which is smaller than the distance between two tiles. We recommend a drill for glass or ceramic. Too thick nozzles leave scratches on the coating material and cause chips.

The drill is firmly squeezed with one or two hands. Turn on the minimum speed to make the tool easier to administer. Handle the seams 1–2 times until the drill reaches the concrete base.

Instead of a drill, use a grinder. But only professionals can handle such tools. For beginners, it is difficult to remove grout without grinding without damaging the coating material, because the discs often slide and touch the edges of the tile.

After mechanical cleaning, the seams are sanded with sandpaper. Abrasive particles of the sandpaper remove the remains of cement or epoxy paste from a concrete base. Tools sweep dust from joints and tiles, remove particles from the dry solution.

What remains is to clean the wall and cladding with a damp cloth. You can moisten it first with detergent solution. Choose options that contain acids. The seams are cleaned of dirt with cotton swabs and must be degreased before applying the new grout. It is recommended to apply a solution of water and kerosene or white alcohol. 500 ml of a liquid tablespoon of synthetic component.

Summary

Even a beginner who never use a spatula before, can clean the seams of the old grout. It is very simple: soak, scrape, sand and degrease. There is no point in removing grout if the tile is loose on the wall. In such cases, you will need to initiate a complete repair with a complete replacement of the coating material.

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