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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cleaning Grout (thank goodness that's over)

I took on a project in early January that was JUST completed yesterday. 
I can't tell you how happy I am that it's behind me. 
Cleaning grout is a thankless, back-breaking project and one I promise you I won't take on again.

We have beautiful Italian tile throughout 1500+ s.f. of our 28 year old house
which we've owned for 6.5 years.
Apparently the grout had never been cleaned, and wasn't originally sealed.

Knowing next to zero about these kinds of things, I assumed it was dark grout.  Then others informed me that it was actually dirty.  If I'd spent enough time looking in lighter traffic areas of our main floor it would have become apparent.  Like our popcorn ceilings, I like to live in denial about certain things evidently.

When we noticed grout coming up around 4 or 5 tiles we planned to have the contractors round out the rest of the grout around those tiles only and regrout.  But then the reality set in - the grout wouldn't match.  So, I decided to clean the grout - all of it.

David did a bunch of research online, bought what I needed and I got to work.  Oh.my.gosh.  It was a nightmare.  The residue the cleaners were leaving was a nightmare to clean up.  And this is mostly high traffic areas - so the boys were walking through it, we're all trying not to track the mess on the carpets.  What a neverending mess.  I went through 6 different cleaners (because NONE alone would lift up all the dirt), and spent at least 60 hours total on this project with the help of a friend. 

Never again.

The results are great, and I'm thrilled!  Not just uniform in color once again, but uniformly clean!

My photos do not do this justice. 
If you see any remaining spots, assume those are shadows and not dark spots..
It's OK to live in a little bit of denial :)

Every once in awhile I'll notice a tile that could be touched up and I will do those kind of spot treatments at some point, but not now.  I spent Saturday sealing the tiles/grout and I'm not about to touch it at this point.

Worth it?  Yes, absolutely.  The floors look great.
But I won't do it again, I promise you that.

Here are some of the cleaners I used.  They all worked - but it took 6 full cleanings and then repeated spot cleanings to get the floors to their current 99% good condition.

My advice - this might have been worth the money to pay to have a professional do it.
And certainly, certainly - seal that grout once it's done!


Anna said...

the floors look like new with the light colored grout! We have white tile (with dark grout, at least I think it is dark??!) in our downstairs hallway and kitchen. The tile is hard to keep looking clean, now I will have to try cleaning some of the grout to see if it is actually supposed to be a lighter color.

Ricki Jill Treleaven said...

Sealing the grout is the key! Your floors look great, Bonnie.