Psst. If you’re visiting from over on Hometalk, welcome! Glad you stopped by! Feel free to poke around and get to know us a little bit… you can find the cliff note version of the “who are these Leslie and Mitch people??” here.
You know those projects that hang over your head? The ones that mock you every time you look at them? These are the ones that feel the best when you finally knock them off the to-do list. I am psyched to say that we busted through one of those projects. Let me introduce you to our bathroom… how’s that for a pick up line?
It’s been awhile since we’ve done any type of work in here and from that picture above, everything looks just peachy. Well, minty, actually.
Yep, awhile back we painted the walls a cool blue and added some minty details… and that’s where it stopped. Looks pretty good, huh? Here’s the thing: I never showed you what’s behind that shower curtain. Because it’s gross. I mean, like seriously you’re-not-going-to-want-to-read-this-while-you-eat-your-breakfast GROSS. So consider this your warning… I’ll give you one more pretty picture to put the cereal down and push the OJ away.
Ok, you were warned… here’s what it looked like behind that curtain:
Do you see it? How about a closer look?
YIIIIIKKKEEEESS! Things are not good in there, folks. It has been like this since we moved in. We inherited that mess and no amount of bleach, Comet, or scrubbing was getting it any cleaner, so the clear decision was that it just HAD.TO.GO. The grout on the walls was yellowed and mildew-y…
And the caulking around the tub… well, you already saw it, it’s just plain AWFUL.
Bad, huh? You can judge me if you want- I tried my best, I promise… no amount of cleaning was doing a darn bit of good, so it was time to initiate Plan B. This project has taunted me since Day 1… every time I shower I’m reminded just how nasty it is. And then, amidst my song and dance routine to the latest Andy Grammar song, I resolve to get on that task ASAP. And then life happens and other things get in the way and the job gets pushed further and further down the to-do list. And then I forget all about it until my next shower, in which the cruel cycle starts all over again. UNTIL NOW.
BECAUSE IT’S DONE. Completely brand spankin’ new. And I can no longer be held responsible for wanting to take a long, hot bath every single night in there. Because it’s clean! And fresh! And sparkly! But let’s back up, because it was quite the adventure to get to this moment. And because suspenseful “after” photos are always fun, so I’m going to make you wait through my boring explanation before you get to see the finished product. Unless you just skip and scroll, if you know what I mean. Hey, that’s on you. Hope you can sleep tonight.
Right, anyway… let’s do this.
The job was to grind out the old grout and caulking from the tiles and tub edge and replace them with new, clean versions. We wanted to refresh the space without sinking a lot of money into the project. Ideally, someday down the road we will completely replace the tiles with brand new ones. Some of them are cracked and there are remnants of hardware that used to be attached to the walls that has since been taken down. That kind of project is just not in the budget right now and to be honest, not immediately on the priority list for us. BUT refreshing the nasty old grout and caulking definitely was.
This is definitely not going to be an official “how to re-grout” tutorial because there are plenty of far more professional ones out there on Youtube that you can watch if you’re planning to do a similar project. However, there are a few tips and tricks that we learned along the way and gleaned from people smarter than us (cough, the Home Depot employees).
Here are the tools that we used to get the job done:
In no particular order… bucket, Bright White grout, Bright White caulk (non-sanded… which means that it doesn’t have little sand particles in it when it dries), sealer, sponges (having two was helpful), grout float (I just bought the cheapest I could find and it worked fine), grout saw, box cutter and screwdriver (we didn’t use these very much). Not pictured, but probably most used are a spackle/putty knife, and an electric multi-tool.
The first thing I did was use a putty spatula to scrape out the (massive amounts of!!!) caulking around the tub.
The next step was to grind out the existing grout between the tiles. For those wondering, caulk is the silicone filler that seals the bigger cracks between the tub and tile. The grout is the cement-like material that fills in the cracks between each tile. To get the old grout out, I used a combination of power tools and a hand tool. The multi-tool with the circular blade made the project go SO much faster, but eventually my blade wore down. After that, I finished the job with the hand grinder (you can find these at Home Depot or Lowes for a few bucks), which took a lot more elbow grease. Here’s what it looked like with all of the old grout sanded out:
Be forewarned… this is a dusty job. Goggles (if you are using power tools) and a mask are a reeeeaaalllyyy good idea. As I did this, some of the tiles around the faucet came loose (they had been loose to begin with, so sanding out the grout that was holding them together was the last straw), so I pried them off, scraped off the old glue, and Mitch reattached them with fresh adhesive.
After everything had been scraped out, vacuumed, and scrubbed down (I just cleaned the tiles themselves to get them white again), it was time to re-grout! Again, I’ll leave you to your own devices to hunt down an in depth tutorial for this… a simple Youtube search should do it. The basic concept is this: load the grout onto the grout float, smear it over the cracks, hold the float at an angle to get the grout into each crack and then go over it again to remove some of the excess.
After you get the grout on there, let it set for a minute or two and then use a damp sponge to wipe away the excess. You’re trying to get the haze of grout off the tiles (the grout should stay put in the cracks). You can tell in this shot that the left half had been grouted and the right had not:
Tip #2: Here’s where we messed up. While wiping away the excess, do it GENTLY and with a BARELY WET sponge. Our mistake cost me having to re do the entire thing over again after we finished. Our sponges had been too wet and all of the grout started coming off, including the stuff in the cracks! Be gentle, no sopping wet sponges, many wipes… think low weight, high reps for you workout people.
So yeah, we finished the whole thing and I looked at it and felt really disappointed. It didn’t look any different! I was expecting this bright white lining around each tile, and the cracks looked just as dark and dirty as before and only partially filled. This is when we realized our mistake. During the wiping phase, we’d accidentally wiped even the grout in the cracks out!
It looks like we didn’t even do anything! See how the grout had been washed completely out or, in other places, got all clumpy?
At that point I needed some space from the project (and luckily, we were going to visit Mitch’s parents for the weekend anyway), so I decided that I would redo the whole thing after everything dried out. Fast forward a few days… This time around, I was super careful to be gentle with the wiping and I am thrilled to report that the second time’s the charm! The tub and shower looked sparkly new!
No more cracks and clumps!
Next step was re-caulking around the tub. I wanted to make sure that the mildew that had grown on the old caulking wouldn’t come back, so I sprayed the whole crack with bleach and let it dry overnight. Before caulking the next day, I used painter’s tape to tape up my guidelines so that my caulking line to be straight.
After the caulking was finished, I let it dry and cure and then applied a sealer to the whole shower. And then, FINALLY it was ready to use. Annnnd just because it’s fun and I’ve never done one before, here’s a gif of the whole process, so you can see it in all its many stages…
Ready for some “afters”? Yeah, me too… here we go, the final product!
So that’s our victory of the month, friends. And we couldn’t be more thrilled with having a (seemingly) new shower and tub! Anyone else out there ever given the old caulk and grout a refresh? Feels so good, huh? Well, from one enthusiast to another… I commend you.