How to Repair Grout That's Cracking

Don't tear out the tile, just tear out the grout

Is the grout between your floor tiles cracking or, worse, crumbling away? There are a few probable causes, but before you tear up the tile and start over, try this quick fix.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Overview

Cracking grout in a newly tiled floor is a real letdown after all the work you put into it. The causes could range from a poor grout mix to a lack of expansion joints, to movement of the tiled surface. If the cracking grout is concentrated in a floor's walkways, the likely culprit is floor movement, or deflection. Although it might ultimately be necessary to stiffen the floor, there is a much simpler fix you might want to try first—caulk as flexible grout.

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The quick fix for cracked grout

Remove all the loose and cracked grout with a grout saw or Dremel tool and completely vacuum out the gaps. Then apply the caulk and smooth it with a wet finger or plastic spoon. Let the caulk cure for at least 48 hours before allowing anyone or anything on the floor.

At most tile specialty shops, you can get or order sanded caulk (most floor grouts are sanded) that will closely match your existing grout color. Incidentally, this fix is only practical for interior tile floors and when the gaps between the tiles are 1/4-in. wide or less.

Ultimately, you may still need to stiffen the floor, but in many cases, using sanded caulk will work and save you money and grief.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Grout saw
  • Blowgun nozzle
  • Dremel tool
  • Extension cord
  • Hearing protection
  • Rags
  • Safety glasses
  • Shop vacuum
  • Utility knife

Caulk (colored, sanded caulk is best)