tile and grout damage

What to Consider When It’s Time to Replace Your Tile and Grout

Like every other type of building material, there comes a time when tile and grout reaches the end of their useful life. Ceramic, terracotta and porcelain tiles can last a half-century or more. The lifespan of grout, on the other hand, is difficult to gauge because a lot depends on wear-and-tear. Before replacing damaged tile and grout, it’s important to consider grout restoration as an alternative, what caused the failure, and the best replacement strategy.

Is Replacement the Only Option? Consider Grout Restoration

Grout that’s cracked or peeling should be replaced immediately to avoid damage to the material beneath, which is called the “substrate.” But a grout expert might be able to restore grout that’s simply discolored from mineral, hard water or heavy traffic stains. There are a number of grout restoration options:

Professional Cleaning Services

Professional grout cleaning goes beyond scrubbing grout lines with a toothbrush. It’s a multi-step process that uses an eco-friendly solution. It pulls dirt to the surface, steam vapor cleans to eliminate traffic patterns, and applies penetrating sealer. It can make your grout lines look new, and protect them in the future.

Grout Staining

If stains are the primary problem, simply staining grout joints a slightly darker color can be a fast and cost-effective solution. There are many colors to choose from, and it’s a great way to “refresh” a space.

A grout expert will be able to explain any alternatives to tile and grout replacement. If your grout is simply discolored, professional grout cleaning or staining is an option. But if grout is missing, cracked or crumbling — especially in bathrooms or other high-moisture areas — replacement is likely in order.

If Your Tile and Grout is Failing, What’s the Cause?

When your tile or grout starts to fail, the first step is to figure out why it’s failing to prevent it from happening again in the future. The Tile Council of North America identifies a number of common issues that lead to tile and grout failure:

What Lies Beneath

Cracked tiles and grout can be a sign of a larger issue with the subfloor beneath. The floor joists could be improperly spanned. There could be movement between the plywood subfloor and the joists. The wrong thinset may have been used. The subfloor may have been improperly prepared by the tile installer.

Improper Installation

Cracked grout and loose tiles can occur when grout isn’t packed tightly enough into joints, when grout is mixed with too much water or polymer additive, or grout was applied after it began to harden.

A tile contractor or grout expert will be able to help identify any reasons aside from normal wear-and-tear that your tile and grout are failing. Addressing these underlying issues will ensure that you don’t have to replace your tile and grout again in a few years.

Can You Replace Just the Damaged Tile and Grout?

Tile and grout repair doesn’t always mean total replacement. If a refrigerator or heavy appliance has cracked your tile, or if only the grout in high-traffic areas has broken down, a grout and tile contractor might be able to save time and money by only replacing those damaged areas.

The key to replacing damaged tiles is finding replacement tiles that match the original. Tile contractors have access to a variety of industry catalogues and resources to help track down replacement tiles. Additionally, area replacement of grout requires color matching, or an entire room stain once the damaged area is repaired. A tile and grout expert will be able to explain all your options.