‘Don’t ignore!’ Key signs your tile grout needs replacing

B&Q advises on the best way to clean grout

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Grout is one of the most frustrating parts of the house to keep clean, with dirt, mould and mildew all frequently found inbetween tiles. Even with regular cleaning, these small strands of cement can seem impossible to restore to their former glory, forcing many homeowners to turn to harsh chemicals like bleach and even toilet cleaner to try and banish stubborn stains. But while cleaning hacks may seem like the most effective solution to mask the unsightly appearance of old grout, a property expert has warned that it could actually worsen the condition of tile grout and cause it to “degenerate”. So what are the key signs that your grout is beyond the help of a deep clean?

When do you need to replace tile grout?

Tile grout is a dense fluid used to bond and seal the joints between tiles on both floors and walls.

One of the main purposes of grout is to give the tiled surface a “crisp” finished appearance, but it can look quite the opposite when it becomes dirty or damaged.

General wear and tear is one cause of worn-out grout, but using the wrong items to scrub the sandy cement mixture can also reduce its lifespan.

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Clive Holland, presenter of The Clive Holland show on Fix Radio said: “Presuming the grout was placed correctly and to the manufacturers guide-lines, followed by the correct maintenance and cleaning process, in a kitchen it can easily last 20 years and beyond. In a shower and bathroom environment 10 years plus.”

However, if you notice significant problems with keeping your tile grout looking neat and free from mildew or mould, it could be an issue with the way you maintain it.

According to Clive, regularly using harsh chemiclas – especially acidics such as white vinegar and lemon juice, can cause the grout to “degenerate”, though you should be able to tell if it’s beyond repair.

He said: “Usually, the grout begins to show signs of crumbling or cracking. Don’t ignore this as moisture can ingress and start to undermine the the tile adhesive, resulting in some cases where the tile falls off.”

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While loose tiles are an obvious red flag that the grout isn’t working as it should, mould growth is another key indicator that there’s a problem.

According to Nick Donalson, a merchant at The Home Depot, reccuring issues with mould can be “hazardous” for homeowners, as it indicates that water and bacteria have infiltrated the cracks in the tiles.

He explained that this can utlimately lead to health issues if action is not taken quickly.

But while white vinegar is often the reccomended solution to banish unpleasant mould growth, the acidic condiment can etch stone tiles and should actually be avoided.

Instead, it is best to simply replace the grout once and for all.

How to replace grout on budget

Tiling from scratch is a surprisingly easy DIY task, and removing existing grout is just as easy with the rigt tools.

Clive said: “The cheapest way to replace grout is to invest in a grout removal tool wich is made specifically for the job.

“Gently scrape out the offending grout, make sure you dry and clean the area thoroughly before re-pointing with fresh grout.”

Replacing damaged grout quickly is important to protect tiles in all areas of the house – especially when it comes to flooring.

Clive added: “Grout in floor tiles needs monitoring closely, simply because the tile takes a lot of foot traffic.

“As long as the tiles have been laid well, this shouldn’t be a problem, however, the grout is the weak point.

“If you notice degeneration at any point, use the process of scraping out the grout with the removal tool and replacing with a fresh layer.”

How to make grout last longer

To avoid having to replace tile grout in your kitchen or bathroom, there are a few things that can be done to minmise the risk of common grout-damaging culprits like mould.

Clive explained that because mould “thrives” in moist areas, taking time to squeegee excess moisture after showering or taking a bath can go a long way in prolonging the life of tile grout.

Finish by using a large, absorbent micorfibre cloth to pat the area dry. Clive said: “I realise It maybe time consuming but it will keep the grout and tiles looking good for longer as well as keeping those health hazard mould spores at bay.”

Regular cleaning with the right products can also help to extend the longevity of tile grout around the home.  The Fix Radio presenter noted that the “most effective” home-made remedy contains just two ingredients – baking soda and water.

To make the paste, simply mix four mugs of warm water with one mug of baking soda and stir. Take a small, clean paint brush and spread onto the grout.

Leave for around 20-30 minutes. Then, use a dish brush or tooth brush and agitate along the grout lines before rinsing it off with a moist cloth.

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