Our house, being built in 1980 has Saltillo tile. The pluses for this tile are the natural appearance since it’s made from clay and it feels very nice on bare feet. It has small animal footprints in a few locations. Finally, it’s very appropriate to Southwestern architecture. On the negative side, it has very wide grout lines by today’s standards. The grout that we had originally was a cream color with bright blue and red paint spots from the previous owners. No amount of cleaning that I did would make the grout look brand new.
A few of the grout lines were a completely different color, since Kurt had to replace some of the tiles and the modern grout was notably darker than the older grout.
I think the part that bothered me the most was the mottled appearance of it. There was no consistency to any part of it.
I read several accounts of people painting their grout with luck, so I thought I’d give it a try. I am very happy with the results. It did take several hours – maybe 8 total spread out over multiple days. I would’ve probably done it in the darker grey color if I could go back in time, but the paint has held up well now over a couple of years. The hardest part of this job is really the amount of time that needs to be put in.
- Sulfamic Acid Cleaner – I used TILELab Brand
- Grout colorant and sealer – I used PolyBlend Grout Renew in Delorean Gray
- Tile Sealer – I used MIRACLE Sealants Company 511 Impregnator Sealer
- Old tooth brush
- Lots of damp paper towel
Step 1: Clean the old grout
I had previously tried cleaning the old grout using the time consuming baking soda and vinegar trick. It did clean it a little, but not to the degree I wanted. In preparation for painting the grout, I used the Sulfamic Acid Cleaner and followed the directions on the package. I cleaned the grout in sections that I wanted to paint at a time. I gave myself one hour chunks of time which translated in me doing cleaning and painting roughly four rows of tile at a time.
Step 2: Paint the grout
I used an old toothbrush to paint the grout using the Grout Renew product. I made sure to have plenty of damp paper towels ready. The grout paint does dry relatively quickly, so as soon as I was done painting a section of grout, I would follow up with cleaning off the paint that made it onto the tiles. That cleanup was very easy, as the paint didn’t soak into the tiles at all. It wipes up easily with the damp towels.
Step 3: Seal the tile
After all of the grout was painted, I used a sealer on the tile. The Saltillo tile really soaks up the sealer so I could’ve probably went over it multiple times. Once was fine with me.
In the End
It was totally worth doing, in the end. The process was relatively time consuming, but as long as it’s done in manageable segments it’s no big deal. That is, it doesn’t require any special skills and it’s essentially fool-proof.
I did this just over a year ago and it still looks great today. That sealer absolutely works.