We’re going to highlight, in all due detail, the best grout removal tools for getting rid of old grout, whether they be electric or manual.
We’ll clearly give the pros and cons of each tool, with a particular pic for each.
But first, let’s talk about grout removal.
If you’re here, you probably know that where there’s tile flooring, there is grout. This is the mixture of cement, water, and sand that you will always find in the tiny gaps between tiles.
Grout’s thinness gives it a fluidity, allowing it to fill small cracks. Another part of the usefulness of grout is to keep tiles from cracking at their edges.
Shiny grout is a great addition to any room.
But what’s more our speed is when things go a little wrong. Loose, old, or stained grout will give your bathroom, kitchen, or stair landings an old look.
While re-grouting may not jump out at everyone as a fun thing to do, or as an exciting project, it’s actually pretty easy to do, with great benefits.
We’ll walk you through the steps for choosing a good grout remover and for getting the old grout out so the new can go in.
Different Types of Grout Removal Tools
In short, grout removal tools are either manual or electric. Here’s a quick overview:
- Some pros of hand tools are that they are inexpensive. Manual grout removal tools are great because they protect tile the best. Further, some of the manual tools get get into small or hard-to-reach places better than electric.
- On the con side, the removal you’ll be doing with hand tools will, by definition, be a bit on the slow and time-consuming side. Larger rooms aren’t much of an option this way.
- Some hand tools are small like screwdrivers, with similar bits. Some have wide blades, and some serrated.
- Electric grout remover tools are like power drills and other tools. They are for big projects and will greatly reduce the time it takes.
- Many of these tools require attachments, but these attachments can do wonders.
- A big issue with power tools is that they can sometimes pour on a bit much power, thus damaging the tile.
Our Top Picks
Now that we’ve introduced you to the basic kinds of grout-removal tools, it’s time to get on to some of the top entries.
1. Oscillating Multi-Tool
Oscillating tools are the choice of pros, so if you’re feeling pretty good about your home-repair chops, one might be the one for you!
The blade oscillates—a left and right movement—rather than a rolling motion that is more common.
Multi-tools can be fitted with various blades. They are easier to control than reciprocating saws, since they have a short blade stroke. Many multi-tools are set up so that they can remove grout right up to a wall.
These tools come in either 1/16 or 1/8 inch, for the width of the grout. Naturally, you’ll want to measure before buying the tool.
Best Oscillating Multi-Tool: the DEWALT DWE315K
Our pick is one of the most versatile and effective multi-tool, the DEWALT DWE315K.
This buddy sands, scrapes, and cuts, as well as removing multiple materials.
Oh, it is a grout-removal tool too. One of the great things about oscillating grout removers is that the absence of a rotating blade means that grout doesn’t doesn’t fly through your room.
DEWALT does a great job removing tiles because it is unlikely to damage the tiles. Another great feature is an LED lamp—that highly-localized light can often come in handy.
Further, the DEWALT is easy to use. It’s also compatible with accessories needed for a grout removal-tool.
On the con side, a unit like this needs blades, and these can run up the bill a little.
DEWALT DWE315K specifications:
- Weight: 3.1 lbs
- Power: 3.0 amps
- Accessories: 29 piece
- Tool-free blade change
- Variable speed
2. Rotary Tool
Rotary tools fall into the electric category. These are tools that can get the job done if cutting is required.
It uses an accessory kind of like a bit, which screws in. That is what cuts through the tile. Most rotary tools come complete with a guide that control how deeply the blade goes in.
As to which rotary tools we’d recommend, let’s look at our pick.
Best Rotary Tool: the Dremel 4000
Dremel is one of the big names in the grout removal field. You should definitely check out the Maker Gallery on their website.
Of their various fine rotary tools, we’ve chosen their simply-named 4000 as our top choice.
The 4000 really shines due to its versatility, but also its sheer power. People who’ve worked with a lot of electric tools will appreciate the 120V motor than can reach RPMs of 35,000. The motor makes use of electronic feedback to perform consistently at any speed.
As for versatility, the 4000 is compatible with any previous Dremel attachments. But what’s more, the tool can go beyond grout removal into jobs like punching holes in plastics, woods, and soft metals. It’s a compact little unit that’s easy to use.
DREMEL 4000 specifications:
- Speed: Variable (5,000 to 35,000 RPM)
- Cord: 6 feet
- Amperage: 1.6
- Warranty: limited 2 years
3. Angle Grinder
Angle grinders are particularly good for large-scale jobs. The bigger and more challenging the job is, the more need to have the right tool. Otherwise you’ll be struggling through a huge job and you may see some awful results, such as damaging tile, picking up grout unevenly, which requires you to go back and re-do your work; the project stalling, etc.
Angle grinders for grout removal are generally built with a geared head that is adjacent to the motor. The head has the grinder on it—a disc or rectangle that is abrasive enough for grinding. For a reference point, they can also be used as sanders, and are often found in machine shops and construction sites.
What the angle grinder can deliver for you is speed.
However, because of its power and abrasiveness, a tool in the angle grinder range could possibly damage tiles. One way to guard against this is to use an oscillating blade. Angle grinders do give you that kind of versatility by allowing you to fit various blades and/or attachments.
Now, one thing to keep in mind is that if you are going to be replacing your tile anyway, you don’t so much have to worry about any damage done.
Tips for using angle grinders
- If you’re trying to keep your tiles free of damage, safety is of the utmost importance. An oscillating blade will be the most useful, but it’s also essential to use care and precision when operating the angle grinder.
- It’s also key to wear safety glasses plus dust masks, since the tool will blow grout dust around.
- For the particular circumstance of removing epoxy grout, soak the area with 2 cups of bleach and 1 gallon water. Let the mixture sit for half an hour. Then apply the solution to the grout, let it sit about 20 minutes, carefully clean it and then use the tool to grind off the grout.
Best Angle Grinder: Bosch 1375A-4 ½ inch grinder
One of the reason Bosch is among the most-trusted names in grout-removal tools is that their products are known to be durable and long-lasting. That’s definitely the case with the 1375A small grinder. It’s light and easy to handle, packing a great combo of power and usability.
The grinder is fitted with a 5/8 inch by 1 spindle, and this means compatibility with any number of attachments and accessories.
Further, its handle is sized for the human hand, easy to grip and easy to control.
Bosch 1375A-4 ½ inch grinder Specs:
- Amperage: 6.0
- Speed: 11,000 RPM
- Spindle lock for fast wheel changes
- Double insulated
- Service Minder brushes
4. Grout Grabber
This is another fabulous tool for removing grout.
The grout grabber can be attached to a reciprocating saw to break up grout in a back-and-forth motion.
The grabber is a great tool for wall tiles. While the thinness of the tool is nice, it also means that multiple blades may be necessary.
Best Grout Grabber: Grout Grabber GG001
This tool is compatible with reciprocal saws.
It measures 6 inches with a curved cutting edge. It removes to a depth of 1/16 inch to ½ inch.
Its coarse carbide grit helps remove even cement or epoxy grout. The Grout Grabber works well from any joint size.
One thing we like about it is you can turn it into a standalone manual tool for corners, small spaces, etc.
A couple of things to keep in mind are that the blades can be a bit costly. Also, their longevity leaves a bit to be desired.
5. Grout Saw
Grout saws are manual grout-removal tools.
Their name may be just a bit misleading, leading you to picture a blade that’s eight inches long.
Instead, the default blade that comes on grout saws is compact, not much more than an inch in width. The too in all, including the handle is usually about four inches long.
All in all, grout saws are very powerful for stripping and removing grout.
Our pick: Kraft Tool ST147 Grout Saw
This saw is perfect for grinding, cleaning, or removing grout. It gives two different blades, one with a carbide grit edge and the other serrated.
These blades don’t just tap out for one another, but instead combine with one another.
The serrated blade scoops grout dust out of the way to clear the path for the carbide edge. When you do want to swap out the blades is for slender grout lines or for walls.
Tips for using:
- Because the tool is slight of build, there’s a chance of a user putting too much pressure on it. Slips from too much pressure can lead to a slip that can mar the tile.
- Store the tool safely, and replace blades when dull.
6. Hand Tools
Manual tools for removing grout are usually simple, such as scrapers or chisels.
They’re usually made of carbide-tipped metal chisels or bits, about six inches in length or so. Clearly, in the days before power tools for grout removal, these got the job done.
One option is to use a bigger and more powerful option for an entire room, then go to hand tools for a small expanse of tile, such as tiling above a stove or sink.
As mentioned before, if you’re going to throw out the tile, it may not matter. Yet, on the other hand, some of the larger tools may seem like overkill for small spaces.
Our pick: ABN Carbide-Tip Grout-Remover
This particular tool is what manual grout-removers are all about. That’s precision. Not digging too deep, yet still remove the grout you want to. With a small, screwdriver-sized tool, you can easily control the speed and strength.
A good touch is the versatile tip, which can be switched out into 6 scraping edges. Also, the grip is soft and comfortable.
It’s a tremendous tool for going where others cannot—getting into corners, doing detail in tight spaces.
It weighs in at 3.2 ounces and is 11.8 inches long.
7. Hammer and Screwdriver
Now just because something doesn’t have “grout remover” stamped on the package doesn’t mean it isn’t a tool for that all-important purpose.
The classic hammer and screwdriver combo are absolutely good for removing grout, no matter how old-school they are.
What’s the biggest pro of this combination? Well, that you surely already own it. No expense whatsoever, and when it’s tie for some grout removal, you don’t have to go through the effort to get a different tool.
If you’re wondering whether or not it might be easy enough to scratch tile this way, the answer is “yes.”
That’s a con, and a reason to be careful.
So, there you’re have our Heaven Seven, the tools that will get a wide-variety of projects. Now it’s time to get on to some instruction on how to use these tools.
How To Remove Grout
Removing grout is a home-improvement project that really can be done by yourself.
While you can hire a professional to execute the project, having the ability to pull out grout is very valuable since doing it yourself will save a lot of money, and will ultimately save irritation, too.
Here are six steps to strip grout:
- Gather the right tools
- Wear a mask and safety goggles
- Remove initial layer of grout with power tools
- Scrape grout with manual grout-removal tools
- Use a utility knife to remove remaining grout
- Rid the area of grout dust and crumbs with a vacuum cleaner
The following guidelines teach you in detail how to effectively set the stage for a shiny new tiling project, with old grout out of your life.
Step 1 – Gather the right tools
As we’ve seen, there are many options for tools you can utilize to remove grout. The tools you choose depend in part on your budget. A DEWALT multi-tool kit, our top pick for electric tools, generally retails at about $150-$170. As we mentioned above, something like this is good for large areas of tile and for something you’d like to get done in a couple of hours.
The Bosch grinder, above, runs around $35, and just lacks the larger blades and varied attachments, etc. If your floor is less than about 20 square feet, this may be the one for you.
In any case, it’s important to purchase the tool first, read the manual, and be clear on the safety instructions first. Getting things set up and then making a run to your nearest home improvement store may lend in frustration, and hastily reading the safety instructions as you’re diving in is a bad idea.
Step 2 – Put on important safety items
While it might seem unnecessary or inconvenient, safety gear really is necessary to protect your skin and eyes and respiratory system. Your safety wardrobe should include:
Ear plugs (if using power tools)
Read more: 5 Must-have Safety Gear for DIY Home Improvement
Step 3: Remove the grout
If you’ve opted for any power tool, insert your chosen fixture first. You may be going with an oscillating blade or rotary blade. You may use some sort of attachment like a grout grabber.
Steady the tool along the grout seams. Turn on the power and gently press the blade to the grout.
Apply steady and moderate pressure on the blade; let the tool do most of the work. Allow it to simply cut and break up the old and discolored grout.
As the grout gets crushed and ready to remove, to expel grout repeatedly. Be slow and steady and gentle to avoid damaging the edges of your tile.
Step 4: Scrape the grout with a hand tool
After you’ve eliminated most of the grout with the power tool, bust out a hand tool, such as a screwdriver, to scrape away the grout that remains but has been loosened.
Step 5: Use your utility knife for final grout-removal
Grout removal is all about thoroughness. At this point in the process, you’ve driven away all sorts of grout, and what remains is just a small, nagging bit. This is the job for your utility knife, which will clear things up.
Step 6: Clean up with a vacuum cleaner
Congratulations! Your old grout is gone, with only grout dust lingering as a reminder. Now, clean up your work area with your local vacuum cleaner.
Getting clear or damaged grout is much easier than it used to be. With our above steps and with our picks for grout removal tools, you should be able to get the grout of the way and improve your home.
The other good news is that we’ve already done the research for you. All you have to do is decide which of the tools to use. And keep in mind that if you are going to have multiple projects, during the first one you can refine your approach and get add-ons as needed. You’ll also refine your skills with using the tools.
Now that you know that the process doesn’t have to be extremely cumbersome or expensive, you may be more motivated. There’s no reason to let grout in your home become infested with bacteria, old or grimy. Let’s get some shiny new grout!