Save The Tiles!

Tub Surround Before…………………………And After

My 30-year-old house had the same tan-speckled white 4″x 4” builder’s grade tile in both bathrooms. It’s not especially pretty, but it’s still in good condition. Several years ago, I decided the master bath shower needed re-grouting, and I spent days with a manual grout saw sawing back and forth, back and forth, back and forth—you get the picture. It still stresses me out thinking about getting all that grout out by hand.

Ah, but once my arm healed, I re-grouted and sealed the tile—and it looked like a brand new shower. Beautiful! Even if it was cheap tile…

Several years later, I told my husband I wanted to re-tile the guest bathroom, to which my husband responded, “Why don’t we just re-grout? That seems easier.”

I laughed and sarcastically responded, “Maybe for you!” No, there was no way I was going to go through all that hand sawing to re-grout cheap tile. It seemed easier just to rip it all out and start over.

Recently, however, I perused Home Depot’s web site (yes, do a lot of perusing on home improvement web sites) and discovered a grout saw blade which fits onto a standard multi-purpose tool. “Wow,” I thought to myself, “if I had one of those, the prospect of sawing all that grout wouldn’t seem so daunting!”

I purchased this grout saw blade to fit a multi-purpose tool (or as my husband calls it a “sidecutter”) we bought from Harbor Freight. The nice thing about this particular blade versus other blades you can get is that it has a point on it. This point enables you to get into the corner edges of the grout line, whereas with a round tool, you risk cutting into the tile or wall on the other edge of the grout line.

The grout in the guest bathroom looked worn and probably had never been re-grouted since the home was built 30 years ago. There was a minor bit of mold build up and a few visible cracks, but the tile looked intact, and it didn’t seem like there were any problems with plumbing leaking anywhere in the shower or behind the shower wall.

So, I decided to save the tile!

I went into each of the grout lines with the grout saw. In less than two hours, I had cleaned all the grout out. Because of the tool’s bulky shape, I couldn’t get the saw to fit into the corner seams, so I had to buy a cheap hand saw to do the inside corners and around the tub. That was only a minor problem.

Picture of the tub with grout removed.

I used a straight razor to slice away the old silicone caulk and the little shell-shaped anti-slip stickers at the bottom of the tub (they came when we bought the house.) Even without re-grouting, the tub looked cleaner. It almost looked like a new tub. All the icky was gone… Then I re-grouted with white tile grout. Three days later, I double-sealed the grout with impregnator and caulked the corners and around the tub and tub fixtures.

Now, I don’t know a whole lot about plumbing (I have a live-in handyman for that), but I knew the old chrome fixtures were still bringing the whole tub down. I decided to replace them with brushed nickel. I learned—all on YouTube, mind you—how to replace the drain, the overflow drain, the tub spout, the valve trim, and the shower head. Ok…so all the replacements I’m talking about are merely cosmetic, and there was no serious plumbing to be done, but I was proud of myself, anyway—for taking the time to learn the proper terminology for those parts and learning more about how those parts function in a working shower.

Conclusion, the tub and the tile were definitely worth saving. Chances are at some point, the new homeowners might want to re-tile or do something different. But for now, the tub and surround look simple and clean. Best of all, I have saved huge amounts of time and money by simply re-grouting rather than re-tiling.

Thanks for visiting,


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