When it comes time to re-do your bathroom, there are a lot of decisions that need to be made. The shower design, showerhead and hardware, the toilet, the vanities, lighting fixtures -- each of these items is important to the look of the final product. You'll likely be so immersed in the decision-making process for the big ticket items that seemingly small matters like grout color may not seem that important. But this particular smaller decision not only affects the aesthetic of the finished product, it can also affect how much work you put into the maintenance of the bathroom once it's finished.
If you're going for a light, bright bathroom, there's a good chance you'll have some kind of white flooring, whether it's alone or with a color. So you'll probably want a lighter grout with the light tile. But you may not think about the fact that light colored grout requires a lot more maintenance over the years. That lovely white grout eventually darkens and if you want to restore it to its former brightness, you'll be required to get intimate with an item called a grout scrubbing tool. It's not all that fun to use, but it's a must-have to keep that light colored grout glowing.
Tips for Using a Grout Scrubbing Tool
There are different styles of grout scrubbing tools, but they all involve some kind of handle connected to a very strong metal piece, like a wheel or triangle. Using it is pretty easy -- you simply run the metal piece between the tiles until you remove the outermost layer of grout and scum. Follow behind with a wet sponge and be prepared to use a little elbow grease. It's going to take you a while, especially if you have a large bathroom, but the result is worth it.
Because it's not a very fun job, the best tips for grout scrubbing and cleaning involve not letting the grout get that bad to begin with. Spot cleaning can be easily done with a baking soda and water paste applied with a toothbrush, or even the eraser of your No. 2 pencil. But no amount of cleaning beats sealing a new grout job. This protective layer will keep moisture out, which creates the mildew that darkens the grout. If you're really diligent and apply the sealant every six months or so, you may never have to use a grout scrubbing tool at all. Another tip is to think about going with a darker tile, which supports a darker grout. Or, if you're set on lighter tile, consider using a light gray grout instead of white. White grout requires a pretty serious commitment to regular cleaning and sealing.
- Clark, Francesa. "The Daily Fix: How to Clean Grout." Diylife.com, April 13, 2010. http://www.diylife.com/2010/04/13/the-daily-fix-how-to-clean-grout/
- "Cleaning Grout." Stretcher.com. June 16, 2012. http://www.stretcher.com/stories/990510a.cfm
- "How to Seal Grout." Younghouselove.com http://www.younghouselove.com/2010/06/how-to-seal-grout/