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Question DetailsAsked on 1/30/2014

how much does it cost to repair bathroom wall tiles? caulking and regrout

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3 Answers


I have heard this question asked for many years , and my experience with installing & setting tile for over 35 years is that the quest to reGrout tile is often a loosing propposition .

Reason # 1 , when attempting to remove existing grouting ,most often the existing tile becomes loosened , if this happens ,more tiles become loose due to the consistent bond between tiles being removed.

Reason # 2 , when removing grout with a vibrating tool ,the tiles which are not properly bonded by the tile adhesive ,( the vibrations of the removal) tend to cause the loose tiles to fall from the wall surface , those that do not fall out , are loosened and become susceptable to falling out at a later date ,thereby creating more problems down the road ,when someone hits the tile with an elbow , applying just enough pressure to cause the tile to fall out or move enough to crack the newly installed grout.

Removal of the OLD Grout by hand , using a small hand held scraper will often and inadvertantly result in problems as described above . All that is required is for you to twist the tool at an angle and catch the tile edge ,just slightly ,thereby minimally, lifting the tile body slightly which causes the tile bond with the adhesive to actually break.

Reason # 3, the Grout lines in the New Grout , are never as neat or thin as the original grouting installed when the tile was new.

Reason # 4 , Failure to properly clean the old tiles will result in uneven lines ,improper bonding and eventually cracking of the new grout lines.

Reason # 5 , When the client , see's the NEW Grout ,I have had the client to exclaim

that they are surprised that the regrout does not give the shower/bath as neat an appearance as the original grouting .

Unfortunately , regrouting ,does not provide the same results as Re-Painting

In repainting , we are able to prep the walls ,clean the walls ,repair defects, and then apply as many coats required to provide a beautiful final coat .

In regrouting , you cannot stack grout , like paint layers to acheive a smooth finished

tile line. The more grout applied ,the thicker & nastier the grout line.

While certainly more expensive to accomplish .RE-TILING is a much better alternative as everything is NEW again and the new tile should last a minimum of 25 years. Where as with regrouting , the above described series of problems all become part and parcel of the re-grouted tile surface

For these reasons , we will NOT attempt to regrout !

TOO Many problems are possible , with few ways to contain the problems.

The only way , we've had success in re-using tile and regrouting , were in situations

where the original tiles measured 12x12 , we took an oscillating tool , removed the tile from the wall surface, used the oscillating tool to clean off the tile back and wall surface , prepped the wall with Bonding Agent ,and then , re-set the tile with mastic, and then Re-Grouting.

Answered 5 years ago by BentheBuilder


If you are just looking for a functional quick fix you can proabably find a handyman to make it work for $1-200 but don't expect to it to be pretty. Just as stated in the last answer, regrouted tiles rarely look very decent. Also, they fell or cracked for a reason. If the backing board is no good then no amount of thinset or caulk is going to help you. Were the tiles installed over drywall? If so, just plan on a new shower surround. It is done and lived its life. Drywall should have never been allowed to be used behind shower walls.

Answered 5 years ago by Todd's Home Services


The cost is the real kicker, if you mean true regrouting rather than grout joint touchup. Full depth regrouting can run $7-15/SF - the same range as total tearout and new tile, just because the manpower required to go through and gouge out each individual joint is immense. Can take the better part of a week to do a full shower, whereas applying new grouting on newly installed tile for the same area is a couple of hours work. Grout touchup can run from about $5-10/SF for all joints, as low as about $150-250 (about $1-2/SF) for just local grout popout patching and redoing the corner and base caulking. All are real back breakers.

This does not mean regrouting cannot be done, assuming your tiles are not popping off the wall over the place, which I always checked first by tapping to listen for "drummy" or "rattley" tiles. You also want to check under a popped out tile or three for water damage - if the substrate is damaged, then why waste money regrouting over potentially damaged and rotting wall or floor.

However, to avoid the problems noted by the other two responders, you have to work only one side of a tile at a time, then regrout it before moving on to the other side, and always totally removing any loose tiles. Easiest to do by removing the grout on every third grout row at a time, grout and dehaze all those as the end of the work day, then next day after that grout is set, move on to the next set of rows. May mean only a partial day of work each day on that specific job. That way only one side of a specific tile is ungrouted at a time, which greatly reduces the chance of knocking one loose. Even then, in a typical shower you will have a half dozen or so that pop loose, requiring you to clean off the back of the tile, then grind down the thinset on the wall so make room for new thinset so that tile is not raised relative to the others. And of course you have the nuisance of having to work on a foam pad (whcih gets pretty grubby with grout) so the tiles that pop out unexpectedly hopefully don't break, or stringing a net along the wall to catch any falling ones, which then gets in your way. MUCH easier if you can get the homeowner to agree to replace any random broken ones with accent types instead of trying to prevent any breakage at all, which is a rare lucky case.

If you are looking only for fixing minor grout gaps and just cleaning up the grout joint, that can be done with a dremel tool or die cutter with narrow wire brushes and abrasive cutting wheels, removing notmore than a third or so of the grout, then cleaning that surface up to remove dust and grit, and regrouting with a "plastic" cement grout or siliconized caulk type grout, which stick better to the prior grout than plain cement grout. in fact, if wide grout joints are acceptable to the homeowner, an overlay of synthetic grout that can commonly be done one-time without grinding away significant underlying original grout.

Personally, I have never had a problem with the joints looking bad after either approach, assuming you are careful to square up any tiles you have to reset - the grouting procedure is the same as with new tile, so you get the same result appearance. This is NOT true of just an overcoat, say with a siliconized caulk over grouted joints, where the grout gets wider and overlaps the start of the curved surface edge of the tile, so you can easily get wider and variable width joints.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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