Coloring in the lines: Painting tile grout
For all the strange design choices and wild paint colors the previous owners had bestowed on our house, their kitchen tile choice was surprisingly neutral. It actually suited our tastes pretty well, but the big boo-boo here was the dark, dark brown grout color they chose. It just made everything look dingy.
I didn’t think there was much I could do about not liking our in-your-face grout color and had pretty much given up until I saw a blog post at LiveLoveDIY. She painted her grout, and I knew that someday, I, too, would take the task upon myself.
The idea is pretty simple. Get grout paint and
one 27 toothbrushes, and paint the grout. It doesn’t seem that intimidating in some respects, right? Just coloring in the lines, literally. Guys, this is not for the faint of heart. I will say though, for a project that cost $13 dollars, the design bang for your buck, as well as for your energy input, is through the roof. All the little lessons and details are at the bottom of this post, if you think you may also be crazy enough to take this on. 🙂
The stuff I used is called Polyblend Grout Renew. I got mine at Home Depot in Antique White. I think the instructions say to do all this grout scrubbing first, but I did not do any of that aside from vacuum. 😮 Naughty naughty. And here we are 6 months later and the paint has endured spills, milk soaking in for hours, scratches, and wild toddler craziness beautifully.
We had Virginia’s first birthday party coming up and I wanted this done before then. So one evening in early August I started on one inconspicuous corner. At first, I was pretty pleased with myself. I got this! Look what I just did in 15 minutes! It looks amazing! And then I looked around the corner and my kitchen had never looked so long in my life. All I could see were grout lines laughing at me.
But since now I had committed, I kept at it night after night. Progress was slow. I worked for probably 45 minutes at a time once a week while the Hubster blared the TV so I could hear it. Despite this project being very slow going, I didn’t hate it. I found the work sort of hypnotic.
I finished the entryway area quickly. It was a good thing I started in there. You know, get my confidence up. 😉
When I was done working each night, I just stuck my toothbrush in a ziplock bag and sealed it up. I could get three or four evenings out of a toothbrush before it got too hard and gummed with paint, but definitely start stockpiling the toothbrushes you get from your dentist every time you go. I was so happy I had saved ours (we use an electric toothbrush these days).
Over the next months, I inched my way along, line by stinking line. All the best progress shots have Virginia in them, but I love these because you can really see how stark the difference is and how much the white grout brightens the whole space.
By the end of October (yes, almost 3 months later), I had made it all the way over to the kitchen…
… and I also inched my way around the kitchen…
… until one night just days before her November birthday party, the whole tiled area was done! My favorite picture that shows the kitchen tile area all done is a hilarious picture of a toddler protest.
If you want the technical details, here was my method. I dotted some of the paint into a corner where four tiles meet and worked from there out. You really have to work the paint into the grout, going over each spot a few times until the color is right. But careful! If you work it too much, it just rubs all the paint right into the toothbrush and you have to add more paint to the floor. Like I did, you sort of have to play with it to get a “feel” for how much paint to put on and how far you can spread it.
You have to work in small sections with this paint because it dries F-A-S-T FAST. After about three one-tile length segments, I stopped to swipe a paper-towel-covered finger along each edge to wipe off the excess. If you don’t do this, you have to use your fingernail to scrape off every tiny last little bit, and it is no fun.
There’s definitely some variation in our grout where I used more or less paint in places. When you’re on your hands and knees this variation seems maddening, but I learned to let it go; when you stand up and walk around, I promise you won’t notice it. And if you do notice it and hate it, you will definitely have leftover paint, so you can just slap a little more on!
So here’s the final before and after! Anyone think they’ll take on a grout painting project any time soon? Have you done this before?