Ask a Pro Q&A: The Great Grout Mistake

A simple design mistake has halted one reader’s remodeling project! What can you do when you don’t like the tile your contractor has already installed? Never fear, Dream Team member and interior design expert Jennifer Adams reveals the stylish solution!

Ask a Pro Q&A: The Great Grout Mistake -

Q: We made a mistake when we installed “12×12” white tile in our home.  The contractor used gray grouting that wasn’t sealed very well.  I would like to get rid of it but I discovered it’s glued to the flooring underneath. Now I’m wondering if I can paint the tile, and if so what products to use. Thank you very much for your help!

-Carol V.

A: Ohh… this is truly a tough situation! I’m sorry you have to deal with it. While white tile isn’t a mistake all by itself, any tile incorrectly installed is going to be a problem at some point.

Do you know if there is damage underneath the tile as a result of the poorly sealed grout? If this isn’t the case and you like the look of the white tile, chances are good that your floor can simply be cleaned or re-grouted and sealed properly. Contact a professional tile installer to take a look and answer more specific questions and for an estimate, and follow their instructions about cleaning. Harsh chemicals and acidic cleansers will quickly deteriorate sealers and the grout itself.

To answer your question about painting tile directly, well yes, technically, tile can be painted if it’s cleaned, prepped and primed properly. This includes sanding, cleaning again and using a special bonding primer. If you’re thinking about handling this project yourself, the staff at your favorite paint store should help you choose the right products.

However, I wouldn’t recommend painting any tile if it’s on the floor or in wet areas such as bathrooms or kitchens! The paint is not likely to hold up to the wear or the moisture, and won’t look good for very long.

If you’re thinking about changing the look of your floor, I recommend having your old tiles removed and new tile or other flooring installed. Talk with a licensed contractor for options!

Good luck and let me know how it goes!