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Super Handyman: Replacing worn-out grout

Tile can last forever, but the grout? Not so much. Fortunately, the grout is easier to remove than tiles are. If your grout is ugly, stained, cracked or you just want to change the color of it, here’s how to do it:

Before beginning, cover your drains if working in a sink or tub area so the grout doesn’t clog your drain. You also should wear safety glasses to prevent eye injuries.

There are several tools that you can use to remove the old grout. There are some hand tools that work well, but if you are doing a whole tub or shower or any other large area, you ought to use a rotary tool. There are some excellent attachments available for removing grout; one allows you to set the exact depth of the grout, and it is a lot of fun to use.

A vacuum cleaner is a good way to clean up the grout quickly. Use a brush attachment to clean out areas between the tiles and get every little bit of it out.

Your replacement grout can be just about any color you want, so be prepared for that decision. You can buy it premixed for small areas and dry for larger areas so you can mix your own and save a little money. If using it in a mildew-prone area, like a bathroom, choose one with a built-in mildew inhibitor.

You will need a grout float to spread the grout over the tile and push it into the grout lines. You want it to have some time to start setting up before you start cleaning up your grout lines, but don’t let it dry on the tiles or any other surface. Refer to the package directions for the exact time frame and directions. Then just use a damp sponge to clean and smooth your joints.

You’ll want to give it the proper time to cure before getting it wet for the first time, too. After the proper curing time, you also might consider a grout sealer.

Clean your grout regularly, and it will last and look good a lot longer.

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Q: We go through the garage to get inside the house most of the time. The floor is just your standard concrete floor. It is dusty and has road salt and mud on it from time to time, too.

Is there any way to keep this stuff from getting into the house so much? – T.W.

A: Well, a good welcome mat on both sides of the doorway would be very helpful. If you apply a concrete sealer to the floor, after cleaning it thoroughly first, then it will not be so dusty, and will be easier to sweep or wash periodically.

If you have a bigger budget, there are some really nice floor coverings that can installed, too.

A super hint

One of the best cleaners for stainless steel that I’ve come across is regular old WD-40. It will remove fingerprints, smudges and grease while leaving it looking clean and shiny.

Shoptalk

I am hoping to replace the carpet in one of my rooms with a wood floor soon, and I thought it might be nice to save a good-size scrap of the old carpet to make a throw rug later on. I checked into some bindings and found a really neat option called Instabind. There are several types of edgings and colors to choose from, but the neat part is that you can do it yourself with just a pair of scissors and a glue gun. You just measure around your carpet scrap and buy enough Instabind Binding to do the job. There is a peel-and-stick backing on it, and you fit it around the edge of the carpet and follow it with your glue gun to seal the deal. It looks like a professional binding, and will last for a superlong time. Check it out at www.bondproducts.com or at your favorite local home center.

Got a question or a handy tip? Visit www.thesuperhandyman.com.