Three years ago, my partner and I decided to have our bathrooms redone. We’d bought a London flat that hadn’t been touched since the ’90s, and our two small 2-square-meters bathrooms were both choking in mould and falling apart at an alarming pace. After numerous builders’ quotes, we decided on a renovator that turned out to be a Bad Builder who, among other things, left us with really ugly-looking grout.
You’d think that grout wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but it really is. Big parts of it looked discoloured (a dull yellow-y brown rather than the light grey we’d picked out) and it made our supposedly new bathrooms look at least a few years old. I tried everything to get it looking fresh — heavy-duty sprays, those green scrubby brushes off Amazon, even the miracle HG mould spray didn’t work. Possibly because it wasn’t mould causing the problem, but actual dirt baked into the grout. Who knows? Probably my shoddy builder.
After years of just accepting how it looked, I started Googling “fixing bad grout” and a bunch of companies offering to “colour reseal” your sad little tile lines came up, supposedly as a cheaper alternative to just regrouting everything. They all quoted me about £500 for a half-day’s work, which seemed like a lot. I refused to believe that Amazon didn’t have a solution, so I deep-dived into their grout options and came across something called Grout Magic, a type of grout paint. Grout Magic calls itself a dye, but it’s definitely more of a paint. Made up of latex, fillers, and pigments, the grout paint isn’t very well-known but is raved about by the people who’ve used it — namely 398 Amazon users and a handful of DIY bloggers.
There are a few different brands of grout paint available, but Grout Magic is a two-in-one colourant and sealant, so it also protects against mould, mildew, and staining for up to 15 years after application, and the Amazon listing was riddled with thrill-inducing before and after pictures. Crucially, it also came in a range of ten colours. If you have white grout, you are extremely well-catered for: There are tons of white pens and paints out there, and also bleach. Our stylish-but-finicky grey grout, not so much. We bought the set with a matching “primer,” essentially a potent cleaner, and the whole thing cost £30.
A handy video tutorial from Grout Magic recommended applying the paint with an old toothbrush onto your grout, which is what I did. It was all very easy, if a little nerve-racking because I got a lot of “dye” onto the surrounding tiles. The instructions then say to “wipe off the excess on your tiles immediately or within an hour.” Wiping the tiles off immediately disturbed the freshly applied paint on the grout, so I waited 30 minutes before removing the excess with a green scouring pad. The product is designed to soak into porous grout, but doesn’t stick well to (or stain!) tile, so comes off easily even if it’s a bit set. FYI, if you’re using the primer beforehand, use gloves and a mask — it’s heavy-duty stuff — but the paint itself smells of nothing and isn’t toxic, so you won’t need PPE to apply it.
We did a second coat and left it to cure for 48 hours, and I was agog. My partner (a more cautious DIYer than me) did the second bathroom after the first was a resounding success, and used a paintbrush to precisely dab it onto just the grout — a method I’d recommend, should you be interested.
I tweeted the before and after pictures after I was done to spread the good word on how transformative this stuff is. Multiple people immediately slid into my DMs to ask me where they could buy it themselves (you’re welcome, Amazon). Two months on, I now can’t stop sticking my head into the bathrooms to ogle the floors because they still look so good: the perfect, uniform light grey colour they should have always been.
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