What’s the best grout removal tool for your tile shower floor?
Hands down it’s Bosch’s oscillating multi-tool because removing grout won’t take you 7 days and you’ll still have most of your hair at the end of this project.
With that said, you should also use the triangular grout removal tool that can be found at Lowe’s. It’s great for detail work where the Bosch multi-tool cannot reach.
If your tile shower floor has grout that won’t clean then grout removal is your only option. This was our predicament after trying multiple cleaning solutions but seeing only marginal results.
Grout is like icing on the cake and literally makes a tile project either look fantastic or hideous.
There are several grout removal tips I want to share with you so you don’t make the same mistakes as me, save time and reduce your aggravation level to the point whereby you’ll be called the buddha of bathroom remodeling.
Here are the supplies you’ll need to remove grout from your tile shower floor
- Oscillating Multi-Tool
- Grout Removal Attachment for Oscillating Tool
- Ear Protection
- Shop vacuum
- Safety Glasses
- Duct Tape
Trust me, I know firsthand that the Bosch multi-tool is expensive, but if you’re serious about removing grout and doing other handyman stuff you’ll love it.
So let’s get started!!
Why the Bosch Multi-Tool is Great
You can buy manual grout removal tools for as little as $10. And they’ll work fine for small jobs.
You’ll have to buy the grout removal attachment because it’s the only one they don’t include in the kit (I read the box about 5 times to make sure). I admit it’s not cheap at $24. However, it will chew right through your old grout with no problem. As you can see from the picture the attachment will fit into grout joints as small as 1/8 inch.
This grout line size is typical in old showers that have 4 x 4-inch tiles. But you can also purchase an attachment that removes grout joints as small as 1/16 inch wide.
Measure your joints before buying the attachment to see which width is best for your project.
Shower Floor Grout Removal: Minimal Yet Important Prep Work
Here’s where I made a HUGE mistake.
The Bosch oscillating tool is super awesome but it will take a bite out of your vertical tile if you’re not careful. I bumped the adjacent wall tile a few times and scratched the surface. Not a big deal but the perfectionist in me was unhappy.
Add a protective layer of duct tape to the wall tile in case you do bump it with the Bosch multi-tool.
You should add two rows of tape, and two layers may not be a bad idea.
Removing the shower floor grout that’s close to the wall is tricky. Primarily because you need to get the attachment close to the intersection of these surfaces without it touching the wall tile.
So use duct tape to protect your vertical wall tiles from nicks and scrapes.
How to Use the Best Grout Removal Tools for Tile Shower Floors
Add the grout removal attachment to the Bosch multi-tool and turn it on. What I like about the Bosch oscillating tool is that it has a soft start that gradually ramps up power.
Adjust the speed setting to between 3-6. Always use the lowest setting that does the best job.
The last thing you need is for the attachment to cut through a shower pan or damage the substrate that holds the tile in place. Which begs the following question.
How much grout do you need to remove?
The amount of grout that needs to be removed should equal 1/2 the thickness of the tile. So, if your tile is 1/4 inch thick you should remove approximately 1/8 inch of grout.
Who told me this?
I called the technical support line of Custom Building Products and the technical advisor I spoke with provided this advice. The question came up because there’s a shower pan underneath our 2 x 2-inch shower floor tile. If the shower pan is cut by the grout removal tool then water will leak down through the kitchen ceiling on the first floor of our house.
Fortunately, there is a carbide grit line on the grout removal attachment of the Bosh multi-tool. You can control the depth of your grinding by not plunging the attachment beyond this line. Admittedly it is super difficult to watch the grit line but at least it gives you a rough idea of how deep you can go with the grout removal.
The nice thing about the grout attachment is that it can remove both sanded and unsanded grout. Sanded grout is typically used for 1/8 inch or wider grout lines. Unsanded grout can be used for 1/8 inch or smaller grout lines.
If the grout attachment clogs, which will most likely happen because this is a messy job, you can clean it with a wire brush until the grit is exposed.
Remove your grout with the Bosch multi-tool by moving it back and forth along the grout line. Keep the attachment aligned with the grout and don’t apply too much side pressure because you could accidentally damage the shower tile floor. Let the multi-tool do the work and only apply minimal downward pressure (just enough to move the attachment down into the grout line).
Here’s the tricky part, there might be some grout that can only be removed by slightly angling (10 degrees at best) the multi-tool attachment. If you do this carefully you’ll be fine. You can also use the triangular grout removal tool from Lowe’s to scrape off excess grout on the edges of the tile or in areas where the Bosch multi-tool is too big.
How do you remove shower floor tile GROUT that’s close to the vertical tile intersection?
Remove as much of the grout as you can with the Bosch multi-tool then use the triangular grout removal tool to scrape the rest out. Place the triangular carbide blade flush with the vertical tile and in line with the grout, you need to take out. Then pull the carbide blade away from the vertical tile.
Do this a few times to remove the grout. It sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard so keep your ear protection in place.
Vacuum the grout dust frequently so you can see your progress and ensure you’re not gouging the shower pan or cement board. I worked with 4 tiles at a time and would vacuum the grout lines around them.
Removing grout isn’t an easy job (it takes the patience of a kindergarten teacher) but you can definitely do it yourself. Here’s a breakdown of the tips from above
- Use the Bosch multi-tool with a grout attachment to remove large sections of grout
- Employ the triangular grout removal tool from Lowe’s to scrape grout out of tight spaces
- Apply duct tape on surfaces that you don’t want to scrape
- Grout removal should be 1/2 the thickness of your tile
- Work in small sections to eliminate frustration
- Vacuum grout lines frequently to see your work
- If you’re in a bathroom turn on the fan to exhaust grout dust outside
- Finally, use a dust mask, safety glasses, and ear protection (you’re removing grout not your body’s sense of smell, sight, and hearing)
Oscillating multi-tools are also great for removing caulk in showers or bathtubs.
And if you’re doing a bathroom floor we highly recommend using an angle grinder with a dust extraction system.
Hopefully, all these tips help you with your project!!
If you’re doing a bathroom remodel and need help, join one of our online courses – they’ll make your bathroom renovation much easier!
Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help.