Grout is essential in the maintenance of walls and tiles, especially in bathrooms. Like any other element in the bathroom, the grout may need replacement after some time. How long does bathroom grout last?
Grout lasts between 15 to 20 years before replacement or repair. If you do not care for your bathroom grout appropriately, the timeline may be shorter.
Grout gives your tile stability and structure, so it needs proper care and attention. Grout keeps water, moisture, and dirt from depositing between tiles and helps tiles stick together.
Given these responsibilities, it can succumb to natural damage, but preventative care will make grout last longer.
Before looking at how long grout should last before cracking, you should understand the different types of grout, as they all have varying lifelines.
There are three types; sanded grout, unsanded grout, and epoxy grout. Sanded and unsanded grout are cement-based.
They require a sealant to protect them from moisture, dirt, and UV rays. Sanded grout is commonly used and is suitable for grout lines that are greater than an eighth inch.
Unsanded grout is best for fragile tiles that are easily damaged by sand from the grout and are less than an eighth inch. Epoxy grout is non-porous and does not need a sealant.
As I said earlier, grout should take 15 to 20 years to crack or need repair, but only if it is installed and maintained correctly.
There are two main reasons why bathroom grout cracks; quality and moisture.
Cement-based grout is the most popular in its sanded and unsanded versions. However, cheap ones can be of inferior quality. They are highly porous, so water seeps through the grout destroying the sealant.
This low-quality grout also tends to be mixed incorrectly during installation and will crack within a short period.
Moisture plays a massive role in your bathroom grout cracking. Cement-based grout’s porous quality exposes it to water and other fluids, weakening the sealant.
Frequent resealing is required to prevent further damage.
Shower tiles are exposed to water more than any other part of the bathroom. Their lifeline is therefore much shorter. Shower grout typically lasts between 8 to 16 years, depending on maintenance and protection.
You can visually tell if your grout needs replacement. First, observe if there is mold on the grout. If there is, then mold has possibly built up behind your tiles and walls, and if you leave it, it could further damage your shower grout.
Second, you can tell if your grout is cracking when it loses its smooth surface and crumbles when you apply pressure to it. You can consider regrouting when you see any of these conditions rather than waiting for further damage to the grout.
Exposure to water in the shower calls for constant resealing and maintenance of sealant on your shower grout. The adhesive will protect your grout from excessive moisture and make it last longer.
You can also wipe down your shower walls and tiles with a dry cloth to remove the water instead of letting them dry on their own to save your shower grout from unnecessary exposure to moisture.
Cracking is inevitable for bathroom grout because of exposure to water and moisture. The bathroom is also a frequently used room, so walking on the tiles causes pressure that loosens the tiles and cracks the grout. However, this effect should happen after many years, not months.
If your shower grout is cracking and it hasn’t been long before installation, it means that the contractor did not install it correctly. Furthermore, if your installer mixes the cement-based grout incorrectly, it will crack.
Leaving cracked grout unattended will cause more damage, and it will make your bathroom look unsightly. It is best to fix cracked grout, no matter how small the crack is.
Before starting to fix your cracked grout, investigate the root cause of the problem. If it is a loose tile causing the cracks, remove the entire tile and stick it back to the surface with strong adhesive.
If the tile is okay, but the grout is damaged, you will need to regrout. For this, you need to remove the old grout with a grout removal blade. You do not have to remove all the old grout, just beyond the cracks.
Once you have a smooth gap large enough to hold new grout, clean the area thoroughly with a vacuum or wet towel to remove dirt and excess loose grout so that you have a clean surface for your new grout.
If you have done it before, you can mix your grout, but it is advisable to use pre-mixed grout for repair works. It is safe, convenient and you can store it at home for future repairs.
On your clean surface, generously apply the grout with a tile float, getting most of it packed into the grout line. Once done, use a damp cloth to wipe off excess grout from the tile and grout line. Let the grout dry for 24 to 48 hours and 72 hours if you wish to apply sealant.
Grout sealer protects your bathroom grout from excess moisture, dirt, mildew, mold, and bacteria. Good quality sealer needs to be applied annually. However, if your bathroom has a lot of traffic and activity, particularly in the shower, you may need to seal your grout twice a year.
Bathroom floor grout may need resealing after 3 to 5 years because it does not come into contact with water as often as shower tiles do.
It is important to note that not all grout needs sealing. Synthetic grout that contains epoxy does not require a sealer. Highly porous cement-based grout needs a sealer because it tends to absorb water and moisture from steam.
Resealing is an easy process, but it is time-consuming. Use a professional grout sealer and the right tools to ensure you apply the sealer correctly. You may use a spray-on sealer that does not require much of a process or any tools.
Make sure the grout is clean before you apply the sealer. Do not apply sealer in a sweltering room or under direct sunlight because the sealer might dry before finishing the process. Once you finish sealing the grout, allow the sealer to dry completely before using the bathroom; this may take up to 3 days.
You should consider cleaning your bathroom tiles weekly, bi-weekly, and seasonally. A weekly clean, using cloth and a multi-purpose cleaning agent, keeps the mildew, grime, and soap scum from collecting on the grout lines. It also helps remove stains and ensure they do not discolor the grout.
Bi-weekly cleaning involves preventative scrubs that supplement weekly cleaning and keep the grout lines even cleaner by removing stubborn stains. For long-term maintenance, you should have seasonal cleaning twice a year.
Seasonal cleaning involves thoroughly cleaning grime-prone areas such as shower tiles, preferably by a professional cleaner.