DIY / Homes & Interiors

Whitening The Bathroom Grout – Part 1

When we moved in one of the first things I decided needed to be fixed was the bathroom grouting. As you can see in the picture below, it was in a very dirty state. I’m not sure if this was an intentional dark grout or just due to wear and tear, but myself and my housemates agreed it looked dirty, made the room look darker, and needed to be fixed. A month later, after a lot of procrastination, I’m almost finished. There’s three parts to my grout whitening escapade which I thought I’d share, each one featuring a variation on technique. Here goes part one…

So, what on earth were we going to do with all that discoloured grouting?! Re-grouting the entire bathroom was not an option. As you can see in the picture, there are a lot of tiles and as we don’t own the house it would have been a bit risky. As you can also see in my page about my flat, the tiles go all the way up all of the walls with lots of hard to reach areas (possibly an explanation as to why this dirty grout had not been done sooner!). Instead, after talking to Gary, we decided that whitening the grout would be best.zzz2This is what I was working with! Mostly the joins between the tiles were quite narrow, with only very wide joins at the corners of the room. Consequently, I decided against a sponge applicator grout pen (oh how wrong I was). I thought it would be too messy, so instead I looked for a cheap option with a sort of ‘felt tip nib’ that I hoped would make application easy as I was a total novice at this.zzz9Spoiler alert! I took this photo this afternoon after a lot more work has been done on the bathroom. See how good that grout looks?

After a frustrated browse in Wilkinsons – there wasn’t much choice – I came across Ronseal Grout Pen which promised to cover my horrendously brown/black/grey/icky grout in just one coat. It seemed too good to be true but it came with three changeable nibs so I thought I would probably be ok. At £7.95 it seemed expensive, but promised to cover the square footage of the bathroom grout with enough for a couple of coats. Oh, how wrong I was…zzz7

Firstly, I tried to clean the grout between the tiles to ensure the whitener would stick. This was the point at which little bits of grout came away and I realised that I’d have to just cover it all. I began by working sideways as I found this easier with the pen, but progress was slow. So s.l.o.w. The product just didn’t want to come out of the nib properly, and despite following the packets instructions to wipe and depress the nib, I had to depress the nib a whole lot to get even a little colour that immediately seemed to disperse whenever it was applied to the grout. Not great.zzz5Even worse, because I had to press so hard, I got through the nibs really quickly. I also found doing the vertical grout lines really difficult as, despite again following the instructions to work upwards with the pen held up, it was a fiddly position to sustain and the flow of the whitener was still awful and gave very thin coats.zzzz9Here you can see how badly the whitener applied. This was a second coat, so not great at all. I’m not sure if this was due to my lack of experience, the product itself or the unruly, bumpy, dirty grouting but the ‘grouting pen’ didn’t work well with the grout we had.zzz8I wore all my nibs down to look like this doing the first coat of a wall and a small portion of the second coat in a couple of areas. Overall, I was really disappointed with this pen. I think if the grout had been in better condition with a smoother surface it would probably have looked a lot better. Or maybe if the grout was still even resembling white. One plus side of this product was that the application was very precise, but too precise in fact. The nib of the pen wasn’t as wide as some of the lines of grout I had to follow and I ended up having to go back to fill in gaps where the paint hadn’t filled the areas properly.

So, sadly, Ronseal Grout Pen and I parted ways.

Keep watching for the second part of my grouting escapades when I try out a sponge applicator grout whitener which, as you can tell, went better!
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