The fellow who did the tile work in our remodeled master bathroom did a really nice job, but there was one imperfection that we didn't like: the grout, in certain places, hadn't been properly removed. When grout is correctly used, all of it should be below the level of the surrounding tile or rock. In the case of our bathroom, some of the right-angle joints (and especially the triple corners) had a “bead” of grout that was too high. It's easy to see how this happened: when you apply grout, the last step is to clean off the excess with a sponge. That works great on flat surfaces – but not so much on right angled joints. You can see this on the photo above right (click to embiggen).
After a bit of research on the web, I headed down to my local Home Depot to get a grout brush. I expected to be using this and my pocket knife to (laboriously) work that excess grout off. However, when I arrived at Home Depot and started looking at the tile tools, a friendly fellow came over and asked me what I was trying to accomplish. He told me about a special tool made for exactly my problem: a carbide-tipped scraper with a small triangular blade (see photos at right). I headed home considerably better armed for the battle than I had expected.
With just a little practice I got the hang of that scraper. It's important to wet down the grout and tile before you start – that keeps the dust from flying, and (more importantly) it helps prevent the scraper from “biting” into the rock, by lubricating it (same principle as shaving foam). It's also important to be gentle and to use light pressure. It's far better to make ten very light strokes than to try to remove it all with one muscular stroke, because that greatly reduces the chances of a catastrophic mistake (removing too much grout, or a chunk of rock).
The results are better than I had hoped for, and with far less work. To go over the entire shower took me about 4 hours of work. With just my pocket knife, that would have been more like 4 days
. Furthermore, this was easy
work, with relatively little skill required (a vital element, when it's me doing the work!).
Bottom line: if you have an excess grout situation, get this tool!
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