Touching Up Grout – Ask THE Handyman St. Louis – Get It Done

I have an area of grout in my shower that is coming loose. Could this be a problem? Can you tell me how to fix it?

Yes, yes, yes! Grout coming loose or any areas where grout is missing can be an expensive problem. If water gets behind the tile, it will cause the drywall to become like wet cardboard. As it does, the tile will no longer have anything to hold on to and will begin to come out away from the wall. Depending on how old your home is, you may not be able to match the existing tile and it is not a good idea to reuse old tile (they never lay flat like a new one). If you can’t match the old tile, you end up having to replace all of the tile in the tub area, or the whole bathroom! Expensive!

To take care of this problem, you’ll first need to remove any loose grout. A grout saw is an inexpensive hand held tool that will do this. The process is to slowly, but with some force, slide the tool along the grout line as needed to remove the grout. Be careful not to scratch the tile. When the grout is removed, brush any dust away. You’re now ready to re-grout.

Whenever grout is touched up, the new color may not match perfectly with the old grout. Besides getting a close color to match the old grout, you need to look closely to see if the grout is “sanded” or “unsanded”. If it is sanded, when you look closely, you will see small bumps within the grout, about the size of sand particles, hence the term “sanded”. If your grout lines are very narrow, usually these will be unsanded. So, when you go to a tile store, you can get the proper color, and each color will either come sanded or unsanded. If your grout is anything other than white, you may want to pick up a grout color chart from the store, take it home, then pick out the color that closely matches your grout.

When mixing the grout, be sure to follow the mixing directions carefully, so that the grouting is done properly. You don’t want to have to do the project again later. With the grout mixed, use a grout float to apply it. This is a hard rubber float, which allows you to spread the grout, going in a 45 degree motion to the grout joints, forcing it in. After the grout is in, again, following the directions, you’ll need to come back with a clean sponge and wipe the haze off the tiles.

I would recommend after 2 weeks, that you seal the grout. This is an easy process of wiping on a clear sealer (which has the consistency of water), being sure to get it not only on the tiles, but the grout as well. Sealing the grout will keep the color true and prevent mildew.

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How to Get A Straight Line When Painting – Get It Done – Ask THE Handyman St Louis

In painting, what is the best way to get a clean line along a ceiling or wall?

Great question!

There are a number of factors when painting in order to get a clean line, such as when painting a wall up to the ceiling. The first recommendation is to have a good brush. For interior work, I like an angled brush, as it allows getting into the corner easily, and a 1 ½ to 2 inch brush works well. Some people like a chiseled brush, which is more like an artist’s brush, rounded at the tip.

Although patience is a great thing to have in painting, so is a good steady hand. If you feel lack one or both of those skills, you might want to consider using painter’s tape. The typical painter’s tape is blue, available in different widths. Painter’s tape is similar to a regular masking tape, but the blue tape doesn’t stick permanently or take any of the surface off when it is removed.

In my early painting experiences, I tried cutting in with just a brush, but I wasn’t satisfied with my results. I therefore switched to using the painter’s tape. However, I became even more frustrated with this, because when pulling the tape off, I found too many occurrences where the paint got behind the tape. This causes extra work in wiping it off and then touching up the area where I didn’t want the paint to go. So, I went back to the brush only, forcing myself to learn the skill.

However, we have just run across a new painter’s tape that we’ve tried out, and have found that it works well. It’s called FROGTAPE, ( and is available at Home Depot and Lowes, and perhaps other stores. The tape is green, so you won’t get it confused with the typical blue tape. The reason we’re liking the FROGTAPE is because it is treated with what they call a paint block. As paint is applied to the tape, a polymer on the tape absorbs the water in latex paints, expanding the edge of the tape and creating a barrier. Therefore the paint doesn’t get under the tape. The manufacturer states that the paint was created for latex paints, so if you’re using an oil based paint, beware. The only drawback I’ve found in using this is that at times I had trouble making it stick, so it took more time to get it in place.

As with any painter’s tape, it is best not to leave it in place for too long after the job is done. If the paint has dried, you might be pulling up paint along with the tape. So, it is best to take the tape off before the paint is dry. Be careful removing it wet, however; don’t let the tape touch any other surface, or you may be spending more time doing touch ups.

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