How to Dye Grout

Dyeing grout sounds intimidating, but I promise you it’s not as scary as it seems! I’ll be honest and say it’s a tedious, time-consuming task that requires precision and a lot of elbow grease, but for less than $15 you can completely change the look of your tile. Whether your grout has seen years of dirt and grime and it’s not the color it’s supposed to be anymore, or perhaps, like us, you just laid and grouted new tile and after the grout dried you found out that it was not even close to the color it’s supposed to be. Or maybe you’re just ready for a change, and want to change your white grout to black! You know that grout can totally change the look of tile- so put in some hard work and reap the rewards of beautiful tile!

This post is not sponsored. There are many brands of grout colorant on the market- our store happened to carry the TEC brand, so I used that and it worked well. I can’t speak to any of the other brands, but I’m sure they would also work great! 

In our hallway bathroom, I wanted white tile with the stark contrast of black grout. I was super disappointed after the grout dried when I saw that it was all streaky with white and gray!

After some research, I found out that this is a lot more common than you might think- even when professionals do it. There are a few factors that play into this.

First, powdered grout gets a colored powder added into it. When you mix the grout powder with water, the dye does not always distribute evenly into the grout powder no matter how long you mix.

Secondly, you have to add exactly the right amount of water to the mix, or else the color will get diluted.

Third, when you are grouting, the amount of water on the sponge is a huge factor. Too much water on the sponge will dilute the grout color.

Finally, if you use a chemical grout haze remover and it pools on the grout, the color will be lightened as well. The only way to ensure that this is not an issue is to buy pre-mixed grout. The problem with that is $$$! It’s significantly more expensive to buy pre-mixed. If money isn’t a factor, I’d highly recommend it. However, if you’re like the majority of us who have a budget, then you’re going to be mixing…. and dyeing, if you’re grouting with any color darker than a very light gray.

Needless to say, when our “raven” grout dried and it was more of a light gray, I was not very pleased, so I got resourceful and did some hunting around the internet and found that grout dye is a great solution.

I bought the grout dye at our local big-box home improvement store for less than $12. I only needed about half a bottle…. which led me to want to dye other grout in our home with it, too! I am resisting that urge for now, however…

There are a LOT of different colors of grout dye, but I used the color “raven” that matched our raven grout. I can’t say much about dyeing dark grout a lighter color, but the bottle does say that “changing grout colors light to dark or dark to light may require an extra application. Two thin coats are better than one heavy coat.” The dye also acts as a sealant, which is a nice perk.

I will also say that the bottle has all of the directions you need and they’re very straightforward and easy to follow! I’ll break them down here for you though and add some tips I learned.

What You’ll Need:

  • Grout colorant (I used TEC brand in the color Raven)
  • Toothbrush (or 2-3, depending on the size of the project- the bristles tend to get worn down. The free toothbrushes from the dentist worked great for this!)
  • 1-2 old damp rags
  • Rubber gloves & old clothes, just in case!
  • Kneepads or something to kneel on if you’re working on the floor- I used a folded up yoga mat!

How to Dye Grout:

1. Clean the tile surface well- if this means wiping it down with a wet cloth, make sure the grout is dry before you start dyeing. Sweep up any dust/dirt particles that might get stuck in your grout.

2. Start with a small, inconspicuous area (I started in the back corner next to the toilet) and test out a couple lines of grout to ensure you want to commit!

3. Depending on the size and shape of your grout lines, dab small dots of grout around every tile in no greater than a 1’x1′ area. Once the dye dries, it’s much more difficult to clean up so you’ll want to work in small areas to ensure it doesn’t dry before you can clean it.

4. Take your toothbrush and brush the dye into the grout lines. You’ll need to be a little aggressive about brushing here- you really want the color to set into the grout!

5. Take your damp (not wet) cloth and wipe up the tile. Wipe, fold the cloth, and wipe again with a clean part of the cloth. Try not to scrub the grout lines themselves. Do an inspection of the area and add more dye to any areas you might have missed.

6. Make your way down the tile- depending on the area and type of tile you’re working with, expect that this might take a few hours. Our 48 sqft bathroom with mosaic tile took me 4 hours!

7. The bottle says that a second coat may generally be applied after 30 minutes, and ready for “light foot traffic” after 3-4 hours. Keep the grout dry and avoid heavy scrubbing for 7-10 days. In this case, because I used black dye and was very thorough the first time, I did not need to do a second coat.

According to the manufacturer of this specific type of grout colorant, the dye should last for up to 15 years! I think that’s a pretty nice payoff for a day of work!

I am so happy that I decided to dye our grout- it looks SO much better than it initially did. I’m so happy, in fact, that I’m going to dye the grout in our master bathroom! We used a dark gray grout in there and it had some light streaks in it as well. I never even thought to research grout dye until this bathroom came along!

If you’re planning on using this tutorial to dye grout, tell me what room you’re doing it in! Also, I’d love to see your before and afters- tag me in your pics on Instagram! 🙂

Author: Laura Sima

Hey there, I'm Laura- creator of Sima Spaces. I'm a home renovator, designer, and blogger based in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. When I'm not designing or renovating homes, you can find me working as a pediatric ICU RN, snuggling my dog or cat, skiing in CO, soaking up the sun on our boat, or enjoying a glass of wine on our patio!

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