Can You Caulk Over Grout In The Bathroom?

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Cracked or broken grout can make for an unsightly shower or bathtub area. And as a homeowner, nothing can seem more tiring than having to repair small areas of broken or cracked grout. Can you simply place caulk over the broken grout? We’ve researched whether or not this is a good idea, and in this post, we will discuss our findings with you.

Applying caulk on top of your grout is not generally recommended. However, you can use it as a temporary solution to fix water leaks until you can re-grout the area. The reason is that the caulk will not provide the best long-term fix to the issue of the broken grout. It’s best to replace any cracked or crumbling grout as soon as possible to prevent water leakage, pest, mold, and other issues.

Depending on the current condition of the grout, you may be able to repair it rather quickly. However, caulk should only be applied on top of tiled or previously caulked surfaces, not grout. Continue reading to learn more about why this isn’t recommended and the steps you can take to any fix issues with your grout.

A worker applying caulk to the bathroom sink, Can You Caulk Over Grout In The Bathroom?

Applying Caulk Over Grout

If you’re in a pinch and need a quick way to cover up grout with cracks or holes in it, you might consider applying caulk until you can re-grout the area. However, remember this is only a temporary fix, and the caulk will not last long. Within days or weeks, you’ll likely notice that the caulk has begun to peel and flake off the surface of the grout, and then you’re facing the problem all over again, unfortunately. However, if you will apply caulk over your grout, here’s how to do it.

  1. Start by removing any crumbling or cracked grout from the surface. This can be done using a hand broom or handheld vacuum. The surface should be as clean and dry as possible before applying the caulk.
  2. Next, take your caulk to go over the area, making sure to seal up any holes or hairline cracks.
    After applying the caulk, take your index finger and run it over the newly applied caulk, pressing it firmly against the surface. Be sure to push it deep into the grout joint, as this will help to give it a firmer connection.
  3. Next, wipe the area around the joint lines with a cleaning cloth to prevent the caulk from drying on the tile surface.

A man caulking the bathroom floor tiles

Can You Put Silicone Over Cracked Grout?

You can put silicone caulk over cracked grout as a temporary solution, though it’s not generally recommended. Silicone caulk will not hold well over the grout for an extended period of time, as it’s not meant to bond to it. If you find that your grout is cracked, it’s best to re-grout the area, replacing the old grout with a fresh layer of grout as soon as possible.

Check out the silicone caulk on Amazon.

Should You Grout Or Silicone First?

It’s always best to apply grout first. Grout does not adhere well to caulk, and it would be a waste of time applying the caulk before the grout–it would just chip off. The purpose of silicone caulk is to protect the wall behind the tile from moisture and expansion. Caulking over grout would leave several holes and open gaps around the tile, making the caulk ineffective at water-proofing.

Are Hairline Cracks In Grout Normal?

Hairline cracks in grout aren’t necessarily normal, but they are common in tile grout. Generally, you don’t want any cracks in your grout, as this can cause water and moisture to penetrate the areas behind the grout. This, in turn, can lead to mold and mildew. It can also lead to pest infestation such as ants, spiders, and silverfish. There can be several reasons why grout develops hairline cracks. Here are the most common ones:

Movement

The movement of surfaces such as wood, tile, and concrete can cause grout to crack as the surfaces expand and contract. This can also be caused by foundational shifts in the home or new remodeling projects near the room where the grout is cracking. There really isn’t a way to prevent this, but you can take the right action by re-grouting any cracked areas immediately.

Humidity

Increased humidity can also cause grout to crack, especially in bathrooms where the environment is exposed to humidity several times a week. If you begin to notice long hairline cracks in several areas in the grout in your bathroom, this could be the reason why. To prevent this, always run the ventilation fan or open a window after taking a hot shower or bath. 

Improper Grout Installation

Improper grout installation is one of the biggest reasons why grout may begin to crack and crumble. If too much additive or water is mixed in the grout solution, it will leave air pockets inside the grout as it begins to dry. The end result will be brittle and weak grout that breaks down prematurely. If this happens, you’ll need to remove the old grout and replace it. 

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Age

Tile grout, depending on the application and brand, can last anywhere from eight to 15 years. After about seven or eight years, you may notice the grout beginning to show signs of duress, such as hairline cracks and breakage. If you notice this, it’s best to re-grout the area as soon as possible.

Improper Tile Adhesive Installation

If you notice a single, long hairline crack extending around your shower wall or bathtub, chances are the adhesive used when installing the tiles wasn’t installed correctly, and the tile is now resting on top of the grout. In which case, if the area will need to be re-tiled and re-grouted.

How Do You Fix Grout That Is Cracking?

Zigzag patterned bathroom tiles with light gray grouting

The best way to fix grout that is cracking is to simply re-grout the area. This involves removing the existing grout and replacing it with newly mixed grout. Here are the steps to do it.

Things you’ll need:

  • Hand broom or handheld vacuum
  • Grout removal blade
  • Tile grout float
  • 3-gallon bucket
  • Grout removal blade
  • Grout mix
  • Tile sponge

Remove old grout

Start by removing any old grout that has cracks or is starting to crumble. Use your grout removal blade to do this. You can also use a handheld vacuum or broom to sweep the grout away after it’s been removed.

Read the details about this handheld vacuum on Amazon.

Clean the area

Next, dip your cleaning cloth in a cleaning solution of vinegar and water mix and apply it to the area where the broken grout has been removed. You’ll want to make sure that this area is as clean as possible before applying a new layer of grout. After cleaning the area, wipe it down with warm water and allow it to dry for a few minutes.

Mix the grout

Depending on the type of grout you purchase, you may need to mix it before applying it to the wall or floor. If you have powder grout, pour it in a two-gallon bucket and add your additive or water as recommended. Next, use a paint stick or grout mixing tool to mix the grout. Make sure that the mixture has the right consistency before applying it to the wall or floor. 

Read more about this 2-gallon bucket on Amazon.

Apply the grout

Next, take your grout float and dip it into the mixture, covering the top third of the tool with the grout. Next, apply the grout to the affected areas. When applying the grout, be sure to use horizontal sweeping motions to effectively apply it to the grout line. You’ll want to apply a bit of pressure to make sure that it penetrates these thin areas.

Check out this grout float on Amazon.

Wipe the area clean

After you’ve applied the grout to all of the affected areas, take your sponge and clean the areas around the grout lines to prevent the grout from drying on the tiles or bathtub.

Apply sealer

If you’re using a grout sealer, wait 48 to 72 hours for the grout to dry completely, and then using a small paintbrush, apply the sealer to the grout. If you’re using a spray sealer, be sure to hold the bottle at least six to eight inches away from the surface to avoid pooling and drips.

Learn more about this grout sealer on Amazon.

Wrapping Things Up

We hope that this post has helped answer your question on if caulking over grout is a good idea. Remember, it’s always better to apply grout before caulk, as caulk will quickly peel and flake off if it’s applied first.

Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts:

Should You Caulk Around Your Toilet?

How High Should Shower Doors Go?

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