How Long Does Bathroom Grout Last?

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Tile grout isn’t something you think about every day, but one day you find yourself in the bathroom, staring at it and wondering how long it lasts and how you will know when it needs to be replaced. We’ve wondered this, too, and have researched to get the answer. Keep reading to find out how long bathroom grout lasts and other information about upkeep and repair. 

You may find tile grout on the walls, the floors, or even both in some bathrooms. Regardless, it undergoes wear and tear and can be expected to last between 15 to 20 years with proper upkeep. However, if not cared for properly, like cleaning and sealing, the lifespan will be much shorter.   

Keep reading to find out more about the tile grout in your bathroom. We will discuss normal cracking and how to fix it. We will also outline steps to make your grout last as long as possible and what to do when it is time to repair or replace it.

A male hand with the rubber applies grout on a seam between tiles, How Long Does Bathroom Grout Last?

Basic Understanding of Grout

Grout provides stability and structure to tile, so it requires care and attention, even if it’s something we don’t think about often. With natural wear, there will eventually be damage and the need for replacement. The good news is that there are ways to get the best results from your tile grout.  Preventative maintenance goes a long way in keeping your bathroom tiles in great shape.

To understand why grout cracks, you need to know a little bit about grout. There are three types of grout: sanded grout, unsanded grout, and epoxy grout. Sanded and unsanded are cement-based and require a sealer for protection from dirt, liquids, stains, and UV light. Sanded grout is the most common and used for jobs with grout lines larger than 1/8″. Unsanded grout is used when the tile is more fragile and easily scratched by sand from the grout. Epoxy grout is not porous and does not require a sealer. 

How long should grout last before cracking?

Grout can be expected to crack eventually but should last 15 to 20 years if installed and maintained properly. Grout cracks for two main reasons. First, the quality of the grout. Traditional, inexpensive cement-based grouts are highly porous. They also can easily be mixed incorrectly during installation.

Second, the porous nature of cement-based grout makes it very vulnerable to moisture. Since it is often in contact with water, this inevitably creates issues at some point. Even when sealed correctly, porous grout will lose its seal, so frequent reapplication is necessary to prevent damage. 

How long does grout last in a shower?

Shower tiles are exposed to a lot of water, especially with daily use by multiple people. Water exposure deteriorates shower grout over time, especially if not resealed on a regular maintenance schedule. Typically, shower grout will last between 8 to 16 years.  However, performing a visual test rather than relying on a timeframe is best to determine when to replace it.

Consider regrouting under two conditions: First, when your grout has mold build-up. The possibility is high that mold is also behind the tiles and on the walls. Second, when the grout loses its smoothness and crumbles under moderate pressure. 

Keeping the sealant maintained on your grout is one means of protection, but there are other ways to help your grout last as long as possible. Run the exhaust fan if you have one. Run it while in the shower and until all the moisture has left the bathroom. You may also consider wiping down the shower walls with a squeegee or towel to remove moisture. Also, be careful of the cleaning products that you use. Bleaches and harsh cleaners will eat at the sealant, caulking, and even the grout if exposed. 

Is it normal for grout to crack?

White wall tiles with a large crack

Water build-up in showers and pressure from walking on tile can loosen tiles and break down the grout after many years, causing dreaded cracks. This is normal and signals that it is time to think about regrouting or maybe even a renovation. However, tile grout cracks within 28 days of installation mean the grout is shrinking, and it is not normal.

If you feel like your tile isn’t old enough to be cracking, it could mean that your tile installer did not install your tile properly. Tile without enough adhesive will loosen and eventually become unattached from the surface, adding pressure and eventually cracking the grout. Also, if the wrong type of grout is used or mixed incorrectly, you will experience cracking. 

What to do if tile grout is cracking?

Nobody wants to look at cracking tile grout in their shower or on their floor. Besides being unsightly, left unattended, it can cause more damage. It would be best if you fixed any cracking tile grout as soon as possible.  First, you want to determine if the issue is only cracked grout or a bigger problem with the attached tile.  If the tile is loose, you will also have to fix it by removing it and bonding it to its original surface.  

If it’s only the grout that needs repair, gather your tools and grout and get started. First, remove the old grout with a blade designed specifically for grout removal. Next, remove the cracked grout just beyond where it is cracked. You don’t have to remove all the old grout, but you want a large, smooth gap to hold plenty of new grout. You will want to have a vacuum nearby to clean up the old grout as you go so that you can accurately see your progress. 

Once you have enough grout removed, thoroughly clean the area with a final vacuum and damp towel or sponge to remove excess loose grout and dirt. You want a clean surface for the new grout. You can mix your own grout, but you might want to consider pre-mixed for repair jobs.  It’s convenient, and it stores easily in case you need it again for future repairs.

Apply the grout with a tile float, being generous. You want to make sure to get it packed into the grout line. You can always wipe away any excess. Use a damp rag or sponge to clean any grout from the surface of the tile.  Let the grout dry for a minimum of 24 hours. However, wait at least 72 hours before applying a sealer. 

Find this grout removal blade on Amazon.

Find this tile float on Amazon.

How often do you need to seal grout in a shower?

Grout sealer protects your grout from unwanted particles of dirt, mold, mildew, and bacteria and typically needs to be applied annually. However, experts recommend every six months in high-traffic areas. This is because frequent exposure to water, cleaning, and traffic break down the sealer faster, leaving your grout exposed. 
 
However, not all grout needs to be sealed. Only cement-based grout requires a sealer. If your grout is synthetic, containing urethane or epoxy, or has colored applied, the sealer is not necessary.  
 
Resealing your grout is not a difficult job, but it does take time. First, make sure you are using a professional-grade grout sealer—second, use the right tools for the job; a rag, sponge, or foam brush. If you are using a spray-on product, that will change what is needed.
 
 Always thoroughly clean the grout before applying the sealant. Avoid using sealer in direct sunlight or when your room is too hot, or the sealer could dry before you are finished with the process. The sealer needs to dry completely before use, which could take up to two days. 
 
The process is the same for bathroom floor tile. However, floors do not require as much dry time before use  – only three hours. Also, floor grout only needs to be resealed every 3 to 5 years rather than every year. 
 
   
 

Summary

Bathroom tile grout needs proper care and maintenance to make it last as long as possible, whether on the shower walls or floor. Remember to keep your grout clean and seal it regularly.  This will help prevent cracks and deterioration and let you get the most life from your grout. 

If you are looking to do some renovations on your bathroom floor tile, check out this article, “What Kind Of Paint Do You Use When Painting Ceramic Floor Tiles.”

Maybe, you are looking to replace your bathroom tile. If so, check out this article, “10 Bathroom Flooring Alternatives to Tile.”

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