Why is my grout turning white?

Answered by Jeffrey Anderson ~ July 18, 2013 ~ Comments

The grout in my bathroom is not cracking, but turning white. It looks like chalk and is flaking up. What would cause this? Anyone know what this is?

- Kim

Jeffrey Anderson

Kim, the issue with the grout in your bathroom sounds like it might be efflorescence. It can be caused by using too much water when mixing the grout or when cleaning up after the ceramic tile project is complete. In most cases, the grout discoloration takes place within several weeks of the tile being installed, but sometimes it can take much longer. I have also heard that excessive bleach in a municipality's water supply can cause a similar color change to take place.

Correcting the problem may require removing the grout and starting over. However, before going to all that work, you may want to try applying a grout sealant. They are available at most home improvement stores and from just about any ceramic tile distributor. The salesperson should be able to tell you which might be best for efflorescence. Some grout sealants change the grout shade slightly so you might be able to find a type that gets the color back to where you started -- or at least closer than white.

If the sealant doesn't work and the salesperson where it was purchased doesn't have any other suggestions, then removing the old grout may be the only choice. Unfortunately, that can be a labor intensive and very dirty job. If it comes to that, hiring a tile contractor for the project might be a good idea. They should have the tools to remove the grout with a minimum of damage to the tiles. And damage is what you want to avoid as shade deviations between manufacturing lots can sometimes be very apparent with some ceramic tile colors.

The last thing you want is to be able to stand back and pick out exactly which tiles were replaced due to damage when the project is complete. If you need help finding reputable tile contractors in your area, consider filling out and submitting the form on this website. Reliable Remodeler works with a network of pre-screened and certified contractors all of whom are licensed, insured, and bonded.*

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