Removing old caulk and grout instead of rebuilding.

Of all carpentry tasks, one that suits my perfectionist nature is tile work. I especially enjoy working with materials that stand a chance of lasting 100 years. Some of my tile installations have the potential to outlast their dwellings.

“We need new tiles in our bathroom. When we shower, water leaks through the floor.”

This past winter I arrived at two separate homes to find very similar situations. Both are old homes with very nice original tiles installed on thick mortar backing. Though anything is possible, the repair budget for these middle class homes likely wouldn’t afford same-quality replacement work.

Since my forté is restoration, and in both situations there was no structural damage to the wood behind, I opted to restore the original work instead of replace it. In both bathrooms, layer upon layer of caulking, upon layer of disgusting old caulk combined with crumbling grout made these showers look gross but seeing beyond the layers of silicon and stained grout lines to tiles that were still in great condition I chose restoration of the original. I love the old basket-weave tile floor and appreciate the style of the old work. (Sometimes not so much a fan of the colors…)

It’s fairly labor intensive to remove all the grout and decades of caulk but in the end the bathrooms do look freshly restored and the homeowners are shocked at the transformation.

2 thoughts on “Removing old caulk and grout instead of rebuilding.”

  1. I have a basket-weave pattern in shower stall floor from 1949.. in desperate need of re-caulking.. what tools do you suggest to remove the caulk? The standard dremel tools seem too thick for these thin caulk lines.

    1. Ken, I use hand tools and sometimes the Fein tool on thicker grout areas, plaster and/or concrete. Mostly I stick with a carbide cement board cutter being careful not to scratch or cut the tile.
      The basket weave is nearly impossible to do being so labor intensive.

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