They were bad my friends. Like so bad, these pictures don’t really do their grossness justice.
As you can see, the off-white tile had dark brown grout. Not an attractive combination.
The walls and back-splash were all yellowed out paint that only made said grout / tile look even worse. Everything about the combination of the paint and dark grout made the kitchen feel dirty and dated – very 80’s, and not in a cute Cindy-Lauper-teased-hair-Breakfast-Club kind of way.
Before you can start painting the grout, first you have to clean it, and I’m not talking about wiping it down with a Clorox Disinfecting Wipe. You need to get Sulfamic Acid Cleaner. What is this, you ask? It’s a very smelly, apparently toxic, cleaning agent that will lift YEARS of grime from your grout. I found this out first hand.
As a heads up, this is not a job you can knock out in one night – the cleaning took me several hours at least, and then you have to let the grout dry really well before painting, or the grout paint won’t adhere.
Let’s start by talking about the cleaning process… The container had good instructions on how to mix it up, but not much about what to do after, and I wasn’t able to find much online, so here’s what worked for me:
Wear gloves – don’t try to do this without them. I also wore safety goggles because this stuff seemed pretty toxic and I value my vision. Once you’re all suited up, get your grout wet with water so it will absorb the cleaner evenly. Then mix the Sulfamic Acid per the instructions on the container, and apply to counters with a sponge you will never use again. After applying it to the counters, everything happens pretty quickly. After a few minutes you’ll notice things getting a little gummy. That’s grease. And grime. And unidentifable grossness that has built up over time. This is supposed to happen. Let it. Once it’s really gumming up, start scrubbing. I used a plastic bristle brush and it worked beautifully. Once the gummyness comes up, rinse with clean water. It’s going to take a lot of water, and much more scrubbing, because the grease smears around. It doesn’t just lift off like you think it will. It’s all super fun (insert sarcasm here) but once its clean, you’ll notice a difference. A HUGE difference. Your grout will literally be restored to its original color. Prepare yourself to be shocked. I thought the grout in here was dark brown. It was actually light brown – equally unattractive, and really really gross to think about.
Anyway, once the grout is clean, let it dry out – overnight at least – and then get to painting. Super simple. I used a stiff bristle toothbrush, and you just work the paint into the grout. It will get on the tile. You have two options – wipe it immediately, or let it dry and remove it later.
I started out doing option 1, and it was tedious. Especially since covering brown grout with white paint required two coats for full coverage (3 coats in some places). I found that it was easy enough to get off the tile after it was all dried. I actually let it cure for a few days, then got the counters wet, and the paint on the tiles literally rubbed off with a finger / paper towel. Soooo much easier than wiping as you go, but do what feels right.
Love!! It’s LOVE!! After the counters were looking all clean and new, I decided the walls and back-splash needed some love too. Out came the paint, and a few hours later I was in a bright, clean grey and white haven.
The Polyblend Grout Renew Grout Paint comes in a bunch of different colors (and multiple shades of white), so I bought two and tested them out. I brought home the Antique White and the Snow White colors, because I didnt want the end result to look too white next to our off-white tile. The tiles started out looking really beige but it turned out that they were much more white than I originally thought. After testing both colors of grout paint, I ended up going with the Snow White (which is the whiter one).
As you can see, it’s not jarring, and it looks really natural. In the end, our tile is actually pretty white, and it was just the yellowing walls and disgusting brown grout that made them look so beige. Who knew?!
Anyway, do you want to see a series of before and afters side by side to compare??
That’s the best part of these posts…
Here we go!
And just becuase I knew you wouldn’t be able to get enough of how fresh and lovely our kitchen is looking, I snapped a few more pics “just because”…
Here’s how clean and pretty our sink is looking now…
Like a breath of fresh air I tell you!! I actually enjoy cooking in here now!!
And here we are looking back the other direction from the sink… nothing but clean countertops, all the way down!!
These next two photographs were taken standing behind the stove (in my little desk / office area that I’d posted about here) looking back towards the dishwasher…
And, that’s the update! What do you think?
It’s unfortunately not quite as dramatic in pictures as it is in person, but trust me when I say that a coat of paint on the walls, and grout paint on the counters have transformed this room from a gloomy, dated, grease-fest, to a bright, airy, food sanctuary.
It’s night and day my friends.
Such an improvement! I am constantly amazed about your creativity AND ability to make tough projects seem easy. Great work!! xo
Wow, I'm sold. I was researching this topic and came upon your blog. I think I may try painting our grout after all. Thanks for all this great information
really great change. how much did the paint cost? where did you find it – in store or online?
Can I say “thank you” for this post? I found your blog after searching for Polyblend Grout Renew, and had been going back and forth about trying it in my kitchen. My counters look just like yours did before, and I hate them so much. It's not in the budget to do a kitchen reno, or even just replace the counters right now, but I didn't want them to look worse than they do now (is that possible?) Well I'm convinced. I'm not very handy, but it sounds like a job I could actually do myself while the kids nap. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. Very helpful.
Thanks girl!! This one really wasn't hard… just took A LOT of patience, which for me is hard 🙂
Absolutely!! Good luck!
The project was CHEAP. I got the grout paint from Home Depot, and right next to it is the grout cleaner. All together both products were probably ~$20 (or less). And then the cost of two toothbrushes. I think you can also order both from online at Home Depot's site in case you live in a rural area!
It's comments like yours that make writing on the blog, so enjoyable (and not just because I find it personally fulfilling and fun) – I just wish the post wasn't anonymous 🙂 This is a really simple project that costs next to nothing. If you're willing to put in the time, and a little elbow grease, it's definitely doable. Thanks so much for stopping by, and good luck! Keep me posted on how it goes, and of course, let me know if you have any other questions.
You’ve made some great upgrades on the kitchen counter. Everything looks so neat and new! I think the grout tops it all, since it helped give a brighter atmosphere to the entire area. Anyway, I hope it still looks a great as it was when you first applied it. Thanks for sharing! Have a great day!
Nathan Riley @ Steemer Atlanta
Hey Nathan – I'm happy to report that the grout has held up beautifully. It's been nearly a full year since I did the countertops and they look as good as the first day they were finished!!
Thank you for posting this! I have the same hideous counter tiles and have next to $0 for a remodel. I plan on painting my cabinets so this is the only option I have for my counter. How does the grout hold up to spills and cleaning? I live with someone who constantly spills coffee and unfortunately never thinks to wipe it up.