Home Project Q&A

Certain topics come up repeatedly with homeowners. If one consumer questions a topic, it’s likely that others will as well. I’m going to group a few topics together today in the spirit of light holiday reading.

Grout is a product used to fill the space between tiles when installing tile. The grout, in the color of your choosing, fills the gap between the tiles and “joins” all the tile into one continuous floor or wall. Over time grout will discolor. Cleaning products used on the floor, foot traffic, moisture, spills and other factors all contribute to grout getting darker with age.

We get calls from consumers that want to “re-grout” because of this discoloration. If there is no gap between the tiles, there is no place for new grout to go. Grinding the old grout out is time consuming and expensive; and one risks chipping tile edges in this process. A professional steam cleaner, as would do furniture and carpets, is often your best bet. Hot water and steam will soften and wash away the dirt, grime, and soap residue that darkens your tile. It will never look brand new again, but it will look a whole lot better.

Where the average DIY consumer might start along a wall when laying new flooring, flooring professionals know this can be an issue. If you measure both diagonals of a room and they are not the same, then the room is not square. You want your grout lines running parallel to the wall, not slowly converging. Laying the tile on a diagonal is one way to “hide” that the room isn’t square, because the eye isn’t expecting any of the grout lines to parallel the walls. Choosing a grout color very close to the tile color will also help hide the issue, as the grout lines are less apparent.

More than one consumer has asked me what “one project” I recommend to “upgrade” a home. They are generally looking for something that creates consumer appeal for an eventual sale, enjoyment while they still own the home, and they want an idea that won’t break the bank.

My suggestion is almost always a backsplash in the kitchen. With the right choice of tile, a backsplash adds color, texture, and an eye pleasing accent to what was previously a painted wall between the counter and the cabinet bottoms. You’ll generally want to go with smaller tile in this space, and your choices are almost endless. With some new under-cabinet LED lighting, kitchens can be totally transformed. This is much more cost effective than an entirely new kitchen if the existing cabinets are in good shape.