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Can grout be painted or stained?

Grout is an important component of any tiled surface. It fills the spaces between tiles, binding them together and providing a uniform look. Over time, grout can become dirty, cracked, or discolored. This can detract from the appearance of the tiles and make a room look dingy or unkempt. When this happens, many homeowners consider altering the grout’s color to refresh the look of the tiles. Two popular options for changing grout color are painting or staining.

Painting Grout

Painting is one of the most common techniques for changing grout color. With a steady hand and some planning, homeowners can paint right over discolored or damaged grout with a water-based latex paint. Here are some pros and cons of painting grout:


  • Inexpensive compared to staining or regrouting
  • Wide range of colors available
  • Does not require special tools
  • Relatively quick and easy


  • Prone to chipping, scratching, and peeling over time
  • Requires careful prep work and precision painting
  • Grout lines remain same width
  • Can have an uneven, “painted on” look if not done well

Overall, painting can provide a simple, low-cost way to alter the color of grout. However, it does not last as long as staining and regrouting. The painted finish may need frequent touch-ups compared to other options.

Staining Grout

Staining uses penetrating dyes to change the color of grout. It works by soaking into the porous surface of the grout and bonding with the material. Here are some pros and cons of staining grout:


  • Long-lasting, colorfast finish
  • Resists chipping, peeling, and scratching
  • Professional, uniform appearance
  • Can help rejuvenate and seal older grout


  • More labor-intensive process than painting
  • Requires cleaning and prep work
  • Somewhat more expensive than paint
  • Color variation can occur if application is uneven

Staining takes more effort than painting, but can provide a more durable, permanent color change. Proper application is key to achieving an even, uniform appearance.

Comparison of Painting vs. Staining Grout

Painting Staining
Cost Inexpensive Slightly more costly
Durability Prone to chipping/peeling Long-lasting, colorfast
Application Easy brush on method Labor intensive process
Appearance May look uneven/painted on Professional, uniform look

This table summarizes the main differences between painting and staining grout when it comes to cost, durability, application, and appearance. Staining rates higher for durability and appearance, while painting is cheaper and easier to apply.

How to Prepare Grout for Painting or Staining

Proper preparation is crucial when painting or staining grout. Here are some tips for getting grout ready for a color transformation:

  • Clean the grout thoroughly to remove dirt, grime, sealers, or coatings. Use a grout brush, steam cleaner, or pressure washer.
  • Allow the grout to dry completely after cleaning before applying paint or stain.
  • Repair any cracks or crumbling areas in the grout. Use a grout saw or rotary tool to remove loose material, then patch with new grout.
  • Mask off any areas, such as tile edges, you don’t want to paint or stain. Apply painter’s tape around the perimeter of the grout lines.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s directions for applying any specialty grout cleaners, etchants, or conditioners prior to painting or staining.

Taking these preparatory steps will help the paint or stain bond properly for maximum durability and appearance.

How to Paint Grout

Here is a step-by-step overview of how to paint grout:

  1. Clean and prepare the grout as described in the previous section.
  2. Choose a high-quality latex paint formulated for tile. Epoxy paints provide added durability.
  3. Apply painter’s tape around the perimeter of the grout lines to protect the tile edges.
  4. Use a small paintbrush, sponge brush, or specialty grout pen to apply the paint. Work in small sections.
  5. Apply thin, even coats and avoid over-brushing. Follow the manufacturer’s drying times.
  6. Apply two coats for full coverage. Gently remove any paint that gets on the tiles.
  7. Allow paint to cure fully before cleaning the tiles or applying sealers. Expect to touch up periodically.

Going slowly and maintaining clean tile edges results in the best appearance. Allowing adequate drying time between coats prevents runs or drips. Finishing with a grout sealer adds protection.

How to Stain Grout

Staining grout follows a similar process but requires some different products and techniques:

  1. Clean and prepare the grout lines properly.
  2. Select a penetrating grout stain suited for the project.
  3. Use a foam brush or sponge brush to apply a thin, even coat of stain.
  4. Wipe off any excess stain after 5-10 minutes using a clean cloth.
  5. Apply a second coat if needed for full color saturation after the first coat dries.
  6. Remove residue and wait for the stain to cure fully before cleaning or sealing.
  7. Seal stained grout with a penetrating sealer for added protection.

Applying grout stain requires precision and being careful not to leave residue on the tile surface. Proper application techniques result in deep, uniform penetration into the grout.

Tips for Successfully Painting or Staining Grout

Follow these tips for best results when altering grout color:

  • Test colors in an inconspicuous area first to ensure desired look.
  • Apply painter’s tape carefully for crisp paint lines with no bleed.
  • Use a small brush or sponge brush to control application and avoid slop.
  • Maintain a wet edge when painting or staining in sections.
  • Work in adequate ventilation and allow sufficient drying time between coats.
  • Seal painted or stained grout after cure time for added protection.
  • Consider hiring a professional for large or intricate jobs.

Proper materials, preparation, and techniques allow for successfully altering grout color. Well-painted or stained grout can give tile a fresh, updated look while extending the life of the floor or surfaces.


Painting or staining are great options for refreshing and revitalizing the color of grout. Both methods allow homeowners to restore or update the look of their tiled surfaces. Painting grout provides a low-cost facelift, but requires careful application and frequent touch-ups. Staining offers a more permanent color change, but involves a more meticulous process. With proper preparation and technique, both painting and staining can breathe new life into discolored or damaged grout.