How To Remove Dried Paint From Tile Grout (8 Ways)


Painting is messy and inadvertently a drop or more can land in unintended places such as the grout between tiles. Once that paint dries, it becomes more difficult to remove. 

Dried paint can be removed in most cases without causing damage to the surrounding tiles.

To remove dried paint from tile grout, try the following:

  • Scrape
  • Vinegar soak
  • Acetone or rubbing alcohol
  • Paint remover
  • Heat and scrape
  • Soap and water
  • Grout removal tool
  • Colored grout epoxy paint

Type Of Dried Paint On Tile Grout

Whether you have paint in your hair, on your clothing, or on grout, it helps to know what kind of paint is on the area.  

Knowing the type of paint can help to determine the best methods to use to remove it.

If in doubt, try any of the following strategies until you find one that works. In many cases, once the paint has dried, it is harder to remove from the surface it is attached to. 

Testing The Paint

To test dried paint, use a cotton swab dipped in denatured alcohol. Rub the swab over a small inconspicuous area of painted grout.

If the paint does not rub off, it is oil-based. If it does, then it is latex- or water-based.

Epoxy grout paint is formulated in various mixtures to harden securely on a variety of surface types. Often, it has a composition with resin and hardening agents for curing as well as a solvent- or water-base. 

In many cases, denatured alcohol will remove epoxy paint if it is allowed to soak on the surface for a few minutes.

Even if denatured alcohol starts to lift the paint, you may need to use some of the following strategies to fully remove it.


8 Ways To Remove Dried Paint From Tile Grout

Unsealed grout is a porous substance that can readily absorb paint. 

Many of these strategies can help to remove paint, but keep in mind they may also remove the underlying grout. 

Repair or replacement of the grout may need to take place.

Before utilizing any of the following strategies, take a few precautions:

  • Wear gloves and eye protection.
  • Ventilate the work area.
  • Cover adjacent areas with a tarp that you wish to keep clean for an easy cleanup.
  • Wear a mask, especially if you may be dealing with lead paint.

1. Scrape

Scraping is a time-consuming, yet efficient way to remove dried paint. Use care when scraping grout in between tiles so that you do not damage the tile. 

This method is often used in conjunction with other methods mentioned in this article.

What to do:

  1. Scrape with a utility knife at a 45-degree angle, pushing gently and with short strokes.
  2. Work slowly, starting at corners, moving inwards, from the top, and down.
  3. Wipe down the area with warm water to remove flaked pieces.

2. Vinegar Soak

Vinegar is an acid that could break down paint particles. While it is not as strong as other paint removal products, this natural option is worth a try. 

Vinegar will not harm the surrounding tiles, making it a good option to use on tiled areas.

What to do:

  1. Warm vinegar up to the touch in a microwave or on a stovetop.
  2. Dip a small cloth into the vinegar and place it on the dried paint. 
  3. Allow it to sit on the surface for 15 minutes. You may need to hold it in place.
  4. Use a utility knife to scrape the paint away.
  5. Clean the grout and tiles with warm soapy water. 
  6. Rinse clean. 

3. Acetone Or Rubbing Alcohol

Acetone or rubbing alcohol are inexpensive options for removing oil-based paints. These should be used in a well-ventilated area.

What to do:

  1. Dab the liquid on the dried paint.
  2. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Use an acetone- or rubbing alcohol-soaked battery-powered toothbrush to scrub at the spot.
  4. Use a utility knife for any stubborn areas.
  5. Wipe off with a soapy cloth.
  6. Rinse the area clean.

You can try mineral spirits or denatured alcohol on oil-based paint. However, mineral spirits tend to work better on wet paint, rather than dried.

4. Paint Remover

Commercial paint removers are an excellent option for removing dried paint in conjunction with scraping. They are solvents that break down the components in paints.

Make sure that you work in a well-ventilated area, and wear gloves and eye protection.

What to do:

  1. Purchase a paint remover for the type of dried paint. Follow all precautions and instructions for its use. 
    • Test it in an inconspicuous spot, and take note if any damage or discoloration occurs to the adjacent tile. Colored grout can also change color when exposed to chemical removers.
    • If the remover damages the surface, then choose a different method of removing the paint.
  2. Apply the paint remover to the dried paint only, and allow it to sit for the recommended time.
  3. Scrape the paint off with a utility knife.
  4. When done, clean the surfaces with a mixture of warm, soapy water.
  5. Rinse clean.

5. Heat And Scrape

A heat gun can loosen both oil- and water-based paints. 

However, it gets very hot, and care should be taken to not burn or scorch the surrounding tiles or any other materials. Follow user instructions and precautions.

What to do:

  1. Move the heat gun over the painted area. 
    • Do not allow the heat to focus directly on surrounding tiles for too long.
  2. Scrape the paint working from the corners, top and down, with a utility blade.
  3. Wipe down the area with a microfiber cloth. Do not use water while operating a heat gun that is plugged into an electrical outlet.
  4. Rinse the tiles clean after the heat gun is cooled down and unplugged.

6. Soap And Water

Soap and water may loosen dried latex- or water-based paint in conjunction with a little elbow grease.

What to do:

  1. Make a warm, sudsy mixture. 
  2. Dip a rag or soft sponge into it.
  3. Moisten the spot, allowing the mixture to sit on it until it remains damp.  
  4. Rub in circular motions, or use a battery-powered toothbrush, to loosen the paint.
  5. If necessary, gently scrape at the painted spot with a razor or utility blade, similar to the methods above.
  6. Rinse clean.

7. Grout Removal Tool

If all of the grout is completely painted, new grout will not adhere well to it. All of the painted grout will need to be removed.

If you want to remove grout that has accidental dried paint on it, you can attempt to remove just these spots.

Use grout removal tools to remove existing grout before putting new grout in.

Keep in mind that you will need to match existing grout if only replacing certain parts. You may also need to remove larger portions of grout to create a seamless look.

This video demonstrates how to remove and replace grout:

8. Colored Epoxy Grout Paint

Choose a colored epoxy grout paint to cover all of the grout. Opt for a color that will hide the dried paint. 

Use a toothbrush or small paintbrush to apply paint to the grout lines only, following the product’s information label. 

Epoxy grout paints also seal the surface, making them last longer.


In Conclusion

You can remove dried paint from tile grout using a variety of methods. 

These involve using natural or commercial solvents, scraping, heat, or soap and water. 

For stubborn paint, grout removal tools can take out the affected portions. Or, a colored epoxy grout paint can be painted over all of the grout lines. This will hide the dried paint and create a new look.

Lisa Burlison

Lisa is a freelance blogger, literacy specialist, teacher, and self-published author with a vast DIY experience. When she’s not writing for PlumbJoe, Lisa enjoys testing homemade cleaners and doing repairs around her home. Her other hobbies include birding and bicycling.

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