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How To Use A Grout Pen On Tile And Do They Really Work?

September 28, 2023

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Have your ever wondered about grout pens? How to use them or if they really work to restore and refresh old grout? 

I used one to whiten the grout on my tile floor and shower and here's what I found out.

How To Use A  Grout Pen  On White Tile
The Grout Pen

A little over a decade ago, we ripped out all the old, mismatched yellow tile in our ensuite bathroom and in its place, we installed white tile. Everywhere.

White subway tile in the shower, on the walls and large square tiles on the floor. 

And we placed bright white grout lines in between it all.

It was gorgeous.

Well, for a little while anyway.

You see white tile looks fabulous, elegant and classic...but only when the grout is clean.

When the grout dulls and becomes discolored, especially in the shower, everything looks dirty.

Dirty Grout Lines In Shower

And restoring that white, bright, fresh look, isn't so easy.

For the first several years, keeping the tile grout in tip top shape was a no brainer. The white grout had been properly sealed when we installed it, so it repelled water and stains. 

Whenever I cleaned the glass showers doors, I gave the grout a quick spray with water and white vinegar, a few scrubs with my old toothbrush and I was done.

However, somewhere around year ten, as the sealer aged, we began to notice more and more stubborn mildew spots that no cleaner or amount of scrubbing would remove.

The whole room was looking dingy and my white tile was taking on a gray hue, thanks to the stained and discolored grout.

That's when I'd had enough and tried this grout pen

Miracle Grout Pen For Tile
The Grout Pen I Used is Here

I'd heard people talk about them, so I figured I'd give it a shot. With all the other bathroom renovations going on, I wasn't going to re-grout my bathroom shower and floor tile.

This seemed like an easy answer.

Of course, they're not just for bathrooms, you also use grout pens anywhere you have tile, a kitchen backsplash, a laundry area, or floor in any room, including high traffic foyers or mudrooms.

How To Use A Grout Pen 

Grout pens are basically water resistant, paint pens. Think white out for your shower, except it won't wash off.

Since grout is porous, and sealer wears, over time, water and mold can settle into the grout and it stains. Grout paint pens simply cover the old discolored grout.

They come in variety of colors to match your grout, although white and black are most popular.

Step 1. Clean the grout

Cleaning Grout

Since grout pens are only made to cover the dirty grout, cleaning was first on the list.

As I said, the grout pen will essentially seal your old grout with a paint formula...and I didn't want mold and mildew sealed anywhere. 

So while I normally opt for gentle cleansers or non-toxic, natural cleaners, this time we used Comet with bleach to kill everything. And get the tile and grout as white as it could be and therefore easier to cover.

Step 2. Let the tiles and grout dry

I let everything dry for a day before I used the grout pen. Wet paint doesn't stick and again, I wouldn't want dampness sealed into my room.

Step 3. Paint the grout lines

Super simple process. It was basically coloring in the lines.

How To Use A Grout Pen

I shook the pen to move the paint forward in the tube, placed the tip in the grout line and pushed down to release it. 

From there, you're basically just drawing on your grout lines. It takes time, sometimes it takes more than one coat to completely cover a dark spot and it can be tedious.

Using a grout pen to whiten tile grout

But it's not difficult.

You might need to prime the pen a bit first, or from time to time, if the paint doesn't come out right away. To do that you can push the nib, or tip, on the cardboard package, until it starts to flow.

Step 4. Wipe away the excess

Wiping away excess grout pen paint on tile

The paint definitely gets on the tile, so I kept a damp paper towel handy to wipe away any paint that settled outside the grout line.

Step 5. Let it dry completely

The paint needs to set and even though, it dries pretty quickly, we didn't use our shower for a solid 24 hours.

Whiten Grout With A Paint Pen

When I was done, I was so thrilled with the results, that I decided to do the floor and was equally as pleased.

*You can peek at my shutter project and my pleated fabric vanity DIY if you like.

Green and White Country Bathroom Vanity

Do Grout Pens Really Work?

The before and after in both the shower and on the floor was dramatic. No doubt about it. Everything was white, bright and refreshed.

So yes, paint pens work. Temporarily. 

The grout pen paint won't wash off, but it does eventually wear away and mildew and mold grow right on top of it in short order if you're not cleaning regularly.

In a busy family bathroom, with several daily hot showers, it happened fast, too. You might see better results on a kitchen backsplash.

It'll also last longer on the bathroom or kitchen tile floor than in the shower for obvious reasons.

So using a grout pen is great way to refresh the color of grout, or even change it from say white to black, but it's not a permanent fix. Granted you can paint over the grout again in few months.

Paint pens don't fill gaps.

They're made to cover the old, worn grout.

We had a few holes and while the paint initially covered them, if I jammed enough of it inside, it wore away quickly and the gaps were back.

You'd need to add new grout first then paint over it.

How To Whiten Old Grout

However, keep in mind that the grout pen paint will not adhere to recently sealed grout. They're made to restore old grout.

What is the best grout pen?

Well that depends. This is the grout pen I used.

I chose it because it said it was non-toxic and had no odor and with my allergies that was very important to me. The reviews backed that claim up and were generally very positive.

It came with a replaceable nib, if the first tip wore down or frayed. 

Miracle Grout Pen For Tile

It also covered my entire shower and floor before running out of paint.

However it only comes in white and buff and with one size tip.

This is another grout pen that is highly rated.

It's the best seller. I didn't choose it, because it's low odor, not no odor, and some reviewer noted its strong smell.

This one does come with two tip choices though, for wide or narrow grout lines and in 10 colors to match your grout.

One last point, white grout comes in ton of shades. The grout pen whites are very vivid. 

If you're going to be matching grout colors in spaces that are nearby, you might want to test it out in an inconspicuous spot.

Overall, I was super happy with my results.

Using a grout pen was a very easy DIY and gave my entire bathroom a lift.

It's also made the grout easier to clean, now that it's been lightened up with the paint.

It looks almost brand new.

Eventually, we might have to regrout and/ or reseal the shower, but for now I'm happy with my quick fix.

And the return of my gorgeous, bright white tile...and grout.


Have you tried grout pens?

Happy DIYing, Friends!

Kim Signature

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  1. We no longer have tile in our home. Our kitchen did have tile countertops (white) and tile flooring. But when we remodeled the kitchen we put in wood-flooring and butch-block countertops.

    1. I love wood countertops!! The one we have in our bathroom is my favorite. We also had tile countertops in our first cottage and it was so pretty but tough to keep clean. Wood is so much better.

  2. Kim, what a big job using the grout pen for your bathroom. You did a great job and the bathroom looks great. I've used a grout pen in some small spots in my bathroom for touchups.

    1. Thanks Julie! It did take a bit of time, to do that shower. Hahaha!! It's much easier to use it for touch ups and it does a great job.

  3. Kim, what great results! I don't have any grout in my home, but I'm going to tell my mom about this! I had to laugh, I just completed a bathroom DIY last weekend. I was thrilled with the results and plan to share it soon. :)

    1. It definitely has its uses, Cecilia! I hope this tip helps your mom and I can’t wait to see your bathroom DIY!!

      Happy Weekend!

  4. This is an awesome idea. I did find a grout cleaner that works pretty good but this really whitens the grout. Have a great Friday and wonderful weekend. Hugs. Kris

    1. Ohhh...I need to know what your grout cleaner is! I hate that job!! Happy Friday!!

  5. Where did you find this pen??????

    1. There are links to two separate pens in the post, but the one I used is here: Hope that helps!

  6. Kim,
    I have white tiles in the bathroom and also in the kitchen...I may try this in the kitchen on the back splash...I may be sending Joe to Home Depot , right down the road, to get one as I see that have it there and is in stock! Thanks for the tip!!

    1. Definitely worth a try, Debbie. Let me know how it goes!!

  7. I see that Home Depot also carries grout sealer in pens much like yours. Have you tried it and how did it work for you?

    1. I haven't tried the Home Depot version, but I would assume it would work the same way.

  8. Attention all who love tile. There is now an acrylic grout additive that you add when mixing your grout. It is the most wonderful improvement for grout. My brother is a machinist who tiled his offices due to the filth tracked in from the shop. He used a sandstone look tile with beige grout. I used to work with him and had to clean the office floor. (You are aware that guys are allergic to mops.) The only thing I used on the floor was a microfiber mop and a squirt bottle of hot water (plain water). The floors always cleaned up perfectly, and there are no stains in the 1/4" grout lines. Even after 5 years in the office the floors look amazing. I would never lay tile again without adding this acrylic grout sealer into the grout mix.

    1. Hi there, thanks so much. Yes, we have been using this additive for years. It does help, especially on darker grout colors or on walls. In the bathroom it's helpful, but eventually the mold does make its way in and discolor the grout. Next time, maybe I'll go with a darker color grout, as that really seems to be the key.

  9. I have always been told by the professionals, you do not use vinegar on grout. It breaks it down and then you have holes. This was after I used a vinegar solution. Also, Comet and the others like it take off the coating on the tiles and they can become slippery because the texture is gone. Too late for me but others might ask some questions before using your cleaning instructions.

    1. Thanks for weighing in. I agree if your grout is unsealed, damaged or worn then I would stay far away from vinegar. However, I've been cleaning my sealed shower tiles with a very diluted vinegar and water solution for decades without issue. As far as the Comet goes, this is the one and only time I've ever used it, because the grout was that bad, and I only used it on the wall tiles, not the floor. I appreciate your input though, as I'm just sharing what I've done and what works personally, for me.