Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cleaning Our Ceramic Tile Grout

Project:
For Melanie's birthday she wished for me to clean the tile grout in our kitchen, hallway, dining room and bathroom

Difficulty Level (Easy, Medium, Hard, Insane):
Easy

Process:
The first thing I did was using a little scrubbing brush and some cleaning solution but I soon realized that in order to do all 500 square feet of hopscotch pattern grout it would take forever and I'd probably lose my arm from all the scrubbing so I had to figure out how to make some sort of tile grout cleaner.

The first thought was to use our pressure washer, hooked up to some sort of contraption that would contain the water and then use a shop vac to suck it all up before it soaks the entire floor. I spent about an hour or two tinkering around with it and came up with something that should work (in theory). However, once I started cleaning the floor I realized that the pressure was way too high and it actually started washing out the grout. So, unfortunately, that solution was no good.

Then I though if I could find a brush attachment for my reciprocating saw that might work but of course these attachments don't exist (to my knowledge anyways) so I had to make one.

I took a wire brush with a metal handle and drilled a couple of holes through it, then I fit it over an old saw blade, drilled holes through the blade and used some steel rivets to secure it in place. It worked like a charm.

When I was drilling the holes it took a very long time because the saw blade uses hardened steel so a little trick I tried (and it worked) was heating up the saw blade with my oxy/actylene torch to orange glowing hot and cool it down slowly. Once it was cool, what took a few minutes before literally took 10 seconds and the drill bit cut through the saw blade like butter.

After I installed the blade I sprayed the grout with the cleaner and scrubbed it with my attachment. The whole job still took almost 4 hours, but at least my arm was still useable afterwards.

Happy Birthday, Melanie!!!

Videos:



Pictures:
The attachment for the pressure washer
The side view with the hole for the vacuum cleaner
The attachment I made with an old wire brush and a used saw blade
The wire brush attachment installed
Attacking the bathroom
Close-up of the cleaning in action
After it was done

Tools:
Reciprocating saw
Steel wire brush
Pressure washer
Pressure washer attachment
Vacuum
Rags

Materials:
1L of cleaning solution

Cost:
$10.00

Time:
6hr

Savings:
500sqft x $0.79 cents per sqft - $10.00 = $436.35

Conclusion:
Very happy wife = very happy husband

3 comments:

Nathan Riley said...

Well, at least the four hours of scrubbing the floor gave you this impressive result. Congrats on that discovery! That definitely saved you a few hundred dollars by not hiring some pressure washing service professionals. Now, you only have to keep the floor clean to prevent the dirt from accumulating in the grout. Have a nice day!

Nathan Riley @ Steemer Atlanta

Ric Di Prospero said...

Just came across your blog..
I was just thinking about using a wire brush on a reciprocating saw and I just happen to have exactly the same wire brushes that you have used.
Its like I've been thinking about an image it all night and there its is, in your blog, what a spinout.
Never thought about heating the blade up red and slow cooling..
But a few years ago I did want to use a different unconventional blade on my reciprocating saw and the only way I could drill a hole into the base of the blade was to use my small plasma cutter..and it worked fine but I never though of heating it up to soften the steel for a H/S drill bit.
Thanks for the tip..

Chris Eigenheer said...

@ric di prospero. thank you for your kind words. i hope you can make it work.

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