Changing Grout Color-A Subway Tile Update!

change grout color tutorial

Hey y’all!

Did you see my Home Tour on Monday? Have you visited the other great houses on the Summer Showcase? (the full line up in my post.) I was totally holding back when I shared the pictures of my kitchen Monday because I had just finished this awesome project!

Like I shared on Monday, when my husband and I built the house last year we were able to chose all of the finishes.  I spent a ton of time choosing what I wanted for the kitchen. I had dreams of light ivory cabinets and dark granite with a white subway tile backsplash…it was beautiful-in my mind!

Fast forward to the day my husband and I actually went to the builder supply to pick our finishes in person and the salesperson took one look at our out of control rowdy pack of three boys and gently suggested I choose a darker cabinet color.  He gave me the example of one of the boys getting a hold of a Sharpie just once and I’d never be able to restore the cabinets.

In retrospect it was a pretty melodramatic sales pitch but it scared me and I went with the dark cabinets and lighter granite instead.  When the people in charge of the tiling asked me for the grout color in the kitchen I was already so burnt out by the process I just wanted it to be finished…I ended up opting for bright white grout to go with the bright white tile, concerned that a darker grout would be too dark with the dark cabinetry.


It makes my stomach hurt just remembering that process…making decisions is hard for me and the entire home building process positively turned my hair gray!

Fast forward a year and both my husband and I were regretting the white grout and started talking about the pros and cons of changing grout color.  We love subway tile but you could barely see that our backsplash was subway tile without the definition between the tiles.  We were talking about it last week and thought about trying the Grout Refresh that I talked about in my post on restoring and sealing your grout. I was nervous about going darker instead of just restoring it to an original finish but we decided to go for it.  Twelve dollars later and we were on the fast track to dark grout!

coloring grout

This is me painting on the Grout Refresh with a craft brush.  My husband “helped” by removing all three outlet covers and refilling his coffee cup for the island instead of the counter.  He’s a trooper.

To use the Grout Refresh just paint it on (I used a cotton swab to apply it on my bathroom floors) and leave it for 30-60 minutes.  You can totally leave it on longer, don’t stress about leaving it too long, I’ve left it over a day before and it was fine.  After the time has elapsed spritz it with water and then scrub off the excess with a sponge.

subway tile grout color change

I have to admit I was still feeling pretty nervous when I painted it on because even though I was using a paintbrush the lines looked big and really dark.  However, when I started to scrub it away I was immediately relieved with how it looked-you can see on the right pic above, the left side has the excess wiped off and the right side shows before I wiped off the excess.

dark grout subway tile

The difference is subtle but I am in love with it…now you can see the subway tile but it’s in no way obtrusive.  I’m so glad we took the plunge and gave it a shot, and it’s a bonus that the entire project cost under $15! Not too shabby for a high impact DIY?

What do you think? Do you like it better before or after? Can you see the difference?

change grout color

previous post: French Themed Party with Lemonade Cocktails
next post: Inexpensive DIY Canvas Art & Free Picture Downloads

Manage your shopping list and search for recipes from across the web at


  1. says

    That looks fantastic! I’m a huge subway tile lover too and I did notice that couldn’t really see any definition between the tiles yesterday. This is like BAM! Subway tile! In your face! I had no idea you could just paint it with the grout refresh either!

    • Melissa Riker says

      Thanks Karen! I’ve used this in all three full baths and the kitchen now, it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite DIY supplies!

  2. says

    i love this! i had no idea this was possible to do. yes, makes huge difference. i know what you mean about making lots of decisions like that. did the new coffeepot come with the grout refresh 😉

    • Melissa Riker says

      lol Betty, the coffeemaker was my hubby’s Father’s Day gift! And man, he loves that thing!!

  3. Melissa says

    My friend referred me to your blog because I have a very similar situation in my kitchen. I can so relate to your house building stress!! I’ve been in my new construction home for about 7 months, and I agonize over changing anything because it’s all brand new! I recently bought the grout restore stuff in Delorean Gray, but I let fear get the best of me and I chickened out. Would you mind sharing the color you used? It looks amazing and you may have just helped me get over my fear of change!

    • Melissa Riker says

      I am so sorry if I didn’t answer this already, I thought I had but don’t see it-I have not tried to lighten my grout but I believe from the thickness of the grout refresh that it should work. If you decide to try it I’d love to hear how it works out for you so I can note it in the post!

  4. Wendy says

    I am just wondering how precise you have to be? If you get it on tiles does it wash off? I’m afraid of it looking sloppy!?

    • Melissa Riker says

      You don’t have to be precise at all Wendy, you put it on, let it dry for a while, then spritz with water and wipe away the excess-that’s all!

  5. says

    Nice post. I used to be checking continuously this blog and
    I’m impressed! Extremely helpful info specially the final part
    :) I take care of such information a lot. I used to be seeking this particular info for a very long time.
    Thank you and best of luck.

    my web page … Gabriella Seletsky

  6. says

    However, he wrote this book for other doctors
    as a guide. The Homeopathic HCG drops are diluted and are working with a distinct principle from the other procedures.
    Oz is that HCG is an approved fertility medication by the Food and Drug Administration.

    Visit my web-site … healthy living

  7. Jesse says

    Hi. Love this! We wanted to do a darker grout with our subway tile but we were talked out of it by our tile guys. As soon as it was done we were bummed we didn’t stick to our design guns and I went to the Internet for a solution and found your post :) One question: did you have white caulk at the bottom where it meets the counter top? How did you contend with that? Thanks!

    • Melissa says

      We’re not in that home any longer Jesse but I just left the caulk as is, I can’t remember if it was white or clear though. Sorry not to be of more help!

  8. Jane B says

    Your results look great! I started working on my own kitchen last night and I’m having trouble with the stain wiping away from the grout and looking uneven when I wipe off the excess. Did you have that problem at all?

    • Melissa says

      I never had that problem Jane, I did find it a little harder to wipe away if I let it dry longer than a few hours but it was nothing a little elbow grease didn’t take care of, it never looked uneven.

  9. says

    Just came across your blog searching for how yo change your grout color. I’m literally in the same position you were except mine is our white subway tile master shower. We built and are about to move in in a few weeks. We chose white grout and now I am not a fan and my husband will kill me if I tell him. This may be an easy solution to try….

    • Melissa says

      That’s exactly how I felt too-the white on white seemed to make it look flat. This was a super easy solution (and inexpensive) let me know if you do it! I’d love to see a before and after!

  10. Jim says

    Hi!! I plan to do this. But my question is longevity. Say it’s done but the tiles get dirty and you have to clean it. Will the color wash off after? Do I have to be careful of rubbing and cleaning the newly colored grout even after it’s been set for a while? Or once it’s done it’s permanent

    • Melissa says

      Hi Jim, once you apply it and rub off the excess per the instructions it will be permanent. I can’t vouch personally for long term, I only have about 4 years worth of wear on my original application but so far it’s holding up beautifully!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>