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This page discusses many issues of "staining" and "coloration":

  • STAINING: For clarification of terms, we will define this as when an unwanted spotting has occurred, typically from a spilled liquid. Not to be confused with purposefully applying a coloring "stain" (colorant).
  • COLORATION: This is when a chemical, oil, powder, or other treatment has been applied in order to darken, lighten, or otherwise create a wanted change.

Stain: Grout color is mismatched or stained  (See below for discussion of surface materials other than grout. )

See also in this Problem Solving section list: "Installation of Surfacing Materials" - "Grouting - How To" page for most of the reasons behind grout color problems.

See also for the use of sealers to effect color of surfaces.

Stain: Grout or surfacing color needs to be darkened, color is uneven, grout or tile has light staining

First Step:

Remove stains and old sealers as discussed elsewhere in Problem Solving.


This is what is done by one of the major grout manufacturer's when they encounter uneven color problems in the field:

Choose the appropriate sealer for the surfacing type that has the designation "color enhancing". This will darken surfaces a few shades and tend to mask or even out color differences. Since you have to seal the grout anyway, this can accomplish both purposes at once.

Note: there are a number of grout colorants (paints) on the market designed for grout. They can do a good job to change the color, however, here are some considerations:

  • Very labor intensive to apply to grout joints, then clean from tile surface. You are trying to paint the grout only, not the tile.
  • The epoxy type paints can have a very small window of time to clean from the tile face. If left too long, it can become very difficult to remove.
  • The finish usually looks artificial. It is a matter of your taste and what pleases you. Just consider that normal grout has a somewhat grainy texture with subtle shading of the sand particles. A grout colorant will look like paint on grout, not grout.

Coloration: Surfacing Material Or Grout Has Severe Batch To Batch Color Problems. Problems so bad that it either needs to be color tinted or torn out and there is little to lose by experimenting agressively.

The following applies to installed tile, stone, brick, etc. with batches that do not match in color - and absorbent enough to take a sealer. If necessary, surfaces can be roughened with abrasion (light sanding) or acid etching (limestone, marble, concrete) to enable coloring to absorb. If acid etching, do not use dangerous muriatic acid. Instead, use a strong dilution of Aldon "Grout Residue Remover / Brick and Block Cleaner".

If the color mismatches are so bad that one of our color enhancing sealers will not be sufficient, there are two options:

  • After removing all sealers - use a solvent type color tint to correct color problem. Make a test piece first and stop short of the goal color to evaluate the additional color effect from an Aldon color enhancing sealer. Choose a sealer of low solids - highly penetrating charactor (solvent-penetrating) to assist bonding of the stain to the surfacing. S-B-S Sealer is a good choice for this.
or add solvent type tinting to the sealer. Again, S-B-S Sealer is a good choice for this because additional applications to add color will melt old applications, penetrate, and bond properly.

Coloration: A coloring oil (or powder, or liquid) has been applied in the past and is now uneven in appearance. Or it is simply not pleasing and it needs to be removed.

There are a few things to try in this case. Usually, the best thing is to start with Aldon

even if you are not removing any sealer. One of the characteristics of Premium Stripper is its ability to lighten the surface by bringing out stains or colorants that are not wanted.

Next consideration is lacquer thinner You can saturate and blot out to see if that helps.

Next consideration is to test the most appropriate of our color enhancing sealers to determine if that effect will disguise or blend in any remaining color differences.