weird things we love

The $8 Grout Pen I Used to Fake a Bathroom Face-lift

You just color in the grout like you’re using a marker. Photo: Courtesy of Amazon

I just mini-renovated my apartment, which was not an inexpensive undertaking. But for all I spent, nothing I did transformed my space for so little money as the Grout Pen, which works exactly as its name would suggest. I have white subway tile in my bathroom, and while the tile was just fine, the ten-year-old grout was yellowed — even “oranged” in some areas, and darkened in others. No amount of bleach or scrubbing could clean it. Re-grouting (i.e., paying someone to do three days of work) was not going to happen, so when I found the extremely well-reviewed Grout Pen on Amazon, I bought one in light gray, thinking I had nothing to lose but nine bucks (it’s since gone down to eight).

I was shocked by how well the thing worked — when my first pen ran out of grout “ink,” I bought two more, and three pens later, my small bathroom looks like it’s been retiled.

Here’s how it works: Make sure the grout you are painting over is absolutely clean (I used a nail brush and a toothbrush, but you could try a Drillbrush). Once it is, you just color in the grout like you’re using a marker — no need to worry about getting it on the tile as the wet ink is easily wiped off with a paper towel. I did one small area at a time, coloring and wiping, coloring and wiping. Did I mention that the grout must be absolutely clean? This is especially important in the shower, where any mildew will ruin the tip of the pen, though the good news is that you can order replacement tips.

Once it’s dried, the pen’s work is, of course, waterproof. I haven’t had to buy any extras to do touch-ups because the stuff has held up. I put the results on Instagram and get flooded with questions. Yes, really, I say: a few hours and $27 later, it’s almost as if I’ve remodeled my bathroom.

More Strat-approved bathroom helpers

Strategist managing editor Maxine Builder wrote about the Drillbrush attachment last fall and it became one of the best sellers of the holidays: “The drill did all the hard work, scrubbing faster and harder than I ever could by hand, and the results were noticeable even after the first pass. All the built-up grime had basically disappeared, though I did a second round just to be sure.”

Writer Alison Freer told us about a bathtub drain cover that lets anyone fill ‘er up: “My bath water now covers my arms and shoulders completely, making my tiny, extremely old bathroom as close to a spa as it will ever be.”

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The $8 Grout Pen I Used to Fake a Bathroom Face-lift