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Real homes: when DIY
goes wrong

It was meant to be a cheap, quick way to give the shower room a spring spruce-up. 

We had a leak in there, and while I was shopping for grout and silicone to fix it, I was dazzled by the grout reviver on sale nearby (everyone else gets excited and over-shops at DIY stores too – right?). A sparkly new bathroom for just a few quid? Yes please. Only things haven't gone quite to plan...

This enticing tube was the thing to transform the tiled floor from grubby-even-when-scrubbed to good as new. It'd also help to make the bit I had just fixed (that gleaming white line on the right) less prominent. Here's a better look at what I was hoping to transform.

Grimy innit? Though I should add, for my dignity, that the floor hadn't been cleaned for some time as we have been using the main bathroom since the leak, and tramping in here in big shoes. Still, cleaning only ever went so far anyway.

But back to the DIY. The tube of reviver has a sponge-y top which you can see here...

It isn't designed so you can be precise – stage one of the job is just to smear it across those cracks messily.

I was excited to start to see how bright the grout was looking already, though wondering how exactly I'd be getting it off of the tiles. The idea is that, after about half an hour, you wash off all the excess reviver from the tiles themselves, leaving just the grout gleaming whitely back at you. Except...

...what is really far down the instructions, and which I hadn't seen, is a line that reads: not suitable for matt tiles. Do you notice how un-shiny the green tiles are? Oh yes. And I read this once I'd got about this far...

Uh-oh. Though I haven't used a product like this before, I'm far from a DIY novice – how could I have made such a monumental cock-up? I cursed the packaging designer and instructions copywriter because it was easier than cursing my own stupidity (though, fairly or not, I do still curse whoever decided not to put that bit at the top).

Before the damn stuff dried any harder, I had to start washing it off. 

And when that didn't work, I tried to scrape it off with a razor blade. Yes, each individual little tile. It took over an hour, gave me massive back ache and, even then, it only looked like I'd been painting the walls without a dust-sheet on the floor. I see that you can also buy a grout reviving pen, which I think is what dazzled me in the first place, as I'd seen it in this satisfying Apartment Therapy story.

I am guessing the pen is more precise and may do the job (though obviously, ahem, I'll read the label in full before I buy). I'll give that a go, and will probably be having nightly razor blade sessions for the next few weeks to get the rest of the white marks off.

Anyone else care to share a DIY disaster?

Post by Kate


  1. hi, thanks for this very nice and interesting post. I like your writing style, it’s quite unique.

  2. Oh no. Poor you! I think I would have cried. Hubby cut his hand once while decorating....I heard a huge howl, ran into the room anf found him cradling his hand saying "This house is trying to kill me!" .As you can imagine I have never let him forget it and tell everyone I can, lol

  3. I once managed to drop/throw a full tin of white eggshell paint over the dark strained floor in our front room from the top of a ladder.
    For future reference: sitting on the floor sobbing whilst scooping up paint with your hands isn't particularly effective.