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Q.Is there an easy way to remove old grout from a tub surround without working by hand with a grout saw?

A.Michael Byrne responds: If the reason you’re removing the grout is that it’s old and crumbly, try a utility knife first. If the grout is soft enough, this will work, though you may go through a lot of blades. For wide grout lines — 1/4 inch or more — you might try this technique: With a steady hand, use a dry-cutting diamond blade in an angle grinder or circular saw and cut out the middle of the joint. Then cut away the rest with a utility knife (set the blade only as deep as the tile).

For really persistent grout and narrow joints, there’s no easy answer: It’s a tedious and time-consuming process that’s unforgiving of mistakes — you stand a good chance of slipping and scoring the tile.

If the reason you want to remove the grout is that it’s discolored, you might spare yourself the effort and try a grout colorant to hide the stain instead.

Michael Byrne is the director of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation in Clemson, S.C.