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Tile Patterns: The Ultimate Quick Read Beginner’s Guide, Including Secrets of Tile Professionals Revealed!

Tile Patterns

Tile patterns can enhance the look, feel, and atmosphere of a room, but that is only if they are used correctly. If you want to be able to choose the right tile pattern for your space you need to know the secrets of the professionals and how to apply them. So here are the the most popular everyone considering using tiles in their home needs to know, and the secrets to using them to their full potential.

Straight Lay Tile Pattern

The Basics: This is the most basic, easy to install, and also the most common of all floor tile patterns. Tiles are laid side by side in a straight line, corners matched up, and grout applied in straight intersecting lines. With its straight grout lines and grid pattern, the straight lay is typically used for a simple, clean, yet modern look.

Tile Patterns

Long straight lines draw the eye of the viewer with the straight lay tile pattern

Tile Home Guide Secret Tips:
-This is one of the only tile layout patterns which uses very long, straight, grout lines. Why is that a good thing? It’s because the human eye naturally follows these straight lines when looking at this pattern. This can be used to your advantage by using the lines to lead the eye of the viewer through the room into another space or to an important aspect or highlight of the room, such as a stunning view, prominent feature or other focal point.
-Because of its simplicity, a great function of the straight lay, especially with solid colored tiles, is that it can also be used in an area or room that has more complicated patterns, designs, or colors, without competing or clashing with them. This makes it a perfect, practical, solution for a busy room that needs the benefits of a tile floor, but none of the distractions of a complex pattern.

Diagonal Tile Pattern

Tile Patterns

You can really see here how much more expansive a room can look when using the diagonal tile pattern

The Basics: Similar to the straight lay, however in this pattern the tiles are laid at a 45 degree angle. This changes the square tiles into diamonds. Simple and easy to install, this is a great tool to have in your tile pattern arsenal.  It is probably the second most common pattern after the straight lay and is often used as on the floor, in wall tile patterns,and also in tile borders.

Tile Home Guide Secret Tips:
- This tile pattern is one secret decorators and tile professionals, use for making a room look bigger and wider than it really is. The key to this pattern is that the focus is taken off of the narrowness of the room, and shifted onto the wide angles of the tile borders. Because the tiles’ angles are in line with the viewer, the viewer sees the tile lines spreading out across the room. This makes them feel like they are in a much larger space they really are.

Running Bond Tile Pattern

Tile Patterns

The running bond tile pattern using glass subway tiles

The Basics: Also called the brick pattern because it is the most commonly used pattern in brickwork, it is also known as the running bond. Whatever name you choose to call it, this is another simple, yet good looking option. Typically used with rectangular tiles and subway tiles, the end of each tile is lined up with the center of the tiles which are both directly above and below it. This creates a staggered pattern, yet a cohesive look. This pattern is so appealing that it is actually also one of the most commonly used wall tile patterns, backsplash tile patterns, and bathroom tile patterns as well. It’s also used outdoors on patios and walkways, not only because of its simple design, but because of its weight bearing ability and strength.

Tile Patterns

The running bond tile pattern works just as well indoors as out

Tile Home Guide Secret Tips :
- So what’s the secret of using the running bond? It’s that it’s used to keep secrets! The running bond is one of the best tile layout patterns for hiding imperfections. Uneven surfaces, crooked walls, small differences in tile size and various other imperfections, are all easily covered up using this pattern. The fact that the tiles don’t line up in a straight line, tricks the eye by taking the focus off of individual tiles, and onto the pattern as a whole cohesive image instead. This makes it almost impossible to spot flaws.

Checkerboard Tile Pattern

Tile Patterns

The matching black tiles used in framing the mirror and as a border helps to really bring the room together

The Basics: This two color alternating pattern uses square tiles and looks just like a checker or chessboard, creating a truly classic look. Usually this pattern uses white and black floor tiles.  However,  the black is sometimes substituted for another color such as tan or gray. It can be used in either the straight lay or diagonal pattern. Typically used as a floor pattern in living rooms, mud rooms, entry ways and kitchens, it is also one of the most commonly used bathroom tile patterns, where it can work well on the floor or wall.

Tile Home Guide Secret Tips:
-To unify your space, use this pattern with white walls or white wall tiles, as they echo the white of the floor tiles. Incorporating black wall tiles in a border, frame, or evenly spaced among the white wall tiles will accomplish the same effect.
-Never decorate a room that uses this tile pattern with complex colors or patterns. This is probably the biggest mistake most beginners make when installing this pattern in their home. Not only will these colors clash with this type of pattern, but they will take away from its simple classy look, making it look trashy instead. Not the look you’re probably going for. The checkerboard is an elegant and stylish pattern, but it must be used with solid colors and simple décor to work to its full potential.

Herringbone Tile Pattern

The Basics:  Named for its resemblance to the skeleton of the Herring, a bony fish, this timeless tile pattern uses subway tiles (rectangular tiles).  The tiles are lined up at a 45 degree angle so that they are all parallel. This is repeated in reverse on the other side of the tiles, like a mirror image. This creates an imaginary line with tiles coming out on either side like a “v.”  It is aptly named because it really does look similar to the rib bones branching off of the spine of a fish! This pattern has been heavily used in Europe for hundreds of years because of its elegant yet intricate look.


Tile Home Guide Secret Tips:

Tile Patterns

A white marble herringbone mosaic tile

- Using the herringbone pattern is a trick designers use to enhance the size of a small room. The eye tends to look at the wide “V’s” which are created by the opposing tiles instead of the narrowness of the room.

-While this tile pattern works wonders in small or narrow rooms, it sometimes tends to look too busy when used in large ones.

-Use this tile pattern in hallways (especially narrow ones) to not only increase how wide it is perceived, but to draw the eye of the viewer into the next room as well. The “V’s,” do this wonderfully as they are very similar to the points of arrows, pointing you in the right direction.

-Another option is individual herringbone mosaic tiles, which make this pattern easy for the DIY homeowner. Each tile is made up of small pieces, usually of stone, and attached to a mesh backing, this forms the herringbone pattern on each individual tile. And when these individual tiles are all lined up they form the herringbone pattern but much more intricate looking than with larger tiles. This is one of the mosaic tile patterns that also works great as a backsplash pattern.

-The herringbone tile pattern is perfectly suited for kitchens with islands. This is because it helps to keep the island from taking away from the size of the space and making it look cluttered. The herringbone pattern helps to maintain the appearance of the width of the room while allowing you to utilize it as well.

-If you are a DIY homeowner, unless you have considerable tile laying skills this is one project you should probably leave to a pro.

Basket Weave Tile Pattern

Tile Patterns

A perfect example of how adjacent perpendicular and vertical tiles can create the illusion of being woven over and under eachother in this example of the basket weave tile pattern

The Basics:  This pattern looks like the stitching of a woven basket and like herringbone, it also uses rectangular tiles. These tiles are lined up in groups of either 2 or 3 vertically or horizontally to form a square.  If the first square is made up of vertically positioned tiles, the adjacent squares will be made up of horizontally placed ones. This alternating between the horizontal and vertical creates the impression of the tiles being woven over and under each other just like a basket.

Tile Home Guide Secret Tips:

-Use basket weave to create a classic and classy early 1900’s feel.  It works especially well when used with stones like marble.

Tile Patterns

Individual basket weave mosaic tiles are an attractive alternative to using vertical and horizontally placed tiles

-This is one of the tile layout patterns which can be used on the wall as well, and works perfectly to create a unique and stylish backsplash.

-Basket weave mosaic tiles are individual tiles which are made up of small vertical and horizontal pieces that form basket weave design. When placed next to each other these small basket weave designs perfectly line up to for a myriad of interweaving lines that looks amazing.

-Like Herringbone, this pattern is one which works best in smaller spaces and should avoid using in large rooms as it may look too busy. Basket weave one of most often used foyer and bathroom tile patterns.


Windmill Tile Pattern

The Basics: 4 rectangular tiles are used to form the shape of a large square with 1 smaller square tile in the middle to make this pattern look like a turning windmill.

Tile Home Guide Secret Tips:

-Using a different color for the small tile in the center can really make the pattern pop.

Tile Patterns

This black and white windmill pattern shows how 2 colors looks great, but more than that can easily cause it to look too busy

-Windmill can be used to created an interesting backsplash but also works great when used as a border pattern.

-For this pattern to look proportionate it is imperative to use the correct ratios. For the rectangular tile this ratio 2:1. So if the length of the rectangular tile is 8 inches the width should be 4 inches. The size of the square tile is also determined from this and should be the same size as the width of the rectangle, so in this case it would be a 4 inch by 4 inch square.

Versailles/French/Modular Tile Pattern

Tile Patterns

A close up of outdoor Travertine tiles using the Versailles tile pattern

The Basics:Unlike other tile patterns Versailles goes by 3 names and uses a combination of 4 different tile sizes: 8″x8”, 8″x16”, 16″x16”, and 16″x24”. Elegant and graceful, yet also timeless, this pattern can be used indoors or out to create a feel of randomness but without the chaos.  It is pleasing to the eye because while it appears random, in reality the tiles fit together in a large repeating puzzle-like pattern which is perfectly balanced.  While Versailles works amazingly well indoors it is most often seen outdoors and almost always uses stone tiles like Travertine.

Tile Home Guide Secret Tips:

Tile Patterns

The Versailles tile pattern using Travertine tiles works perfectly in this kitchen

-This is another pattern which is probably better left to the pros for installation.  But if you do decide to take on a project using this pattern make sure you start with a dry layout (as you always should) and begin tiling from the center of the space and work your way out. You therefore must place the first few tiles very carefully because they will determine the placement of all of the other tiles.

-The best way to purchase tiles for this pattern is in kits or bundles which have the correct ratio of tile to cover: 8, 16, or 44 square feet. And while you may end up with a few extra tiles, you’re always better off with some to spare in case of breakage or damage.

Pinwheel/Hopscotch Tile Pattern

The Basics: This pattern is sometimes confused with the windmill which uses larger tiles to surround a smaller one with pinwheel it is the opposite. Four small squares placed around each of the four corners of a single large square tile create a shape similar to that of a spinning pinwheel.

Tile Patterns

In this close up you can see how the small squares convey movement and look like a spinning pinwheel

Tile Home Guide Secret Tips:

-While pinwheel can be done with really any 2 size square tiles, the best ration is 2:1. So the larger tile should be twice the size of the smaller ones.

-Use 2 colors to make this pattern pop, but using more and you run the risk of creating something too busy for your space

These patterns all work exceptionally well at their specific applications when used correctly. Let your creativity, style, and imagination run wild while keeping these tips in mind and you should be well on your way to transforming your space and getting the most from the pattern you choose!

An Extra 10 Tile Pattern Secrets:

1) Larger tiles tend to make a small room appear bigger! If you have a small room using a tile pattern with very large tiles will give the illusion that the room is bigger than it really is.

2) Another secret for making a small room appear bigger is using very small tiles, seeing so many small tiles tricks the brain into thinking the room is actually larger than it really is.

3) Using a focal point such as a motif or mosaic tile medallion at the far end of a narrow room will take the eye off of how limited your space is as well as make the room interesting.

4) Using straight lay in a narrow room  will make the room look even more narrow because our eyes will naturally pick up on the grout lines as parallel to the walls and see it as a smaller space. Using the diagonal pattern is a better idea.

5) Don’t combine too many different patterns, it will look to busy. Keep it simple by choosing 1 or 2.

6) Keep it simple when choosing tile materials, using 3 different materials or less will look much better and will add to affect o your pattern as opposed to taking away from it.

7) Accent tiles are a great way to add emphasis to the style you are trying to portray as well as to the pattern you choose.

8) Using different tile patterns to define different areas of a room is a great way to incorporate the beauty of multiple patterns but also show the functionality of a space as well.

9) Choosing a color for your pattern that echoes another color in the room, or the color from a focal point (such as a view of the ocean or mountains) is a great way to get the most out of the pattern, material, and the tiles you choose.

10) You can incorporate a border to not only define your pattern but also lead the eye into adjacent rooms.

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Outdoor Tiles Explained: A Quick And Easy Beginner’s Guide!

Outdoor Tiles

Just like tiles used indoors, outdoor tiles come in a dizzying array of colors, textures, styles, and materials. However, unlike their indoor counterparts, outdoor tiles need to be strong, hard, and durable enough to withstand the elements. Whether it be extreme heat, rain, snow, heavy use, or all of these, outdoor tiles need to be able to withstand them while providing us with a space that is both attractive and functional. Unfortunately, not all tiles and materials can be, or should be used for all applications. Some tiles fair better in different temperatures and conditions than others, so it would be wise to take your time, read up, and choose carefully.

In order to choose the right outdoor tiles for your space, you need to answer or at least try to keep in mind the same questions the pro’s do, and these are:

What is the style of your home, space, or garden?

-The style of your home, space, or garden can have a big impact on your tile choice.  Matching the style of your space with a similar style of tile can go a long way in creating a great looking and cohesive space.  That being said, the opposite is true too, choosing mismatching styles is an easy and too often expensive way, to make your space look awkward and unpleasing to the eye.

How much light does the area get?

-This question is one which most homeowners never think to ask but can make a huge difference in how your space is perceived.  Most people don’t realize that using dark tiles in an area with poor or dim lighting can really take away from the effect of your tiles, even great looking ones, making the space look dull and gloomy.    A simple rule to follow is:  Choose lighter colored tiles for areas with low light, and darker tiles with areas with a lot of light.

What color(s) is your house, and do you want to match it or contrast it?

-Both matching and contrasting can look amazing, but keeping this question in mind can help you easily weed out the colors and materials you don’t want.

How is this space going to be used?

-This is probably the most important of all the questions because answering it correctly will help you in not having to deal with things like: replacing broken tiles (some types of outdoor tiles are much more fragile or durable than others), dangerous slips and falls (some areas need tiles with a texture that provides grip), or even wobbly patio furniture (sometimes you can only use outdoor tiles which need to be level and have a flat surface).  Honestly answering this question will help you to deal with the least amount of hassle in the future, and also quickly decide on the materials you realistically can and can’t use.

Types of outdoor tiles:

Outdoor Tiles

While these glazed ceramic tiles are too slippery to use as floor tiles they work great on the base boards of these outdoor steps

 Ceramic Tiles: Ceramic tiles are made from clay and are one of the most diverse tiles, as they come in many colors, patterns, shapes, and sizes. They are the most commonly used tiles indoors but they can be used outdoors as well. However, if they are used outside they need to have a high PEI rating. This is a rating of hardness and durability made by the Porcelain Enamel Institute. The PEI rating can be anywhere from 1 through 5. One being the most fragile and likely to chip, and five being the most durable and used in commercial areas such as shopping malls. For outdoor use, you should choose a tile with a rating of 4 or 5. You should also choose unglazed ceramic tiles, as glazed ceramic tiles can be extremely slippery when wet. If glazed ceramic tiles are to be used outdoors we recommend they be used as outdoor wall tiles as opposed to floor tiles for this reason.  If you decide on unglazed ceramic tiles  they need to be sealed to protect them against stains.

Outdoor Tiles

This porcelain tile mimics the look of slate so well it’s almost impossible to tell the difference!

 Porcelain Tiles: Porcelain tiles are more suited for outdoor use than ceramic tiles. Not only do they not mildew or stain, but they also have such low water absorption rate, that they are near waterproof. This is because of the fact that when they are made, the porcelain is fired at much higher temperatures than those used with ceramic tiles. This process is what makes them more durable and dense than ceramic tiles. The way they are manufactured also allows them to be produced with more intricate textures that so closely mimic those of stone tiles, that they are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. They also can be produced with non-slip textures, so they can be used safely in wet areas. Porcelain tiles usually have a PEI rating of 5 making them more than tough enough for the job of being used as outdoor patio tiles. These tiles are also resistant to freezing. An extra benefit, unlike other types of outdoor tiles, is that they come in just about an unlimited amount of colors and just about every size imaginable. While, porcelain tiles are generally more expensive than ceramic tiles, they are cheaper and more durable than stone tiles, making them a great outdoor choice.

Outdoor Tiles

A good looking quarry tile patio

 Quarry Tiles: While not actually coming from quarried stone as they did in the past, these unglazed clay tiles are very tough and function extremely well as outdoor tiles for patio use. Unlike ceramic and porcelain tiles, quarry tiles are typically only found in a few colors. Most often they are seen in red, but also in brown or grey. It is these deep, rich, earth tone colors, that help quarry tiles portray a unique Mediterranean look that many homeowners love. These tiles are also much thicker than other types of tile, ranging from ½” to ¾”. This thickness and the fact that they are very dense, makes them an extremely durable and strong tile that can take the abuse of the outdoors. Quarry tiles also have a very low water absorption rate, allowing the homeowner to use them in wet areas without any problems. This added to the fact that their unglazed surface provides grip, makes them a very effective non-slip surface. However, they do need to be sealed as they will absorb stains. Quarry tiles can be tougher to clean than other types of tiles, sometimes requiring a good power washing. Because quarry tiles are so tough and also very attractive, they work great as floor tiles, countertop tiles, and even outdoor wall tiles.

Sandstone Tiles: One of the most popular materials for construction and building since the ancient times, sandstone also makes for beautiful tiles.   As a sedimentary rock it is made up of tiny particles of other rocks and sand which have been displaced by wind and water.  Because these tiny particles have a huge range in color so does sandstone.  However it is most often seen in white, tan, red, gray, and brown. It is considered one of the softer stones, easier to carve and cut, yet still strong and durable. It’s easiness to work with, and beautiful variations in texture and color are the reason it has always been so popular especially as outdoor tiles for patios.  The only drawback to sandstone is that it is one of the most porous stones and therefore will absorb a lot of water.  This is not a problem as long as it receives a proper sealing to keep it waterproof.  If it does not, it runs the risk of absorbing not only water but the salt which is in the water as well. Salt absorption can result in serious damage to the stone. If not properly sealed it will also easily absorb oil resulting in staining of the tile.


Outdoor Tiles

Strength and beauty make a great outdoor tile

Granite tiles: Typically found in the U.S., Brazil, and India, granite is the strongest and most durable of all the stone tiles.  It is also naturally waterproof and will not stain or absorb oils like other materials. This is true even without sealing.  It can easily take heavy traffic is extremely scratch resistant, won’t chip or crack, is easy to clean, and is almost impenetrable to bacteria. These natural qualities make granite one of the most popular outdoor tiles and also the most often used stone for countertops in both indoor and outdoor kitchens as well. Because they are so heat resistant, they are also great fireplace tiles too! While usually gray in color granite can range to much lighter colors, even pink. It is more expensive than other materials,  but you really get what you pay for with granite as you will be able to enjoy these almost maintenance free tiles for possibly a lifetime.

Limestone Tiles: Limestone is formed underwater by shells, coral, algae and calcium carbonate. Another material favored by builders since ancient times, limestone is easy to cut and work with, yet still strong and durable.  Usually gray, tan, brown, or red in color this strong, heavy material was used to make castles and even the Great Pyramid at Giza.  Needless to say limestone tiles are very tough.  However, care must be taken as they can still scratch.  Limestone tiles need to be properly sealed as they are somewhat porous and highly susceptible to damage by acids.  They are easy to clean but must never be cleaned with acidic cleaners such as bleach or vinegar.

Outdoor Tiles

If you look closely you can see the sponge-like texture of these travertine tiles

Travertine Tiles: Travertine is a type of limestone which is known for its small pits, caused by gas escaping during its formation giving it a spongy looking texture. These pits are usually filled in making cleaning easy. Travertine was used to build the Coliseum and many other famous structures worldwide. Durable and resistant to the elements Travertine tiles are still limestone and therefore need to be sealed and cleaned with non-acidic cleaners.

Soapstone Tiles: Soapstone originally got its name for its soft texture, which can feel almost slippery to the touch like soap. This comes from the fact that it is mostly made up of talc.  It was used by many native cultures to make pots, pans, and bowls because of its high heat resistance, the fact that it’s almost impervious to water, and the ease in which it could be carved. Soapstone is now very popular for kitchen countertops, backsplashes and outdoor tiles.  Its high heat resistance and the fact that it’s naturally waterproof make it a great material for tiles in really hot, wet, or extreme climates.  Soapstone is typically is found in Brazil, India, and Scandinavia, and ranges from brown, gray, blue to green in color.  The only drawback to using soapstone tiles is that because they are soft, they are easily scratched.  However, scratches can easily be fixed with a light sanding and mineral oil application.

Outdoor Tiles

You can clearly see the natural variation of colors in these beautiful slate tiles

Slate Tiles: Slate tiles are natural stone tiles which are cut from metamorphic rock. They are usually mostly grey in color. But being natural stone, there is always variation in their color and markings, so they can vary from orange to purple. They also have surfaces which are uneven, making them look even more unique and natural. Their uniqueness, natural look, color and feel make slate a great outdoor tile for patio use. Slate is also good in wet conditions and its uneven surface is very slip resistant. However, you should only consider slate if you live in a warmer climate, because slate is not suitable for freezing temperatures. Also while slate is a very dense material, unlike other outdoor tiles it is easily scratched. Something you probably need to take into account if you are planning to use it in an area with heavy use or young children. Slate tile must also be sealed properly to prevent staining from oils.

Outdoor Tiles

These rubber tiles form a safe non-slip surface making this patio a safe place to relax with the family

Rubber Tiles: Outdoor rubber tiles are the easy way to enjoy a soft slip resistant area without spending a lot of money. While they don’t have the beauty or natural look of other outdoor tiles, they have many other advantages worth considering. They come in a variety of textures, colors, and sizes, and are extremely tough. This makes them great tiles for children’s play areas, patios, around pools, and other places where you need a soft surface with tons of grip. Not only can these tiles withstand elements ranging from freezing to extreme heat, but they are also water proof providing a non-slip surface in even the wettest environment. Outdoor rubber tiles are a great idea for the DIY homeowner because they are interlocking, meaning you can install them yourself. This combined with the fact that they are not as expensive as stone or porcelain tiles means you save money not only on the purchasing, but on the fact that there is no installation cost as well.

Outdoor Tiles

These handsome Teak deck tiles snap together with no glue or skill required

Outdoor Deck Tiles: Just like rubber tiles, outdoor deck tiles are great for the DIY homeowner. Not only do they come in many textures, colors, and materials, but they usually snap together or interlock meaning no messy grout, or installation fees.  They can even be placed right on top of your existing deck, patio, or any other hard, flat, surface.   You don’t even need screws, nails or adhesives.  Being extremely weather and climate resistant, these tiles can be used in any conditions.   They come in many types of wood, cherry, teak, oak, and pie just to name a few, many of which are insect, heat, and moisture proof, and usually  only requiring a once a year application of deck oil to maintain.  Outdoor deck tiles are not only limited to wood, they are also available in other materials as well, such as plastic, stone, and concrete.

As you can see, there are many types of outdoor tiles to choose from. While all have their good points, some might not be the right fit for your space or function. However, if you take it slow and ask yourself the right questions, you will find the right outdoor tile for you and save money in choosing correctly the first time around!

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Tile Grout: The All-In-One Guide On How To Grout Tile and Clean Tile Grout

The joints (spaces) in-between tiles need to be protected so that moisture does not get into the backing of the tiles causing damage and ultimately the tiles having to be replaced.  This could mean just a few tiles being removed or with a lot of damage all of them . Tile grout protects against this because it keeps water and moisture out and also seals the spaces between the tiles.

Tools and materials you’ll need for grouting tiles

For the process of grouting tile(mixing, grouting, cleaning up) you’ll need: 1 bucket for mixing grout, 1 bucket for water, 1 margin trowel, 1 grout float, 1 grout sponge, 1 scouring pad, and tile grout.  Luckily these are all very inexpensive and can be found at any home store.

Things to consider and remember before you start

Take your time! While applying tile grout is not a very difficult task, it is one which is very important and care should be taken to make sure it is done correctly.  Unfortunately, many homeowners simply don’t realize just how important it is and try to race through doing as quickly as possible.  Understandably they want to get done with this step because they know they are almost finished with their tiling project and want to be able to enjoy the benefits of it. However, a bad grouting job can really take away from an excellent tile installation.  That being said, if you do a really good job it can also go a very long way in making a bad tiling installation look much better.  So basically take your time and do it right, don’t rush through it.

Tile Grout

A good grouting job with matching grout can make your tiles shine to their full potential


Let adhesive dry first. Make sure that your tile adhesive has had ample time to dry, at least 12 hours.  If grout is applied over damp tile adhesive, it may cause your grout to become discolored.

Don’t make your joints too wide or too thin! Joints that are too wide can visually be too intense and take attention away from your tiles.  The wider they are the bigger the risk of cracking as well.  About ½” is a good maximum size.  Joints that are too thin can be difficult to fill with grout properly and that can mean water damage. It’s a smart idea not to make them any thinner than 1/32”.

Sanded or unsanded grout? Sanded grout is typically used on larger joints (anything wider than 1/8”).  These larger joints need the extra strength and cracking resistance that sanded grout provides.  For smaller joints, as well as when using soft stone tiles which are easily scratched, you should use unsanded grout.

Tile Grout

Sanded grout is used for joints larger joints

Keep your grout cool!  The optimal temperature for tile grout to be applied is between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit so don’t leave it somewhere too hot or too cold just before starting the job.

3 things you must do before you start grouting your tile

Remove all tile spacers.  Even if the brand of spacer you are using states that you can leave them in the joint, you shouldn’t do so.  It’s smarter to simply remove them because of the fact that the thin layer of grout covering them will end up curing in a different color than the rest of your grout.

Make sure your joints are clean. A good vacuuming will ensure your joints are clean, free of dust, debris and dried adhesive and ready to be grouted.

Find out if your tiles are vitreous or non-vitreous. Vitreous means they will absorb water, while non-vitreous means that they will not. This is an important question because if you are using non-vitreous tile, you must take one step first to prevent your tiles from absorbing the moisture in your tile grout.  Using a damp sponge simply make wipe down both the edges and faces of your tiles, however don’t soak them as this can ruin the grout.

Part 1: Mixing your tile grout

Mix by hand- While many people recommend using a drill with a mixing paddle attachment it’s better to mix by hand.  This is because when using a drill, air ends up being churned into the grout and this can cause weakness and discoloration of your grout.  To mix grout by hand all you need is a bucket, a margin trowel, tile grout, and some water.   Simply add some grout to your bucket and pour a little bit of water in.  Using your hand trowel, mix the grout with the water and tip the bucket at a 45 degree angle.  Roll the bucket with one hand while you are mixing with the other.  Add water in small amounts until the mixture is similar to a creamy peanut butter in consistency.  Be careful not to add too much water.

A margin trowel makes the best mixing tool

Let it slake- Let it what? This just means to let it rest for about ten minutes giving the grout, water, and chemicals time to start really mixing together.  Your grout mixture will feel like it is much stiffer after this, but it’s important you don’t add more water to it. Just give it a good mix again with your margin trowel and you are ready to grout.

Part 2: How to grout tile step by step(both floor and wall tiles)

Step 1: For floor tile, tilt your bucket and with your margin trowel dump out a bunch of grout , enough to grout a small section, onto the surface of the tiles. For wall tiles, just take out a scoop and apply it to the wall. ** You will be grouting about 10-20 square feet at a time section by section, and cleaning that section when you’re done.  (This will prevent you from having to spend much longer cleaning up if you are using fast setting grout that happens to set before clean up.)**

Step 2: Using your grout float, hold it at a 30 degree angle to the floor and push the grout over the surface of all the tiles and into the joints, making sure to push the grout between the tiles so that it is tightly packed.  You want to fill all the spaces between the tiles as well as the tile and its adhesive.

Tile Grout

A grout float with rounded edges like this one is excellent for not gouging edges of joints while grouting

Step 3: Repeat step 2 two to three times.

Step 4: Remove the excess grout from the tiles by holding your grout float at an 80 degree angle to the floor and moving across the surface of the tiles as well as the joints to remove the excess.  Be sure to do so at an angle to the joints, if you move your grout float straight down or across in line with the joints you can end up raking out the grout with the edge of your float.  If this happens just apply more grout as in step two and then remove the excess again.

Step 5: Wait for the grout to start to set before moving on to clean up.  This usually takes anywhere from 5-20 minutes.

Part 3: Time to cleanup!

The most important part in cleaning up, is knowing when to do so.  You don’t want to do it too soon when the grout hasn’t set enough, and end up pulling grout out of the joints, and you don’t want to wait too long and have the grout harden and be forced to scrub your tiles forcefully and end up damaging your grout in the process.  So the goal is to start cleaning somewhere in the middle.

Grout sponges are made to be very absorbent and durable yet still soft and easy to wring out

Step 1: Test to make sure it’s ready- With a damp grout sponge which has been wrung out as much as possible, wipe across the surface of the tile and joints.   If the grout in the joints is solid enough to not be disturbed by this, you can begin to clean.  If it isn’t, simply wait a few minutes and test it again.** If you have waited too long and the grout is already hard on the tiles, use a scouring pad to scrub off the excess grout.  Be sure to test your pad on a piece of scrap tile first to be sure it doesn’t scratch your tiles. (Scotch-Brite sells a non-scratch scouring pad that is perfect for this.) Wipe the area with a damp sponge and move on to step 2.**

Step 2: Basic surface cleaning- For this step you need your grout sponge and a bucket of clean water.  A sponge with rounded edges is a good idea as square edges can gouge the grout in the joints.   Dip your grout sponge in the water and then wring it out as much as possible.  Being mindful no to gouge the joints, start to sponge in a circular motion.  When the first side of the sponge becomes full of tile grout, flip it over and use the second side.  Rinse your sponge and wring it out completely in the bucket of water when the second side is full.  Repeat these two or three times as needed.

Step 3: Shaping and cleaning the joints- With your clean and wrung out sponge, this time move in a motion parallel to the joints and wipe down any high spot, pushing down gently with your finger on top of the sponge can help.  If there are any low spots you may have to add a tiny amount of grout with your finger. The goal is to make all the joints flat and level, if they are concave it’s okay but they should not be convex.

Tile Grout

Non-scratch scouring pads are an excellent tool for removing stubborn grout without scratching tiles

Step 4: Final cleaning- When all your joints are clean and flat, and your sponge is clean and wrung out, use two hands to slowly pull the sponge vertically to you across the surface of the tiles.  When your sponge reaches you, flip your sponge over and do the same thing parallel to where the first sponging left off.  Rinse your sponge and repeat this for the whole area being cleaned. *If in going over the joints grout is pulled out, this means that the grout is too high and needs to be made flat, so repeat step 3 for that joint until it is flat. *

Step 5: Touch it up- Wait about 20 minutes and with  a clean and soft rag buff the tiles lightly to remove any grout haze.*If there is any further grout residue remaining use your scouring pad to remove it. * You should give your grout about 24 hours to dry and that means not walking or stepping on freshly grouted tiles.

Protecting your tile grout

The best way to protect your tile grout is by using a sealant.  Sealants are best applied after your grout has set, this should be about 5 days after grouting. They prevent staining and help water to evaporate from the grout so it does not cause any damage.  Many of these are very easy and convenient to use because they come in a spray bottle.  Just spray the sealant on the grout making sure not to get it on the tiles. If you do wipe the tiles with a damp cloth, this will prevent a haze from forming on the tile.

Tile Grout

A grout sealer spray makes sealing fast and easy

Extra Tile Grout Tips:

Don’t throw away all your extra grout. Extra grout can be used for easy touch-ups in the future.  Just remember to keep it in an air-tight container because it will absorb any moisture.

Use caulk on edges not grout!! Don’t grout the edges of tiles which touch the base of wall, showers, tubs, sinks, and cabinets. Use caulk instead as grout will end up cracking in the future. If you are using colored grout, not to worry as you can match the color of your caulk to your grout.

Choose your grout color carefully. Just remember that light colored grout is great for highlighting the color of your tiles but it also shows dirt very well too.  Very dark colored tile grout is used not to highlight the color of tiles but tile patterns.  Gray grout is a popular choice because it looks great and makes it harder to see dirt and stains.

You can always change the color later.  If you end up not liking the color of your grout with your tiles you can always use a grout colorant to dye it another color.

 3 Ways to Clean Tile Grout


Vinegar and baking soda

This is a natural tile cleaner that you can whip up without having to go to the hardware store. Vinegar and baking soda is a great mix since vinegar can remove dirt and grime while the abrasive nature of baking soda can help remove harder stains that may have stuck to the crevices in the grout. The solution is non-toxic making it suitable for those who want to use safe and natural cleaning products at home. You can create a vinegar and baking soda spray and cover the entire grout surface before you start brushing. Wipe the area afterwards with a moist cloth to remove the grime and wipe off any traces of vinegar smell. You can also hose down the grout with water for a quick and thorough rinse.

Hydrogen peroxide paste and baking soda

You can make a paste out of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda and apply it over the grout. Let the paste sit for a few minutes before starting to scrub using a toothbrush. Use a damp rag to wipe the paste after you are done brushing to reveal shinier, cleaner tile grout. Hydrogen peroxide is extremely popular as a DIY pot and grout cleaner because it can lift out tough stains and crud after just a few minutes from application. It is also very cheap.

Oxygen Bleach

Oxygen bleach is a good way to remove dirty stains and bacteria from the grout. Mix the bleach powder with water to make it easier to work with and start pouring or spraying the solution on to the problem areas. Oxygen bleach is non-toxic so it is safe for homes with pets or young children. Make sure to cover the grout with the solution and leave it on for about 10 minutes before you start scrubbing. Mop the excess moisture afterwards to reveal cleaner grout and tiles.

It is important to note that before you start applying these solutions, the grout and tile surface must be clean and free of dirt or debris. Clean the surface area with warm water before you start focusing on removing oil stains and grime from the grout.

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