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 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 spacersEven 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.

Tile Grout

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.

Tile Grout

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.

Tile Grout

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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