Once you’ve laid down the prefect tile design, it’s time to grout the tiles for the finishing touches. Though this may seem like an easy job, you can easily spoil it if it’s not done with care. While a neat grouting job may give a neat finish to your tiling project, a bad one doesn’t only look shabby but can also make your tiles more susceptible to chipping. Therefore, it's important to get the job done right.
In this article, we look at a step-by-step process to properly use and apply tile grout.
> Clean the grout lines: To start with, the first step is to clean the grout lines. Do this by using a vacuum. Remove any protruding grout by using a knife putty, then vacuum again to remove any debris and dust.
> Protect the trims and adjacent surfaces: To ensure that the grout doesn’t spill to adjacent surfaces or on the wall trims, cover them with painter’s tape or plastic sheeting. Also, apply the tape on adjacent cabinets and walls that join the tile surface.
> Choose the grout: While preparing, it's important to choose the type of tile grout you want to use for tiling beforehand. There are three main types of grout: cement-based, epoxy, and urethane grout.
Cement-based grouts are the most popular and easiest to use. While epoxy grout may be more durable, it’s expensive and difficult to install. Urethane grouts are also expensive and come in premix tubs. Urethane grout also takes seven days to cure and shouldn’t be exposed to water until then.
> Gather the equipment you need for grouting: To prepare for grouting, you’ll need buckets, margin trowel, rubber grout float, sponges, grout sponge, rubber gloves, clean cloth, and grout.
2. Mix the grout
To prepare the grout by hand, take the grout powder and pour it in the bucket, gradually add little water, then mix it using a margin trowel. Keep mixing the grout until all the powder is dissolved and you get a smooth consistency.
After the grout has reached a smooth consistency, let it rest for ten minutes. If it turns a little bit hard, mix it again to get the desired consistency. To ensure you’re doing it right, read the manufacturer’s instructions. To ensure smooth consistency and strength, make sure to use as little water as possible for mixing.
If the grout is not mixed thoroughly, there can be discoloration.
3. Apply the grout
Start by loading the rubber grout float with the grout mixture. Make sure to load only a section of the grout float. Apply the grout to the tiles, forcing it deep into the joints. Ideally, if you’re working on walls, hold the grout at 45 degrees and apply the grout from the bottom section, moving upwards.
It's also best to do the wall tiling before the floor so that you’ll not mess the floor. By using sweeping motions, apply the grout diagonally. Finally, remove any access grout from the tiles.
4. Clean the grout residue
> Wipe with grout sponge: Once the grout is set, which will take approximately 20 to 30 minutes, use a grout sponge to clean the residue. Take the grout sponge and put it in a bucket of water, then wring out the water until the sponge is just damp. It's important to ensure that the sponge is just damp, not wet.
Now, diagonally start wiping the grout off the walls. At first, it may look messy as the grout will smear on the face of the tiles, but clean out the grout, wipe the tiles a few times until you get nearly all the residue cleared from the face of the tiles. Keep rinsing the sponge in clean water.
> Tool the grout lines: To ensure even depth in grout joints that are concave in shape, run the sponge, or your index finger, over grout joints that look uneven. This will smooth the irregularities, removing any excess grout.
> Clean the tiles with a clean cloth: Once the grout is firm, which will take about an hour, clean the residual haze off the tiles by using a microfiber cloth. Dampen the cloth a little bit and wipe off any residue.
Finally, once the tile grout has completely hardened, you can make the tiles shine by buffing it with a clean cloth.
Do’s and Don’ts For Applying Tile Grout
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts of grouting so that you can avoid any issues and get the best results.
> Clean the surface thoroughly before you start work. Ensure that the tiles don’t have any stains on them. If there are any cracks on the tiles, fill them up before you start grouting.
Before you start your project, remember to seal porous tiles or stones. Doing so can prevent the grout material from sticking to the tiles. You can use a spray sealer for your tiles.
> Make sure that the joints are filled. You can do this by pushing grout into the joints with a float. After filling the joints, remove the extra grout from the face of the tiles.
> Remove the grout from all the corners before caulking. For the hard-to-reach areas, use a utility knife to remove grout.
> While applying grout, don’t spread too much at once. This ensures that the grout doesn’t harden before you can work it into the joints. Ideally, work in small 3x3 areas at a time.
> Don’t scrub your tiles right after the application of grout. Let the grout dry before you can remove the excess grout.
> Don’t use too much water for cleaning off the grout. Instead, use a damp cloth or a sponge. You may notice some grout haze after the application. This can easily be cleaned with a muslin cloth.
Though grouting is a simple technique, an untidy grouting job will impact the final look of your project. That’s why it's important to apply tile grout properly. To ensure that you grout your tiles correctly, always read the manufacturer’s instructions. This step-by-step guide will ensure that you grout your tiles like a professional.