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How to Grout Tile

Updated on February 4, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Learning how to grout tile is not that difficult and once you know how you will have the skill for a lifetime. From countertops to showers, grouting tile by yourself can save you a lot of money. The method is the same no matter what type of grouting you will be doing.

And, it is not rocket science, nearly anyone can do it.

Image:Morguefile.com
Image:Morguefile.com

Choose the Right Grout

There are two basic types of grout that you will choose from. Which you choose will most likely depend on the width of the joints in your tiles.

Sanded grout has sand added to it. The sand adds strength when grouting the wide joints that are often used with the larger tiles on floors particularly.

Unsanded grout is for smaller joints. You might find these smaller tiles and smaller joint areas on countertops, backsplashes or bath surrounds.

Next you will want to choose a color. There is no rule of thumb to choosing the grout color for tile, you should choose what you like and what looks best with your project. Here is a crash course in color theory that may help you make that difficult choice:

White and light colors will help hide the mistakes you may have made in setting the tiles. They will also highlight the color in the tile making it seem more intense. On the down side, light colors show dirt very easily. Don't use white grout on a kitchen or mudroom floor!

Gray can seem boring but it goes with everything and it doesn't show dirt easily. It will not show up your mistakes the way that the dark colors will. On the other hand it will not look as dramatic.

If you are very bold use a dark grout with a bright or light tile to highlight the pattern and add drama and excitement.

If you are still not sure, or you just like cool techie gadgets check out this grout color simulator.

Grouting Tile the Easy Way

The mortar on your project should be allowed to dry thoroughly before you begin grouting. Follow the directions on the mortar as well as on the grouting packages for best results.

  1. Clean the surface of the tile completely. Be sure to remove the entire amount of residue on the mortar as well as any dirt that may have gotten on it.
  2. Run a bead of mildew resistant caulk around the perimeter. This will help to stabilize your project.
  3. Preseal unglazed tiles to keep the grout from getting into the pores. Grout in the pores of tiles made from slate, marble, or clay can cause haziness to permanently mar the look of the tiles.
  4. Now you are ready to mix the grout. Stir it, following manufacturer's directions, until it has a consistency like paste and is free of lumps.
  5. Always start in the corner of the room furthest from the door. Plop a glob of grout down. Hold the float at a slight angle and firmly, but gently, push the grout into the tile joints.
  6. Work with a small square of floor at a time. As you grout use a clean float to remove any excess from the floor. Wait ten to fifteen minutes for the grout to set (or follow manufacturer's directions) and then wipe the floor with a damp cloth.
  7. Mortar may build up in corners or in baseboards. There is a tool called a margin trough that makes it easy to remove this excess mortar.
  8. Carefully, using a large, damp sponge wipe the tile toward you. Be gentle so that you do not pull the grout from the joints but be firm enough to get the excess grout off the floor. Continue this process, rinsing the sponge in water as you go. You may need to change the water several times during the process.
  9. Go over the floor as many times as it takes to remove the grout from the tiles. Always be careful around the joints.

If your project is a floor allow it to set for a full 24 hours before walking on it. To help the grout set properly mist the joints once a day with water in a spray bottle. Repeat for four days.

Sealing Grout

Basically you can do this one of two ways. You can seal both the tile and the grout or you can seal just the grout.

If you have put down an unglazed tile in your project then both the tile and the grout will need to be sealed. On the other hand, if you used glazed ceramic tile then you only need to seal the grout in the joints.

Sealing the grout allows it to resist water, staining, and mildew. It will help it stay looking new and ultimately be easier to clean. Always wait several weeks before sealing the grout. Apply the grout sealer of your choice to the joints according to manufacturer's directions. Quickly wipe off any sealer that might get on the glazed tile.

Sealing Grout and Preventing Mildew

A Whole New Hobby

Now that you know how to grout tile you can update your bathroom, kitchen or entryway floor weekly if you want to. You can add tile kitchen counters or do any number of things. You may become very popular with your friends.

Grouting is not at all difficult to do and knowing how to grout tile is a worthwhile skill.

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    • NCBIer profile image

      NCBIer 5 years ago

      Thank you for this hub! I am not looking forward to this project but it needs to be done. I appreciate the step by step outline of what to expect before I get started and your hub makes it rather less daunting. : )

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Thanks! I was hunting around for this information (I'm selling my house) currently I have a cleaning solution soaking on the grout...next I need to scrub, scrub, scrub! Lol. I was thinking grouting might be easier. I asked Just Ask Susan how hard grouting was...she dug this up for me! Thanks to both of you:))

    • shawna.wilson profile image

      shawna.wilson 9 years ago from Arizona

      Tiling my backsplash has been on my to-do list for a while now. Thanks for the helpful tips!

    • RachelOrd profile image

      Rachel Ord 9 years ago from Palm Coast

      You're right, anyone can do this job...I don't prefer it too much though. lol I definately recommend sealing your grout if you have the opportunity-especially if it is a light color. It gets pretty gnarly sometimes.

      Don't forget the knee pads too!

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