Knowing how to grout tile is a valuable skill. Over the lifetime of your home it can save you quite a bit of money, as well as allowing you to be creative. Whether you are grouting tile floors or shower stalls, the method remains the same.
Choosing the Grout
Once you have allowed the mortar on your tile floor to dry thoroughly you are ready to grout.
There are two basic types of grout to choose from:
- Sanded grout is, as the name implies, grout with sand added to it for strength. It is used for the wider joints that are used with large tiles.This is most often the grout that you will use on floors.
- Unsanded or non-sanded grout is used for applications that use a smaller joint. Wall and countertop tiles that tend to be smaller sized generally use the non-sanded variety.
When you have decided the type you need then you will need to choose a color. Color choice is very individual and depends a lot on the look you want and the tile you have chosen to install.
- White or light colors highlight the colors in the tile. Light colors will help hide setting mistakes that you may have made. The light grouts will show dirt very easily and for this reason should not be used in heavy traffic areas.
- Dark grout with a light tile will highlight the pattern of your floor.
- Gray is the neutral color for tile. It goes with most tiles and wears well. It does not show dirt and does not emphasize the layout of the tile. If you have made a mistake it will be harder to see with gray grout.
How to Grout Tile Easily
Clean the surface of the tile completely to remove any dirt or residue from the thinset mortar. Fill the tile joints around the perimeter with a silicone mildew resistant caulk. If you are grouting unglazed tiles like slate or marble, the grout can get into the pores and cause the tile to become hazy or foggy. It is a good idea to use a pre-sealer on the tiles before grouting in this case. Now you are ready to grout.
- Mix the grout mortar. There should be no lumps and it should have a paste consistency, somewhat like peanut butter.
- Starting in the far corner of the room, put a glob of the grout down. Holding the grout float at an angle, push the mortar into the tile joints. For best results grout only a small area of the floor at a time.
- Use a clean grout float to remove excess grout.
- Wait ten minutes or so for the grout to set and then wipe the floor to clean it.
- Use a margin trowel to remove extra mortar from the places it tends to build up, like corners and baseboards.
- Being careful not to pull the mortar out of the joints, take a damp sponge and pull toward you. Clean the sponge in a bucket of water and repeat.
- You may need to go over areas more than once.
- Allow the grout to set for at least 24 hours before walking on it.
- Mist the joints once a day with water from a spray bottle for the next three or four days.
How to Seal the Grout
There are a couple of different ways to seal the tile and grout.
- You can seal both the grout and the tile. This would need to be done if you have put down an unglazed tile.
- You can seal just the grout. If you have installed glazed ceramic tiles then you only need to seal the joints to make them water resistant. Sealing them will also help resist mildew and keep them from staining and looking dirty.
Wait a few weeks from the time you grout your tile before sealing it. Apply a silicone or water-based grout sealer according to the manufacturer's directions. If any sealer gets on the glazed tile, be sure to wipe it away before it dries.
Apply a silicone or water-based grout sealer to the joints. As long as the tile is glazed it's OK if you get some sealer on the tile surface, but you'll need to wipe it off before it dries.
Different Grout for Different Looks
By utilizing different colors of grout you can get different looks. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
Once you know how to grout tile you can update your bathroom or your kitchen, add tile counters, or any number of other projects around your home. Grouting is much the same whether you are using slate, marble, or ceramic. By experimenting with different colors of grout, setting the tiles on the diagonal, and mixing in different sizes of tile you can have a beautiful and unique interior for a little time, money, and effort.