Applying grout is one of the easiest at-home DIY floor projects. In fact, grouting even be a meditative, calming project—with gorgeous and practical results! Whether you’re re-grouting or installing new tile and whether you’re an amateur or professional grouter, you can efficiently take your grouting to the next level with Onfloor’s top grout steps, tips, and tricks.
What Is Grout?
Grout is a cement-based, fluid concrete paste that fills in crevices, cracks, and lines. It’s usually used between tiles or mosaics on the walls and floor. This helps to maintain the structure, design, and integrity of the tile design by cementing the pieces together. You’ll likely find grout in your kitchen and bathroom.
If you properly maintain your tile, your grout will stay clean, firm, and un-cracked. However, if grout is uncared for, it can start to harbor mold and bacteria that can be dangerous to family members, pets, and the floor itself. In this case, it’ll call for a re-grout. Changing flooring or installing new floors will also call for a new application of grout.
How To Remove Grout
If you’re re-grouting your current floors, grouting new floors, or installing new tile, the process is the same. However, if you’re going to be re-grouting current floors, you’ll need to first remove the old grout.
To do so, use a grout saw or removal bit in a rotary tool. Be sure to remove all of the old grout paste before applying new grout. Doing so will help clean the area of debris, dust, bacteria, and it will also give you a fresh, hard seal between your tiles.
Note: If you’re grouting for the first time (installing new floors), be sure to wait at least a day for the thinset mortar to cure.
How To Pick Grout
The first step is picking the grout you’ll be using on your floor. Grout comes in two key varieties: sanded and unsanded. For any cracks wider than 1/8 inch, you need sanded grout in order to maintain structure. Sanded tends to be stronger and more durable.
You’ll also want to pick the appropriate color of the grout to match your décor. You should make an active decision if you want the grout to match or contrast the. Think of your grout as a border or frame for the “picture” (tile) inside. Light grout has an “invisible” effect that will create a more cohesive look for the tile. Dark grout accentuates the pattern and layout of the tile.
Note that light grout tends to require more cleaning as it will show more dirt and bacteria. For high traffic areas or commercial spaces, dark grout is usually recommended.
Applying Grout: The Process
What you’ll need:
Hard, rubber grout float
4 bigfresh water buckets (2 buckets if you clean in between uses)
2 large sponges (designed for grouting)
Mix the grout.
The grout will have instructions on the package regarding the ratio of grout mix to water.
Put the grout in a large bucket. Start by adding in 3/4 of the recommended water. Mix with a hard grout float. Add the remaining 1/4 of water and mix again.
The consistency should be similar to smooth peanut butter. If it’s too watery or runny, it won’t harden properly. Err on the dry side for mixed grout.
Apply the grout to a small area.
Start in the furthest corner and work towards the doorway. Use the hard trowel to scoop a small amount of grout onto the tile floor. Hold the float at a 45-degree angle to the floor and press down firmly. Apply in diagonal strokes. Cover the entire flooring—including the tile. Be sure all parts of the crevices are covered.
Put the hard grout float at a 90-degree angle as you thin out the layer of grout over the tile. This will grab any excess grout to create a smooth, even appearance. It will also make it easier to clean up the additional grout later.
Only apply grout to a small area at a time, generally three small tiles by three tiles is the maximum.
Remove the excess grout.
After a few minutes, use a damp sponge to remove the excess grout from the tiles. To do so, dip the sponge in a bucket full of clean water. Be sure that the sponge is damp and not wet. If you add too much moisture to the floor, the grout won’t settle and harden. Be sure to fully squeeze the sponge before applying it to the grout.
Wipe in a long stroke, pulling the sponge “up and away” as you go. Wipe up as if you were wiping up a spill on your counter. This will grab on to the excess grout smoothly and effectively.
Rinse the sponge.
Rinse the sponge in a new bucket of water. You’ll now have a “grout water” bucket, where you rinse the sponge, and a “fresh water bucket,” where you dip it and wring it out before reusing it on the grout.
Remember: always squeeze the sponge out. It should be completely free of moisture. If you introduce too much water to the flooring, the grout will discolor and the bond will be too weak to hold.
Test the area.
After doing one or two small areas, you’ll want to verify the grout color before completing the job. Let the small test area dry for 2 hours. Then take a hairdryer and dry a very small area. This will help you see what the grout looks like when it’s dried.
Finish the floor.
If you like the color and look of the grout, re-grout the rest of the floor using steps 2, 3, and 4 until the entire floor is covered. Let the grout dry for three hours.
Clean the grout haze.
After the three hours, your grout will be hardening. But you don’t want to leave any leftover grout on your tiles. Get a fresh sponge and clean bucket of water. Clean the area until the “haze” cakes off. Wipe the floor with the sponge in small, circular motions. Be sure to constantly rinse in new water so you’re not spreading more grout haze around the tiles.
Then, take a dry towel or used rag to “polish” away the rest of the haze. You can use an old sock on your hand to make this polishing easier. Brush up any residue with a soft broom or dry mop.
Let grout cure.
Now, how long does it take grout to dry? Look at the label on your grout to see directions for curing. It could take one to five days for your grout to fully cure and set. Be sure to get good ventilation in the room while the grout is drying out.
Seal the grout.
After the grout has cured, it’s time to seal it. This will protect the grout from bacteria buildup, cracks, or breaks. Use a thin-tipped applicator to apply the sealant to the grout. You can also pour a small amount of sealant over the grout and apply with a sponge in small, circular motions.
After 10 minutes, wipe the sealant off (in accordance with the sealant’s instructions). You’ll want to reseal your grout yearly at least.