Sanded or Non-Sanded
After tile is installed, the next step is grouting the gaps between the pieces. Grouting can be a rewarding task. It’s the last stage in the tiling process, so you know you’re almost done. And filling in the joints with the right grout brings out the beauty of the tile. Usually grout comes in “sanded” and “non-sanded” brands; the latter being best suited for tile spaces less than one-eighth of an inch wide. Fortunately this task is less time-consuming and labor intensive than installing the tile, but it’s even more important because it will ensure that the wall behind the tile stays safe from damaging moisture.
Work in Small Batches
To help you avoid problems and get the best results with the least effort, we’ve assembled this tutorial to help you get the job done right the first time. An important step that most first time renovators miss after adding water to the grout is to let it sit for about five minutes to fully absorb the moisture. As the mixture thickens you can then add more water or powder until it has the thickness of mayonnaise, (not too runny but pliable enough to be spread evenly over a surface). Working in smaller batches and hand mixing is best; you only want to mix as much as you can apply in about a half hour, as the batter will begin to dry out.
Finish Each Section at a Time
Scoop the primed mixture from your container/bucket with your grout float or spatula and apply it to the wall. The paste sets fairly quickly, and once it dries, it’s hard to remove so start by working on a small 3 x 3-ft. area. You should finish grouting, shaping the joints and cleaning each section before proceeding on to the next.
Fill the Joint From Different Directions
Making several passes over the same area from different directions, fill the gaps by pushing the grout in at a forty-five degree angle to force it into the joints. Then do a final swipe over the top to clean off the excess. It’s best to start in one top corner and work your way down methodically to fill all the crevices with the paste.
Shaping the Surface
To get a professional look use a grout float. The great thing about this tool as opposed to a regular spatula is that the float has rounded edges you can use to drag along the joints to shape and compact the grout into the crevices to create a slightly concave joint. This ensures a tight seal and helps the tile to stand out more with well defined boundaries. The edge of a toothbrush would work just as well if you don’t have a grout float. To shape the grout, first test the paste by pressing on it with your finger (15-20 min). When it’s hard enough to resist denting, you can start shaping all the grouted joints.
Getting Rid of Haze
Remove excess grout from the surface of your tile with a large four sided damp sponge using a clean corner of the sponge for each stroke. Start with a clean bucket of water, wring out the sponge until it is damp (not dripping with water). Using only one edge at a time, drag the sponge across the surface in one direction then rotate the sponge to a clean edge and repeat the process beside the first stroke. Continue this until you have used up all four edges of the sponge then flip it and repeat using the other side. Rinse it in clean water, wring it out, and continue the process until you’ve cleaned up your grouted area. You may have to do this two or three times, however a thin layer of residue may remain which you can just buff off later with a soft cloth.
Caulking and Sealing
Grouting tile is fairly easy once you know how; just don’t forget to remove any excess grout from inside corners and along the tub to make room for caulking. You can do this by using a utility knife or an old screwdriver. Because your tub may shift minutely, caulking is usually best for these areas because it is flexible enough to handle the slight movement along these joints without cracking. Once the grout has dried and cured based upon the manufactures time-frame, you can apply sealant to the joints to create a water tight layer which also keeps the surface looking pristine for as long as possible.
2 Buckets (one for grout and the other for clean water), Grout Float (or Spatula), Utility Knife, Sponge
Grout mix, Water, Caulk