How To: Grout Tile

How to Grout Tile - Bag

Photo: recoore.com

Maybe I’m the only person (at least over the age of three) who gets a kick out of making a mess, but I would still argue that grouting is the best part of a tiling job—and not just because you get to smear mud all over everything. Grouting is when everything starts to come together and your project stops looking like a collection of individual tiles and starts looking like a finished floor (or wall, or counter).

If you have an existing tile surface that needs re-grouting, you will need to remove the old grout compound. A grout saw or grout removal bit for a rotary tool like a Dremel are good options. If you’re tiling a new surface, make sure all tiles are fully set before grouting.

There are different types of grout for different applications. Traditionally grout comes in “sanded” and “non-sanded” varieties; the latter being best suited for tile spaces less than 1/8″ wide. For the purposes of this tutorial, we’re talking about the mix-it-yourself sanded grout.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Two buckets (one for mixing grout, one filled with clean water)
- Grout sponge
- Grout float (specially designed grout-smoothing tool)
- Grout
- Water
- Putty knife, stirring stick, or mixer attachment for drill

Step 1. Mixing the Grout
When mixing grout, you’ll want to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but here are a few additional tips. Pour about 3/4 of the recommended amount of water in the bucket and then add the grout. Once mixed, add the remaining water to achieve the desired consistency, which should look something like this. I find that working in smaller batches and hand mixing is best.

How to Grout Tile - Mix

Photo: Kit Stansley

Step 2. Using a Float
Press the grout into the spaces between tiles by first moving the float across the spaces at a diagonal to make sure the grout line is filled.

How to Grout Tile - Float

Photo: Kit Stansley

Then do a second swipe over the top to clean off the excess.

How to Grout Tile - Swipe

Photo: Kit Stansley

Step 3. Removing the Excess
You now have a floor full of mud, but you know that fun can’t last forever. After the grout sets for 15-30 minutes (you may have to work in sections if you have a large area to cover) wipe up the excess grout with water and sponge. Wait three hours and do it again, this time making sure there isn’t excess grout on the tile or outside of the grout line. Also, change the water as often as necessary to keep things pretty clean.

How to Grout Tile - Wiping Clean

Photo: Kit Stansley

Step 4. Wiping the Floor Clean
No matter how good you are with a sponge, once everything is dry (usually overnight) there will still be a grout haze on the floor. You’ll be tempted to use a wet cloth to wipe it off, but if you do that you’ll find yourself in a vicious grout-wiping cycle. A better idea is to use a dry towel, or perhaps your significant others sock (not that I would ever do that) to rub off any haze. The dust can then be swept up.

How to Grout Tile - Complete

Photo: Kit Stansley

And it’s that easy. After everything dries I would recommend a good grout sealer.

For more on tile, consider:

How To: Work With Mosaic Tile
Using Glass Tile for a Handcrafted Look
Installing Tumbled Marble in the Bathroom