If you’ve ever been hard at work remodeling a kitchen or bathroom, then you surely know what grout is. For those of you who haven’t yet been initiated into the wonderful world of grouting or don’t know how to grout tile, grout is the hard substance you apply in the spaces between tiling.
Grout serves the purpose of “sealing” up those cracks between tiles so that dirt doesn’t get trapped in there. This would make the tiles hard, if not impossible, to clean. It also gives you a flat, uniform, and neat appearance, as well as a very easy tile surface to wipe down.
Before grout becomes a smooth and beautiful final product, it can look like a bit of a mess at first! But with the right tips and techniques, you’ll soon realize that grouting can be a breeze. You’ve found the right place to get started.
How Long Do I Wait Before Wiping off Grout?
There are many different opinions, depending on who you ask. You don’t want to wait too long for excess grout to harden, but you also don’t want to clean up too soon!
Most online sources and professionals will say that you shouldn’t start wiping until you let the grout dry for at least 10 minutes (though some will say to give it one quick initial wipe away before then). You’ll want to wipe the grout down before the 30-minute mark— otherwise, it will harden and require even more intense, rough cleaning to get the residue off later (and could even demand the use of certain tools to remove).
Save yourself the work! There’s a good reason for wiping off excess grout only in this narrow window. This way, you let it set just enough so that the applied grout in the cracks stays in place, but the excess can be wiped away.
Wipe off the grout too early (before 10 minutes of setting), and you could make a quick mess of the tile job you just did.
Another smart tip: don’t wet your sponge excessively when wiping away grout. It only needs to be damp to do the trick!
Can you Put New Grout Over Existing Grout?
Wouldn’t that be nice? Unfortunately, the answer is no.
You’ll need to remove any old or existing gout first if you want to lay down the new stuff. This might be because you’d like to change the tile grout color between the tiles of your space, or your old grout might be starting to discolor or chip away. If you try to add new grout over old grout, it simply won’t adhere well enough to the old surface and eventually crumble away.
You may need certain power tools, chemicals, or products to remove the grout before you can do a new grout job altogether.
Essential Grouting Tools
Grouting tile is an easier job than most people think, and it can be accomplished by just about anyone. That said, making this job effective and successful nevertheless requires the right tools.
Here are our top recommendations:
Grout Sponge or Tiling Sponge
This is for cleaning and wiping away grout as you work. It’s also good for when you’re done with the job and need to clean away any excess or grout haze.
Buckets (Preferably Made of Plastic)
You’ll need more than one bucket to get the job done, and fortunately, they don’t need to be fancy or expensive. You can use one to mix the grout before applying it and another for rinsing your grout sponge.
Margin Trowel (or Putty Knife)
Grout can be messy, so you’ll need a margin trowel to make the process neater and easier. Your trowel will help you spread evenly as you apply the grout. A putty knife can help with more specific spots, too.
Even if you give your grout job a good wipe down as you go, there are bound to be uneven spots and patches that you’ll need to sand down for the best results.
Once your grout application is perfect, it’s time to seal it. This helps protect its longevity, so you don’t have to do another grout job again for a long, long while.
For wall tile or other types that are very tightly tiled together— whether for your kitchen backsplash, shower, or bathroom floor— you’ll need a way to get the grout into those very small spaces. A grout float will help!
Mixing your Grout by Hand
Now to get into the nitty-gritty (pun intended). The best way to mix the grout before applying is in a plastic bucket with your grout trowel— or, more easily, with a drill attachment. This saves you a lot of aches and effort!
It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you add water to the mixture. But, as it becomes thicker and closer to the consistency of peanut butter (the ideal thickness before using it), you’ll want to slow down and reduce how much water you add.
When is the Best Time to Apply Grout to New Tile?
There’s no rush. If you’ve just laid down wall tile, you’ll want to wait a considerable length of time for the tiles to set and dry before you grout. The average pro will tell you to wait about 24 hours before you get to grouting.
When it comes to sealing your tile and grout together, you won’t have to wait as long— only a few hours (around 3-5 maximum). That said, once the sealing is done, it’s best to let everything rest for twice the length of time (about 48 hours) before walking on them, running water, or cleaning them.
Doing your first wall tile and grout project can be an adventure. But it doesn’t have to be a mess or full of unexpected surprises or hindrances!
Equipped with the right tools, tips, and techniques, your first foray into this delightful home remodeling pastime will be nothing but a breeze. And who knows: getting it right the first time might give you the confidence to grout more projects and tile surfaces on your own for many years to come.