Nothing compliments a nice set of tiles like good grouting work. With correct spacing and the perfect trough, grout fills the void between tiles and bonds them together in unison. Tile grout also functions as an added layer of water protection. Together, this functional and fashionable aspect of tile work can make or break the difference between a good tile job and a great tile job. And it all starts with tile grouting basics.
As I always start out in many of my articles: “Preparation is the key to success” and this one is no different. Preparation for a good grout job involves a properly set tile. Check out my series on tile basics with, Tile Basics: Installing a Substrate. Follow up with Tile Layout Basics and Tile Cutting Basics.
Once tiles have been set properly and allowed to dry for 24 hours, prep work can begin. Remove any and all pieces of exposed thin set or tile mastic that may be exposed around any of the tile centers. A small chisel can help remove any obstructions that may expose themselves above the grout. Wipe down the area with a damp sponge.
Buckets. Many plastic five gallon buckets will save your grout job. Access to clean water speeds up the process of cleaning away excess grout. Fill up as many buckets as you can halfway with water and bring them into the well-lit tile project area. Add a few clean construction grade tile sponges and you’re all set.
Using another bucket with a splash of water in the bottom, add in a small amount of your choice of tile grout. Check bag numbers for matching colors. It’s easy to mistake one color for another when multiple tile projects require different grouts.
Using a 1/2″ drill and a mixing paddle bit, stir up the grout and water. You’ll need to either add water or grout mix until you achieve a thick pancake batter consistency. I like to check it with a float sponge. If the grout slides off the float sponge, it’s too wet. No sliding at all and its too dry. Always mix more than you need. If you have to remix a new batch during grouting, you may alter the color and texture, resulting in an uneven look.
Smear in the grout between the tiles with the float sponge, wiping away any excess with the float sponge as you go. Don’t’ worry about the mess; that will dry and easily wipe away.
Allow the grout to set up for a little while. It could be minutes; it could be hours, so watch the grout. Once it begins to dry and the color changes, use the sponges to gently wipe away the excess.
Remember all of those buckets of water? Use them and reuse them until the tile is clean and the grout is smooth and uniform. Allow the project to dry for 24 hours prior to use. No chemical cleaning for at least two weeks!