Learn How To Grout Tile In 8 Easy Steps

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Grout is the material used to fill the spaces between tiles. If your renovation or new construction project involves tile installation, knowing how to grout tile is a critical skill. This finishing touch can make or break the appearance of the project. Here’s how to do it the right way.

When to Grout Tile

Whether the tile is brand new, or if you are repairing old tile, the process is the same. Grout goes on after the tile has been laid into its bed of thin-set mortar. Once the mortar hardens, the tiles are fairly secure. Then the narrow channels between the tiles must be filled in with grout. The grout will exclude moisture and dirt, strengthen the surface, and provide an overall finished appearance.

Old tile gets grimy over time, and the grout may become discolored or damaged. If the tile is still in good condition, regrouting will help restore a like-new appearance. To regrout, the old grout must be removed and the spaces between the tiles thoroughly cleaned before the new grout is installed.

How to Choose the Right Grout Type for Your Project

You will encounter three different options while shopping, cement-based grout, epoxy-based grout or urethane-based grout. They can be used interchangeably for the most part, but each offers a unique set of pros and cons.

Learn How To Grout Tile In 8 Easy Steps

Types of Grout

Cement-based grout is the least expensive and most commonly used. It is also the easiest to install. Choose shrink-resistant sanded grout if the tile gaps are wider than an eighth of an inch. Non-sanded grout is for narrow gaps less than an eighth of an inch.

Epoxy-based grout comes in a two-part mixture that must be handled carefully. It is an expensive option, mostly used in commercial jobs.

Urethane-based grout comes pre-mixed, although it will need to be stirred up due to settling. It has a long, slow cure time of up to seven days.

Grout Color

The other grout choice to consider is color. Grout color is a way to subtly influence the look of the room by coordinating or contrasting with the color of the tile. Just be sure to buy a little more than you need, because exact-color matching for repairs at a later date could be difficult or impossible.

Tools and Materials




1. Prepare the Tile Joints

For a clean finish, start with a clean surface. Vacuum debris from the joints. Then use a putty knife to carefully scrape any lumps of old grout, and vacuum again. Finally, tape the border to avoid getting grout on a painted wall, trim, bathtub or other finished surfaces.

2. Mix the Grout

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing the grout. Work in small batches, between one and two quarts at a time. Use as little water as possible to achieve the consistency of smooth peanut butter. Mix thoroughly to ensure color consistency and no lumps.

3. Apply the Grout

Plan your work in a logical progression, starting at one corner. Work in small sections, about three feet by three feet. Pour a quart or two of the mixed grout onto the tile. Holding the grout float at a 45-degree angle to the tile surface, spread the grout while working into the joints. Move in long, sweeping arcs, making sure to thoroughly fill each joint.

4. Remove Excess Grout

Before moving from one section to the next, remove excess grout from the surface of the tile. Hold the float at a steep angle and sweep diagonally across the surface, moving the extra grout to the next section. Be careful not to dig into the grouted joints.

5. Clean up the Tile Surface

Wait about 20 minutes, until the grout begins to set, then use a damp sponge to clean up the tile surface. Wipe in a circular motion until only a thin hazy film is left. Avoid dragging the sponge through the joints. Rinse the sponge often, and change sponges, water and buckets as frequently as necessary to keep everything clean.

6. Remove the Haze

Once the grout film dries, remove the haze with a damp microfiber cloth. Buff immediately with a dry microfiber cloth.

7. Apply Grout Sealer

Use a grout sealer or narrow paintbrush to seal the grout. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding drying time.

8. Caulk the Corners

Caulk along the baseboards, walls, tub or any other inside corners. The caulk keeps dirt and debris from working into crevices, and acts like an expansion joint between them. Smooth the caulk with a wet finger.

When to Call a Pro

Grouting tiles is not difficult. Regrouting of existing tile surfaces is a bit more complicated since the old grout must be removed and the surface properly cleaned and prepared. Professionals have the tools, skills and expertise to perform this work quickly, efficiently and to a high standard of quality. If you lack the time or drive to do it yourself, reach out to a professional.

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