How to Grout Tile

Need to learn how to grout tile?

When I learned the overall tiling process, I found that grouting was probably the most tedious part of the deal, whether on a wall, or floor. But as I did a few jobs here and there (and as I got better), I found that it wasn’t nearly as bad as I originally thought. Like anything else, it just takes a little time to figure out what you’re doing.

But first, a general word about grout, and all that entails.


What Is Grout?

Vinyl Tyle

Grout is the cement-type of material that joins and ‘finishes’ tile pieces together with a hardened, gritty texture that can really complement the look and feel of any type of decor and color arrangement in any room. And within the last several years, stain-resistant grouting material has come out on the market that can add years to the life of most any tile setting. It’s a little more expensive than regular grout, but well worth it.

As far as choosing a color, there are many different shades to select from with everything from a pure white, to a jet black, and everything in between.Visit a nearby tile store or home-improvement center to see the various color charts on hand, and you’ll see what I mean.

Types of Grout

As far as which type of grout to use in your particular application?

For our purposes here, we’ll talk about sanded, or unsanded grout. Unsanded grout is mainly for use when filling thin lines, such as 1/8″ or smaller. Any application with larger than 1/8″ wide lines you use sanded material. The reason is that with wider grout lines, the grouting needs to be able to hold it’s form consistently, without falling out or disintegrating in some way. Sand forms a bond with the rest of the grout enabling it to hold together like cement to provide a consistent filler mechanism for the wider seams.

Generally, floor tile will require sanded grout, as this is when bigger tiles is used, such as 12′ x 12″, or larger. Naturally, with bigger tiles, you will have wide grout lines to fill. Consider unsanded grout for smaller width grout lines such as what you would see when using 4″ x 4″ material. When you lay smaller tile, you’ll notice the grout lines will be smaller in width, resulting in less use of grouting.

Grout Tools

Vinyl Tyle

You will need a trowel to place the grout mixture to the open seam. Use a grout bag, if you prefer, to deliver.

I would recommend against it though, as the nozzle of the bag tends to get jammed a little too much for my taste (I’ve spent more time unplugging the nozzle than I do actually doing the work at hand). Some people really like them, however.

Really, it’s just a matter of preference.

Vinyl Tyle

You will also need a float to push the grout material into the tile lines and smooth it out.


Furnace

After applying the grout to the area and letting it dry a little, you will use a wet grout sponge to wipe excess material away.


Power Tool

To mix the grout, you should use a mixing paddle (look in drywall section of local home-improvement store) and power drill to mix material.

The other end of the paddle (attachment end) is made to fit securely in a drill, just as any drill bit would.


How to Apply Grout

Mixing the Grout


vinyl tile

I like to start with a little water first, and add in my grout material a little at a time, so I don’t have too much water, and not enough grout mix. I mix the stuff pretty good with the paddle/drill assembly, all the time adding grout mix as needed. I know I’ve reached the desired ‘feel’ of the mixture when the texture of the grout resembles something like creamy cake icing.

Not too runny – or thick – because then it becomes too hard to work with, especially thick.

Like me, you’ll learn right away in your early stages of learning how to grout tile what the correct texture (thickness) will work best for you. But as a good rule of thumb, you should be able to trowel it out of the mixing container (bucket), and place the mixture where you want it without having it run off the trowel.


basement floor

Trowel Mixture To Desired Area

Scoop up enough mixture to place at desired grout lines out about every 10 inches or so, enough for about the size of 4 12″ tile grout lines to fill.


Float Mixture

Before Pic

With your float, push, or ‘work’ the grout mixture into the open seams until the area is filled completely (you’ll know when this happens, as the mixture will squish out to the side or under your float).

Scrape the remaining mixture over to the adjacent grout line with your float so as not to waste any material, and repeat the process.

Continue the trowel-and-float process until all seam lines are filled correctly.

Wipe Excess Mixture

Before Pic

Using your wet grout sponge, begin to wipe off excess grout mixture from tiles and seams. Be sure to let mixture set up and dry for a little bit (15 – 20 minutes) before wiping.

Now, if you’re like me, you will have no problem sloshing the mixture everywhere. All over the walls and trim, anywhere it can end up, I bet I’ve had the stuff everywhere it can possibly go, especially early on when learning how to grout tile.

My point is this: Be prepared to wipe the surface of the tiles (and surrounding walls and trim) several times before you get the grout haze completely cleaned up. You will find that rinsing the floor several times is in order for tiles grouted with dark colors.

Tip

Use the edge of your grout sponge to really clean the edges of the tile of the dried grout. But only do this step after the grout has dried solid overnight so as not to gouge out any freshly-applied grout.

That’s about it for learning how to grout tile. As I said earlier, it’s not hard to do, just a little tedious and messy. Once you get the hang of it after filling a few seams, you’ll see that it becomes much easier to do.