Learning how to grout ceramic tile correctly will save you time and money. When you think about it, or actually do it, it really isn't all that hard to do. It's more intimidating than it is difficult. The only way to learn is to get out there and do it, after reading this page this page of course, lol.
Ceramic tile is one of the most popular and widely used tiles used in residential flooring installation projects. Installing ceramic tile is a project that you can do yourself. The last part of installing ceramic tile will be to grout your tile. This takes a few special steps that should be followed to ensure proper grouting. Below is a guide on how to grout ceramic tile.
You should already have installed the tile by this point. You need to let your tile adhesive, thin set, mortar, or mastic completely dry before you begin grouting. This will normally require 24 hours to completely dry.
When grouting tiles always work in small batches so not to overwhelm yourself, it can get messy. This allows you to be able to clean off excess grout before it has time to harden, which usually takes 25-30 minutes.
Before you can apply the grout you need to remove the tile spacers and clean out the joints. After removing the spacers, inspect the joints for any thin set, or mortar that may be between the tiles.
You need to scrape out the thinset or mortar to leave room for the grout. If care was taken when installing the tiles there should be little to no thin set in the grout lines. After scraping the joints you can clean them using a vacuum to remove all of the dust and debris. When scraping, be careful not to damage the tile.
You can begin mixing your grout per the instructions on the packaging. If instructions were not included you can mix the grout powder in a bucket with clean water. As you mix the grout you want it to have a creamy consistency, if it is too watery you can add more powder and if it is too thick you can add more water. Stir well, or until all clumps are gone. It is important to only mix enough grout that you will able to use in 20 mins or so.
It's also important to let the mix "slake" for 10 mins. Slaking means to let it sit undisturbed. This lets the water get absorbed into the grout and starts the chemical process of hardening the grout. After slaking you can add more water, or grout if it's too thin, to get the correct consistency. This is one of the most important tips when learning how to grout ceramic tile.
If you don't have any experience with grouting tiles, work slowly until you get the hang of it. If you mix it all at once you run the risk of not being able to use it before it dries too much, grout should never be retempered. Retempering means to add more water when the mix starts to dry out. This weakens the grout severely and it will fail over time.
On walls it's a great idea to use a grout bag. It's basically a bigger version of a pastry bag. I learned this trick many years ago and it really works great. I keeps the mess to a minimum because the grout is pushed into the joint by the pressure applied to the bag.
The traditional way of grouting a wall it is to scoop grout from the bucket with the float and smear it on the wall. This I can tell you makes a huge mess. While you still have to use a float with the grout bag technique it's much less messy. You're simply evening out the grout and making sure the grout is firmly pressed into the joint.
Using a damp sponge lightly dampen your tiles to prevent them from removing moisture from the grout. Using your grout float firmly press the grout into the grout joints. Be sure the grout is firmly pressed into place and is clear of air bubbles. As you go, use your grout float to scrape off the excess grout from the tile. Using a steep angle on the float helps to get more of the grout scraped off. Remember to work in small areas.
After you wipe off the excess grout with your grout float, use a damp sponge to clean the surface of the tile. Wet your sponge and squeeze it to remove excess water. Run the sponge over the surface of the tile to remove the excess grout. It will also help even up the grout lines. Be careful not to dig into the grout when wiping it clean and to continually rinse the sponge to keep it clean.
Don't worry about getting is spotless on the first pass with the sponge. This first pass is to remove the bulk of the grout on the tile and to "tool" the grout lines. Tooling simply means to shape the grout lines, making them even with the tiles. Wait 10-15 mins then go over the grouted area again with a clean sponge to remove what is left over from the first sponging.
The tile should be pretty clean by now, but there will always be a haze on the tiles after they dry. I always go over the tiles one more time after 60-90 mins have passed just to be sure I got all of the grout off of the tiles. Now you know how to grout ceramic tile!
Once one section is grouted and cleaned you can move onto the next section and repeat the process. Once the entire floor, or wall, has been grouted and cleaned, let it sit over night to dry. In the morning you can polish it clean to remove any leftover film, or use a microfiber cloth to wipe it clean.
You now have a firm grasp on how to grout ceramic tile, so get out there and get it done already!