Diy Home Interior Remodeling Projects: Installing Grout In Tile Flooring

Learn how to finish your ceramic, stone, or marble tile poject by grouting, caulking, and sealing the joints. Instructions and list of necessary tools included.

You prepared the substrata properly, making sure it was level and flat. You carefully laid out your tiles, using spacers where you should, then adhered the tiles with perfectly applied mastic, and cut edge tiles to size. Your tile project is almost complete. All you need to do now is grout the tiles, and you'll be done. Fortunately, grouting tiles is one of the easiest parts of laying ceramic, stone, terra cotta, or marble tiles.

Before you begin grouting, you need to gather the proper tools. You'll need grout, either water or latex to mix the grout, a rubber grout float, a grout tool such as an old toothbrush, a grout sponge, and a bucket. If you've never used grout before, carefully read the manufacturers instructions, and start with a small, inconspicuous area, like the spot where the refrigerator will go. If there is no inconspicuous area in the space you're tiling, glue a few scrap tiles to a board and practice there.

Applying Grout

Mixing the grout is the first step in grouting tile. Decide if you want to mix the grout with water, which is free, or a latex product that will make your grout more durable. Read the grout manufacturers instructions, and then mix the grout to a creamy texture, somewhere between sour cream and peanut butter.

Starting near a corner, use the flat part of your grout float to spread the grout, working at an angle to pack the grout evenly into the joints. Do not grout the expansion joints; you'll caulk them later. After you grout a few square feet, clean the tile and tool the joints. Still working at an angle, so not to pull grout back out of the joints, wipe off the float and use it to squeegee excess grout off the tiles. Using a damp sponge, clean the remaining grout from the tiles. Don't use too much water, and change the water in your bucket frequently to keep it clean. Then take the handle of an old toothbrush, your finger, or a damp sponge and wipe gently down the grout lines, filling in holes and smoothing the surface of the grout to just below the level of the tile.

After you've grouted a large space, you'll probably see a hazy film covering the surface of the tile. Clean this film off with a damp rag or a soft cloth. Be gentle. The grout may seem hard, but if it's not completely set you can still pull it out of the joints. As the grout dries over the next two or three days, it's a good idea to mist it periodically with water to keep it moist. Grout that dries too quickly can crack or become brittle, and even dry-set grout benefits from occasional misting as it dries.

Sealing and Caulking--The Final Steps

After the grout has set for two or three days, caulk the expansion joints. These are the joints between the tile and the wall, around fixtures, or in corners. Use a premium silicone caulk that matches the color of your grout, and tool the joints with your finger to create a smooth look.

Stone and terra cotta tiles need to be sealed prior to grouting to protect the look of the tile, and all grout needs to be sealed after it dries to make it water, mildew, and stain resistant. Check the instructions on the sealer you purchase--some sealers can be used 48 hours after applying grout, and others need to be used on fully cured grout that's set for a week or more. Use a small paintbrush to paint the sealer into the joints, and then wipe excess sealer off the tile with a damp rag. Reapply sealer every few years, when your grout starts getting harder to clean.

Your tile project is now finished. Assuming you've exercised patience and worked carefully, you have completed a beautiful project that you can feel good about accomplishing, and one that you will enjoy for years to come.

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