For any tiling project, grouting is the icing on the cake. It completes your floors and walls and brings out the true beauty of your tiles.
So, if you’re planning to tile your home, or have already tiled your home, doing a good grouting job is crucial to elevate the look and feel of your home. In this article, I bring you beneficial tips on grouting including the best consistency for grout, how long you should wait before grouting tiles, removing haze, and more. It also includes a step-by-step guide to grouting for a top-notch finish.
How long should you wait before grouting tiles?
As a rule of thumb, grouting is usually done at least 24 hours after tiling. But it may take longer depending on how fast your mortar is drying. So, after letting the tiles dry for 24 hours, you have to decide if your tiles are dry enough to grout.
Keep in mind that even though the mortar looks dry enough to apply grout, it may not be completely dried off yet. And, when you apply grout, it will seal off the air needed by the mortar to cure. If this curing process is hindered, tiles will start popping loose from the surface.
It’s okay to grout several days after tiling. However, make sure that you remove any dust, dirt, stains, etc. stuck between the joints before you start grouting.
What is the right consistency for grout?
A grout mixture with the right consistency feels and looks like smooth peanut butter. Basically, the mixture should be malleable but not too watery. To get this ideal consistency, make sure to mix the ingredients thoroughly. If the mixture is too drippy, add more grout powder to balance it out. If it’s the other way around, add a splash of water and get rid of the stiffness.
Should I grout the floor before or after grouting walls?
If you grout your walls after grouting the floor, the grout will fall and make a mess of your already finished floors. So, without taking the risk of doubling your workload, finish grouting your walls before you move onto the floor tiles.
How long does it take for grout to dry?
Grout will typically dry within 24 hours. However, the actual time is far more difficult to guess and can change according to other factors such as the humidity, moisture, and the type of grout. For example, cement-based grout usually takes 24 to 72 hours to dry while epoxy and furan grouts take around 24 hours.
Whatever grout you use, allow the tiles to dry for 48 to 72 hours. Keep in mind that one mishap may lead to all your hard work being ruined. So, be extremely patient with your grout until you’re certain that it’s set.
How long should I wait before removing the grout haze?
Grout haze is the residue left on tiles after grouting. This should only be removed after the tiles become completely dry. Grout haze can typically be removed after 24 hours. If you’re unsure, read the packaging and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how long the grout should be left to dry.
However, waiting for more than 10 days to remove grout haze is not a good idea. This will cause the haze to harden and you will require harsher removers and more effort to get rid of it.
A step-by-step guide to grouting
Grouting is a delicate task that demands a lot of attention. And, it’s not an overstatement to say that the success of your tiling project depends on how good your grouting job is done. So, knowing how to grout properly is just as important as tiling. This step-by-step guide lists how to grout your tiles correctly to achieve a magnificent finish.
- 1. Pick out your grout
You can buy grout in both powdered and pre-mixed forms. Beyond that, you can find grout in a range of colors as well. The color you pick should complement the colors of the tiles.
- 2. Clean the joints
Any dust, debris, stains, etc. stuck between the joints of tiles can ruin the grout or even cause color variations. So, all joints should be cleaned as the first step when you start grouting. This can be done with a small utility knife or a similar sharp utensil and a vacuum. That being said, you will need to put extra care not to leave any accidental scratches on the surface of the tiles. Taping the edges of the tiles in the area you’re cleaning is a good method to protect your tiles from any potential damage.
- 3. Mix grout and let it slake
Color variations are a common error that happens when grouting. And, most of the time, this is the result of the grout not being mixed well. For the perfect grout mixture, you need to incorporate all the grout powder without leaving any loose ends. Mix thoroughly by tipping the container to a side and combining the ingredients from bottom to top to minimize color variations and get the exact consistency.
After making the mixture, leave it undisturbed for around 10 minutes to slake. Slaking allows the moisture to fully infuse with any loose powder that was not mixed well. Additionally, letting the grout slake will help the chemicals bond well and strengthen. Without slaking, the grout will be less strong and will likely crack or chip away sooner.
When the 10 minutes are up, remix briefly to loosen the mixture and apply right away. After slaking, you may notice that the mixture is a bit stiff compared to the original consistency. However, do not add any more water and use it as is. Keep in mind that grout will harden completely within 30 to 60 minutes.
- 4. Apply the grout
To apply grout, take a small amount to a grout float and spread it in a sweeping motion while holding the float at a 45° angle. You can press the grout into the joints with the float to fill them up thoroughly. Start in one corner and progress by working one small area at a time to grout more effectively.
- 5. Get rid of excess grout
If there is any excess grout, hold the grout float at a 90° angle and swipe over the area. Doing a serpentine motion over the joints is also a good method to remove grout. Avoid digging into the joints as it will cause the grout to become uneven.
- 6. Wipe the tiles
Wiping helps get rid of leftover grout. This means that if you wipe after grouting, you’ll likely have much less grout haze to deal with afterward. Wait for a few minutes until the tiles are dry and wipe them in a circular motion with a damp sponge or a damp cloth at this stage. However, you need to be careful not to drag out any grout from the joints when wiping.
- 7. Let it dry
Grout should be left to dry for approximately 24 to 72 hours. The exact time taken will differ based on the humidity, indoor moisture, and the type of grout you use.
- 8. Clean the grout haze
After around 2 to 3 days, you can start removing the grout haze without causing any damage to the grout. This can be done by buffing the area with a damp cloth.
- 9. Apply sealer
Sealer should only be used after letting the grout dry for the length of time specified by the manufacturer. Simply apply the product over the joints with a paintbrush or sealer applicator and clean off any smears within the first few minutes for a nicer finish to your tiles.
Other tips for grouting after tiling
- Say no to drills and mixing paddles when mixing the grout. These infuse air into the mixture, causing the deterioration of curing strength and discoloration of the grout.
- If it’s taking longer for the grout to dry, finish small sections in turns to save time.
- While washing excess grout off the tiles, you can use your sponge or a wet finger to slightly press down on the joints and shape the grout evenly.
- After washing the tiles with a damp cloth, dry the surface immediately with a dry cloth.
- To remove excess grout from hard-to-reach places, use a utility knife.
Grouting after tiling – FAQ
Why is curing the mortar important?
If the mortar is not dried well, it may lead to misalignment and other damage to the tiles. In the worst case, you may have to relay tiles again. So, leaving plenty of time, at least 24 to 48 hours, for the mortar to cure before grouting is always a good idea.
Is it okay to tile and grout on the same day?
It’s not recommended to tile and grout on the same day. Wait for one to two days and grout only after making sure that the mortar is completely dried off. Applying grout too soon will obstruct the curing process of mortar by sealing off airways.
How long does it take for grout haze to appear?
Grout haze is not visible on wet tiles. So, you may not notice them right after applying grout. However, when the surface becomes dry, you will start seeing a white film of grout haze. Usually, grout haze will appear within 48 hours.
Grouting is one of the most important steps in a tiling project. While it’s by no means an easy job, grouting will enhance the colors and patterns of your tiles. The most crucial factors for a good grouting job are being patient and getting the timing right. So, make sure that you give plenty of space for the mortar to cure before applying grout. After the grout is applied, wait until it dries off completely before you start using the area.
I hope that this article helped you learn more about how to grout your tiles correctly and effectively. Use the step-by-step instructions provided here as a guide to give the perfect finish to your tiles.
Nurasha is a writer with a passion for clever lifehacks related to home improvement. And, she loves sharing the hacks and ideas she finds on How to Improve Home.