How do I Grout Tile?

Jennifer Byer

One great way to add to your home's value is to fix broken tiles or add new tile. The most daunting part of that task, however, may just be how to properly grout the tile. While it is a reasonable concern, it shouldn't be one that keeps you from taking on this home improvement project altogether. With a couple helpful tips, any do-it-yourselfer can grout tile.

Tile must first be installed before grout is laid.
Tile must first be installed before grout is laid.

The first decision to make is which type of grout to use. Cement-based grout is the common type used by do-it-yourselfers. Not only is it the easiest to grout tile with, but it also usually has the most color choices.

When installing tiles, grout should sit for 72 hours after being applied for it to completely dry.
When installing tiles, grout should sit for 72 hours after being applied for it to completely dry.

There are two types of cement-based grouts: sanded and unsanded. Sanded grout adds strength and is used on floor tiles and for gaps larger than 1/8” (3.175 mm). Unsanded grout, as the name suggests, lacks sand. This type of grout is thinner and used for gaps less than 1/8” (3.175 mm). It is also less abrasive and should always be used for soft tiles such as marble so as not to scratch the tiles.

Cement-based grouts come in a powdered form. When you're ready to grout tile, you'll need to add the water. While it sounds simple enough, the combination of water to powder is perhaps the most important step in the process. The consistency should be thin enough to be easily applied to the gaps and yet thick enough to stand on its own. To be sure you have the right ratio, follow the instructions on the package and practice applying some tiles to a backboard. Once you’re comfortable that you have the consistency, remember the ratio because you'll want to make the grout in small batches as you work. Since grout begins to dry as soon as it is made, and since grouting can take a while, you'll want to prepare it in stages.

After the tile has been installed, the spacers have been removed, and the surface has been cleaned with a damp cloth, you'll be ready to grout tile. The grout itself can be spread into the gaps using a trowel or rubber grout float. You'll want to work the grout into the gaps by making diagonal sweeps across the surface. Use the edge of the rubber float to skim off extraneous grout.

Once the grout is level with the tile, use a grout sponge dipped in water to rinse off the excess grout. Be sure to ring out the sponge as much as possible as watering down the freshly applied grout can thin it and compromise the grout color. Once an area has been grouted and cleaned, the area should be left undisturbed for at least 72 hours to completely dry.

To strengthen the grout and help maintain its color, a sealant can then be applied. This is highly recommended for surfaces that will be consistently exposed to water or is in a high traffic area.

Discussion Comments


I am totally new to DIY, and i need to tile and grout my bathroom. I have searched many sites for "hints & tips"

This site was and is easily the best for that. I feel i can tile my bathroom with a bit more confidence now.

thank you

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