Installing Ceramic Tiles, Part Two: Applying Grout
by Clare Kaufman
Once you've installed your ceramic tiles, it's time to for step two--grout. Grout is a mixture of cement, sand, and water that creates a water-resistant seal between your tiles. In just a few hours you can ensure years of longevity for your new ceramic tiles.
Choose Your Grout
You'll encounter two main types of grout--sanded and non-sanded. Sand strengthens the grout, and is made for joints wider than 1/16th inch--for example, larger floor tiles. Smaller wall and countertop tiles call for non-sanded grout.
Color offers an opportunity to jazz up your home remodeling project. Black with light tile or white with dark tile can emphasize a geometric pattern. Colors can accent a design and neutrals can complement natural tiles like terra cotta.
Prepare the Work Space
An important prelude to any home remodeling job, preparing the space can include removing the spacers used to install ceramic tiles, vacuuming up any remaining mortar particles, and/or protecting adjacent surfaces.
Mix grout and water in a large bucket using a kitchen spatula. If the grout you use is not 'polymer-modified' (does not already contain a latex additive), add an acrylic latex substance to enhance the flexibility of the grout.
Your ceramic tile installation culminates in the following grout application steps:
- Moisten the tiles so they won't leach moisture from the grout.
- Spread grout across the tiles, holding the 'grout float' (a rubber-sponge applicator) at a 30° angle. Wipe at an angle to the tile lines to force the grout into gaps.
- Avoid expansion joints (along fixtures, between floor and wall, corners), which are sealed with caulk instead.
- Push grout into tile spaces using a blunt stick (such as a toothbrush handle) and scrape off excess.
- After 20 minutes, wipe the ceramic tile surface with a damp sponge. Start with circular strokes, then wipe parallel to the grout lines to smooth the joints.
- After about 40 minutes, wipe the ceramic tiles with a paper towel to remove grout haze.
Finish your home remodeling project by misting the grout occasionally for 3 days after you've installed the ceramic tiles. Congratulations--another home remodeling project under your belt.
About the Author
Clare Kaufman works as a writer and editor for an online media company. She has completed a graduate degree in English.