Tiling a shower or floor is one of the most difficult home improvement projects you can do yourself. However, it can be done by anyone with some training. A good guide can be all the training you need to learn to tile.
One of the most difficult parts of tiling is grouting. Grouting is finishing work that needs to be done in order for you to use your tile. This guide will teach you how to grout anything that has already been tiled.
Keep in mind that although this guide was made for bathroom tile, it works for any tile, from the kitchen to the family room to the sunroom. This is a general guide on how to grout tile not just how to grout a shower.
What Is Grout?
Grout is often confused with other materials like it. Grout isn’t concrete, mortar, or thin-set. However, grout is a type of cement. You may think that cement and concrete are the same but they are not.
Mortar is similar to grout but it is an adhesive that is used when tiling to stick the tile to other surfaces. To learn more on how to use mortar and tile a surface, check out this guide on how to lay tile.
Grout is a type of cement primarily used between tiles. It is used to fill the gaps left between tiles to give you a smooth, flat surface. While you can use a grout gun to fill the gaps, the classic method is more popular.
How To Choose A Grout
Grout usually comes in two different types: sanded or unsanded. Both are versatile and can be used indoors, outdoors, on walls, and on floors. You can get it both in a pre-mixed bucket where it is ready to apply and a powder.
For the powder, you need to find the right ratio of powder to water for your needs and your climate. Some climates need more water as the grout will dry out faster while it sets while others need it to be thick. Always read the instructions carefully.
When buying grout, buy one more bucket or bag than you need. Or up the size. But if you buy an extra package, you can return it if you don’t use it. But you don’t want to be without the grout that you need during your project.
Types Of Grout
These are the four main types of grout:
- Sanded Grout – sanded grout is usually for larger gaps that are 1/8 inch to 5/8 inch. It will resist cracking and shrinkage. If you don’t know what type of grout you need, then sanded grout is probably your best bet.
- Unsanded Grout – unsanded grout is for joints that are less than 1/8 inch. It works well with glass, polished marble, or metal tile. You don’t want to scratch your tile with the extra sand added to sanded grout.
- Acrylic Grout – acrylic grout is a great option for wet areas like showers. It is mildew resistant and works more like a sealant than a grout. It can be applied like clear caulk and offers a good, waterproof seal.
- Epoxy Grout – epoxy grout is grout and sealer all in one. It is hard to use but offers a good seal and works great for countertops that have a lot of pressure on them. This is not a good first-time grout.
The type of grout you use is your choice, but it is recommended to ask a professional which they think you should use for your project. Even an associate at a hardware store can help if you’re starting at square one.
Just be sure to ask the right person. Whoever is around the area may know, but ask them if they are sure. If they aren’t, ask them for someone who does, someone who specializes in tile and has done their own projects.
How to Grout Tile
Grouting wall tile and grouting floor tile isn’t all that different. If you learn how to grout floor tile, you will learn how to grout wall tile. Wall tile is easier to grout than floor tile because you don’t have to worry about walking on it.
However, with walls, you need to reach high areas on most occasions. So it can be difficult to do so if the floor beneath is tile. Some tile isn’t safe to put a chair or ladder on. But even with this, walls are easier to grout than floors.
Step 1: Tape The Tub And Other Gear
The first thing you should do is protect your tub. If there’s anything other than tile in the area that is touching the tile, tape it. If the area is large, like a tub, then put a sheet, painting plastic, or a tarp over it and tape it down.
Step 2: Mixing The Grout
You can use a bucket to mix the grout and follow the instructions on the package. You’ll be mixing water into the dry mix. Add the water slowly and take care not to let the mixture get watery. It’s okay if the mix is a little thick at first. Let it settle before adding more water. Let it set for 10 minutes to see the true texture.
Step 3: Applying The Grout
Give your grout a little mix before applying it. Use your float to get a little grout on the end. Scrape it against the side of the bucket if there is too much on there. Then run it along an area in the tile. After you do, scrape the excess grout along the bucket’s lip. Then, run the clean float over the tile again.
Step 4: Sponging
You should have a bucket of water and a sponge on hand. Get the sponge and gently wash the tile in the area that you’ve added grout. The sponge should be damp, not soaked. Keep the water in the bucket clean. This is where having two people comes in handy.
Step 5: Repeat
You will continue adding grout, swiping it level, and then washing the tile until you’ve tiled the entire area. However, it’s best to not go too fast. After about 20-30 minutes you will want to wash the tile before the grout hardens too much.
Step 6: The Final Clean
After the grout is dry, or just almost dry, you can actually wash the tile while safely crawling on it. If you accidentally smush some of the grout or notice a gap, you can add more grout to the area and let it dry. The grout usually takes a couple of hours to dry but you can check the package for your grout. After it is totally dry, clean the tile with soap and then dry it off with an abrasive cloth. But even then, try not to mess with the grout lines for a couple of days.
Step 7: Sealing The Grout
It’s a good idea to seal your grout to keep it looking good. This will prevent it from darkening, fading, or being slowly shaved off. Get a good grout sealer and apply it. Follow the instructions on the package of the sealer.
Caulking Your Tile
After your sealer has dried, you can begin caulking. You need to choose a caulk that was made for high-moisture areas, like the bathroom. You can find caulk that is the same color as your grout to make it look natural.
Step 1: Decide Where To Caulk
The general rule is to caulk anywhere that the tile meets another surface. It is used in place of grout and is found around the ceiling, tub, toilet, floor, and wall If your tile is around a window, that needs to be caulked too.
Step 2: Apply The Caulk
You can really just get to caulking right off the bat. You can find out where to caulk your bathroom with a bathroom caulking guide. All you need to do is start with a bead and slowly, yet steadily, follow the line that needs to be caulked.
Step 3: Wet The Line
Now you can use a paper towel or another tool but it is easiest to use your finger for this. Get it wet and run it lightly over the surface of the line. This will smooth it down and leave you with a nice edge. It takes practice to get it right but can do wonders for your finished project.
Hiring A Professional
While hiring a professional is ideal, don’t let yourself get talked into doing either unless it’s what you want to do. If you do it yourself, you’ll feel accomplished. But if you feel overhwlemed, don’t attempt it without help.
A friend with experience tiling is enough to help you feel secure. That said, hiring a professional is almost always the quickest and most efficient thing to do. But of course, that comes at a price that not everyone can afford.
It can cost somewhere between $200 and $5000 for a tile job. This doesn’t include the cost of the materials needed. This is for the work itself along with the tools the workers bring along with them.