What is grout? It is the smooth, cement like mixture that fills the joints between tiles. Grouting is an easier task than tiling, but it’s so important that it be done correctly as it protects the joints from having moisture and dirt get in. Also, a neat grouting job hugely affects the overall look of any given tiled surface.
1. Choose which grout to use
There are two types of grout, sanded and unsanded. Decide what type you will need. Sanded grouts are designed for wide joints of 4mm and over. Unsanded grout is used for smaller joints. You should choose a colour that will complement the tiles, whilst taking note of these points. Choosing a grout colour similar to the tile helps to hide any imperfections in joint size and in the laying of the tiles. However, a contrasting grout colour will make the tiles stand out if they have been well laid.
2. Prepare the tiled area
Allow the tile adhesive to cure for at least 24 hours after completion. The preparation of the tiled area for grouting will have a direct result on the finished product, so it’s important to do it well. All the joints must be clean and dry from any dust, debris and also any adhesive that might be protruding from the tile. To clean any excess adhesive from the joints, you can use a sharp knife or blade to cut it away from the tile. When doing this, be careful to not damage the surface or edge of the tiles. Wipe or sweep the tiled area thoroughly. If you see there is a lot of dust in the joints, it’s best to use a vacuum cleaner to thoroughly remove it.
3. Mixing the grout
Once the tiled area is clean and dry, mix the grout. It’s important to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions whilst bearing in mind these points. The consistency of most grouts should be smooth and toothpaste-like. To have a workable mixture, most grouts should be left to stand for about 10 minutes after mixing and then re-mixed just before application. Make sure you mix enough grout to complete the tiled area. As it may harm your skin, use gloves when you apply the grout.
4. Apply grout
Carefully but firmly apply the grout to the tile joints using your grout float. To achieve a full and smooth grout coverage, it’s best to hold the grout float at a 45 degree angle to the tiles and then spread it in a sweeping, s-like motion. This helps to ensure the grout joints are filled consistently and also that less grout is left on the surface of the tiles. Try also to move the grout float at a diagonal angle to the tile joints because if you move the grout float in the same direction as the tile joints, the float can create uneven coverage by digging into the joints. Make sure you only apply grout to a few square metres at a time. Before the grout dries on the tiles, wipe the surface clean.
5. Clean the grout joints
Collect a clean sponge and 2 clean buckets of water. Once the grout visibly starts to dry on the surface of the tile (this will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes), then it’s time to start cleaning the excess off. Dip your sponge into the first bucket, making sure to wring it out thoroughly. Clean across the surface in a circular motion of the area you just grouted. Rinse the sponge as needed. Carefully avoid wiping in the direction of the tile joints as this will wipe out the grout. After finishing the initial wipe, the surface of the tiles will look muddy, but a final clean will solve this. Now, using the second bucket of clean water, whilst still being careful, clean more thoroughly to remove all remaining grout from the surface of the tiles. Be sure to clean the sponge as needed.
6. Extra cleaning
Once the grout has cured for about 4 to 5 hours, with a sponge and clean water, re-wipe the surface to remove any grout haze. Follow the same instructions for wiping as mentioned in the previous step. As the grout takes 24 hours to fully cure, still be careful to not damage any grout joints. If after 24 hours, there is still a slight haze on the surface of the tiles, repeat this step.
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