1.Preparation Makes Perfect
A clean surface makes for happy grouting. If you’re re-grouting old tiles, clean the surface thoroughly and use a special remover to rid yourself of the old grout. If you’re preparing newly-laid tiles, a damp cloth or towel will do.
Grout comes as pre-prepared or as a powder to be mixed with water. Either is good but makes sure the grout you chose is waterproof if you’re applying to a shower, bathroom or splashback.
The tools you will need:
A Grout sponge
A Doodle Bug (more on that later)
A Grout tool (or an old toothbrush)
Silicone and applicator (for joints between walls and floors, or where walls meet)
If you’re grouting a floor, you’ll need to wait until the mortar of the new tile floor has set, which will take two to three days. Take away any spacers you've placed and sweep or vacuum the floor as needed.
2.Read the Instructions
Unprepared grout comes in a packet with instructions. You owe it to your tiling job to read these thoroughly! One of the most important of them will be to start with water and then add the powder. This ensures a smooth mix with no lumps. Follow the proportions to the letter.
If you’re new to grouting tiles, it’s important to note that the mixture shouldn’t spread easily. You’re going for as thick, paste-like mix. Adding too much water will weaken the solution so don’t fall into that trap.
3.Lots of Grout is Rarely Too Much
There’s no need to scrimp. If you go for a powder mix, make up a generous batch. Adding new mix to old grouting gets poor results. It must be fresh.
Be prepared to mix multiple batches if you’re grouting a large area.
Once you’ve mixed your grout it goes without saying that you’ll clear the area of any powder or mess, doesn’t it?
4.Work the Angles
Now it’s time to apply the grout to your tiles. Use the sponge to push it into the joints and compress it in by wiping over at an angle across the joints. To see how to do this, watch the video.
If you’re grouting a floor, begin in a corner and work toward the centre. Spread the face of the tile with grout, then force it into every joint.
Don’t apply grout to the corners where walls meet floors or where two walls meet. This is a no-go zone. Silicone will have to be applied here later.
5.Don’t Go To Water
Once you’ve applied grout, remove all the excess material. Clean with a damp (but not too wet) sponge.
This is important. Grouting should leave a thin film on the surface of your tiles. Do not wash this off – you’ll weaken your grouting. The damp sponge needs to lift the film but not wet the actual grouted joint.
Make sure you regularly rinse the sponge to keep it clean.
Allow the grout to dry and for the film to set on the face of the tiles. This will take about an hour.
6.What About Those Joints?
We mentioned you shouldn’t grout corners between walls or where walls and floors meet. You need to apply silicone, as it’s much more flexible.
It comes in a tube with so it’s easy to apply. Do this with an even bead and smooth off any excess with an applicator. You may want to spray the silicone first with an additive called 'Smoothtex.' This helps smooth off the bead.
7.Time to Get Buff – But Be Patient
It’s nearly time to buff your tiles with clean cloth but remember - angels tread where fools rush in. Wait at least an hour if you’re tiling a living area wall or floor and three days to a week if it’s a bathroom surface.
Here’s where a tool called a Doodle Bug might come in handy. You will find these at your local Beaumont Tiles store.
Buff the area thoroughly three more times. This may sound a little excessive, but not being thorough enough will make it very hard to keep your tiles clean in the future. See our Tile Doctor page on Dirty Tiles for details.
Then stand back and admire your craftsmanship!
(video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-CaW0--Rt8)
(Tile Doctor link: http://www.beaumont-tiles.com.au/TileInfo/TheTileDoctor/DirtyTiles.aspx)