Cindy and I spent a large percentage of the past weekend crouching awkwardly and teetering on ladders while we grouted the tiles in the south container of the container house project. It seemed a good opportunity to write a DIY on how to grout tiles. It’s probably the easiest part of tiling, but as always, it’s nice to have a few tips to get best results. You don’t want your grout cracking and falling out as time passes.
As with any job, there’s some preparation work required.
Before the tile glue has completely cured, the gaps between the tiles need to be cleaned out. If you wait too long, it’ll be hard work getting the gaps clean. But, you also can’t complete this work too soon as you might accidentally move your perfectly laid tile. We usually use an old screwdriver or something similar to clean out the gaps. We then vacuum out any dust and loose pieces with a vacuum cleaner. If you decide to vacuum out your gaps too, we suggest you use an old vacuum cleaner that you don’t feel sorry for, as this isn’t the best way to treat your appliances.
Once the tile glue has cured enough after a couple of days, you can gather your tools and get to work.
Tools and Materials Required
You won’t need much in the way of tools and materials:
- Grout, in the colour of your choice to match your tiles
- You may require a product such as Tylon’s Bond-It if you are tiling a high-water area such as a shower
- A grouting tool
- Something in which to mix the grout (we use old ice-cream tubs)
- A sponge
- Gloves (a wise choice)
You’ll note on the pictures below, that we use an old expired credit card or plastic loyalty card for grouting. There are grouting tools on the market but we use this because it does not cost us anything and works remarkably well. Credit cards have the perfect amount of flexibility in them making it an ideal grouting tool. It also gives old cards a second life before we throw them away.
It is wise to wear gloves when grouting as the cement is corrosive and quite drying. However, I usually find the abrasive nature of grout usually ends up tearing the gloves before I’ve completed the work. Ones that are tough enough are often not water proof. Finding the perfect pair of gloves for grouting has proved to be difficult.
If you are grouting an area that is affected by water, it’s wise to use a product such as Bond-It. Replacing the water with a bonding agent makes the end product more water-resistant.
You’ll want to mix your grout with either water or with the bonding agent to make a paste with a medium consistency. It needs to be loose enough to penetrate well into all the gaps, but not so loose that it runs out the gaps between the tiles.
How To Grout Tiles
With firm pressure, squish the grout into the gaps. You want to get as much in there as possible to firmly seal the gap. If your hands aren’t cramping within a few minutes, you’re not doing it properly.
When the grout is just beginning to dry, use a damp sponge to clean off the excess grout around the joins. You’ll need to rinse off the sponge quite often.
While the grout is still damp from the sponge, run your finger along the grout line. This seals it nicely and gives it a good finish
The sponge will not remove all the excess grout from your tiles. As it dries you’ll notice a fine film of dust remains. As soon as the grout is dry enough, buff the tiles with a dry cloth. This will remove the last of the grout from off the tiles themselves. If you’re using a bonding agent, don’t wait too long as the longer it has cured, the harder it will be to buff it off the tiles.
Admiring Your Work
The best bit? Admiring the fruits of your labour the next day.