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Old 06-30-2010, 06:30 PM   #1
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Grouting basics with pictures

Since we get a ton of questions about grouting on this forum, I thought I would make a quick, easy to understand, bring your DIY to work photo tutorial on grouting.

This installation is a typical kitchen backsplash. We used ceramic tiles and sanded grout made by CBP from Home Depot*. This method is the same for most every type of tile, when using the normal cement based grouts you'd find at any tile shop or home improvement center. The same method you would use for floor and walls.

In some instances you would want to seal your tile first. In this case, since it is glazed ceramic, we don't have to seal first, so we are skipping that part of the instructions. For more on sealing before grouting, search the JB forum Library, or wait until I remember to take my camera to work again.

Tips from this pro;

1- Mix your grout as specified on the packaging. Yes, you really do have to read the instructions.
2- One of the more frequent questions we get is on grout consistency. When first mixed, it should be creamy but quite thick. Like barely softened ice cream. Not that yogurt stuff, the real ice cream that involved a few cows.
3- Let that slake (sit by itself untouched) for 10 minutes. Mix again.
4- Before you mix it again, the grout may appear to have almost fully hardened. Don't panic. Mix it slowly again. The consistency should return to its starting point or be a little harder.
5- Keep the mixing speeds below 300 rpm. If the mixing blade is spinning so fast you can't see it, then its time to slow down.
6- When floating the grout, the the float is held at a 45 angle to the surface of the tile to really work the grout into the joints.

The picture below is what the consistency should look like. Creamy, yet firm. Never sagging, Never runny.






*Sorry Henry, its what the customer asked for.
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Last edited by Houston Remodeler; 07-02-2010 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 06-30-2010, 06:34 PM   #2
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The next picture shows the wall after floating with the grout float.

Tips from this pro;

1- Try not to leave too much grout behind. The more you leave behind, the more work there is to clean it, and the more grout you waste. Nobody like waste.
2- Work in smaller manageable areas.
3- Turn the fan off. Wind skins it over too fast. I know its hot sugar, but its worth the sweat. :southernbelle:
4- Move the grout in several different angles to press the grout into the joints fully.
5- Final scraping of the excess grout is done at with the trowel held at almost 90 to the tile, and angled to the joints at 45 so the grout float edge doesn't dig into the joints and they are as full as possible.

In the picture you can see there are blobs of grout around the edges where the joints are. This is to make sure the joints are full at the ends. Don't try to scrape those off right away. Its easier to let the grout set a spell and firm up a bit before tackling the edge joints.
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Last edited by Houston Remodeler; 07-02-2010 at 10:07 AM.
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Old 06-30-2010, 06:41 PM   #3
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The next pic shows the tile after the first sponging. I like to use the classic yellow hydro-sponges available everywhere, pictured at the very bottom of today's lesson.

Tips from this pro;

1- Have a second person rinsing sponges. It makes the job MUCH easier. As far as I know, no one has lost an eye tossing damp sponges back and forth to each other.
2- Use a 5 gallon bucket of water to rinse the sponges. DO NOT use a sink, bathtub or toilet. The grout will clog the drain. BTDT.
3- Wait until the grout has slightly hazed over but the grout joints are still wet looking before your first sponging.
4- work in smaller manageable sized areas.
5- Full grout joints are happy grout joints. Rub lightly and evenly with your sponge. Depending on how firm your sponge is will determine how damp to make it and how hard to press. This is a learn-as-you-go step.
6- If you are getting water running down the wall you're sponges are too wet.
7- Fill any low spots or pin holes in the grout at this time.

The end of the first pass with a sponge should look like this. You can see there is still some grout remaining on the surface of the tile. This is OK. Most times when you try to remove all the excess grout on the first pass you wind up digging too much grout out of the joints.
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Last edited by Houston Remodeler; 06-30-2010 at 09:05 PM.
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Old 06-30-2010, 06:45 PM   #4
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The next pic is after the 2nd sponging. In between spongings, the grout was allowed to haze over again, and the grout got a bit firmer in the joints.

Tips from this pro;

1- Keep those sponges clean. Change the bucket of water if you need to.
2- Don't press to hard as to scrub the grout out of the joints. If you find you are taking too much grout out you have some choices;
A- Use a less damp sponge
B- Use a firmer sponge
C- Wait a little longer

In the photo below you will notice there is no grout on the face of the tiles, aside from the haze.
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Old 06-30-2010, 06:52 PM   #5
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The final step is to buff the grout haze off the surface of the tile. We like to use old bath towels, turning them frequently, much like waxing a car.

Tips from this pro:

1- Wait until the grout has become fairly hard. You'll know this by the spare lump of grout you left off to the side to fill pinholes you missed when floating the wall.
2- Don't press too hard. You're buffing, not waxing a surfboard.
3- Turn the cloth frequently as not to get a buildup of grout on the towel.
4- This is a dusty procedure. Take steps to protect your lungs. Fans and dust masks are cheap. New lungs in the right size are a little harder to come by.
5- If you accidentally dig out some grout, repair it with the grout you left aside and repeat steps 1 though this one.
6- There should be NO grout in the joint where the tile meets the countertop. When the grout has a chance to set a spell, but not fully harden, take a sharp stick / screwdriver / toothpick / razor / trowel and dig out the unwanted grout before it gets rock hard. This joint is caulked closed, preferrably with 100% silicone caulk to eliminate mold.
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Old 06-30-2010, 06:55 PM   #6
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This is a close up of the finished grout joint to give an idea of how you can achieve a full grout joint.
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Old 06-30-2010, 06:57 PM   #7
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This is the sponge we like to use. Its a man made, closed cell sponge. The typical dish washing sponge will NOT work. The holes in dish washing sponges are way too large and angular for grouting. Buy yerself 3 or 4 of these. I wash mine in the clothes washer. After the spin cycle, they come out dry enough to dry on their own. No need to put them in the dryer. You may have to vacuum the sand out of your washer if you have a front loader like me.
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Old 06-30-2010, 08:39 PM   #8
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Very cool Paul. Maybe one of them there people with the magic key can lock this up at the top for all to see, or put it in the library.

Why did you use all of that tile??? The glazing sure looks awfully crackled.
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Old 06-30-2010, 08:46 PM   #9
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Greg,

I dunno about moving this to the library. That's above my pay grade. I am sure the button pushing gods will do what's best. In the meanwhile I am hoping more pro's will add to the thread to make it a superthread.
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Old 06-30-2010, 08:53 PM   #10
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Paul, you wash your sponges in the washer?
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Old 06-30-2010, 08:57 PM   #11
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Yes, along with the grouting towels and my work clothes. The sponges come out good as new !! I did find you can overload the washer with too many towels and sponges Smaller batches allow the front loading washer to tumble the sponges around without getting all crammed into the corners and not getting clean.
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Old 06-30-2010, 10:30 PM   #12
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I'll wash the towels but not that into washing the sponges, I clean them out
pretty good in the bucket.
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Old 06-30-2010, 10:31 PM   #13
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Hey Paul, you be in the Library and the washer now.
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Old 06-30-2010, 10:43 PM   #14
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The washer really beats the heck out of any job you can do by hand in a bucket. There is a huge noticeable weight difference when they come out of the washer. Besides, they ain't any more dirty than my pants most days.
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Old 07-01-2010, 08:40 AM   #15
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Hey paul I bet your wife just loves you washing your towels and sponges in the warsher...eh?
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