How to Grout Tile: Grouting Tips and Techniques

Finish your new tile project with a professional quality grout job.

Next Project
Time

A full day

Complexity

Beginner

Cost

$51–100

Introduction

Master these simple professional grouting skills for durable, good-looking grout lines and a more attractive tiling job.

Tools Required

  • Bucket
  • Caulk gun
  • Grout float
  • Margin trowel
  • microfiber towel
  • Putty knife
  • Shop vacuum
  • Tiling sponge
  • Utility knife

Materials Required

  • Caulk
  • Grout
  • Masking tape

Project step-by-step (9)

Step 1

Prep work: Start with clean joints

Clean the joints

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Vacuum the grout lines, then scrape any protruding grout using a stiff putty knife and vacuum again. Don’t scrape too hard or you may chip the tile glazing on your how to grout tile project.

Apply tape to trim tiles

tapeFamily Handyman

Photo 2: Tape off edges and trim tiles To paraphrase Rodney Dangerfield, grout gets no respect. Grout can ruin an otherwise great tile job. And yet how to grout tile and proper grouting technique are often treated as an afterthought, like the final few half-hearted steps of a tired runner stumbling over the finish line. Grout deserves better. Your tile deserves better.

The keys to a professional-quality grout job aren’t secrets shrouded in mystery. On these pages, we’ll show you some tips and techniques on how to grout tile so you’re job goes more smoothly and give your tile a professional-grade finished look.

Start by vacuuming out all that remodeling dust, debris and any chips of dried thin-set from grout joints (Photo 1). If there are high spots where thin-set has oozed out and dried, use a sturdy-edged tool to scrape it out and then vacuum again, including the tile surfaces. The last thing you want is to push all that muck back into the joint as you are floating your grout in.

Tip: Tape Off the Tile Before Grouting

For easier cleanup, tape off painted walls to protect them from grout. Also tape off trim or inset tiles that feature imprinted patterns with crevices (Photo 9).

How to Repair Grout That’s Cracking

Step 2

Mix the grout by hand

Mix the grout until it’s powder-free

groutFamily Handyman

Mix the grout with a margin trowel until all the powder is dissolved. Roll the bucket frequently while mixing. Scrape the bottom to make sure all the grout is mixed. Pour some grout out of the bag into a mixing bucket. Pour water in a little at a time and start mixing by hand using a margin trowel (See “A Tiler’s Best Friend” below). Tip the bucket toward you and roll it in a “cement mixer” style as you mix (Photo 3). Be sure to scrape any dry, unmixed grout from the bottom of the bucket with your margin trowel. Keep mixing until all the powder has been absorbed and it has the consistency of peanut butter. When you’re getting close, dribble in water from a sponge. It only takes a little too much to create soup. And don’t mix grout with a drill and mixing paddle. This method churns the grout and introduces air into the mix. That weakens the cured strength and causes a type of discoloration called “shading.” Besides, we’re trying to mix grout here, not make soufflé.

Let the grout “slake”
When your grout has reached peanut butter status, stop! Go and make a sandwich, take out the trash, whatever. Let the grout slake (rest) for about 10 minutes. This allows the chemicals in the grout to work their magic. Skipping this step may result in weaker, crack-prone joints. After slaking, the grout will feel a bit stiffer, but don’t add more water. Remix the grout by hand again to loosen it up to get ready on this how to grout tile excursion.

A Tiler’s Best Friend

Family Handyman

Buy yourself a margin trowel for 10 bucks. You’ll use it for mixing grout and thin-set, scraping out joints, cleaning buckets and tools, spreading mayonnaise, flipping pancakes….

As Thick as What?

Family Handyman

Mix your grout to the consistency of creamy peanut butter.

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