How to grout terra cotta tile

Written by jo burns
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How to grout terra cotta tile
The signature colour of a terra-cotta tile is earthy-red. (les tomettes image by harmonie57 from Fotolia.com)

A terra-cotta tile is a porous tile made from clay and fired at low temperatures. Specific types of tile are made in the terra-cotta method, such as Saltillo tiles which are made from clay found only in Saltillo, Mexico; however, the connecting factor is that terra-cotta tiles are typically chosen for their rustic, old-world look. Grouting terra-cotta tiles is no more difficult than grouting ceramic tiles and, in fact, due to their organic nature, terra-cotta tiles might require less perfection in grouting than other types of tile.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Spacer puller or needle nose pliers
  • Bristle brush
  • Vacuum or broom
  • Grout
  • Spatula or item for mixing
  • Water
  • Mixing buckets
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Grout float
  • Protective gloves
  • Knee pads
  • Sponges
  • Lint-free cleaning cloth
  • Sealant
  • Small paint brush

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Allow the tile adhesive to cure for a minimum of 24 hours.

  2. 2

    Use a spacer puller or needle nose pliers to remove the plastic spacers from in between the tiles.

  3. 3

    Brush free any loose adhesive in the joints, and vacuum all debris from the surface. Wear your knee pads and gloves for safety and protection.

  4. 4

    Mix the grout according to the manufacturer's instructions. The experts at Hammer Zone recommend sanded grout for floors and other applications where there is a wide grout seam between tiles. Non-sanded grout is used when tiles fit very tightly together such as in a shower stall.

  5. 5

    Lightly mist your working space with water from the spray bottle. A thin layer of water will help the grout move over the tiles more easily. Scoop approximately 1 to 2 litres (1 to 2 quarts) of grout onto the tile. Hold your grout float at a 45-degree angle, and spread the grout over the tiles in a sweeping motion. Press the grout into the tile joints until they are completely filled.

  6. 6

    Change the angle of your grout float to 90 degrees, and slide it over the tiles in a diagonal direction to remove excess grout.

  7. 7

    Allow the grout to harden for approximately 20 minutes. Use a clean, wet sponge to remove even more excess grout. Carefully smooth out the grout lines with the moist sponge as you clean. Keep a bucket of clean water nearby, and rinse your sponge often. Change the water frequently.

  8. 8

    Use a dry, soft cloth to clean the remaining haze from the tiles after the grout has hardened. This may take 2 to 24 hours depending on the type of grout used and your environmental conditions.

  9. 9

    Seal the completely dried grout with a commercial sealer. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and use a small paint brush for easy application.

Tips and warnings

  • Apply the grout to a 90 x 90 cm (3 x 3 foot) section or an area in which you can comfortably reach the perimeters until the entire project is finished.
  • Seal terra-cotta tiles before installing them. Unsealed terra-cotta may be stained by grout or adhesives.
  • Grout, especially sanded grout, can be very drying to the skin. Always wear protective gloves while you are working with grout.

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