Stainless steel tiles are primarily installed on walls but they can also be used on floors except those where water pools like in a shower stall. Because these tiles are susceptible to being scratched, they are face taped to protect the surface during shipping and throughout the installation. It's only when the installation is complete that the face tape is peeled away from the surface of the tile. Because these tiles are more prone to damage, grouting needs to be done more carefully.
Clean the stainless steel tile installation to prepare it to receive the grout. Dip the tile sponge in a bucket of cold, clean water and wring it out. Wipe the grout joints to clear away any dirt, dust, debris and thinset mortar that hasn't yet hardened.
Use a putty knife, grout saw or utility knife to remove thinset that oozed up between the stainless steel tiles and has dried hard. Clean joints will create clean grout lines.
Mix up an unsanded grout if the grout lines between the stainless steel tiles are 1/8-inch wide or less. If grout lines are over 1/8-inch wide use sanded grout. The grout should be good quality and contain latex additives. Mix per manufacturer's directions in a bucket, adding water as needed.
Scoop grout out of the bucket with a rubber grout float--a hand tool used to press grout into the tile joints. Holding the float at a 45 degree angle to the tile surface, move the grout-loaded float across the surface of the wall at a 45-degree diagonal to the joint lines.This ensures the grout fills the joints without it being pulled back out with every consecutive pass of the float. Move the float diagonally from left to right and vice versa. Use the same technique if grouting a floor installation.
Wait 20 to 30 minutes before wiping the grout the first time. Dip a tile sponge in a bucket of clean water and wring out any excess. Focus mainly on wiping the grout off the surface of the stainless steel tiles. If you notice any low spots in any grout lines, refill them with the float.
Wait another 20 to 30 minutes. With a fresh bucket of clean water dip the sponge in, wring it out and wipe the sponge vertically and horizontally across the grout lines to smooth them.
Fill the bucket a third time with clean water after a 15 to 30 minute wait. Dip the sponge in and wring it out. The purpose of the third wipe is to wipe the last of any grout residue left on the stainless steel tiles. Wipe once with one side of the tile sponge. Flip it over, and wipe a second time. Dip the sponge into the water and rinse it well. Wring out excess water and repeat you have wiped the entire installation clean.
Caulk along the stainless steel tiles with a flexible sealant where they meet the floor, at inside corners or where they come in contact with any surfaces that are restraining like pipes or cabinets. Wait two days to caulk to give the grout time to dry.
Apply silicone sealer to the grout lines per manufacturer's instructions. Wait between two days and two weeks for the grout to thoroughly dry before application. Check the grout packaging for generally how long it takes the grout to dry.
Peel off the face tape from the front of each of the stainless steel tiles. Clean the metal with a neutral, concentrated tile cleaner. First wipe the surface of the tiles with clean cheesecloth. Next dip a clean tile sponge in the tile cleaner, wring it out and wipe the surface of the tile.
Unsanded grout doesn't have silica sand in it which means that as the grout float presses the grout in between the stainless steel tile it can more easily penetrate the space between the tiles. Sanded grout does contain silica sand; this makes the grout more durable, which is necessary with wider grout lines. Grout should be mixed to a consistency where it's loose enough to be pressed into the joints and stiff enough to stay put once it's in the joints. Use a plastic knife to help lift the initial corner of the face tape on the tile when peeling it off. The plastic won't scratch the tile surface. Using warm water to wipe grout will accelerate the drying of the grout. If you are grouting for the first time, use cold water. It will give you more time to work.