Installing and grouting tile is a simple job, but one that requires proper preparation and care or the results can be amateurish. Grout is best when it is not noticed. Acting as a medium that keeps tiles locked in tight and prevents water from soaking into the walls or floors, grout is only a concern when it fails to do its job. Always practice setting and grouting tiles on a board before embarking on an actual project.
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Preview Your Finished Product
If you are curious how the grout will look in contrast to your tiles, a simple trick is to sprinkle a tablespoon of the dry grout powder between a few tiles. If you are tiling a wall, use four extra tiles and place them on a board with proper spacing between each. The powdered grout is almost exactly the colour your wet grout will look like when dried.
Choose the Right Grout
Keeping your wall tiles tight to each other is both aesthetically appealing and a better water barrier. Most wall tile has a gap of 1/8 inch or less and requires wall tile grout. However, if your grout lines exceed that width, then you need to use sanded floor tile grout, which is less likely to shrink or crack as it dries.
Never Use Too Much Water
Water is necessary for preparing grout, but too much makes it unstable. The temptation of adding additional water usually comes when the grout starts to harden in the bucket. Adding water does not return the grout to proper consistency and produces crumbly results when it hardens. Always throw out the hardened grout and mix up a new batch rather than risk applying subquality materials. When wiping down the grout after application, be sure to use a damp, but not overly wet sponge. A wet sponge can damage grout as it cures.
Buff Tiles Before Grout Dries
Once your grout has been applied and wiped clean, you will notice a haze or film as the grout dries. It is important to remove this haze before the grout dries or the haze will become permanent. Haze removal is simple but requires a bit of elbow grease. Use a dry white cotton cloth and buff the tiles until the shine returns. Use a circular motion as if buffing car wax on a vehicle. Time is of the essence, as set grout cannot be removed without tearing out the tile and starting again.
When finished grouting, never throw leftover grout down a drain, as it will solidify and ruin your plumbing. Clean tools in buckets and throw any extra grout in the trash. Do not mix more grout than you can use in a single setting.
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