Working as a professional interior designer for many decades, I've been involved in design-and-build residential building projects.
How to Fill Gaps Between Tiles
Ceramic tile grout mix is a kind of filling material that is used in the construction industry, mainly for masonry works involving the application of tiles. It is used to seal ceramic tile joints after tile installations, and to fill voids and cracks in between the ceramic floor and wall tiles.
The materials used for grouting depend on what material is being joined together. It can be composed of a cement and sand mix if it is required for filling cement block joints, or a cement-based epoxy if it is for filling joints of ceramic wall and floor tiling.
When you have coloured tiles but no matching epoxy filler, a colour tint of any shade can be added to the mix. With that, the tile grout will be a close colour match to the already laid tiles. Grouting material can also be made a contrasting colour that highlights or complements the tiles. If this is the case, the colour tint and epoxy mix will contrast with the tiles.
Grouting is a simple task and can be done by most DIY enthusiasts. As long as you have the essential tools and grouting materials, the application is not a job that requires the services of professionals.
However, if you are not a hands-on person, you can always call in professional tilers from home improvement stores who will carry out your grouting works to your satisfaction.
Tools Required to Apply Ceramic Tile Grout
Before you commence the application, you will need to prepare adequately. Grouting can be a mess if you don’t use the right applicators and tools. To ensure a job well done, you'll need these simple things to perform your grouting task- whether you are installing new tiles, or re-grouting discoloured, broken, or chipped old grout works:
- Grout Saw/Remover (an electric grout saw ensures a faster job)
Grout Saw: A grout saw is composed of tungsten carbide blades and is used to cut and remove old tile grout. This is required if renovation works are being carried out on existing laid tiles.
Scraper: A scraper is a simple hand tool that is required to remove old grouting that has been discoloured with age.
Grout Float: A grout float is similar to a trowel used by masons but it has a sponge rubber pad at the bottom. It is used to smoothen the surface when it's just been freshly applied to the tile works.
Sealer: The sealer is water-based and is applied over dried grout. They must possess qualities that resist water, oil or acid-based contaminants.
Guide (Attachment): A grout attachment acts as a guide. It is placed over a rotary implement and it helps in the quick removal of old ceramic tile grout. It can be used in place of the saw for faster and better grouting works.
Preparations Required Before Grouting
Preparing for grouting works actually commences before laying the tiles. You want to determine how wide or narrow your spacing (gap between tiles) will be. To do this, you will need plastic spacers.
Plastic spacers help to space tiles evenly and squarely to ensure that the tiles are laid perfectly straight and squared and the gaps are the widths of your choice. After tile application and before grouting, the X-shaped flexible plastic spacers should be removed.
Now that you are ready to commence your grout works,
- Mix the grout material with water. Note that the quantities required will depend on how much tiling needs to be done. Follow the instructions on the package carefully and ensure you use the right ratios of tile grout to water (or the acrylic latex liquid) mix.
- Buy grout material that has an acrylic latex additive in its components. This will ensure good flexibility and eliminate the chances of having fine line cracks a few weeks after it has hardened.
- If the tile grout you have purchased comes without the additive, you can get some acrylic latex liquid admixture which can be used in place of water.
Instructions on How to Grout
These simple 10 step instructions apply to both wall and floor tiles grout works.
- Spray the already tiled surface with a light mist of water. You can do this in sections so the water doesn't dry faster than you can work. The moisture will give the mix some moisture that without it, would affect its setting.
- Scoop some amount of grout onto the surface starting from the inner corner of the room. Spread the paste with a grout float held about 30 degrees horizontally from the surface and move in a wiping motion at an angle to the gaps.
- Work in a consistent pattern and avoid haphazard smearing.
- Carefully and evenly spread the mix while compacting it into the gaps. Add more grout and spread until the spaces are well compacted.
- Use the edge of the float to scrape off the excess grout from the floor or walls and wait for 20 minutes (or whatever time is stipulated on the package). During this waiting period, clean all messy grout from the edges of the walls or floor in case there has been a bit of smearing whilst grouting.
- Sponge-clean the tiles. Cleaning with a sponge removes the thin film of grout from the tiles without affecting the grout within the gaps. It is important to keep to the stipulated waiting time or it will become difficult to remove the tile grout film.
- Rinse the sponge often while cleaning, ensuring the water is wrung out well. Always wipe gently but firmly.
- After about 40 to 45minutes, again depending on the stipulated drying period on the package, clean the faint residue of grout off the tiles using a simple paper towel. At this time the grouting has hardened, though not thoroughly, but enough to give a good clean a chance.
- After the application, give your finished work a spray of misty water twice a day for three days after grouting.
- After curing, apply the grout sealer to prevent the growth of mould and mildew, and prevent staining, yellowing, or darkening.
Ceramic tile grout mix comes in a variety of colours so there is something in the market that will suit each individual need. There are also the un-sanded and the sanded variety which contains some sand, great for those who want a special effect grout finish. The sanded type can be used for wider gaps because the sand serves as a filler, while 'un-sanded' grout is used to fill very thin gaps of mosaic tiles, marble tiles and granite tiles.
How to Maintain Ceramic Tile Grout
Occasionally, clean your tile grout by applying a baking soda paste on the grout, leave it on for some time, and then wash it off. Alternatively, you can use a solution of water and hydrogen peroxide to clean grout, especially if it is stained, or yellowing. You can also use a commercial grout cleaner and let it sit for about 15 minutes before scrubbing the dirt away with a sponge and rinsing it with clean water.
Another way to clean and maintain grout lines is by adding oxygen bleach powder to your mop water (for floors) or your cleaning water (for walls). Apply the solution liberally and on the grout joints. Leave it on for about 15 minutes, then clean thoroughly with clean water.
For a homemade cleaning solution, mix together a half-cup of baking soda, a quarter-cup of hydrogen peroxide, and one teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and apply onto grout/ after about 10 minutes, scrub off the mixture from the ceramic tiles grout lines and rinse well.
Questions & Answers
Question: What do I need to do to get rid of the yellowing of my grout?
Answer: It depends, If it’s light yellow staining, vinegar and water mix will suffice. Clean with an old soft toothbrush.
However, if the stain is heavy and has set for a long time, use some OTC hydrogen peroxide, let it sit for about 10 mins then scrub gently with an old toothbrush.
Baking soda paste works wonders too.
© 2009 viryabo
James on July 26, 2018:
I offer you VOX construction chemicals' products. The setting materials and grouts are really better than other famous brands. You should use VOX products. You will not regret...
viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on April 11, 2010:
hello shai77, glad you like this article. Thanks for the visit.
Chen on April 11, 2010:
Loved it,but i don't think i'm going to try it at home :-)
viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on February 17, 2010:
Thank you for visiting valery, and for your nice comment.
valery elias on February 11, 2010:
viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on January 16, 2010:
Thanks Debve. and thanks for your visit.
debve from Virginia Beach, VA on January 15, 2010:
viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on January 06, 2010:
Thank you Relica. Thanks for visiting and your nice comments. Grouting may pose challenging, but once started, one finds it fairly simple to apply. And it can be fun to do oneself (saving some money too).
relica from California on January 05, 2010:
You did a really nice job detaiing how to apply grout. I just put in some pavers tile with a really thick grout line, and it was a ton of work. But they look fabulous! Nice Hub
viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on November 05, 2009:
Simple application but unfortunately i'm not the DIY type. thanks so much and god Bless you keira.
keira7 on November 05, 2009:
Very interesting hub, thanks my friend for all this good info. See you soon.