Construction is Tim's life! He majored in fabrication and building construction in high school and got right into the trades after graduation. Now he's building high-end custom homes and creating beautiful spaces to live in. Tim loves teaching and coaching DIY construction to homeowners across North America.
A great grout job can make all the difference in creating a stunning bathroom. It’s the finishing touch that really brings out the elegance of your tiles and your bathroom’s cleanliness.
Grout also creates a protective barrier between a sometimes chaotic bathroom routine and our walls. Water and drywall shouldn’t mingle! So, let us show you how to grout bathroom tiles to make sure they remain separate as you sing to your heart’s content in the shower!
Even better, knowing how to grout your own tiles can be a huge cost-saver. Grouting is a simple, budget-friendly project that you can complete yourself. By following these steps and using the right tools, creating a magazine-worthy dream bathroom is as easy as, well, grouting!
Who says bathrooms can’t exemplify first-class design standards? Function, feel, and style, now that’s a winning combination! Follow our how-to guide to grouting bathroom tiles and quickly transform your space into something spectacular!
It’s important to know how long to wait before grouting tiles following their installation. Freshly laid tiles should set for at least 24 hours before grouting, or any preparation, begins. This waiting period ensures the mastic fully dries and the tiles have firmly adhered to the wall.
Before setting off to mix the grout, take some time to prepare the tiles. Preparation is key to ensuring a better final result.
To start, examine all the tile joints and determine if any extra mastic is sticking out past the front of the tiles, or if there is mastic on the face of the tiles themselves.
Using a utility knife, remove the extra mastic from the tile joints. Reduce the mastic back as far as you can so the grout can fill the joint. Doing this will provide the foundation for proper grout adhesion and will produce uniform grout lines. And really, there’s nothing better than a good-lookin’ grout line.
To remove the mastic, angle the utility knife and cut the top and bottom of the excess mastic between the tiles, scraping to remove. Get as close to the tile as possible but be careful not to damage the tile edges.
From here, use your utility knife to clear away any mastic, glue, and other debris from the face of the tiles. Then wipe the tiles down with a damp cloth.
Tip: Gently use the top, less sharp side of your utility knife blade to remove extra material from the tile face. This technique avoids damaging the finish of the tile.
Save time on cleanup and be prepared for potential messes before they happen when grouting bathroom tile by swearing an oath to tape and protect.
Adhere painter’s tape along the edges of the tiles and floor to protect these areas. Use the tape anywhere that grout can fall or places where it shouldn’t be touching, like the drywall, for example. Using painter's tape as opposed to other varieties will avoid damaging paint and drywall.
Cut cardboard (finally, a use for all those Amazon packing boxes) to size to fit on top of things such as bathtubs, sinks, and showers and tape into place to catch any falling grout. You can also use plastic sheeting, depending on the surface you are working over.
Tip: When redoing a bathroom, grout the tiles before giving the walls a final coat of paint. This avoids causing any extra paint or drywall defects that may need an additional touchup after grouting the tiles.
Grout is available in powdered forms that must be mixed with water and in ready-made pastes that come in various sizes. This article will demonstrate how to mix grout using the powder, which is often cost-saving. The powdered method also creates the precise amount of grout needed for a specific job. Additionally, the leftover powder can be saved for future projects.
Grout comes in sanded, non-sanded, and epoxy varieties. Use non-sanded grout if your joints are less than ⅛ inch wide, sanded grout for wider gaps, and epoxy grout for projects such as steam showers and projects that require chemical resistance, like restaurant floors.
Tip: The type of grout you use will determine the rubber float that’s best for the job. When using epoxy grout, a more rigid, less flexible float is desirable. Just don’t expect it to reschedule its plans last minute because, you know, it’s not that flexible.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and coverage chart to determine the amount of powdered grout required to fill the project’s surface area and how much water will be needed to produce the correct consistency.
Using a clean bucket as a mixing container, add the amount of water recommended by the manufacturer for the desired amount of grout needed first. Adding the water before the powder prevents the mix from sticking to the bottom of the bucket and will make it easier to create a consistent texture.
Tip: Use a little less water than the manufacturer recommends. Water can always be added later during the initial mix to create the appropriate consistency.
Now add the grout powder and use a margin trowel to give the compound a quick mix. If you have one, use a drill with a mixing attachment at a slow speed until the grout looks consistent throughout. If you don’t have access to a drill or mixing attachment, you can mix the grout by hand with the margin trowel.
If the mixture is too dry, add a bit of water. If the grout is too runny, add some powder. The ideal thickness for grout that requires setting should be slightly less viscous than working consistency. If the specific grout doesn’t require setting, it should resemble the consistency of smooth peanut butter. We recommend eating some peanut butter cups beforehand for inspiration.
Some grout requires that you let it set. If this is the case, leave the grout and allow it to set (rest idly) as per the manufacturer’s instructions, usually about 10 minutes. After this period, give the grout another good mix.
Accurately mixed grout should be a thick, smooth paste that is barely pourable. It should not drip from the trowel when lifted.
Tip: It is important to note that you cannot add water to grout that has set. If you find that your grout consistency is too dry after letting it set, it’s simply better to start again. Otherwise, the grout will not properly adhere to the wall, and we don’t want that.
Using a trowel or putty knife, put some grout on a rubber float and spread it out over the tile.
Press the grout into the tile joints by holding your rubber float at a 45-degree angle. Really take the time to fill in the joints thoroughly.
Look for any gaps or spaces as you go and force the grout into these sections. Grout can be stubborn and won’t fill these areas just because you politely ask it to. The more you work the grout, the more you ensure that it has penetrated right to the back of the tile.
To make things easier later on, clean the excess grout off the tile faces while working. Once convinced that the grout is pushed as far back into the joint as possible, hold your rubber float more toward a 90-degree angle to scrape off the remaining grout on top of the tile. Collect what you scrape up and use it in areas that still need to be grouted.
Tiles with a more textured façade will be harder to clean than those with a high-gloss finish at this point. That’s okay. Simply be aware of the tile texture, and know that a grittier finish will require more sponge cleaning.
Once you have filled in all visible joints, you can remove the cardboard or plastic sheeting to grout along the bottom row of tiles, should it be in your way. This bottom row is the most crucial area to keep water sealed, so really fill in those joints well.
Keep in mind that the bottom seam will also have a silicone joint as an added layer of protection to prevent water leakage.
With a putty knife, clean off any dry, flaky grout that remains on the face of the tiles. This avoids having to clean it off later with a sponge, which can be a lot messier. Doing this now is both more efficient and will save time and effort later. Remember to thank past-you later for being so well prepared!
Once the grout has been applied, it’s now time to use a sponge to clean the tiles. Most manufacturers recommend doing this step within 20 minutes of applying the grout. If you are working with a large area and don’t feel as though you can complete the whole job within 20 minutes, work in sections, sponging as you go.
Fill a bucket with clean water and wipe down the extra grout on the tiles’ surface. The sponges hold a lot of water, so squeeze out the majority of the water until the sponge is barely wet and not dripping. Using a sponge with too much water can remove the grout from the joint and we certainly don’t want that.
Start sponging the tiles in the order in which the grout was applied. Continually rinse your sponge(s) and change your water while working. You want both water and sponge(s) to be as clean as possible. Pay careful attention not to remove the grout in the joints.
Tip: For projects that involve multiple tile textures, use a sponge to clean the heavily textured tiles first. The more textured the tile, the more excess grout it will hold, making it harder to clean. Waiting too long to clean these tiles can make it more difficult as the grout dries.
After the tiles are clean and the grout joints have ever-so-slightly hardened, use the sponge to start finishing or “tooling” the grout joints. Sponge over the joints diagonally. The goal is to clean off the extra grout in the joint to achieve a smooth, even, aesthetically pleasing finish. Look for any uneven sections or ridges and lightly sponge these areas until all the grout lines have a uniform appearance. Take time, as you will not be able to tool the grout after it dries completely.
Avoid removing too much of the grout from the joints as the grout still needs to be firmly packed down into the tiles to establish a water barrier.
After tooling the grout, the painter's tape can be removed.
Once the tiles have been thoroughly cleaned and the joints have been tooled, let the grout sit as per the manufacturer’s instructions, usually about two hours. Waiting ensures you do not affect the grout joints.
After the waiting period, clean off the remaining haze left on the tiles from the grout with a cloth or rag dampened with warm water. Repeat this step until all the gritty particles on the face of the tiles are removed.
Following this step, use a dry cotton cloth to remove any residual haziness that remains, giving the tiles a nice, brilliant shine.
For the next 24-hour period, strengthen the grout’s integrity by periodically misting the grout with a spray bottle filled with room-temperature water. Misting allows the grout to cure slowly, preventing it from drying too fast, which could potentially lead to cracking.
The frequency of misting will depend on the grout manufacturer’s specific instructions, but if there aren’t any instructions on how often to mist, every couple of hours will suffice.
And while you’re at it, show your houseplants a little TLC by giving them a nice misting too. A few words of encouragement couldn’t hurt either.
Once the grout has cured — approximately 24 hours after installation — proceed with applying your silicone joints and other plumbing finishes, such as installing the tub faucet, spout, and showerhead.
And with that, the bathroom tiles are sealed, ready for use, and are sure to look absolutely fantastic! Now go on and enjoy your new and improved bathroom!