Porcelain tiles are the choice for many home renovators because of their durability. A correctly installed porcelain tile bathroom will last longer because porcelain is harder and denser than most ceramic products, so it resists damage from harsh cleaning agents, scratches, stains, and fading. It also comes in an infinite variety of colors and textures and is very low maintenance.
All of these qualities combined make porcelain tiles the smart choice for bathrooms and kitchens, as long as they are installed the right way. These tiles are more complicated to work with, so if you are putting them in yourself, learning how to grout porcelain tiles is one way to make sure that they last for years to come.
Ensure Tiles are Ready for Grouting
Before you start grouting; it is a good idea to make sure that they have been laid correctly. They should look level, be spaced evenly and securely fastened. The mortar has to cure for twenty-four hours before you grout the tile, so make sure there isn’t any foot traffic on the tile before the mortar is dry. Otherwise, you may have some tiles to reposition and another waiting period before you can grout.
Grout is a cement-based bonding material used for filling joints between tiles and comes in almost as many colors as the tile itself. Picking shades of grout in contrasting colors from the tile can create an interesting look for a room; just remember not to get carried away, because the tile and grout will become a very permanent part of your home.
Generally, sanded grout should be used in grout joints 1/8” or larger and un-sanded grout may be used in joints less than 1/8”. When purchasing grout, make sure to purchase enough extra grout for mixing mistakes and enough to make future repairs, especially if the grout is an unusual color.
You can also choose regular, Portland cement-based grout or latex and Portland cement grout. It is recommended to use stain-proof epoxy grouts for a better looking result and lower maintenance, but epoxy does cost more than regular grouts.
Applying the Grout
Mix the grout in a bucket, a small amount at a time, according to the directions. Measure and add the powder first and then slowly mix in the water with a wooden stick. Do not use any electric mixing devices as they will cause air bubbles to form in the grout.
Once mixed, the grout should have a thick, yogurt-like consistency. Allow the grout to set for ten minutes to make sure that the consistency remains the same. If the grout starts to thicken during this time period, add more liquid.
Apply grout in moderate amounts with a putty knife by pressing grout into the joints. Make sure that the grout is at an even level with the tile, keeping your knife on an angle. Skim excess grout.
Make sure to divide the floor or wall into quadrants and only work in one quadrant at a time. This will make sure that the area you are working in dries evenly and you won’t have to take time to mix more grout when you are in the middle of a section.
If you notice a mild haze on the tile from the grout, simply remove it by gently dabbing a sponge over the tiles where there is excess grout. When you are finished grouting, wipe down the entire surface, but be very careful not to dig out the grout from the spaces between the tiles.
Let the grout cure for twenty four hours. To help the grout cure to a solid, resilient surface, lightly mop the floor for the first 3 days. Allow it to cure for a full week. Then brush it with a silicone grout sealer.
See Also: Grouting Extra Wide Joints
Photo by evan courtney, Creative Commons Attribution License