How to Apply Grout to Backsplash

Grout is an essential material for finishing tile installations. It fills the spaces between tiles, known as grout joints, helping to secure the tiles and create a water resistant barrier. Applying grout properly ensures your backsplash looks uniform and clean for years to come. With some basic tools and techniques, you can achieve beautiful, long-lasting grouted results.

Choosing the Right Grout

When grouting a backsplash, you’ll want to select a grout that matches the application. Consider the following:

Type of Tile

  • Ceramic or porcelain: Standard sanded grout works well for most ceramic or porcelain backsplash tiles. It’s durable and creates a uniform appearance.
  • Glass or stone: Use unsanded grout for glass, marble, travertine, or other natural stone tiles. It flexes better with the movement of these materials.
  • Small tile with narrow grout joints: Unsanded grout is best for tiles under 2 inches and grout joints 1/8 inch or smaller. It can get into tiny spaces easier.


  • Match the grout color to your tile color for a seamless look. White and gray are popular options that blend well.
  • For high contrast, choose a darker grout that makes tile edges stand out. Black can look modern with white subway tile.
  • Complementary colors like beige grout with blue tile can look appealing. Test samples to ensure the combo looks cohesive.


  • Use mold resistant epoxy grout for backsplashes prone to moisture like behind sinks or stoves. It resists staining and growth.
  • In dry areas, standard cement-based grout works well. It’s less expensive than epoxy.


  • Walls: Wall backsplashes do well with standard sanded or unsanded grout. Horizontal joints don’t require heavy-duty formulations.
  • Floors: Use a durable grout with high flexural strength made for floors. Withstands more abuse from foot traffic and furniture.

Tools and Materials for Grouting

Gather the proper tools and supplies before grouting to ensure an efficient application.

Essential Grout Application Tools

  • Grout float or rubber grout float – For forcing grout into joints
  • Grout bucket – For mixing and holding grout
  • Margin trowel – For spreading grout
  • Sponge – For wiping down excess grout
  • Grout sealer – For protecting finished grout lines
  • Cleaning products – For removing residue and haze

Additional Handy Tools

  • Mixing paddle – Attaches to drill for mixing grout smoothly
  • Grout bag – For grouting tight or hard to reach spots
  • Old toothbrush – For scrubbing out excess grout
  • Shop vacuum – For quick grout dust cleanup
  • Grout removal tool – Multi-use tool for removing old or excess grout

Personal Protective Equipment

  • Dust mask – Protects lungs from airborne grout dust
  • Knee pads – Provides knee comfort and support
  • Gloves – Keeps hands clean and protects skin

Planning Your Grout Joints

  • Joint width should match the tile spacing. Common sizes are 1/8 inch or 1/16 inch.
  • Choose a grout paddle size that fits joint width. Wider joints use wider paddles.
  • For varied tile spacing, use the smallest appropriate grout float for all joints.

Preparing to Grout a Backsplash

Take steps before grouting to ensure the process goes smoothly from start to finish.

Wait for Thinset Mortar to Cure

Ensure tile thinset mortar has dried for 24-48 hours before grouting. Check manufacturer guidelines. Grout applied to damp thinset can lead to weak joints and cracks.

Clean Tile Surface

Use a damp sponge to wipe down the tile and remove any debris or dust. Grout will not adhere well to dirty tiles. Dust masks protect lungs.

Test Grout on Tiles

Mix a grout sample batch and apply it to a few hidden tiles. Check for any staining or color issues before grouting the whole backsplash.

Protect Surrounding Areas

Cover countertops and floors with rosin paper or plastic drop cloths. Grout can stain surfaces and is difficult to remove. Tape down the edges.

Have Plenty of Materials

Make sure you have enough grout to complete the entire backsplash without running out midway. Nothing else can substitute real grout.

Allow Ample Drying Time

Schedule sufficient drying time for the grout when planning the project. Most standard grout takes 24-48 hours before light use.

Work in Sections

Break up the backsplash into manageable sections to grout. Work from the bottom up and near an exit if possible.

Mixing Grout for Backsplash Application

Mixing quality grout is vital for both successful application and long-lasting performance.

Tools Needed

  • Grout bucket or mixing container
  • Grout paddle and drill (optional)
  • Measuring cup
  • Dust mask and gloves

Steps for Mixing Grout

  1. Add measured amount of clean water to empty grout bucket. Follow package directions for water ratio.
  2. Slowly add grout powder while mixing until fully incorporated into thick malleable paste. Don’t add too much water.
  3. Continue mixing for 2-3 minutes to ensure uniform consistency with no lumps. Rest occasionally to prevent paddle overheating.
  4. Let stand 5-10 minutes then remix before applying to increase working time. Periodically remix again while grouting to preserve workability.
  5. Discard grout once it becomes too firm to apply smoothly. Do not add more water after initial mixing.

Avoid Common Mixing Mistakes

  • Adding too much water makes weak grout prone to cracking and powdering. Stick to recommendations.
  • Don’t mix an entire bag at once if doing a large project. Grout sets up quickly once mixed.
  • Don’t mix grout directly on the tiles. Doing so can lead to uneven finished appearance.
  • Don’t mix more than one batch in the same container. Always start with clean water and bucket.

Applying Grout to the Backsplash Joints

Use the following techniques for neatly filling all backsplash joints with grout.

Prepare Work Area

Clear area of obstructions. Cover surfaces. Have all necessary tools on-hand and within reach.

Spread Grout on Tiles

Use the grout float to force grout over the tiles, fully filling the joints while spreading it as thin as possible.

Grout in Sections

Work in 3-4 square foot sections for best results. Continue spreading grout until an area is fully packed.

Grout Across Joints

Hold float at a consistent angle and spread grout diagonally across joints to prevent dragging grout out. Move float in same direction.

Completely Fill Joints

Refill joints that show gaps, pinholes or low spots as you go. Well-filled joints prevent cracks and gaps.

Stay Within Grout’s Working Time

Work quickly enough to fill joints before grout dries or becomes too thick. Discard grout if it loses consistency.

Final Touches for Smooth Finish

Lightly pass grout float over joints to cut excess grout even with tile edges for a smooth, consistent appearance.

Cleaning Excess Grout Off Tiles

Proper grout cleanup prevents haze buildup and ensures nicely defined grout lines.

Wait Appropriate Time

Let grout firm up in joints enough to avoid pulling it out when cleaning. Usually 10-20 minutes.

Dampen Sponge

Use a lightly dampened sponge for wiping down tile. Too wet can pull grout from joints. Change rinse water often.

Wipe Diagonally

Wipe sponge across tiles diagonally along grout lines. Avoid swirling motions that spread haze. Rinse sponge frequently.

Scrub Corners and Edges

Use a stiff nylon brush to remove remaining grout from corners and tile edges if needed.

Final Rinse

Do a final wipe with clean damp sponge to remove any remaining haze or residue.

Allow Grout to Cure

Let grout dry fully for 24-48 hours before using the backsplash. Avoid moisture until completely cured.

Grouting Problem Areas

Certain backsplash situations present unique grouting challenges. Use these tips for success.

Outlets or Light Switches

  • Turn off power at breaker.
  • Pack joints carefully around openings with a grout float or by hand.
  • Wipe gently with a sponge to prevent pulling grout from fragile edges.

Inside Corners

  • Fold a small piece of cardboard into a triangle shape to fit into the corner.
  • Press it in corner before grouting to prevent grout bulge. Remove after grouting.

Uneven Tile

  • Fill low spots under higher tile with extra grout to create a level joint.
  • Check for lippage issues before tiling and adjust as needed.

Hazy Film on Glass Tile

  • Remove haze immediately with a razor blade held at 45 degree angle or specialized grout haze remover.
  • Avoid excess grout residue buildup. Wipe often when grouting.

Cracks in Existing Grout

  • Carefully rake out cracked grout with a special grout removal tool or utility knife.
  • Re-grout the clean joints according to normal process. Match grout color.

Applying Grout Sealer

Sealing grout helps protect it from stains and makes cleaning easier.

Select Sealer Appropriate for Grout

Choose manufacturer recommended sealer for type of grout used. Some sealers can stain certain grouts. Read labels.

Know When to Seal

Seal grout 3-7 days after installation once it has fully cured. If waiting longer, clean grout thoroughly before sealing.

Prepare Grout Surface

Wipe away any dirt, grease or grime with damp sponge. Grout must be completely clean and dry before sealing for proper absorption.

Carefully Apply Sealer

Brush or roll sealer onto grout lines following product application directions. Avoid applying too thickly. Wipe up any excess.

Second Coat if Needed

For maximum protection, a second coat of sealer can be applied 2 hours after first coat fully dries per manufacturer specs.

Cure Time

Allow sealer to cure fully before use, usually 24-48 hours. Avoid water exposure during curing time.

Grout Maintenance Tips

Proper care keeps backsplash grout looking fresh.

  • Sweep or vacuum loose dirt regularly to prevent buildup in joints.
  • Mix baking soda and water into a spreadable paste for a gentle grout cleaner. Scrub with toothbrush.
  • Reapply grout sealer every 1-2 years for optimal stain resistance and easier cleaning.
  • Monitor existing grout for cracks or crumbling. Re-grout joints as needed to prevent damage or moisture issues.
  • Use mold resistant grout in wet areas. Help prevent mold growth by maintaining proper ventilation.

Grouting Your Backsplash FAQs

Still have questions about grouting? See answers to common backsplash grouting concerns.

Can I grout a backsplash the next day?

  • Yes, as long as the tile thinset mortar has fully cured beneath the tile, usually within 24 hours. Grout can then be applied the next day.

What’s the easiest way to apply grout?

  • Using a grout float or rubber grout float makes applying grout smooth and efficient for beginners. Load grout onto float then work diagonally across joints.

Should I seal my backsplash grout?

  • Sealing grout is highly recommended for backsplashes, especially behind sinks or stoves. The sealer protects grout from stains and makes it easier to clean.

How do I clean haze off my backsplash tile?

  • Use a razor blade held at a 45 degree angle to carefully scrape off any hazy film on tile. Avoid abrasive scrubbing. For glass tile, use a specialized grout haze remover.

Can I use sanded grout for small backsplash tiles?

  • For tiles smaller than 2 inches, unsanded grout is best. The fine texture fills narrow joints easier without cracking. Only use sanded grout for tile larger than 2 inches.

How long does backsplash grout take to dry?

  • Standard grout takes 24-48 hours to cure fully before the backsplash can get wet or heavy use. Quicker drying grout may cure faster but read manufacturer guidelines.


Grouting a backsplash transforms simple tiled walls into a beautiful permanent finish. By selecting quality grout suited for the tile, preparing properly, applying grout with care, and cleaning up well, you can achieve flawless results. Use the techniques described to efficiently grout your backsplash the right way. With some patience for drying time, you can enjoy an attractive and durable grouted backsplash for years of cooking and cleaning.