Properly applying grout to a tile backsplash is an important step in achieving a beautiful, durable finish for your kitchen or bathroom. With some basic tools and a bit of technique, you can grout your tile backsplash like a pro.
Planning and Preparation
Before you start grouting, make sure your tiles have been properly installed and have had sufficient time to cure based on the tile adhesive manufacturer’s recommendations. Grout cannot adhere to moist or unstable tiles.
You’ll need the following supplies:
- Grout – Either sanded or unsanded, depending on the width of your tile joints
- Grout float – For spreading grout
- Grout sponge – For wiping up excess grout
- Grout sealer – For sealing finished grout
- Clean rags and buckets for cleaning
- Painter’s tape – For protecting surfaces
- Grout retrieval tool – For removing grout from crevices
Cover any surfaces you want to protect, like countertops, with painter’s tape. Have a damp sponge and clean rags handy for cleaning up messes. Mix up a batch of grout per the manufacturer’s instructions. Let it slake, or rest, for 5-10 minutes before using.
Applying the Grout
Start in a back corner of your backsplash and work outward in sections for the most manageable application. Hold the float at a 45° angle and force it into the joints, scraping off any excess grout. Completely pack each joint, ensuring no gaps or pinholes.
After 10-15 minutes, when the grout becomes firm, use a damp grout sponge in a circular motion to smooth joints and remove excess grout from the tile surface. Rinse the sponge frequently in a bucket of clean water. Drag the sponge diagonally across joints to prevent pulling out grout.
After cleaning, inspect for any low spots and re-apply grout as needed. Allow the grout to become firm again before cleaning with the damp sponge. Thoroughly rinse all tile and joints with clean water and allow to dry. Carefully remove any painter’s tape.
Curing and Sealing the Grout
Allow grout to cure for 72 hours before exposing it to heavy use or moisture. Avoid walking on, cleaning, or otherwise disturbing the grout during this time. Keep the room ventilated and fans running to allow it to dry completely.
Once fully cured, apply a penetrating grout sealer according to the manufacturer’s directions. This will protect the grout from stains and make regular cleaning easier. Avoid surface sealers which can discolor and require frequent reapplication.
Grouting Tips and Tricks
- Store grout mixed to the proper consistency in a sealed bucket for up to 2 hours during application. Do not add more water.
- Wider grout joints may require sanded grout for durability. Consult your tile supplier for recommendations.
- Change rinse water frequently to prevent haze on tiles.
- Avoid excessive water when sponging. Difficult areas can be lightly dampened instead.
- Gently wipe off remaining haze the next day with a clean, damp sponge.
- If completing a full wall, grout and clean in 3ft x 3ft sections for easier handling.
With some careful preparation and patience during application, you can achieve flawless, professional-looking grouted joints for your tile backsplash. Proper curing and sealing are key to durability and stain resistance. Follow these tips for gorgeous, long-lasting results.
Frequently Asked Questions About Grouting Tile Backsplashes
What’s the difference between sanded and unsanded grout?
Sanded grout contains fine silica sand and is used for grout joints 1/8 inch and wider. The sand gives it enhanced strength and durability. Unsanded grout is finer and smoother, ideal for narrow grout joints under 1/8 inch.
How soon can I get the grout wet after applying?
Avoid exposing new grout to moisture for at least 72 hours to allow for proper curing. This means no cleaning or shower steam.
What color grout should I use with my tile?
A good rule of thumb is to match the grout color as closely as possible to your tile color for a continuous look. Contrasting grout can be used as an accent but requires more maintenance to keep looking clean.
Is it okay to grout over existing cracked grout?
Yes, you can apply new grout over top of old, cracked, or worn grout. Just make sure to thoroughly clean out all debris first for proper adhesion.
How do I apply grout to the corner joints of my backsplash?
Use a grout retrieval tool, which is a specialized pointed tool, to fully pack grout into inside and outside corners. You can also roll a small piece of putty into a thin “snake” to push into corners.
Should I seal my grout?
Sealing is highly recommended to prevent stains, make cleaning easier, and enhance the color. Use a penetrating sealer formulated for grout. Reapply yearly or as directed.
Grouting tile completes your backsplash and pulls your whole design together. Take your time following the stages of preparation, application, cleaning, curing, and sealing for professional-quality results. Pay special attention to thoroughly packing joints and proper curing. With practice and the right tools, you can achieve beautiful grout lines that are both functional and decorative.