Installing a tile backsplash can transform the look of your kitchen or bathroom. While the tiles themselves make a visual impact, it’s the grout in between that really pulls the look together. Learning how to grout backsplash tiles is an essential step in any tile project. With the right techniques and materials, you can achieve clean, uniform grout lines that complement your tile perfectly.
Grouting may seem daunting to tile novices, but have no fear! With a little know-how and preparation, how to do backsplash grout is easy. We’ll walk you through the entire process step-by-step, from pre-grout planning to cleaning and sealing once the grout has cured. Follow our backsplash grouting guide to achieve flawless results.
Choose and Prepare Materials
Before you begin grouting, you’ll need to gather the right supplies. Planning ahead and using quality products will ensure your backsplash looks amazing for years to come.
For backsplashes, we recommend using sanded grout. Sanded grout contains fine silica sand particles, making it ideal for wider grout lines 1/8-inch or larger. The sand gives it greater strength and durability for tile installations in wet areas like kitchens.
Unsanded grout is best used for grout lines smaller than 1/8-inch, such as with mosaic sheets, as it can crack if spread too thick. For typical backsplash tile grout lines, go with sanded.
When selecting a grout color, it’s best to complement your tile. Contrasting shades can add visual interest, while similar hues create a more seamless look. Just steer clear of major color clashes. White and gray are versatile neutrals that work with most styles.
Applying a quality grout sealer after installation is highly recommended. Sealing protects the grout from stains and makes routine cleaning much easier. Use a water-based sealer formulated for grout. Solvent-based sealers can react negatively with grout.
A grout float, or grout spreader, is a handy tool with a flexible rubber edge used to force grout into tile joints. They come in different sizes, so select one about the width of your tile spacing.
Grout Removal Tools
Have grout removal tools on hand to clean up excess. A standard putty knife works well for larger tiles. For smaller mosaic tiles, opt for thinner grout removal blades. Soft grout sponges are perfect for smoothing joints.
Keep plenty of cleaning rags or cheesecloth handy. You’ll need them to wipe up grout and prevent haze during the final grout cleaning.
Bucket & Sponge
Use these to mix grout and wipe tile faces clean before the grout dries. We’ll go over grout mixing shortly.
Eye Protection & Dust Mask
Safety first! Grout mixing can kick up dust clouds, so wear a mask. Eye protection is smart when grouting overhead.
Kneepads can save your knees when grouting lower wall sections. Gel knee pads provide extra cushioning relief.
Mix the Grout
With your materials gathered, it’s time to mix the grout. Be sure to give yourself ample working time by not mixing up too large a batch at once. Grout has a relatively short working time before it becomes too stiff to spread.
The key is finding the ideal consistency – a thick, toothpaste-like texture. If the grout mix is too thin, it can seep below the tiles. Overly stiff grout is hard to spread evenly into joints. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing ratios.
- Start by pouring a measured amount of clean water into a bucket. Use less water for a thicker consistency.
- Slowly sprinkle in grout powder while mixing constantly to break up lumps.
- Mix with a paddle attachment on a power drill for 2-3 minutes, until smooth and uniform.
- Allow to slake, or rest, for the time specified on the packaging. This allows the grout to fully absorb water.
- Give the bucket a quick remix before grouting to evenly distribute consistency. The grout is now ready to spread onto the tiles!
- Don’t mix up more grout than you can use in 30 minutes. It will become difficult to apply once it passes the working time.
- Only mix enough grout needed for each section you can comfortably complete within working time.
- Adding latex or acrylic grout admixtures can prolong working time in hot, dry conditions. Never exceed admixture ratios.
- Don’t add more water to retemper grout once it stiffens. This weakens the mix. Just mix a fresh batch.
Prepare the Tile Surface
Before applying any grout, the tile surface needs to be clean and prepped. Any contaminants left on the tiles can cause problems with grout adhesion.
Follow these steps to prep your backsplash:
- Remove all spacer tabs around the perimeter and in between tiles.
- Carefully vacuum up any dust, dirt or debris on the tile and in joints.
- Dampen the tile lightly with a sponge and clean water. Wipe again until no moisture is visible.
- Use a towel to fully dry the tile edges around joints so grout won’t smear on the tile face.
- Apply grout release or sealer on polished, glazed or textured tile surfaces prone to staining. This prevents grout haze.
Your tiles are now squeaky clean and ready for grouting!
Apply the Grout
Now comes the fun part! With spacers removed and tiles prepped, it’s time to start spreading grout into the joints. Work in small sections so the grout stays workable.
- Use a rubber grout float to force grout diagonally across joints, pressing firmly to fill gaps. Hold the float at a 30° angle like buttering bread.
- Scoop more grout onto the float as needed to completely pack joints. Remove any major excess.
- Once all joints are full, hold the float nearly perpendicular and scrape it diagonally across tiles to smooth joints, removing excess grout on the surface.
- Carefully wipe diagonally across tile faces with a damp sponge to clean off excess grout and shape joints. Rinse sponge frequently.
- Use a damp microfiber towel to buff off any remaining grout haze once joints become firm. Rewipe with a clean sponge and cold water.
- When grout becomes unworkable, mix a fresh batch and continue grouting remaining sections until complete. Let cured grout rest 24 hours before sealing.
- Work in manageable 3-4 foot sections so grout stays pliable. Have extra buckets of water handy for cleaning tools and sponges between mixes.
- If some joints show gaps after grouting, wait until grout firms then gently push more grout in with your finger. Wipe carefully.
- Don’t overwipe joints when smoothing grout. It can pull grout out of joints. Gently wipe diagonally across tiles.
- Change rinse water often to avoid redistributing grout film. Check sponge frequently for embedded grit that can scratch tiles.
Clean and Seal the Grouted Tiles
You’re in the home stretch once all grout is applied. Cleaning and sealing the finished grout will give your backsplash a flawless, protected finish.
Follow these post-grout steps:
1. Allow grout to cure
Give grout at least 24 hours to fully cure before cleaning. This prevents discoloration or weakening of grout.
2. Wash with grout haze remover
Use an acidic grout haze remover to break up any grout residue. Carefully apply to tiles and wipe off with damp sponges. Rinse thoroughly.
3. Seal the grout
Apply grout sealer with a small foam brush. Thoroughly coat all grout lines and wipe any excess sealer from tile. Allow to cure per product instructions.
4. Buff tiles
Use a soft cloth to gently buff tiles once sealer has fully cured. This removes any remaining grout haze and brings back the tile’s natural luster.
5. Caulk perimeter
Finish up by caulking where the backsplash meets the countertop or walls. Wipe away excess caulk for a neat joint.
Routine sealing every 1-2 years will keep your backsplash grout protected. Your tiles will look pristine for decades to come!
FAQs About Grouting Backsplash Tiles
Still have some lingering questions about grouting? Here we answer some frequently asked questions:
How long should I wait to grout after installing backsplash tiles?
It’s best to allow tile thinset adhesive to fully cure for 24-48 hours before applying grout if possible. Check thinset manufacturer instructions.
What color grout is best for backsplashes?
Grey and white sanded grout are popular choices that blend well with most tile colors. Accent your tiles with darker or lighter shades.
How do I apply grout on stone backsplash tiles?
Use caution and avoid abrasive grout floats. Wipe gently to prevent scratching. Use grout release or sealer first for protection.
Should I seal tiles before or after grouting a backsplash?
Seal natural stone tiles prior to grouting. For other tiles, sealing after grouting is recommended so sealer doesn’t block grout adhesion.
How do I fix cracking grout on a backsplash?
Cracking can occur when grout gets too thin in joints or from tile movement. Chisel out old grout and re-grout problem areas.
What’s the easiest way to clean grouted backsplash tiles?
Gentle dish soap on a soft sponge can tackle most grime. Sealing makes cleanup easier. Avoid harsh chemicals that can degrade grout.
How do I regrout a backsplash?
Use a grout saw or rotary tool to rake out failing grout at least 1/8-inch deep. Vacuum and pre-seal tiles before applying new grout in the same fashion as original install.
Can I use grout caulk instead of grout on my backsplash?
While flexible, grout caulk tends to trap dirt and discolor over time. Traditional cementitious grout is more durable for backsplashes.
Why is my grout cracking in some areas of my backsplash?
Lack of grout in joints, tile movement, inadequate surface prep, or rapid drying can cause cracks. Chisel out and re-grout cracked sections.
How soon can I get backsplash wet after grouting?
Avoid moisture on fresh grout for at least 72 hours while curing. Exposure to water too soon can wash out grout and leave joints prone to staining.
With the right prep and techniques, achieving flawless grout lines is easy with DIY backsplash tiling. Just remember to work in manageable sections, thoroughly pack joints, gently clean tiles, and properly seal the finished grout. Following the steps we outlined will help you gain confidence in grouting and prevent common pitfalls.
Applying grout is satisfying final step that pulls your whole backsplash design together into a cohesive focal point. So grab your grout float and breathe new life into your kitchen or bath with the addition of a stunning tile backsplash!