Installing a backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom can transform the look and make the space feel more bright and modern. An important part of the installation process is properly grouting the backsplash. Grouting fills in the joints between the backsplash tiles to create an even surface and prevent moisture penetration.
Grouting a backsplash may seem daunting if you’ve never done it before. But it’s actually a relatively straightforward process with a little bit of practice. The key is using the right grouting techniques and materials for the job. With some basic preparation and the right tools on hand, you can achieve professional-looking results.
In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through all the steps for how to do grout on backsplash in your home. We’ll cover everything from choosing the right grout, preparing for grouting day, applying the grout, cleaning and sealing the grouted backsplash. With these tips, you’ll gain the knowledge and confidence tackle your backsplash grouting project.
Choosing the Right Grout
The first step in grouting a backsplash is selecting the right grout. This is an important decision that will affect the final look and durability of your backsplash installation. Here are some things to consider when choosing grout:
Grout comes in a wide range of colors, so you can choose a shade that complements or matches your backsplash tiles. White and off-white are popular choices for a clean, bright look. Grey is trendy and can create a more modern vibe. Or choose a grout color that matches the tiles for a seamless appearance.
Be sure to check your tile manufacturer’s recommendation, as some tiles require a specific grout color. Hold grout color samples next to a tile to preview how the colors work together.
The two main types of grout are cement-based grout and epoxy grout:
- Cement grout is the traditional and most common choice. It’s suitable for most backsplash installations and comes in a variety of colors. Standard cement grout requires sealing to protect against moisture and stains.
- Epoxy grout is made from epoxy resins. It has excellent adhesion properties, is highly durable, stain-resistant and requires no sealing. Epoxy grouts are more expensive but last longer. They are best for heavy use areas like behind ranges or sinks.
For most backsplashes, standard cement grout will be sufficient. Make sure to match the grout type with your tile material. Certain tiles like natural stone work best with cement grout.
Grout comes in different widths or thicknesses. Most backsplashes use 1/16-inch or 1/8-inch grout lines. Choose a grout width that works with the size and texture of your tiles. Smaller tiles like mosaics look best with narrow 1/16-inch grout. Larger tiles can accommodate wider grout lines up to 1/8-inch.
Match the grout width to the tile joints for optimal results. Using a grout width that differs too much from the tile joints looks sloppy.
Preparing for Grouting Day
Proper planning and prep work is key to achieving a smooth grouting process. Here are some tips for getting ready before grouting day:
Wait for Tile Adhesive to Cure
Before grouting, ensure the tile adhesive or mortar has fully cured, which usually takes 24-48 hours. Check the adhesive manufacturer’s instructions. Grout applied to uncured adhesive can pull tiles loose.
Clean the Tiles
Thoroughly clean all your backsplash tiles with a pH-neutral cleaner. This removes grease, dirt and other residues that can prevent grout from adhering properly. Acid-based cleaners should only be used for unglazed tiles.
Having all your supplies ready ahead of time will make grouting day go smoothly. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:
- Grout (and extra in case you run out)
- Grout float for spreading grout
- Grout sponge
- Grout sealer
- Clean rags or towels
- Bucket of clean water
- Grout cleaning spray
- Painter’s tape
- Drop cloths
Clear Countertops and Protect Surfaces
Cover countertops with drop cloths and use painter’s tape around the edges of the backsplash. Push appliances away from the wall a few inches. This will protect surrounding surfaces from grout mess.
Schedule Enough Time
Make sure to block out enough time in your schedule. You’ll need to work efficiently through the steps without long breaks for the best results. Allow 1-3 hours for grouting, depending on the size of your backsplash.
Step-by-Step Guide for Grouting a Backsplash
Once you have all your prep work completed, it’s time to tackle the fun part – actually grouting the backsplash! Follow these steps closely for professional-looking results:
Step 1: Apply Grout Sealer (If Using Cement Grout)
If using cement grout, apply a thin coat of grout sealer to the tiles before grouting. This will prevent the tiles from absorbing grout and make clean-up much easier. Allow sealer to soak in for 15-20 minutes.
Step 2: Mix the Grout
Mix the grout powder with water in a bucket, following the package directions. The consistency should be thick but still loose enough to spread. Only mix what you can use in 30-45 minutes before it starts to set.
Step 3: Apply Grout Using a Grout Float
Using a grout float or squeegee, spread the grout diagonally across a small section of the backsplash, pressing it firmly into the joints. Hold the float at a 45° angle and use an even, consistent motion.
Step 4: Let Grout Sit for 5-10 Minutes
After your initial pass spreading the grout, let it sit for 5-10 minutes. This allows the grout to set slightly in the joints before final cleaning. Don’t let it sit for too long or it will get difficult to clean off.
Step 5: Clean Excess Grout with a Damp Grout Sponge
Use a damp grout sponge to gently wipe diagonal passes across the tiles to clean off excess grout. Rinse the sponge in the bucket of water frequently. Be careful not to pull grout out of the joints.
Step 6: Polish the Tiles with a Dry Cloth
Use a dry towel to buff any remaining haze off the tile surface once the grout in the joints is firm. Dampen the cloth slightly if needed. Work in a circular motion.
Step 7: Repeat for Remaining Sections
Repeat steps 3-6 for each section of the backsplash until it’s completely grouted. Make sure edges and corners are packed tightly with grout. Let the grout dry for 24 hours before continuing.
Step 8: Clean and Seal the Grout
Once fully cured, use a soft brush and grout cleaner to polish away any remaining haze on the tiles. For cement grout, apply a grout sealer according to manufacturer’s directions to protect it.
And that’s it! Your backsplash grouting is complete. Enjoy your refreshed, uniform backsplash that looks professionally installed.
Cleaning and Maintaining Grout
To keep your backsplash grout looking fresh, follow these maintenance tips:
- Seal cement grout once a year to protect it from stains and moisture.
- Use a pH-balanced daily cleaner for regular upkeep. Avoid harsh chemicals or scrubbing.
- Steam clean grout periodically to sanitize and remove buildup from grease and soap.
- Re-grout any cracked or crumbling grout to prevent water getting underneath tiles.
- Reseal epoxy grout if it loses its beading effect when water is spilled on it.
With proper care, your backsplash grout can stay looking great year after year. Take steps to keep it clean and sealed. Repair any damaged areas right away before they worsen.
Common Grout Problems and Solutions
Even when carefully installed, grout issues can sometimes develop over time. Here are solutions to some typical grout problems:
Crumbling, Cracking Grout: Harsh cleaners and moisture can break down grout. Re-grout any damaged areas with new grout. Make sure to seal cement grout regularly.
Discolored Grout: Grout can get stained from cooking oils, dyes, sealers, or just age. Use an oxygen bleach cleaner to whiten grout and restore the color.
Efflorescence: This white powdery deposit on grout is usually caused by moisture behind the tile. Improving ventilation and sealing grout can prevent efflorescence.
Grout Haze: A cloudy film left on tiles from grouting. Use a grout haze removal cleaner or buff tiles with a cloth and baking soda paste to polish off residue.
Uneven Grout Lines: Make sure to pack grout firmly into joints when installing. If lines remain uneven, carefully scrape out old grout and re-apply.
Cracks Between Tiles: Check that your substrate or wall is structurally sound with no shifting. Fill cracks with caulk rather than grout for more flexibility.
With a quality initial grout application and proper maintenance, you can avoid many common grout issues in your backsplash. But if problems do arise, the solutions above will help get your grout back into tip-top shape.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the easiest way to grout a backsplash?
Grouting a backsplash is easiest when you use a grout float to apply the grout and a damp grout sponge for cleaning off excess. Take your time and work in small sections for the smoothest results. Applying grout sealer first also makes clean-up simpler.
How long should I wait to grout after installing backsplash tile?
It’s best to wait 24-48 hours after applying tile adhesive before grouting to allow the adhesive to fully cure. Check your adhesive manufacturer’s instructions to verify the recommended wait time. Rushing the grouting can compromise the tile bond.
Should backsplash grout match tile color?
Not necessarily. Contrasting grout can provide definition between tiles on some backsplashes. But in some cases, matching the grout color to the tile creates a continuous look. Consider the size of your tiles and overall design when choosing grout color.
What’s the best grout color for a white subway tile backsplash?
For classic white subway tiles, popular grout color choices are bright white, off-white, light grey, or even black for high contrast. A hint of color like pale blue or sage green grout can also complement white tiles nicely.
How do I get a smooth grout line on my backsplash?
To get smooth grout lines, maintain consistent pressure and angle when spreading the grout with a float. Make sure to fully pack joints. Wait 5-10 minutes before cleaning grout for a smoother finish. Use a damp sponge in a circular motion to clean.
We hope this guide has provided you with all the details on how to grout a backsplash successfully from start to finish. The key steps are choosing the ideal grout for your tiles, proper preparation and protection of surfaces, carefully applying and cleaning the grout, and sealing and maintaining it over time.
Grouting adds the finishing touch that completes your backsplash installation with clean, uniform grout lines. Taking your time with each step will lead to long-lasting, professional-looking results. Be sure to thoroughly clean tiles beforehand, use a grout float, and work in manageable sections. Follow up with sealing and routine maintenance to keep your backsplash grout looking like new.
Equipped with these tips, you can feel confident tackling your own DIY backsplash grouting. Just remember patience and attention to detail goes a long way. Before you know it, you’ll have a stunning, refreshed backsplash that elevates your space and makes you smile each time you enter the kitchen.