How to Grout Kitchen Backsplash Tile

Grouting a kitchen backsplash can transform the look and feel of your kitchen by neatly finishing the joints between the tiles. With the right techniques and materials, you can create a professional-looking backsplash that will hold up for years to come. This comprehensive guide will walk you through each step of the grouting process to help you achieve stunning results.

Selecting the Right Grout

Choosing the appropriate grout for your kitchen backsplash is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. The right grout can make your tiles look crisp and clean, while the wrong grout can detract from the beauty of your backsplash. Here are some tips for selecting grout:

Consider color – Choose a grout color that matches or complements the color of your tiles. White and gray are popular choices that work well with most styles. Stay away from dark grout with light tiles unless you want high contrast.

Get the right texture – Grout comes in different grades, from smooth to coarse. For kitchen backsplashes, most experts recommend sanded grout which is easiest to work with. Unsanded grout is best for smaller tile joints.

Choose durability – Opt for a high quality grout that can resist stains and hold up to heat, grease and frequent cleaning. Epoxy grout is extremely durable for kitchens.

Pay attention to width – Use grout that’s recommended for your tile joint width. Wider joints require thicker grout.

Consider waterproofing – Some grouts contain silicone or latex to make them more water-resistant once cured. This added protection is useful behind sinks and stoves.

With the huge variety of grout colors and types available, you’re sure to find one suitable for your backsplash. Consult with store associates if unsure.

Preparing the Surface

Before you can start grouting, make sure your backsplash surface is ready. Proper preparation will help the grout adhere correctly and deliver professional looking results:

  • Let tile mortar cure fully – Wait at least 24-48 hours before grouting if you used tile mortar. This allows it to harden completely.
  • Remove spacers – Carefully take out all tile spacers from joints prior to grouting. Failure to do so can leave permanent spacer indentations.
  • Clean thoroughly – Use a damp sponge to wipe away any mortar, adhesive, dust or debris left over from tile installation. Grout won’t bind well to dirty tiles.
  • Dry completely – Ensure your backsplash is 100% dry before grouting. Any moisture left over can weaken grout and cause cracking. Allow at least 12 hours for drying.
  • Fill large joints – Use sanded caulk to fill any wide joints exceeding 1/8 inch. Grout is only designed for narrow joints and may crack in wider spaces.
  • Tape flooring – Cover any nearby floors, countertops or cabinets with rosin paper and painter’s tape to prevent grout from staining surfaces.

Once your backsplash is prepped, you’re ready to start grouting!

Mixing the Grout

Achieving the ideal grout consistency is key for easy spreading and proper curing. Follow the product packaging for precise water-to-grout ratios and mixing times. Here are some handy tips:

  • Use cool, clean water – Warm water causes grout to cure too quickly. Don’t use old or dirty water which can weaken grout.
  • Add powder gradually – Slowly sprinkle grout powder into the water while mixing to prevent clumping. Don’t dump in all at once.
  • Mix thoroughly – Continue mixing for 2-3 minutes after adding all grout, until you achieve a smooth, lump-free consistency similar to peanut butter.
  • Allow slaking – Let mixed grout slake (sit) for 5-10 minutes, then remix before using. This allows ingredients to fully absorb water.
  • Check consistency – The grout should easily spread on trowels but not be runny. Add small amounts of powder or water to adjust as needed.

Don’t mix a large bucket at once since grout begins curing quickly. Mix smaller batches that can be used within 30 minutes. Wear a dust mask when mixing.

Applying the Grout

With your grout mixed, it’s time to start spreading it into the tile joints. Use these application techniques for optimal results:

Gather Supplies

Have these items on-hand before grouting:

  • Grout float – For spreading grout evenly
  • Grout bucket – For holding mixed grout
  • Grout sponge – A sponge designed specifically for grout application
  • Old towels – For wiping up excess grout
  • Gloves and eye protection – Keep hands and eyes safe from irritants
  • Knee pads – Protect knees when kneeling to grout lower walls

Grout Small Sections

Work in manageable 3-4 square foot sections so grout remains workable and doesn’t begin drying in the bucket. Completely finish one section before moving to the next.

Spread Grout Diagonally

Apply grout across joints in a diagonal motion using a rubber grout float. Spread it at a 45-degree angle to completely pack joints.

Apply Even Pressure

Press grout firmly into joints but not too roughly. Use consistent pressure and fill all joints fully without gaps.

Check Coverage

After grouting each section, inspect it to ensure all joints are completely filled without missing spots. Re-spread if needed.

Clean Excess Grout

Use a lightly damp grout sponge in a circular motion to gently clean off excess grout sitting on the surface of tiles before it dries. Rinse sponge frequently.

Follow these techniques as you grout your backsplash section-by-section until the project is complete.

Curing and Sealing Grout

Freshly grouted tiles need proper curing and protection to look their best:

  • Cure the grout – Allow 48-72 hours of cure time at 70°F+ before widespread use of the backsplash. This gives grout time to fully hydrate and harden.
  • Seal grout – Apply a penetrating grout sealer 1-2 weeks after installation once grout has cured fully. This adds an invisible barrier against stains.
  • Avoid moisture – Prevent water from contacting grout for at least 3 days. Excess moisture can cause patches, discoloration and weak spots.
  • Don’t clean with harsh chemicals – Stick to gentle dish soap and water for cleaning during the curing period. Harsh cleaners can interact with curing grout.
  • Keep traffic light – Limit foot traffic and impact near the backsplash for a few days until grout has hardened properly. Heavy impacts can crack it.
  • Control humidity – Running a dehumidifier prevents too much moisture from slowing the curing process. Proper ventilation also speeds drying.

With the right curing conditions, your grout will gain its full strength and achieve maximum stain resistance for long-lasting beauty.

Grouting Problem Areas

Certain backsplash features present unique grouting challenges that require special techniques:

Inside Corners

  • Use a small handheld grout float to work grout into inside corners. Angled floats won’t fit.
  • After grouting, thoroughly rinse inside corners with a tile cleaning brush and water to remove haze and residue.
  • For bullnose tiles, fill any gaps at bottom corners with caulk for smoother grout lines.

Tile Edges

  • When spreading grout near the edges, hold the float at a steep inward angle instead of flat against the wall. This prevents thinning.
  • Look for gaps forming along tile edges after spreading and recouple those areas to prevent cracking as grout dries.

Uneven Tiles

  • If tiles aren’t perfectly flush, apply firm pressure with the float to fully pack the deeper joints that can trap air pockets.
  • Pay extra attention to cleaning excess grout from the surface of protruding tiles so they don’t end up with hazy residues.

Accent Tiles

  • Use extreme care when grouting near polished stones, special finishes or delicate surfaces. Certain grouts can interact with tile coatings.
  • Immediately rinse any excess grout off the visible tile surfaces with a lightly damp sponge to prevent staining.
  • Check packaging and test grout in an inconspicuous area first to ensure compatibility with accent tiles.

With extra care taken at problematic areas, you can tackle any backsplash design confidently.

Cleaning and Maintaining Grout

Regular maintenance keeps your grouted backsplash looking like new:

  • Daily cleaning – Use warm water and gentle dish soap with a soft sponge or microfiber cloth for daily backsplash cleaning. Avoid harsh cleaners.
  • Spot treat stains – Dab vinegar, hydrogen peroxide or specialized tile cleaners onto stains using an old toothbrush. Allow time to penetrate before rinsing.
  • Seal grout annually – Reapply grout sealer once a year to repel new stains. Sweep away loose debris first for proper absorption.
  • Check for cracks – Inspect sealant closely around joints. Re-grout cracks right away to prevent moisture damage.
  • Limit moisture – Immediately wipe up spills, rinse with clean water and squeegee walls to minimize water soaking into grout.
  • Consider refreshers – Grout paint kits or whiteners can revitalize old, discolored grout once a year or as needed.

Proper care prevents costly grout repairs and keeps your kitchen looking pristine for years of beauty and enjoyment!

FAQs About Grouting Tile Backsplashes

Still have some questions about grouting your kitchen backsplash? These common FAQs provide helpful answers:

What’s the easiest grout color to keep clean?

Lighter grout colors like white, bone or linen show less dirt and are easiest to keep looking clean. They also brighten up small spaces.

Should I grout right after tiling or wait?

It’s best to wait at least 24 hours after applying tile mortar or adhesive before grouting. Letting it cure completely prevents weakened grout bonds.

How soon can I expose the grout to water after grouting?

Avoid significant water exposure for 72 hours. Light use is fine after 24 hours, but give new grout time to fully cure before extensive wet cleaning.

Do I need to seal my epoxy grout?

Sealing is an optional added layer of protection for epoxy grout. The sealant fills micro pores to further resist staining but isn’t required for waterproofing.

How do I get a smooth finish when grouting?

Mix grout to a creamy peanut butter consistency and apply firm pressure in straight lines. Clean excess off tile surfaces before it dries and cure evenly.

Can I grout over existing old grout?

You typically need to fully remove old grout before re-grouting. Use caution not to scratch tiles. New grout won’t bond correctly overtop without grinding out the old layer.


Whether installing a brand new backsplash or renovating an existing one, proper grouting is the key to maximizing the life and beauty of any tile design. By using the right grout for your project, meticulously preparing the surface, expertly applying grout into joints, allowing completed work to cure completely, and routinely maintaining the grouted areas, you can achieve stunning, professional-looking results. A well-grouted backsplash not only withstands heavy use but also brings your entire kitchen together into a cohesive space you’ll enjoy for decades to come.