How to Grout Small Tile Backsplash

Grouting a small tile backsplash can seem daunting, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be a straightforward DIY project. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to grout a small tile backsplash to help you achieve professional-looking results.


Grout is the material used to fill in the joints between tiles on a backsplash or any other tiled surface. It creates a smooth, uniform finish that completes the look of the tiles. Grout also seals the joints between tiles, helping to prevent moisture from seeping underneath.

For small tiles like those often used on backsplashes, unsanded grout is the best choice. Unsanded grout contains fine particles that can fill narrow grout lines under 1/8 inch. Using the right grout and techniques for your small tile backsplash will help ensure durability and prevent cracking or washing out of the grout.

Tools and Materials Needed

Grouting a tile backsplash requires just a few simple tools and materials:

  • Unsanded grout – For grout lines 1/8 inch or less, be sure to use unsanded grout. It comes in different colors to match or contrast your tiles.
  • Grout float – A grout float is a trowel-like tool used to spread grout smoothly and evenly.
  • Grout sealer – Using a grout sealer after installation helps protect grout from stains.
  • Sponge and bucket – For wiping up excess grout and cleaning the tiles after grouting.
  • Old toothbrush or scrub brush – Helpful for scrubbing grout from the crevices of textured tile.
  • Shop towels or rags – For wiping up excess grout residue.
  • Painter’s tape – To mask off edges of the tile where you don’t want grout.
  • Caulk – For sealing any corners or changes in plane once grouting is complete.

Preparing for Grouting

Proper prep before grouting will help ensure the job goes smoothly:

  • Allow tile adhesive to fully cure – Give tile adhesive at least 24 hours to cure before grouting. Check manufacturer instructions.
  • Clean tiles – Use a damp sponge to wipe any dirt, dust or debris from tile surface so it doesn’t get lodged in grout joints.
  • Apply painter’s tape – Tape off edges of the backsplash or any areas you don’t want grout. Remove tape immediately after grouting before it dries.
  • Pre-seal tiles – Use a pre-sealer on porous or natural stone tiles so they don’t absorb grout and become stained.
  • Mix grout – In a bucket, mix grout per manufacturer instructions. Let it slake for 10 minutes before applying.

How to Apply Grout for Small Tile Backsplash

Grouting takes some practice to get the technique down. Follow these steps for best results:

Step 1: Apply Grout

Using a grout float, apply a layer of grout over the tiles, holding at a 45° angle and pressing firmly to work grout into the joints. Apply in sections so you don’t rush to wipe off excess before it gets hard to remove.

Step 2: Let Grout Get Firm

Allow grout to sit for 5-10 minutes until firm. Drying time depends on humidity level. Test by lightly running your finger over it. If grout sticks to your finger, it needs more time to set.

Step 3: Wipe Off Excess Grout

Use a damp sponge to wipe diagonally across tiles to remove excess grout. Rinse sponge frequently. Applying light pressure, work in circular motions until tiles are evenly cleaned and haze is removed.

Step 4: Remove Grout Residue

Once the grout has dried to a haze, scrub any remaining film or residue off tile with a toothbrush, especially out of textured surfaces. Wipe with a damp sponge or cloth.

Step 5: Shape and Refine Grout Lines

Use the edge of a damp sponge to shape and refine grout for a smooth finish. Carefully contour any low spots and get into corners. Remove any puddles or high spots.

Step 6: Apply Final Cleaning

Wipe the entire surface again with a lightly damp sponge or cloth to remove any remaining haze once grout is fully dry. Avoid wiping too soon or you may pull out soft grout.

Curing and Sealing Grout

For best results:

  • Allow grout to cure 24-48 hours before sealing or exposing to water.
  • Apply a penetrating grout sealer with a small paintbrush. This will protect grout from stains.
  • Caulk any corner joints or changes in plane with a flexible silicone caulk once grout is fully cured.

Tips for Grouting Small Tile Backsplash

  • Work in small sections so you don’t have too large of an area to wipe down before grout gets hard to remove.
  • Make sure grout is fully cured before sealing or getting it wet to prevent washing out soft grout.
  • Always apply caulk in any inside corners or changes in plane to allow for expansion and prevent cracks.
  • To avoid uneven grout lines, hold grout float at a consistent 45° angle and use light, even pressure.
  • For removing stubborn haze or grout residue, cover area with a damp paper towel and allow to sit for 10 minutes before scrubbing.
  • If some joints are too narrow for grout, use an appropriate color caulk instead for filling small gaps.

With the proper tools, materials, and techniques, you can achieve beautiful, durable grouted joints for your small tile backsplash. Taking your time and following these steps can lead to successful DIY grouting.

Frequently Asked Questions About Grouting Small Tile Backsplashes

Can I use sanded grout on small backsplash tiles?

No, sanded grout contains larger particles and is designed for grout lines wider than 1/8 inch. For narrow grout lines on small backsplash tiles, unsanded grout is recommended to avoid cracking.

How soon can I get the backsplash wet after grouting?

It’s best to allow grout to cure fully for 24-48 hours before exposing it to moisture. This helps ensure grout has hardened completely and preventing washing out soft grout.

How do I apply grout into inside corners?

For inside corners, it helps to use a small grout float or even a folded piece of cardboard to pack grout firmly into the corner joint. You want to avoid voids or low spots.

Should I seal my grout?

Yes, using a penetrating grout sealer to protect grout lines is highly recommended. Apply with a small brush once grout has cured completely. Reapply yearly.

What is the easiest way to remove grout haze?

Covering hazy areas with a damp paper towel for 10 minutes helps soften residue. You can then scrub with a toothbrush and wipe clean with a sponge. Always test in an inconspicuous spot first.

Can I use bleach or other cleaners to clean grout?

No, harsh cleaners like bleach can discolor, weaken or damage grout. For routine grout cleaning, use a gentle grout cleaner or mild solution of dish soap and warm water applied with a soft brush.


Grouting a small tile backsplash takes finesse, but creates a polished finished look. With the right unsanded grout, tools, and techniques, you can achieve clean, uniform grout lines that help protect the surface. Take care to fully clean tiles after grouting and allow proper cure time before sealing or getting the surface wet. Grout maintenance like sealing also helps keep backsplash grout looking its best. With some patience, your DIY backsplash grouting project can look professionally done.