How to Grout Wall Tile Backsplash

Grouting wall tile backsplashes can completely transform the look and feel of your kitchen or bathroom. With the right techniques and materials, you can achieve a seamless, polished finish. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about grouting tile backsplashes, from preparation to cleaning and sealing. Follow these steps and tips for beautiful results.

Choosing Grout for Your Wall Tile Backsplash

Choosing the right grout for your backsplash tiles is key to achieving a flawless finish. Here are some factors to consider when selecting grout:

Type of Grout

Sanded vs. Unsanded: Sanded grout contains fine sand particles and is best for joints 1/8 inch and wider. It provides a stronger bond and resists cracking. Unsanded grout has a smooth consistency and is ideal for narrow grout lines less than 1/8 inch.

Cement vs. Epoxy: Cement grout is the most common and affordable option suitable for most applications. Epoxy grout resists stains and is more durable but harder to work with. It’s best for heavy use areas like kitchens.

Colored vs. Natural: Colored grout comes in a wide range of hues to complement your tiles. Natural grout matches the color of Portland cement. Go for colored grout if you want the joints to be a decorative feature.

Grout Color

Choose a grout color that matches or contrasts nicely with your tile. Gray, white and beige are popular neutral shades. Bold hues like navy blue can make the joints stand out. Make sure to check grout colors against a tile sample before purchase.

Grout Width

Most standard wall tiles require 1/8 inch grout lines. Smaller mosaic tiles may need only 1/16 inch joints. Wider grout lines of 1/4 inch or more can work on larger tiles. Consider the tile size and look you want.

Grout Grade

Commercial grade grout stands up to heavy use in kitchens. Standard grade works for most tile projects and is often sold premixed for convenience. Industrial grade grout has the highest strength and stain resistance.

Preparing Walls and Tiles for Grouting

Proper prep before grouting will help you achieve flawless finished results. Here are some tips for getting your tile backsplash ready for grout:

  • Let mortar fully cure for 24-48 hours before grouting if setting tiles in a mortar bed.
  • Remove all spacers from tile joints. Check for gaps or unstable tiles and re-adhere if needed.
  • Make sure tiles are clean and free of dust, dirt and debris which can discolor grout.
  • Apply grout release or sealer if recommended by manufacturer, especially for porous tiles.
  • Have all your grouting tools and materials organized and ready to go beforehand.
  • Plan your grouting strategy so you don’t get stuck stopping midway across a large wall. Work in sections.
  • Cover surroundings area with rosin paper or drop cloths to protect from splattering.

Mixing and Applying Grout for Wall Tiles

Mixing and applying grout properly ensures it fully fills joints and adheres well. Follow these best practices:

Mixing Grout

  • Use exactly the amount of water recommended on the bag/bucket for optimal consistency.
  • Mix with a paddle attachment on low speed to avoid too much air in the grout which can weaken it.
  • Only mix up as much grout as can be applied within the timeframe recommended by the manufacturer.

Applying Grout

  • Holding the grout float at a 45° angle, firmly press grout diagonally into joints to fill completely.
  • Remove excess grout by holding the float edge flat against the tile surface and scraping diagonally in a squeegee motion.
  • After 3-5 minutes, use a damp sponge rinsed frequently to smooth joints and clean off haze. Work diagonally and rinse sponge often.
  • After 10-15 minutes do a final gentle wipe with a soft cloth. Avoid any wiping after this point.
  • Follow any specific tool or technique recommendations on your grout packaging for best results.

Curing Grout on Wall Tile

Allowing grout proper time to cure is vital to avoid issues like cracked or weak joints. Here are some cure time tips:

  • Wait 24-72 hours for grout to cure before direct water contact depending on product used.
  • Avoid walking on tiles or heavy cleaning during the curing timeframe recommended.
  • Keep area well ventilated and dry during curing period. Humidity can affect cure times.
  • Don’t accelerate drying with fans, heaters or other forced air during curing which can cause cracks.
  • After 24 hours, you can do minor cleaning with a lightly dampened sponge/cloth if needed.
  • Some epoxy or commercial grouts may take 3-7 days for a full cure – always check manufacturer guidelines.

Cleaning and Sealing Grouted Wall Tile

Cleaning and sealing are the final steps to maximize the durability and beauty of your new backsplash. Tips for best results:


  • Wait the manufacturer’s recommended time before doing any deep cleaning (often 7-14 days).
  • Use pH neutral tile cleaners only – acidic or alkaline cleaners can react with grout.
  • Buff off any remaining haze with cheesecloth or soft rags after initial cleaning.
  • Use soft scrub brushes and sponges – hard brushes can damage grout joints.


  • Apply grout sealer 1-2 weeks after installation once grout has fully cured.
  • Use water-based sealers for cement grout; solvent-based works better for epoxy grout.
  • Apply sealer with a paintbrush, cloth or sponge per product instructions.
  • Avoid puddling sealer – wipe any excess off tile surfaces.
  • Re-apply grout sealer about once a year or as needed to protect from staining.

Troubleshooting Common Grout Issues

Even with proper installation, grout problems can sometimes occur. Here are some common issues and causes to check:

Cracking – Too much water in mix, not enough cure time, walking on tiles too soon, inadequate expansion joints.

Grout Haze – Not wiping off excess during application, using too much water to clean, cleaning too soon.

Discoloration – Dirty application sponges, grout color variance from batch to batch, uneven drying.

Gaps or Cracks Later On – Normal tile movement, underlying wall/substrate issues.

Efflorescence – Excess salts or minerals leaching through from cement products used.

Loosening or Crumbling – Poor preparation, pre-sealing not applied correctly, inadequate mixing.

If you encounter any grouting issues with your backsplash, identify the probable cause and take corrective action right away for best results.

Frequently Asked Questions About Grouting Tile Backsplash

What is the easiest way to grout a backsplash?

Use an unsanded premixed grout for the simplest application. Apply with a grout float holding it at a 45° angle. Let cure 24 hours before cleaning.

How long should I wait to grout after installing backsplash tile?

It’s best to wait 24-48 hours for mortar to fully cure before applying grout if tiles were set in a mortar bed. If using a peel-and-stick backsplash, you can grout immediately.

Do I need to seal grout on a backsplash?

Sealing is highly recommended to protect cement grout from stains. Either use a premixed grout with sealer added or apply sealant 1-2 weeks after grouting.

What is the most waterproof grout for backsplashes?

Epoxy grout is naturally waterproof and stain resistant, making it ideal for frequently wet kitchen backsplash areas. Make sure to prep tile surfaces properly before applying epoxy grout.

How do I get a smooth finish on wall tile grout lines?

Carefully wipe off excess grout with a damp sponge in a diagonal motion across tiles to avoid digging into joints. Smooth the joints gently when grout becomes firm. Avoid over-wiping or smearing.

Can I use sanded grout for 1/8 inch grout lines?

Yes, sanded grout can work for grout lines as small as 1/8 inch. Just make sure to apply it carefully and smooth gently to fully pack the joints without digging out the grout.

How do I fix efflorescence on my backsplash grout?

First thoroughly dry the area. Then scrub with an efflorescence cleaner and stiff nylon brush. Rinse well and let dry fully before sealing grout.

Why is my grout cracking after drying?

Cracking is often caused by insufficient cure time or surface sealing preventing evaporation. Make sure to allow 72+ hours curing time and verify with manufacturer if sealing is recommended or not.

How soon can I get backsplash wet after grouting?

Avoid water on the backsplash for at least 24-72 hours per grout manufacturer instructions. This allows proper curing to prevent grout damage.


Installing a tile backsplash brings a stylish, durable focal point to your kitchen or bathroom. By following the processes outlined here for choosing quality grout, proper application, curing, cleaning and sealing, you can achieve stunning results and avoid common pitfalls. Pay attention to all product specifications, allow ample drying time, and work carefully for grout lines that are both beautiful and long-lasting. With some patience and these helpful tips, your new backsplash will bring you pride for years to come.