An overlooked but essential component of any bathroom is grout. Grout provides an important service in DIY tiling projects. Not to be confused with mortar, the adhesive that goes behind the tile, grout goes in between the spaces of the tile. Preparation is key when working with grout. We have the answers to help you mix grout and create a stunning project when added to your bathroom tile.
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When mixing grout for the bathroom, follow these steps:
- Select the grout
- Collect the materials
- Combine the ingredients
- Sit and stir
- Apply to project
- Timely cleanup
While the finding, combining, and applying grout may seem like a straightforward process, the variables involved in cleaning up can be a nightmare. Timing has to be spot on when working with grout. As you consider all the parts of renovating a bathroom, know that grout is worth your time by providing essential services, and it will mix in a just a few easy steps.
1. Select The Grout
Cement-based grouts come in two different forms: sanded and un-sanded. In a bathroom, un-sanded grout works best. The joints between tiles are closer together, and a stickier grout is helpful to avoid places mold or mildew may attempt to gain a foothold over time. Both of these variables make un-sanded grout, which also works well with polished tiles, an easy choice.
Sanded grout works best in situations where the grout lines or joints are 1/8" or larger. The benefit of sanded grout lies in its resistance to shrinking over time. The added sand particles make a gritty texture to the finished project. On the downside, it can scratch polished tile or stone.
Epoxy grout is not made with the cement base of the sanded and un-sanded varieties. Epoxy grout again is preferred in places where the joints are 1/8" or larger. Comprised of resin and substantially more waterproof epoxy grout can stain the tile, which is detrimental to the project.
2. Collect The Materials
After picking the grout that is right for your project, collect the rest of the items needed. This includes:
- Grout mix
- Drill with mixing attachment
- Grout additives
- Coloring for grout
The drill may be helpful if mixing a larger batch of grout. Keep in mind, after the grout has been prepared, 30 minutes is all the time that it can sit without hardening in the bucket. Once activated, the grout cannot be re-activated or made soft and pliable again. So, keep batches to what you are able to use at any one given time.
What Can You Add To Grout To Thicken It?
Grout additives refer to replacements for water when combining the mixture. These additives strengthen grout or have significant benefits when used with specific types of tile.
When using ceramic tile, an acrylic grout additive may be preferred. Acrylic additives make it more difficult for water to absorb into the grout. This helps prevent mold and mildew. Also, it increases the flexibility of the compound.
Color options vary widely when it comes to grout. However, if you cannot find the perfect match for your bathroom tile, possibilities are endless with the ability to add smaller or larger amounts of color to your grout mixture. Always make sure the color mixes through the entire batch without streaks of darker or lighter shades during application.
Sealant is highly recommended for any grout project. In a bathroom, where moisture prevails, and mold or mildew attempts to take hold, sealant becomes not just recommended but a must.
Any of these items can thicken grout. The important consideration is that any additive needs to be mixed completely. If mixing grout proves problematic, pre-mixed grout is an option found in many hardware stores.
3. Combine The Ingredients
Use the directions provided on the bag to know how much grout powder to put into the bucket. Then, add most, but not all, of the water that is recommended. If using an acrylic, color additive, or sealant, include it in the bucket. Blending the grout, add the remaining water as needed until the consistency of the mixture is smooth and pliable. The grout mixture should not be runny or have any lumps.
How Do You Mix Small Amounts Of Grout?
In order to keep a grout batch small, follow the directions on the back of the bag of grout powder. If that seems like too much, cut it in half as well as any additives. Mixing with a trowel should provide a smooth texture. A small amount of grout will help ensure the quality and consistency of the mixture. Grout, especially the kinds with a cement base, will harden quickly. It is better to make a small usable batch than a large batch that will have to be thrown out.
If a larger batch is in demand, consider a drill with an attachment for mixing. While the process may sound quicker with the drill, it takes extra caution and patience to go slow enough to stop any air pockets from forming. Anything like an air pocket will weaken the strength of the grout.
What Happens When You Add Too Much Water To Grout?
If there is too much water in the mixture, it will not form the strong bonds needed to protect from moisture. It is possible to try and combine a latex additive or more powder to even out the ratio. However, if the grout compound resembles soup, the entire batch may need to be thrown out.
4. Sit And Stir
After the mixture is formed, it needs to sit for five to ten minutes. After time has passed, stir the compound to loosen it. The consistency should be smooth without air pockets or lumps. If a color was added, make sure it is consistent throughout the entire composition.
5. Apply To Project
If possible, find a place to do a test run and make sure the grout will not stain the tile. Test runs also help gauge how to work with the grout before putting the compound on the final product. Then, using a grout float, apply the grout to a small section of the project. Holding the grout float at a 45-degree angle, work the grout into the joints between tiles. If there are excessive amounts of grout in an area, use the grout float to spread it around evenly.
Can You Put Grout On Top Of Grout?
If grout is crumbling or dirty, remove it from the work surface. If crumbling or in need of repair, grout repair kits exist that may be better for a smaller area. Regardless, with the problem removed, the new grout will be able to adhere better, with fewer issues, if the foundation it is laid on is solid and clean.
Can You Add A Second Layer Of Grout?
Using a Grout Getter, it may be possible to remove enough of the original layer to form a rough surface the new grout can easily adhere to.
6. Timely Cleanup
After an area of tile has been grouted, allow for the allotted wait time. Find this information on the packaging of the grout. This is usually between 15 and 30 minutes. After time has expired, use a sponge and clean water to wipe away excess grout from the tile. This should not have an excessive amount of water, just enough to remove the extra.
As the water and sponge become dirty, re-fill with fresh. Spreading dirty grout water over a project will only increase the amount of cleaning needed after it has hardened. After the grout has cured, tiles will need to be cleaned of any grout haze with a cloth or towel.
Can You Touch Up Grout?
It is possible to touch up grout. Always clear away any loose or dirty grout before applying a new layer. Grout pens may be a helpful part when trying to touch up grout. Otherwise, cleaning grout prevents many problems from forming. For more information on four easy ways to clean grout, check out this guide: 4 Easy Ways To Clean Grout Without Scrubbing
Grout may seem superfluous and time-consuming. However, the result of using grout and sealant makes stunning results that can contrast colors in a bathroom and provide extra protection against mold and mildew in a place where moisture prevails.
There are multiple ways to use grout. Click here to get information on how to choose grout for your backsplash. Grout is always a good investment, and the payoff is well worth it.