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Porcelain Tile Articles

How to install ceramic tile flooring Part 8 - Applying Grout

By now you've taken your installation from the "rehearsal" stage or dry run � laying out your ceramic tiles as you�d like them to be � to the point where you�ve added the mortar adhesive to install ceramic tiles in your space permanently. At this point, you�ll need to fill in the gaps, or joints, that you�ve allowed between the ceramic tiles. This is where your choice of grout comes into play.

Grout is a cement-based bonding material used for filling joints between tiles and is offered in a variety of colors. Generally, sanded grout should be used in grout joints 1/8 inch or larger and unsanded grout may be used in joints less than 1/8 inch.

You can also choose regular, Portland cement-based grout or latex and Portland cement grout. You can use stain-proof epoxy grouts for a better result and less maintenance, but epoxy is very expensive compared to regular grouts. Here are a few more pointers:

  • When purchasing grout make sure to buy enough to cover the entire project. It is a good idea to buy extra for repairs later.

  • Allow the floor to set overnight before grouting.

  • Mix the grout in a small bucket. Add the powder first and then add water to the bucket and stir with a wooden stick. Do not use a paint mixer attached to a drill to stir. This can create air bubbles in the grout.

  • Mix the grout into a thick, yogurt-like consistency. Allow this mixture to set for ten minutes and recheck to make sure it remains to be the same consistency. If not, add more water or additive.

  • While applying grout, you will still be working in quadrants as you were when you applied the mortar adhesive. Apply a moderate amount of grout on your putty knife. Press grout into the joints to an even level with the tile, keeping your knife on an angle. Skim excess grout.

  • You may notice a mild 'grout haze' on your tiles. Use a damp sponge to remove this haze, but make sure you don't press too hard on joints. This works best by using a dry terry cloth towel. Damp mop the floor afterwards. Be careful that you do not dig the grout out of the spaces.

  • When the grout has set for 24 hours, remove the spacers between the tiles.

  • Repeat this process with other joints in the remaining quadrants.

  • To help the grout cure to a solid, resilient surface, mop the floor daily for the first 3 days. Allow it to cure for a full week. Then brush it with a silicone sealer.

Note: Be careful... if you start washing the grout off the tiles too soon, you might wash down the joints at the same time. However, if you wait too long, it is even worse: you will have a very hard time cleaning the tiles. Start washing the tiles to remove any excess grout when the grout feels firm.

After you're done with the grouting and/or caulking, the installation is almost complete. Wait for the entire floor to cure for about a week. Later, you can give it a good mop to remove any remaining grout haze. You may also choose to seal the grout with a sealer to lock out dirt and or grease. But it is best to wait at least 10 days before applying a sealer.

A smart tip to remove excess grout is to frequently rinse your sponge, and use clean water. Also keep several buckets of clean water ready beside the floor.

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