Written by: Mr. Don Wilson, Tile Center Augusta, GA
Pick your grout. Start with color and then the performance level that you want. We carry a good standard grout, a premium grout, and a epoxy grout. An industrial grade grout is also available if needed. We have over 60 colors to choose from in stock.
The first point to consider is that the tile is properly installed, cleaned and ready to grout. The adhesive must have time to cure, or lime, and color can bleed into the grout. The tile and the joints must be clean of dirt, trash, and pieces of spacers. Any debris left in the joint can show up in the grout.
Having the proper tools before you start is a must. You will need a sponge, a good float and a clean bucket of clean water. You may have noticed that clean is a reoccurring theme. Floats are not very expensive but are very important. A crisp edge will give you a full joint and greatly reduce your clean-up effort. An inferior float can leave a lot of grout on your tile and some will leave black pieces of rubber in your grout. A good float, if cleaned after each use, will last through several jobs.
Take your time. When mixing cement based grout take the time to mix in the proper amount of room temperature water. Do not go straight from the hose where the water could be really hot or really cold. Extreme temperatures will change the chemical reaction that needs to take place. Mix the grout at a slow to medium speed then let it set for five minutes. This allows the chemical reaction to properly start. Mix it again and start grouting.
Once the floor is grouted, take a few minutes to inspect your work. You will not be able to go back after the grout dries and add more to low places. Cement based grout will not stick to cement based grout. Epoxy grout will stick to just about anything. You can start your initial clean up now, using a damp sponge. Too much water can cause many grouts to weaken and crack as well as pull the pigments out of the grout, changing the color. Take a micro fiber towel and buff any residue off and allow to dry for 24 hours. With epoxy grout the cleanup must be finished within an hour or two of grouting. Cement based grout is more forgiving and you can finish a day or two later. If there is a haze or efflorescence you may need to do a final clean up with a haze remover.
Seal cement based grout after it has been cleaned properly and has been allowed to cure. Do not seal a grout job that you are unhappy with. When the grout is sealed use only tile or stone cleaner. Harsh cleaning products will strip your sealer and leave stone and grout unprotected.
Never hesitate to ask our staff questions. If there is something we don’t know, we have the resources to find you the correct answer. We also have Tile Council of North America books in our stores as well as on our Web Page.