How to Grout Granite Tiles
Grouting is necessary to fill up the gaps in between granite tiles after setting them in place. If you know how to do it, you can enjoy more savings, instead of spending a hefty sum of money on hiring a professional installer.
Secure the tools first
In grouting, you will need the following tools:
You'll need this to apply grout across the tiles and remove any excess.
This trowel-like handy tool is intended for finishing touches of the grout lines.
It's a solvent-based joint sealant used to protect the grout lines from potential damages and stains.
It's a small tool you need to remove old grout, mainly when you're replacing old or broken tiles.
These will include sponges, water containers and dry rags.
Get to know the grout
The purpose of grouting is similar to mortar application, but it's more suitable for hard-to-reach areas of the surface. This material also helps granite tiles secure to the wall, preventing moisture and water penetration to the joint. Here are some common types of grout which are readily available in all hardware stores:
1. Sanded Grout
Sanded grout is a cement-based mortar generally mixed with sand particles to increase grouting strength. On-site testing is necessary to ensure that the sand won't scratch your granite tiles.
2. Furan grout
This grouting material is made of polymers of "fortified" alcohol components which make it highly resistant against chemicals. It's commonly applied to quarry tiles, brick or clay pavers which secure the gaps from direct sunlight, grease, and heavy dust.
3. Epoxy Grout
This grout is formulated to withstand the heavy presence of water and chemicals in places such as factories and oil plants. It's made with water-resistant components, which are strong enough to prevent cracking or any need to apply sealants.
Grouting your granite stairs, flooring and walls
Tile grouting is the next step after you have successfully installed your granite tiles. This job is somehow less intensive than setting the tiles, but you need to make sure the grout lines look consistent throughout the surface. If you perform grouting well, the surface underneath the tile, whether floors or walls, will be safe from water seepage and moisture. Follow these guidelines on how to apply grout:
Mixing the grout
- Remove the old grout if you want to apply a new one. There are removing tools like grout remover bit or grout sawing tool to get rid of the old grout. If you apply new grout, make sure to keep the tiles free from dirt and water before you start.
Determine whether you need to be sanded or Non-sanded grout, where the former is made stronger than the latter. Sanded grout is applicable in grout spacing greater than 1/8-inch or 3mm wide. Non-sanded grout, on the other hand, tends to crack on wider tile spacing.
- Choose the color of the grout as the grout will become noticeable from afar. It will affect the overall appearance of your individual tiles since the color will either accentuate the tile pattern or make the lines visible. The grout lines will look invisible if you choose to apply light colors. Now, if you have installed the tiles and noticed that the lines are not perfect, use a grout paint to cover these imperfections.
Select the color that will create a contrasting effect to bring out the individual beauty of your granite tiles. If you're installing granite tiles on stairs and areas with the high-occupancy ratio, better not to use light colors or white as this will become difficult to clean later.
- Wait for the thinset mortar to set in to prevent the tiles from moving. Thinset mortar is usually applied to install the granite tiles to the surface. In most brands, you need to wait at least 24 hours to cure. Kindly check the packaging label to know the recommended drying time because thinsets come in different manufacturing specifications.
- Check the package directions before you mix the grout. Only mix the amount of grout that corresponds to your working time as it can dry fast when left unattended. As a rule of thumb, use 3/4 of the recommended water amount when you dump the grout powder into a container and mix it with a trowel. After few minutes of continuous mixing, add the remaining 1/4 water and resume mixing.
What's important here is to reach the desired consistency and firmness of the grout mix. Too much water will give you a difficult time to spread the grout in between tiles. Expect wastage to happen if you haven't estimated the amount of grout mixture you need for a specific area.
Performing the grout application
It's advisable to moisten the granite tiles with a sponge or damp cloth using a small amount of water before you apply the grout. This would keep the grout joints dry, thus preventing debris to penetrate.
- Use the trowel to scoop the grout on the granite tile. You can start applying the grout from the farthest corner of the area and work backwards. For wall application, you may use the same method, but you should go downwards and move from one corner to another.
- Spread the grout and hold a grout float at a 45-degree angle and press the grout gently into the joint. You can hold the grout float at a diagonal angle to the grout lines to fix the imperfections. To remove the excess grout, hold the rubber float perpendicular to the surface while moving it across the tiles.
- Continue with grouting if the grout color looks satisfying. Work on one specific area at a time, so you can remove the excess grout in time before it fries. If you have someone to help you, one can perform grouting while you're removing the excess. Wait for the grout to cure at least 15-30 minutes after removing the excess grout.
Cleaning the area
- As soon as the grout begins to become firm, start cleaning up the surroundings particularly if you notice that the grout is no longer transferring to your hands. Apply as little water as you can because excess water may cause discoloration to the joint. If you need to grout a large area, it's recommended to apply grout and clean one section at a time to prevent grout from becoming inconsistent.
- After each wipe, rinse and twist out the sponge to bring out water so that excess water won't stay on the grout joint or tile surface. Additionally, refrain from allowing the grout to remain on your granite tiles for extended minutes before completing the initial cleaning job.
- Always change your rinse water, or you may prepare a number of buckets to hinder the grout from drying up fast. All tiles should be thoroughly cleaned up before grout dries up.
- Come back after 45 minutes to one hour to clean up the remaining haze. No matter how good you are in removing the grout, you're likely to encounter grout haze covering your granite surface. Use a clean sponge and rinse water to take it out and then use a soft dry rag to finish the job.
- As an option, use grout sealers to fill all empty joints you can find around the edges, corners, moldings, and sink. Sealers can protect the joints from stains especially if your granite tiles are fully exposed to heat and various substances. Before applying sealers, wait for the grout to cure completely in 24 to 36 hours. Drying time of joint sealers is according to the manufacturer's direction, so check the packaging first before any application.
Apply the sealer and spread it using a sponge in a circular motion. Wipe the excess sealers after 5-10 minutes with a clean rag. Manufacturers recommend resealing your grout joints at least every 6 months.
Painting the grout
Tile grout is not meant to last forever as it can begin to look dirty after years of environmental exposure. If you have a difficult time to get your grout lines to look nice again, consider using grout paints to restore the beauty of your surfaces. You may also apply grout paint after sealing the joints if you want an appealing look for your floors and countertops. Here's what you should remember:
- Make sure to keep the grout joint clean and dry. Otherwise, the paint won't adhere properly. Use commercial tile cleaners to remove the old stain and then use the sponge to remove water.
- Never use any paint material not explicitly made for grout. This appears more of an epoxy colorant than regular paints you see on home improvement establishments. Regular paints will not adhere for sure, and it may damage your granite tiles during application.
- Select the right brush size that almost matches the width spacing of the grout line. Wider brushes tend to damage your granite tiles or may leave some paint stains.
- Only use the grout paint on glazed or sealed tiles and not on rough stone. Grout paint tends to soak in raw finishes which may cause difficulties to wash it off.
- Wear some protection such as kneepad and hand gloves before you begin.
Grouting work can become less time-consuming if you know the proper application and techniques. With grout, you can expect your home spaces to look beautiful and elegant alongside your choice of natural stone.
- Dale Basilla