Grouting is an important process in tile installation that fills the spaces between tiles, binding them together and providing a clean look. Proper grouting techniques are essential for achieving a high-quality finished product that enhances the beauty of your tilework. Follow these 3 key steps to ensure your grouting looks its absolute best:

1. Prepare the Grout Joints

Before applying grout, you need to ensure the grout joints are clean and ready to receive the grout.

  • Allow tile to fully cure first – Grout application should take place at least 24-48 hours after the tile has been set, giving the tile adhesive ample time to fully cure and harden. Grouting onto soft or uncured adhesive can cause problems.
  • Clear out spacing – Check for any dirt, debris or adhesive residue that may have accumulated in the grout joints during tile installation. Use a sharp utility knife, grout saw tool or pointed stick to remove.
  • Widen & even out joints – For wider grout lines, you may need to rake the joints wider and more even using a specialty grouting tool. Standard joints are usually 1/8 inch to 3/8 inch wide. Wider spacing is better for grout adhesion.
  • Moisten joints – Lightly dampen the grout joints with a sponge or grout sponge. This helps prevent surface moisture absorption from the applied grout.

Prep work ensures you have a clean foundation for the grout to bond to, preventing issues like cracking or weaker adhesion.

2. Mix the Grout

Mixing the grout properly is a critical step for optimum performance.

  • Use the right grout – Choose an appropriate grout for the application. Unsanded grout is best for narrow joints under 1/8 inch. Wider joints benefit from sanded grout. Epoxy grout is a top choice for heavy use areas like kitchens.
  • Follow package directions – Carefully follow the mixing instructions provided on the grout package. Using the right proportions of powder, water and any additives is key.
  • Mix to a thick peanut butter consistency – Aim for a consistency slightly thicker than peanut butter, where the grout is just firm enough to stay within the joints when applied.
  • Only mix what you can use in 30 minutes – Grout will start to harden and become unusable after about 30 minutes. Mix small batches as needed.

Proper mixing makes the grout easier to work with and provides optimal adhesion, hardness, and color consistency as it cures.

3. Apply the Grout

Applying the grout into the joints takes a bit of technique for best results:

  • Use a rubber grout float – Hold the float at a 45° angle and work the grout thoroughly into the joints, pressing down firmly to fill any gaps and voids.
  • Work in small sections – Apply grout in sections of about 4 square feet at a time, working diagonally across the joints to prevent voids or uneven fills.
  • Remove excess – Holding the float edge at a 90° angle, sweep diagonally across the joints to remove any excess grout sitting on the tile face.
  • Clean as you go – Before grout dries, use a damp sponge in a circular motion to gently clean off a light grout haze from tile. Rinse sponge frequently.
  • Avoid seams – As you progress to the next section, be sure to overlap into the edge of the previous section to create a seamless appearance.
  • Let dry – Give the grout time to firm up, usually 30-60 minutes, before doing a final clean-up of any remaining haze with a soft cloth.

Paying close attention as you apply and clean the grout will provide beautiful, uniform filled joints free of voids, pits or bumps.

Grout Color Considerations

Choosing the right grout color is an important design decision that impacts the overall look:

  • Matching grout – For a seamless look, choose a grout that matches closely to the tile color. Be sure to check color in natural light.
  • Contrasting grout – To make the tile stand out more, go with a contrasting grout that provides definition between the tiles.
  • Darker grout – Using a darker shade of grout than the tile color minimizes the appearance of dirt and stains.
  • Lighter grout – Natural stone often looks best with a light-colored grout like buff or ivory that doesn’t detract from the stone.
  • Boldly colored grout – Make a statement by choosing a bright, bold grout color as an accent against neutral tiles.

Always look at grout color samples against the actual tile before finalizing your selection. The right grout color can beautifully enhance the tile design or finish.

Cleaning and Sealing Grout

Proper ongoing care is important for keeping grout looking its best long-term:

Cleaning Grout

  • Clean grout routinely by wiping with a damp microfiber cloth or sponge and pH neutral tile cleaner.
  • For heavy soil buildup, use a specialty grout cleaner and nylon grout brush scrubbing in a circular motion. Rinse thoroughly.
  • Vinegar, hydrogen peroxide or baking soda can help whiten discolored grout. Rinse well after cleaning.
  • Avoid harsh cleaners with acids or alkaline salts that can degrade and corrode grout over time.

Sealing Grout

  • Sealing is recommended to protect porous grout from stains and discoloration.
  • Apply a penetrating grout sealer like Aqua Mix Sealer’s Choice Gold to new grout 2-3 days after grouting once dry. Reapply yearly.
  • Use epoxy-based sealers for more intense sealing on natural stone or in wet areas. Reapply 2-3 times per year.
  • Check sealers regularly for wear and reapply as needed. Grout color and texture can help indicate if resealing is needed.

Regular cleaning and sealing will help keep grout looking fresh, uniform in color and provide protection from stains.

Grouting Issues and Solutions

Sometimes grouting doesn’t go according to plan. Here are some common grouting problems and ways to address them:

Crumbling, Cracking or Powdery Grout

  • Caused by lack of sealing, moisture issues, or inferior grout mix.
  • Repair cracks with new grout. Remove crumbling areas and re-grout. Seal properly once dry.

Efflorescence – Whitish Grout Haze

  • Caused by moisture reacting with grout minerals and migrating to surface.
  • Dry brush efflorescence with stiff brush. Rinse with water. Apply grout sealer to protect.

Settling or Joint Erosion

  • Indicates grout didn’t fill joint fully or is eroding out.
  • Chisel out old grout carefully. Apply new grout forcing into gaps. Consider epoxy/urethane grout for high-traffic areas.

Discoloration or Staining

  • Can occur from dirt buildup, spills, chemicals.
  • Scrub with specialized grout cleaner. Use hydrogen peroxide. May need to re-grout badly stained areas.

Grout Haze

  • Whitish film on tile left over from grouting.
  • Wipe gently with damp sponge in a circular motion. Use pH neutral cleaner. Buff dry with towel.

Understanding common grouting problems and their solutions helps ensure you know how to properly maintain the finish long-term.

Grout Maintenance Tips

  • Inspect grout routinely for any wear, damage or discoloration issues. Address problems promptly.
  • Re-seal grout annually at minimum, more often for heavy use areas or stone/marble tiles.
  • Use caulk instead of grout for corners and changes in plane to allow for expansion and prevent cracking.
  • For high-moisture areas like showers, use a water-repellent epoxy or urethane grout.
  • When re-grouting, ensure old grout is removed fully so the new bonds well.
  • Clean spills quickly to avoid permanent staining, especially acids, oils or pigments.
  • Avoid abrasive scrubbing of grout that can wear it down prematurely. Use gentle circular motion.
  • Check for any failing or damaged grout during remodeling. Re-grout those areas for an updated uniform look.

Proper maintenance and care is essential for keeping grout looking fresh and clean long-term. Paying attention to potential issues early helps prevent extensive repairs down the road.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should sanded or unsanded grout be used in floor tile joints?

For floor tile, sanded grout is generally recommended for joints wider than 1/8 inch. The sand in the mixture helps provide greater strength and durability for floor applications. Unsanded grout is best reserved for wall tiles and very narrow joint widths.

How long should you wait before sealing grout?

It’s ideal to wait 2-3 days after grouting to apply a penetrating sealer, ensuring the grout has adequate time to fully cure and dry first. If sealing too early, the sealer may not bond effectively. Quick-setting grouts may be able to be sealed after 24 hours. Always check grout manufacturer recommendations.

What’s the easiest way to get a haze-free grouted surface?

Frequent rinsing of the grout sponge while cleaning is key. Change the rinse water often to prevent haze particles from being re-deposited. Also avoid pressing too hard while cleaning; gentle circular motions are best. Allowing proper dry time before final haze removal also helps achieve a clearer surface.

Can you change the color of existing grout?

Yes,grout color can be updated by applying a colored grout stain or paint. The old grout should be cleaned thoroughly and allowed to dry first. Topical coloring options are available in different opacities to provide varying degrees of color change. Re-grouting is another option for a permanent color change.

What’s the best grout to use in a shower?

Epoxy grout is highly recommended for shower walls and floors. The epoxy resin formula provides maximum water- and stain-resistance. Urethane grout is another excellent choice for damp areas like showers. Stay away from regular cement-based grout for shower applications.


Following proper grouting techniques is crucial for maximizing the look of any tile installation. Carefully prepping the joints, mixing the grout thoroughly, and applying with care results in clean, uniform grout lines that enhance the design. Sealing and maintaining the grout properly ensures your finish continues looking its best for years to come. Keeping these simple best practices in mind takes the guesswork out of grouting and gives you professional-looking results.