DIY How To

Tips For Simple Tile Grouting

Well the good news is that you’ve done the hard part. The hours of painstakingly sitting on the floor hunched over a tile cutter, applying tile adhesive while liberally covering various surfaces at the same time and doing a position akin to the limbo under the bathroom sink to ensure a flush fit are over (well, assuming you’ve used enough adhesive).

So with that in mind the task of grouting will seem like a walk in the park. However, while grouting doesn’t require the same physical and mental tests of endurance, doing a poor job will spoil all that intial hard work. No matter how avant garde some interior designs may be, pealing silicone sealant and gaps between the tiles are unlikely to come into fashion.

Here then are three easy stages designed to help you make light work of the essential finishing touches.

Three simple stages to make grouting easy

Careful Planning
Having a carefully laid out plan seems like common sense, yet how many of us have found ourselves stirring a paint tin with a wooden spoon or tightening a screw with a butter knife liberated from the kitchen draw. Making sure you have the right tools to hand in order to complete the task to a high standard certainly helps a DIY job to progress more smoothly.

Bathroom

The basic grouting tools you should consider include the following. Firstly, a plastic spreader for applying the grout, a sealant gun complete with silicone sealant and a cheap nonabrasive closed cell sponge (ones designed for washing cars are normally fine). Finally a humble household bucked to keep warm water in for washing the aforementioned tools. With the right apparatus carefully laid out in front of you like instruments on a surgeons table you’re nearly ready to begin.

Before setting to work though there's still the important matter of making sure you have the right colour of both grout and silicone sealant. Grouts are typically available in chalky whites through to beiges and depending on whether you’ve tiled the wall with natural tiles such as limestone or manmade porcelain tiles, selecting the right colour makes a big visual difference. It should also be noted that if you’re repairing a small section of tiles make sure the new grout matches the existing colour. Similarly tile sealants come in different colours which suite different applications. White bathroom fixtures and fittings normally require the use of a white silicone sealant, but bathrooms with metals fixtures, such as shower enclosures benefit from clear silicone. I should also mention that while many of these products are safe to touch the skin for short periods of time, latex gloves are handy and prove useful for another task later on.

Applying the Grout
In principle grouting is a straight forward job, although it can be time consuming.  There’s often a temptation to tackle a whole bathroom in one go, but until your confident it can be better to work in one meter square areas. Taking the plastic spreader carefully scoop a heaped amount (about the size of a squash ball) on to the edge of the plastic blade. Holding the spreader at an approximate 40 degree angle, move the spreader across the gaps between the tiles, being careful to make sure that the gaps don’t re-appear once the grout has sunk down between the tiles.  Once you’ve ensured that the grout is dry, take the sponge soak it in warm water and wipe away any excess grout that has collected over the tiles surface.

Grouting

The Sealant of Approval
With all the grout now dry and tiles wiped clean, the end is in sight. However, before jumping into the bath to admire your handy work, there’s still the job of adding silicone sealant to the tiles wet edge. As you can imagine water will run down the tiles surface and collect at the bottom where the tile meats the edge of a fixture. Using a sealant gun take a fresh tube of silicone sealant and slice the cone shaped nozzle at a 45 degree angle. Cutting it at this angle will help it apply smoothly to the rough 90 degree angle between the tile and fixture surface.

Working one edge at a time, squeeze the trigger to apply a straight, even line of sealant. You may notice that the silicone isn’t depressing into a gap or that you’ve used an uneven amount resulting in lumps, not to worry, this is where the latex gloves mentioned earlier come in to play. Using a gloved finger carefully run your finger over the top of the sealant, this both presses it into place and removes any excess.

Silicone sealants normally dry within around 24 hours and stopping it getting wet during the drying stage is very important. If the sealant becomes wet it won’t form a water tight seal. If you make any mistakes silicone sealant is fairly forgiving, being easy to wipe away before it dries.

As with all DIY jobs the more you practice you have, the more proficient you’ll be. However, learning the basics of grouting and sealing is relatively easy and you can always undo any mistakes made along the way. Take you’re your time and start slowly, better to do a great job on a small area than have to redo an entire wall. Remember the steps above and you’ll be stood back admiring your handy work in no time.

Keep your tile grout clean and free of stains if mould starts to appear on the grout or where the sink or bath meet the wallusing a variety of common household cleaning substances.

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