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5 Things You Need to Know About Grout

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May 11, 2011

Grout can be a finicky thing. Properly applied and maintained, it can look great for decades. But make one wrong move during application and the grout can become dry, brittle, and cracked. Spill a glass of wine on the tile floor, and your grout might show the stain for years.

What You Need to Know About Grout

Here's what you must know to keep your grout looking fresh for years to come:

  • Allow plenty of time for fresh grout to mix properly. Many homeowners make the mistake of mixing grout and then applying it immediately. Give the grout mixture time to truly blend before you start working with it. Blend it well, then set it aside for a few minutes. This gives the elements of the grout time to blend with the water.
  • Work only one section at a time. Grout requires some finesse to keep it looking smooth and even, so take your time! Spread new grout with a rubber-faced trowel, taking care to fill in all the space between the tiles. Work at a 45-degree angle to the grout lines of the tile. Scrape off the excess with another rubber trowel, then use a slightly damp sponge to wipe up leftover grout on the tile.
  • Give the grout a bit of time to dry, then clean it again. Use sponges to wipe up the grout again, and this time pay closer attention to removing it from the tiles. Smooth out the grout lines while you work. The key is to remove as much of the grout from the tile as you can while it is still moist, because removal after it hardens can be tough.
  • Go back in another hour and finish the work. When most of the moisture has dried, you can see small spots you might have missed. Use an abrasive scrubber to gently remove stubborn grout, then polish it all up with a slightly damp towel. Let the grout cure for at least 24 hours.
  •  Consider a sealant. If you are worried about stains in the grout from those occasional spills and mishaps, look into a sealant to apply over the grout. Many sealants must be mixed and reapplied on a regular basis, so always double-check the instructions before you make the purchase.

When you see grout start to flake, peel, or chip, it's time to make repairs. Get the work done before water has a chance to seep in underneath your floor tile, causing even more damage.


About the Author:

Shannon Dauphin is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. Her current home was built in 1901, so home repair and renovation have become her necessary hobbies.
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