Grouting, Caulking and Sealing Tile
Bring all materials into the room to acclimate them to its temperature, preferably between 65 and 75 degrees F. Prepare the surface by removing spacers and cleaning excess mortar from the joints and surface. Lightly mist the edges of nonvitreous tile with water so they won't absorb too much moisture from the grout. Vitreous tiles don't require misting.
Use a margin trowel to mix grout in clean containers, following the manufacturer's instructions and adding powder to liquid a little at a time. Let it set for 10 minutes and stir again to loosen its texture. Grout should be wet enough to spread but not runny.
15 to 30 minutes to mix, float, and clean a 4-foot-square section (varies with tile size). About 5 minutes to caulk a 10-foot joint, 45 minutes to seal a 15x20-foot floor, longer if applying sealer to joints only
Utility or grout knife, nylon scrubber, margin trowel, grout float, grout bag (optional), applicator or mop for sealer, caulk gun
Spreading grout with float; using caulk gun
Install all tile; let mortar cure
Grout, bucket and water, sponge, rags, sealer, caulk
Remove the spacers if you haven't already. Inspect the joints for any remaining adhesive and scrape residue with a utility or grout knife. Remove any remaining hardened mortar from the tile surface with a nylon (not metal) scrubber.Step 2
Mix the grout to the consistency recommended by the manufacturer; dump or scoop out a small pile with a margin trowel. Working in 10-square-foot sections, pack the grout into the joints with a grout float. Hold the float at about a 30- to 45-degree angle; work the grout in both directions.Step 3
Once you have grouted a section, hold the float almost perpendicular to the tile and scrape the excess from the tile surface. Work the float diagonally to the joints to avoid lifting the grout. If you remove grout replace it in the joint and reclean the surface. Let the grout set.Step 4
When a just-damp sponge won't lift grout from the joint, start cleaning. Wring out all excess water from a damp sponge and rub the surface in a circular motion. Rinse and wring out the sponge often. Repeat parallel to the joints to make them neat and once more to finish cleaning.Step 5
Let the surface dry about 15 minutes, then remove the grout haze from the surface with a dry, clean rag. Avoid terry-cloth material as it tends to lift out uncured grout. Tile with a matte finish might require another cleaning with fresh water and a clean sponge.Mixing grout
Use the grout recommended by the manufacturer. Nonsanded grout tends to recede when curing, so you may need to apply it twice if the joints in your stone installation are set at 1/16 inch. Seal stone before grouting to ease cleaning and again after grouting.
Power mixing can introduce air bubbles in grout and leave voids in it. Mix grout by hand with a margin trowel, adding the powder to the water. Let the mix set for 10 minutes, then remix before applying.Extra-wide grout joints
Irregular tiles look best with wide grout joints, but wide joints may be hard to fill with a grout float. Use a grout bag for these tiles and for rough tiles whose surfaces will be difficult to clean.
Fit a metal spout on the bag equal to the width of the joint. Fill the bag with grout. Working down the length of the joint, squeeze the bag, overfilling the joint slightly. Compact the excess and sweep loose grout with a stiff broom when dry.Caulking the joints
Use a utility knife to cut the nozzle to the width of the joint and at a 45-degree angle. Cut through the nozzle in one pass. Before you apply the caulk, practice the techniques on scrap.
Starting in one corner squeeze the handle of the caulk gun gently and apply the caulk to the joint. Keep the caulk gun moving as you squeeze so the caulk won't overrun the joint. Finish the surface of the caulk with a wet finger or sponge. Light pressure will avoid gouging.Sealing grout and tiles
Although latex or polymer-modified grouts resist staining, you'll get the best protection from stains by sealing the grout.
On glazed and other impervious tiles apply the sealer only to the joint, using an applicator designed for this purpose. To protect saltillo and other soft-bodied tiles, seal the entire surface with a mop or applicator as recommended by the manufacturer.
Different sealers can leave stone in its natural color or enhance its richness.Adding a Tile Base: Step 1
Out-of-level floors force you to adjust the base tiles to make their top edges level. You'll make up the difference in the joint at the floor. Lay the bullnose tile against the wall with spacers. Adjust the tile heights with plastic wedges until the top edges of all tiles are level. Make sure the joint at the floor is as even as possible from one end to the other. Continue the layout on adjacent walls. Mark the wall at the top edge of the final layout.Step 2
Remove the tiles and snap a level chalkline at the mark you made. Mark all the walls with chalklines in a similar fashion. Mix up enough thinset to cover the area in which you'll be working. Backbutter each tile and set in place.Step 3
Press the tile in place, inserting spacers. Use the plastic wedges to keep the top edge in line. About every 3 feet use a 4-foot level to make sure the top edge is level. Adjust the tile if necessary by gently pushing or pulling on the wedges as needed. Gently remove excess mortar from the joints with a utility knife. Clean the surface. Set and clean corner tiles. Let the mortar cure overnight before grouting.Step 4
As a final step grout the trim tiles and caulk the joints at the floor and top edge. Force grout into the vertical joints with a grout float. When the grout has partially cured, remove the excess from the joint at the floor with a utility knife and from the surface with a damp sponge. Sponge-clean the surface at least twice. Wipe off the haze with a clean rag. Caulk the joint at the floor and along the top edge of the trim. Smooth the caulk with a wet finger or sponge.What If...Bullnose is not available for your Tile?
Double-bullnose tile has two rounded edges -- one on top and another on the side. It is made especially to provide a smooth way to finish outside corners. The vertical rounded edge covers the square edge of the adjoining tile.
If bullnose trim is not available in the style you need, cut trim tile from the same stock you laid on the floor. Determine the height of the edging you want and cut enough tiles to run the entire length of the wall. Cut each piece of the tile only once. Even if you can get more than one piece from a large floor tile, you'll want a factory edge on top. Install the cut tile and, if the factory edge is not finished to your liking, grout the top edge.Easing the transitions
Carpet edging is an inexpensive transition between carpet and another floor material. T-molding is used as a transition between floors of the same height.
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