Updating or installing tiles in a home can really transform a bathroom, kitchen or floor. This may be why DIY tiling jobs are one of the most popular methods of home improvement. Stone or ceramic tiles are incredibly durable and versatile. They are perfect for everything from backsplashes and bathtub surrounds to waterproof floors. One of the benefits of doing your own tiling is the ability to design whatever look or pattern you want in your tiling job without increasing the cost beyond the materials involved. You will be able to save money and add your own artistic vision to your home at the same time! The ability to handle tiling and grouting projects yourself can also save you money if you need to repair an existing patch of tile or replace worn-out grout. While tiling and grouting can be more involved than many DIY projects, anyone can do it with the proper tools, planning, and preparation. Whether you’re renovating and regrouting old tiles or installing a new look, here are six tips to ensure your next tiling or grouting job goes smoothly and turns out the way you want.
1. Prepare the Tiles
Whether you’re laying new tiles or regrouting old ones, it’s important to make sure the edges are completely clean and free of any gunk or buildup. Use a knife, box cutter, or thin blade of some sort to scrape away any old grout or any dirt or debris that may be on your new tiles. It’s important for grout to have room to set, settle, and adhere properly to the tiles. Making sure they are clean ahead of time will ensure your grout works the way it should.
2. Plan Your Design Ahead of Time
This is especially important if you are creating your own alternating pattern or unique design with your tiles. Thankfully, tiles can be moved around once they are placed if done so quickly. However, this can create a lot of mess and confusion. If you are not careful you may end up re-doing large sections of work due to improper planning. It’s also important to keep in mind that you cannot walk on floor tiles right after they are laid. Tiles will not cure properly if they are walked on too soon. Be sure to plan the pattern of tiling in advance so you don’t need to walk back over the tiles soon after they are laid and grouted. You should wait at least 12 hours before walking on freshly laid tile, though waiting 24 hours would be better.
3. Mix Strategically
When mixing grout, you should never mix up an entire bag in one go, especially if it’s your last or only bag. It’s important for grout to be a certain consistency and not be watered down too much. The only way to fix the consistency if it’s too watery is to add more grout powder. If you use your entire bag in one go and don’t get the amount of water right, you might find yourself needing to run to the store to buy a whole new bag. Ideally, grout should be mixed by adding small amounts of water and powder until the grout reaches the consistency of peanut butter. Don’t worry about the batch being too small. It’s better to only mix the amount of grout you can use in 30 minutes, or the mixture can dry out and become useless.
4. Don’t Forget Slaking!
Slaking is when you let the grout sit for 10 to 15 minutes after mixing it up but before using it. This allows the water to permeate the powder as much as possible so you don’t end up with gritty grout that is the wrong consistency. This can also help you identify if your grout is too watery. Some people are inclined to skip this step and move straight to grouting once the mixture is good to go, but if the grout isn’t allowed to slake, you might find out too late that it’s the wrong consistency or not fully mixed. After the mixture has slaked for 10 to 15 minutes, add more water or powder as necessary and mix again. Be sure to allow the grout to slake each time after mixing until it is ready to go.
5. Work in Small Sections
As previously mentioned, grout will dry out in a short amount of time when left to set. This holds true when it comes to working the grout into the tiles. Once it starts to harden, it will be difficult to shape the edges and clean the tiles properly. Work in small sections to avoid having your grout set too quickly. Use a float to smooth grout over and between the tiles in a diagonal motion. You’ll get grout on your tiles but don’t worry about that now. Go back over the grooves between the tiles again, being sure to work in as much grout as possible. Use the rounded edge of the float to shape edges and level out the grout in the joints. Use a damp sponge to clean excess grout from the surface of the tiles before it dries.
6. Caulk the Corners
Caulk is used to seal the corners instead of grout. This is because caulk is better able to fill irregular seems and can expand and contract the keep the seal secure during fluctuations in humidity. You can usually find caulk that is the same color as your grout. Make sure all of the grout is cleared out of the edges that are to be sealed before working the caulk into the seems. Try to keep a steady, smooth bead of caulk flowing. Once a joint is filled, go back over the caulk with a cloth, paper towel, or caulk edging tool to smooth out any irregularities and ensure a complete seal to finish off the project.