Grouting is the final step in laying tile. It requires patience and the right tools to achieve a professional finish. The tools are inexpensive and readily available at most home improvement stores. Some tools are used only for specific steps, while sponges and clean cloths are used throughout the grouting process.
A tiling sponge, bucket of clean, cool water and a putty knife or single-edged razor blade are the first tools you need. Use the sponge and bucket of water to clean the tile joints and remove leftover tile adhesive and dust from the tile surface. Use the putty knife or razor blade to remove stubborn adhesive spots.
To prepare the grout, you need a putty knife or a margin trowel and a 1-gallon to 3-gallon bucket, depending on the amount of grout to be mixed.
Use a putty knife and rubber-faced float to apply the grout. Either of these can be used to carry the grout from the bucket to the tile surface. The float is used to spread and work the grout across the tiles and into the joints. The float also is used to remove excess grout off the tiles and return it to the bucket. A damp tile sponge is needed to wipe the residual grout from the freshly grouted area. For a professional look, use a convex striking tool or similar implement to smooth the grout lines. The end of a toothbrush makes a good alternative.
A tiling sponge and clean, dry cloths are needed for the cleanup. After the grouting is completed and allowed to set for 30 minutes, wipe the area with a damp sponge to remove hazy or chalky film on the tiles. Use the cloths to gently buff the tiles for a professional finish.
The final step is sealing the grout joints. A very small paint brush and some clean cloths are all that's needed. When the grout is cured, usually in two to four days, use the paint brush to apply sealer and then carefully wipe off the excess with a cloth.