Your tile is installed. The mastic adhesive or cement has set. Next is grouting, when you fill in the joints between tiles with a fine wet cement. The process involves laying the grout on the tile, easing it into all joints and cracks and then scraping enough away so that the surface is smooth and attractive. In addition to the mixed grout itself and the bucket of water you have on hand, to achieve a polished appearance, you need a few tools.
A grout float is the device you use to spread grout into the cracks between tiles. It usually consists of a flat pad with a handle attached to the top. The padded surface may be made of pure rubber gum or a synthetic rubber-like material. A grout float that is lightweight gives you an advantage, since a tile grouting project can take time to complete and your hands can get tired. Additionally, a handle shaped to fit your hand also makes the task easier. Some grout floats come with replaceable rubber pads in case the pad becomes worn during use. Some of the floats are made with a synthetic pad that is solid rather than in layers to keep it from peeling apart. Some have beveled edges to facilitate working under cabinet edges and in corners.
The sponge used for smoothing and wiping wet grout is usually a large, non-dyed sponge that is very porous and lightweight. As you smooth the wet grout, excess grout gets picked up by the sponge. When you squeeze the sponge into a bucket of water, the sanded grout dislodges easily from the sponge.
The cheesecloth you use for grouting projects does not need to be food grade. This soft, open weave polishing cloth is made of 100 percent cotton. After the grout has dried to a haze, cheesecloth is the tool you use to remove the haze and polish the tile to a gleaming finish.
Grout Sealer Applicator or Brush
After the grout has dried and cured according to manufacturer’s instructions, it should be sealed. Grout sealer is available in a number of forms. Some sealers come in an aerosol can that can be sprayed directly on tile to seal grout. The sealer covers tile and grout. You remove it from the tile and leave it on the joints, so the method may be wasteful if effective. Other sealers come with an applicator tip. Still other liquid grout sealer is sold in a plastic container with a screw cap. It can be applied directly to the joints with a grout sealer applicator, a tool with a roller at each end, one for wider joints and one for narrow joints. Another technique that works well for small tile projects is to seal grout using a small watercolor paintbrush. Make sure it is a quality brush with hairs are tightly bound. If hairs escape from a cheap brush, you will need to pick them out of the liquid grout sealer.
- Photo Credit Tiled floor image by Simon Amberly from Fotolia.com
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