How to Grout Ceramic Wall Tile – The Complete Guide

Grouting ceramic wall tiles is an important step in finishing your tiling project. Properly grouted tiles are water-resistant, more attractive, and will last for years. This comprehensive guide will teach you everything you need to know about grouting ceramic wall tiles like a pro.

What is Grout?

Grout is a cement-based material used to fill the gaps between tiles. It serves several important purposes:

  • It seals the joints between tiles, preventing moisture from getting behind the tiles and causing damage. This makes the tiled surface water-resistant.
  • It “locks” the tiles in place and prevents them from shifting/moving.
  • It gives a smooth, uniform appearance that enhances the look of the tiled surface.

Grout is available in different colors, allowing you to complement or contrast with the tile color as desired.

The main types of grout are:

  • Sanded grout – contains fine sand particles and is best for gaps larger than 1/8 inch.
  • Unsanded grout – smoother, with no sand. Used for grout joints 1/8 inch or smaller.
  • Epoxy grout – extremely durable grout made from epoxy resins. Resists stains and damage.
  • Grout caulk – a silicone-based grout, flexible and waterproof. Ideal for change of plane joints.

For most ceramic wall tile projects, unsanded grout is the best choice.

When to Grout Ceramic Wall Tiles

Grouting is typically the last step when installing wall tiles. Grout is applied after the thinset mortar has fully cured, which usually takes 24 – 48 hours.

It’s best to wait at least 24 hours after setting the tiles before grouting. This allows the thinset to cure firmly so the tiles don’t shift when applying the grout.

Don’t grout until you are completely satisfied with the tile layout. Tiles should be flat, evenly spaced, and aligned correctly prior to grouting.

Grout adheres best when applied to completely dry tiles. So wait until mortar is dry if using wet-set installation techniques.

Patience is key – rushing the grouting step can lead to a poor final result.

How to Prepare for Grouting

Proper preparation is crucial for achieving a quality grouted finish. Follow these steps to get ready for grouting:

1. Allow Thinset Mortar to Cure

Give the thinset adhesive at least 24 hours to fully cure before grouting. This prevents the grout from loosening the tiles.

2. Clean Tiles and Remove Spacers

Use a damp sponge to wipe all tile faces and remove any thinset, adhesive, or general construction dirt/dust. Also remove all tile spacers – don’t grout over them!

3. Seal Tile Surface

Apply a tile sealer to the clean, dry tiles as an added protection before grouting. The sealer prevents stains and makes cleaning grout residue easier.

4. Fill Any Cracks or Dips

Check for any cracks or low spots in the mortar and fill with additional thinset before grouting. This provides a smooth surface.

5. Have all Tools Ready

Assemble all required grouting tools beforehand – grout float, rubber grout float, sponges, buckets, rags, etc. Organizing saves time.

6. Test Grout Color

Try grouting a few tiles first to ensure the grout color looks as desired when mixed. Adjust color if needed.

Thorough prep leads to superior grouted tile results. Now let’s move on to the fun part – learning how to mix and apply the grout!

Step-by-Step Guide to Mixing and Applying Grout

Follow these key steps when grouting ceramic wall tile:

Step 1 – Plan Your Strategy

Think through the entire area to be grouted and map out your plan of attack. Grout in sections of about 5-10 sq ft at a time, working from the top down. This allows you to completely clean each section before moving on.

It’s best to have one person apply/spread the grout, while another follows behind cleaning. Tackle the hardest, most visible areas first.

Step 2 – Prepare the Work Area

Clear the room and cover any surfaces not being grouted with rosin paper or plastic sheeting. This protects from grout spills and residue. Have all your grouting tools handy and within reach.

Step 3 – Mix the Grout

Pour the desired amount of grout powder into a bucket and add clean, cool water. Mix it to a thick, peanut butter-like consistency. Allow it to slake (sit and absorb water) for 5-10 minutes.

Re-mix again before use – properly mixed grout should spread smoothly without sticking to your float. Don’t mix too runny or too firm.

Step 4 – Dampen the Tile Surface

Use a wet sponge to lightly dampen the tiles/joints before applying grout. This prevents the grout from drying out too quickly. Don’t over-saturate.

Step 5 – Apply the Grout

Use a rubber grout float to force grout deeply into the joints, scrubbing at a 45-degree angle. Make sure joints are completely packed, leaving no gaps or holes.

Spread evenly across tile surface in a thin layer, removing any excess grout with the float edge. Just enough grout should remain to slightly cover the tile edges.

Step 6 – Clean Excess Grout

Allow grout to firm up slightly in the joints (about 10-20 mins). Then use a damp sponge to gently wipe diagonal across tiles to remove any haze or film.

Rinse the sponge frequently in clean water, changing water often. Wring sponge well before each pass – you want it just damp, not overly wet. Repeat until tiles are clean.

Step 7 – Final Cleaning

Do a final cleaning pass with a soft, dry cloth once grout has dried harder. Buff tiles gently to remove any remaining haze and reveal the full tile color.

Check for any missed spots and touch up as needed. Thorough cleaning makes finishing easier.

Step 8 – Seal the Grout

Once grout has fully cured (24-48 hrs), apply a penetrating grout sealer. This adds protection from moisture and stains.

Follow all sealer directions closely, applying thin even coats across the entire grouted area. Allow proper drying time between coats.

And that completes the basic grouting process! Take your time with each step for professional-looking results.

Grout Cleaning Tips and Tricks

Here are some handy tips for easier grout cleanup:

  • Change rinse water frequently to avoid spreading dirt/haze.
  • Try using two buckets – one for clean rinse water, one for dirty water.
  • Wipe diagonally across tiles to prevent pulling grout from joints.
  • Allow grout to firm up slightly before cleaning – 10-20 minutes usually.
  • Dampen sponge well and wring out all excess – a dripping wet sponge over-waters the grout.
  • Use minimal pressure when wiping – let the sponge do the work.
  • Buff with a soft, dry cloth once grout dries harder for final polish.
  • Vinegar in rinse water helps cut through grout haze.
  • Don’t use harsh cleaners until grout has fully cured.

Stay patient and persistent in the cleanup process for best results!

Common Grout Issues and Solutions

Grouting problems can occur, but can also be fixed with the right techniques:

Cracking – Cracks from movement or improper curing. Carefully rake out old grout with a grout saw and re-grout. Apply grout sealer.

Discoloration – Can be cleaned with oxygen bleach cleaner. Re-seal grout after cleaning.

Efflorescence – Whitish grout haze from moisture in grout. Gently scrub with vinegar or special efflorescence cleaner.

Low Spots – Mark problem areas, rake out grout, and re-apply. Check that tiles are level.

Grout Haze – Hard to remove film on tiles. Use grout haze remover product or scrub with vinegar solution.

Staining – Treat with poultice or specialized stain removers. Re-seal once stain is gone.

With the right supplies and techniques, most grout issues can be remedied. Just take your time and use care when making repairs.

FAQs About Grouting Ceramic Wall Tiles

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about grouting wall tile:

How long should I wait before grouting wall tile?

Wait 24-48 hours minimum after installing tiles to allow thinset mortar to fully cure and prevent loosening tiles.

What’s the best grout to use on shower walls?

Epoxy grout is extremely water-resistant and the best choice for wet areas like showers. Unsanded grout also works well.

How do I get a smooth finish when grouting?

Mix grout to a creamy, peanut butter consistency – not too thin or thick. Apply evenly with steady pressure, packing joints fully. Remove excess grout held on tile edges for a smooth appearance.

How long does wall tile grout need to dry before sealing?

Allow grout to cure fully – generally 24-48 hours – before applying any sealers or cleaners. This prevents issues like efflorescence.

Should I seal ceramic wall tile grout?

Yes, using a penetrating grout sealer to protect from stains and moisture is highly recommended. Reapply sealer yearly.

What’s the easiest way to clean grout haze off tiles?

Use a combination of vinegar and water solution and a soft sponge, scrubbing lightly. Rinse frequently and change water often. Allow grout to firm up slightly first.


There you have it – everything you need to know tackle grouting ceramic wall tiles like an expert!

Follow the techniques for proper mixing, application, cleaning, and sealing to get beautiful, long-lasting results. Be patient during the process and don’t rush important steps.

Grouting completes your tile installation, so take pride in doing it right. Your walls will be water-resistant, attractive, and easy to keep clean for years to come.

Here’s to successfully installing your ceramic wall tile from start to grout!