How to Grout Tile Floors in 10 Simple Steps

Make your floor look better (and last longer!) with fresh grout

Kyle Schurman
Written by Kyle Schurman
Updated August 19, 2022
Bathroom with gray tiles and bathtub
Photo: KristianSeptimiusKrogh/E+/Getty Images
Difficulty

Expert

This one takes some serious know-how.

Time to complete

72 hours

About 3 days.

Cost

$500–$1,000

Consider letting a pro with all the equipment handle this one.

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What you'll need:

TOOLS

  • Grout saw
  • Paintbrush

SUPPLIES

  • Sanded grout
  • Grout cleaner
  • Grout float
  • Sealant
  • Water

If your tiles are looking a little the worse for wear, it might be time to grout your tile floor. We recommend hiring a professional to tackle this project, but you can do it yourself if you’re an experienced home improver. After your tiles are regrouted, you can enjoy your revitalized floor for years to come — without having to deal with moving and shifting tiles.

Preparation for Installing Grout for Your Tiles

Although learning how to grout tile floors seems like a straightforward process, it does require a few preparation steps that will make the job go more smoothly.

How to Choose the Perfect Grout

Grout is available in a pre-mixed format or in a mix-it-yourself format. The pre-mixed format requires less preparation time, but it will cost more than the powder format that you must mix yourself.

Choosing the best grout color is important too. If you want the space to feel larger, select a complementary color to your tile color. If you want to highlight the shape of the tiles instead, select a grout color that contrasts with the tile color to create a clear outline.

How to Match Existing Grout

If you are regrouting an area, try to match the existing color of the grout as closely as possible. You will want to clean the existing grout first, so you have a true representation of its color.

If the existing grout is crumbling, you may need to completely remove it and start again. However, if you are only putting in a few new tiles and the current grout layout is solid, adding grout where needed should work well.

How to Select the Right Grouting Tools

As with most DIY jobs, the steps to grout tile will go smoother when you have the right tools.

A grout saw is a must-have tool to remove existing grout. Both hand-held saws and bits you can attach to a hand-held drill or rotary tool will do the job.

When applying new grout, a grout float is a necessity, ensuring the grout material fully penetrates the spaces between tiles. A large sponge made for use with grout is the best tool for removing extra grout after the new application.

Because you will be on your hands and knees quite a bit for this job, knee pads can be another important piece of equipment to have on hand.

Lay All the Tile First

Do not adhere a few tiles and then grout them before adding a few more tiles. This creates unnecessary complications and wasted time. Lay out all the tiles first. Wait 24 hours for tile adhesive to set before beginning the grout application. Then apply grout to the entire room at once.

Take time to ensure all the tiles have the proper spacing between them. With wildly uneven spacing or with crooked tiles, the grout lines will look odd. 

Next, we’ll break down the 10 steps to grout tile successfully.

  1. Remove the Old Grout, If Necessary

    If you are regrouting an existing tile layout, you first need to remove the old grout. You can use a hand-held grout saw or, if you prefer power tools, attach a grout removal bit to a rotary tool or to a drill and use this to dig out the existing grout. You don’t have to dig all the way to the subfloor, but if the old grout is crumbling, you should remove as much as possible.

    Whichever grout removal tool you use, use it carefully. If your tile is brittle, you could chip the tile or scratch any glaze on the tile if you apply too much force. Of course, if you are applying fresh grout to a new tile layout, there’s no need to remove old grout.

  2. Vacuum the Dust

    To get gorgeous new tile, you have to rid your space of any leftover dust and debris. Use a broom or vacuum to thoroughly remove any dust and old grout from the area after the adhesive underneath the tiles sets. 

    If this is a new tile layout, one pass with the broom or vacuum should be OK. If you have to remove old grout, you may want to vacuum or sweep a few times to remove as much dust as possible. Remove any spacers you used between the tiles as well.

  3. Protect Walls With Tape (Optional)

    Close up of a man removing grout from tiles
    Photo: pink_cotton_candy/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

    Applying grout can be messy. To make things go a little smoother, place painters’ tape where the tile meets any baseboards or walls in the room. If you have decorative tiles that contain grooves inside your layout, place tape over these tiles to protect them from the grout application.

  4. Prepare the Grout

    Hand of a man grouting tile floor
    Photo: yunava1/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

    If you purchased pre-mixed grout, it will be ready to use immediately with no preparation. But for powdered grout, you’ll need to mix it to the proper consistency before application. 

    Use a clean bucket to mix the grout powder and water according to the instructions on the carton of grout. Don’t use all the water at once. Instead, introduce the water in small amounts to get the right consistency.

    Use a trowel to mix the grout powder and water by hand. (Avoid using a powered stirring tool, as this may introduce excess air into the mixture.) Dig the trowel to the bottom of the bucket to ensure you are adding moisture to all the powder.

    Continue stirring and mixing until the powder is completely gone and until you reach the desired consistency—it should look like peanut butter or thick oatmeal. Let the grout settle for about 10 minutes before applying it to the floor.

    As you work, gently stir the grout every 10-15 minutes to maintain consistency.

  5. Load Grout Onto the Float

    Hand of a man filling tile joints with grout
    Photo: yunava1/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

    The first step in grouting tile is to learn to scoop the grout with the grout float. Using the right technique means there’s less mess for you to clean later.

    Tip the bucket toward you and use the grout float to scrape some grout along the side of the bucket. Then drag the float along the side of the bucket, scooping some of it onto the float. Using this technique means that any excess grout that falls off the float will fall back into the bucket.

  6. Apply the Grout

    When installing the grout, drag the float diagonally across the face of the tile, smearing the grout into the seams. You should not have to force the grout into the seams; it will naturally fill them in as you move the float diagonally.

    As you smear the grout into the seams, continue moving the edge of the float across the tiles. The edge of the float should pick up most of the excess grout from the surface of the tiles, so you can apply it to other seams. Go back to the bucket for more grout as needed.

    When adding grout to tiles on walls as well as floors, you should apply grout to the tiles on the walls first. This prevents dripped grout from affecting a floor you previously finished grouting. If you are only grouting tile on the walls, you may want to cover the floor with a drop cloth.

  7. Clean the Tiles of Excess Grout

    About 20 to 30 minutes after applying grout, it will begin to harden (though, it won’t fully set for 48 hours). You can stop working on grouting the entire floor at this point and clean the tiles that you already grouted. Then, return to applying grout to the rest of the floor.

    Go back over the section of flooring where you applied grout with a clean grout float. Use the edge of the float to gently scrape away any excess grout on the surface of the tiles. Double-check that the grout in the seams fills the seams completely.

    You don’t have to perfectly clean the excess grout here, but the next step will go much faster if you remove the majority of the grout clumps.

  8. Sponge Clean the Surface

    Next, dip your large sponge into a clean bucket of water and wring it out, leaving it damp (not soaked). Wipe it across the surface of the tiles with the grout. 

    It will look bad after the first few passes. The sponge will smear the grout all across the tiles, making it appear messy. Don’t panic—this is normal. Rinse the sponge in the water bucket, squeeze it out, and go across the tiles again. Repeat the process until you remove the visible grout from the surface of the tiles.

    Continue working across the tiles until you clean all the excess grout. You will need to refill the bucket with clean water every few minutes.

    If you have grout seams that are at uneven heights, you can fix this with the sponge as well. Run the sponge in the same direction as the grout lines, slightly pressing your index finger against the sponge to apply pressure to the grout line. Apply light pressure, and the damp sponge will smooth out the grout lines.

  9. Remove Any Grout Haze

    After you sponge the tiles, allow the area to sit for 30 to 45 minutes. You then may notice a slight haze of grout remaining across the surface of the tiles. You can use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe away this haze.

  10. Seal the Floor

    If you want to keep your grout’s color as close to its original look as possible, you should seal it after everything dries properly. Again, it takes about 48 hours for grout to cure. 

    When sealing grout properly, you can use a wipe-on grout sealer or a spray-on grout sealer. The wipe-on sealer requires a paintbrush for the application process. You should reapply grout sealer every three years.

Installing Grout Yourself vs Hiring A Pro

Learning how to grout tile is possible to do as a DIY job, although some people choose to hire a nearby professional grout contractor.

Grouting a tile floor requires the right tools, and chances are you don’t already have this specialized gear on hand. It’s also labor-intensive work. So if you’re not comfortable working on your hands and knees for several hours, you might want to bring in a pro.

Additional Questions

How much does it cost to have ceramic tile regrouted?

It usually costs between $250 and $1,000 to regrout 100 square feet of tile. Some of the factors that affect the cost include whether the contractor removes all or some of the old grout and what type of grout you choose.

How much does cleaning tile and grout cost?

Cleaning tile and grout costs about $450. If you don’t want to regrout your tile but still want to freshen up the appearance of your tile, a professional cleaning could be a good option. You should thoroughly clean your tile and grout at least once a year.

Who is responsible for sealing grout?

While grout sealing is sometimes included, it’s not automatically included when a new floor is installed. You should be sure to check in with your contractor about expectations regarding grout sealing before they begin the project.

How can I protect my tile and grout?

There are several ways that you can protect your tile and grout and make them last longer. To keep your tile grout looking new, it’s a good idea to clean it regularly and make sure it’s sealed properly. You can also try DIY cleaning methods like baking soda and vinegar.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.