How to grout a backsplash

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Tiling your kitchen backsplash gives it an instant update. But don’t forget to grout the tile once you’ve installed it. Grouting protects your tile and gives it a finished look. In this tutorial, you’ll see how to grout a backsplash. You’ll learn how to mix the grout, apply it correctly and seal it off properly so that your tiles are secure and looking great!

Ready to update your kitchen backsplash with tile? It’s a fabulous way to give your loving home a modern, refined look. 

And if you’re doing it yourself, don’t forget this important part – the grouting. 

Grouting protects your tile from damage, and gives it a finished look. 

You might be dreading this process because it seems tricky and time-consuming but don’t worry! 

With this step-by-step tutorial, you’ll learn how to grout your backsplash correctly so that it looks professional and lasts for years. 

You’ll see how to mix the grout, apply it correctly and seal it thoroughly to prevent water or household dirt and dust from damaging your work. 

So let’s learn how to grout a backsplash like a pro!

applying grout to full wall in kitchen

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How to grout a subway tile backsplash

MATERIALS:

TOOLS:

IMPORTANT: Turn off the power to any outlets or light switches in the area before you start. 

Before you can apply the grout, you must already have tile installed. Check out this tutorial for useful tips on how to install a subway tile backsplash.

DIY subway tile backplash install

Be sure to wait 24 hours after your tiles have been installed before you start the grouting process. 

STEP 1: Clean the tiles

To begin, clean the tiles and the grout lines. 

For the grout lines, you can use a grout scraping tool or a flathead screw. The goal is to remove any thinset mix from the area to allow the grout to cure to the tile. 

Then, take a damp cloth and wipe the tiles, removing any remaining thinset. 

Allow the tiles to dry for a few hours before moving to the next step. 

STEP 2: Mix the grout

SIDE NOTE: Many different grout options are available, usually sanded or unsanded. For this project, unsanded grout is best. You could also use the grout I bought, which is a versatile grout that works in any location (sanded or unsanded alternative).

ultracolor plus grout for tile

After all the tiles and grout lines are clean and dry, it’s time to mix the grout.

I followed the instructions on the package and also used a scale to weigh the water and the mix to get the correct consistency. 

Grout goes a lot further than you think, so mix less. I found it helpful to use 1/4 of a 10-pound bag every time I mixed a new batch. 

First, put the water into the bucket and pour in the weighed mix.

Then, use the paddle drill attachment to mix the grout. 

The package will tell you the amount of time that you need to mix, so make sure you follow the instructions on the bag.

Also, you’ll think that there is too little water to combine with the grout mix, but it is enough.

STEP 3: Apply the grout

After the grout is mixed, you’re ready to apply the grout to the wall with a float. 

You want to fill the grout into all the spaces around the tiles, and the best way to do this is by holding the float at a 45-degree angle.

applying grout to subway tile with rubber float

Applying the grout at a 45-degree angle means two things:

  1. The float is at a 45-degree angle to the tile.
  2. The float is at a 45-degree angle.

I wasn’t doing both of these two techniques in the beginning, and it made it difficult to quickly fill in the gaps. 

The most important way to apply the grout is at a 45-degree angle to the tile (at a diagonal to the tile).

subway tile with grout applied

The float should also be at a 45-degree angle when you wipe off the excess grout from the tiles.

Work in sections where you apply the grout and then wipe off the excess grout from the tiles. 

wiping grout from subway tile with rubber float

IMPORTANT: Only apply as much grout as you can in 15-20 minutes. Make sure you set a timer. If you allow the grout to sit for longer than 20 minutes, it will start to harden and will be very difficult to remove. I learned this the hard way the very first time I applied grout.

applying grout to full wall in kitchen

STEP 4: Clean the tiles

After 20 minutes, it’s time to wash off the tiles and clean up the grout lines.

 Use a damp sponge, not saturated, and in a circular motion, clean the tiles.

cleaning grout with sponge from subway tile backsplash

When the sponge gets dirty, I recommend using two buckets to clean the sponge. One is to wash out the dirty sponge, and the other is cleaner water to allow you to have a fresh sponge for additional cleaning.

using two buckets to clean grout from tile backsplash

While cleaning the tiles, gently clean/wipe the tiles to remove the grout on the surface. You don’t want to remove grout from the grout lines.  

Continue this process until there is no more grout on the surface of the tiles. 

STEP  5: Additional cleaning

After the first wash, you’ll notice how much cleaner the tiles are, but they will still look dirty. 

Wipe the tiles with a microfiber cloth. You can use a dry cloth but I find that a damp cloth works better.

Then, allow the grout to sit for 24 hours. 

Later, wipe the tiles again with a dry microfiber cloth to remove the haze. 

STEP 6: Apply sealer

Now you’re ready to seal the tile and grout.

tile and grout sealer

Apply the sealer with a paintbrush but make sure you read the instructions on the bottle to cure properly. 

SIDE NOTE: You will be able to tell the difference between the grout lines that have the sealer installed (before it dries) and the areas that you haven’t applied the sealer.

Allow the sealer to sit for however long the instructions say. 

STEP 7: Apply silicone caulk

Next, apply silicone along the edge of the tiles, where they meet the countertop, cabinets, walls, other tiles, etc. 

I like to apply tape to get a smooth, crisp line. 

Tape on subway tile to apply silicone

Then, apply the silicone caulk between the painter’s tape. Click this link so you can see how to apply caulk like pro!

When the silicone is dry, you might need to touch up paint around some areas.

Now, step back and admire your gorgeous new kitchen tile backsplash!

kitchen with subway tile backsplash and floating shelves

You can also see a full tutorial on how to make DIY floating shelves that will fit wonderfully in your kitchen. 

FULL PROJECT VIDEO:

Are you someone that does better with visuals? Check out the full project video below and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube so you don’t miss out on future projects!

women grouting backsplash with video play button overlay
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