When to Sponge When Grouting
I'm going to grout newly laid tile in two different bathrooms. 12"x12" tiles were laid in both bathrooms. The floor area in both bathrooms is about 5'x5'. The hall bath has tile with very sharp edges (i.e., in profile, the angle between the top and the sides looks like the corner of a piece of copy paper). The tile in the master bath is slightly rounded.
I've looked at any number of YouTube videos, and they roughly fall into two schools of technique.
The first is what I call "sponge as you go". You grout a small area (may be 3'x3'), and immediately sponge it off before proceeding to the next section.
The second school is what I call "sponge later". With this technique, you grout a good size area, wait 10-20 minutes, and then sponge it down.
Any thoughts on why one versus the other?
Would one technique be better for the hall bath tile, while the other technique would be more suited for the tile in the master bath?
Also, the actual sponging seems to vary. Some say to use a circular motion. Others say to pull the sponge at a 45 degree angle to the grout lines. Others say to pull the sponge along the grout lines to "form the grout line". Some say to use a combination of the foregoing, with first one, then another. Again, thoughts?
Here is a post from Jim Fs bathroom remodel---
Jim's downstairs bathroom project
Jim, The grout that you have chosen is a good one---Mix with cold clean water --about the consistancy of yellow mustard--
You don't want to do any of the water spraying goofyness--I suggest that ,as a novice, you do one wall at a time.--Use a soft white grout float--the disposable black sponge rubber ones tend to dig into the cracks and cause frustration.
Go back and forth several times and really pack the joints full--use the float like a squeegee--on an angle to the joints,to remove as much excess as you can--
Go have a small cup of coffee-----give the grout 10 to 15 minutes to set a little---
Then start the first 'break'(cleaning)--You will want to have 2 or 3 grout sponges and a couple of buckets of clean water---
The first break is to shape the joints and remove the majority of the excess grout---
Ring out your sponges almost dry--start cleaning using a gentle circular motion---don't try to actually clean the surface with the first break---just shape the joints and remove the majority from the face of the tile------You will probably only get 4 to 9 tiles before you need to flip the sponge---
Second break----no coffee this time--clean water --ring out the sponges almost dry--
All that should be on the tiles at this point is a messy smear---start wiping on a diagonal--
press the sponge flat with both hands and slowly pull the sponge and roll it as you pull --
You should get about 12 inches wiped before you flip the sponge and --press -slowly pull and roll up.
Final cleaning---at this point all that should be on the face of the tile is haze and a lot of small streaks---You can have another cup of coffee----Wait about 15 minutes--
Final wipe--if done correctly--the tile should (had better be) be clean and shiny--done except for the tiniest bit of streaks.
This time --go with the tiles,not diagonally--two hands on the sponge- press-pull and roll only about 12 inches --then flip the sponge and do another 12 inches--rinse ring dry and repeat--
Most beginners try to get to much cleaning out of a dirty sponge--Any one who has wiped up a glob of jelly knows the press and roll of the sponge----Good luck--Mike--
I do it just about exactly like that.
Don't over think it, you will see as long as you don't get into your grout lines beyond the initial shaping (which you may or may not have to do much of) that it is pretty self explanatory.
Grout is one of the most forgiving things to work with, I have never screwed it up, and if you knew me, you'd know how easy grout must be to work with, and how forgiving it is.
You'll do fine!
Mike gave excellent instructions, but I'll add one suggestion.
Pick up a couple microfiber cloths. They are great for getting rid of the last little bit of haze.
Once you think you're totally done step away from it for awhile, but an hour or so later, or at least before you go to bed, take a careful look. Do a final check and wipe of any haze left on the tile surface with a microfiber cloth. You may be tired of all this, but do this the same day. If you leave it for the next day it may not come off.
I always have a bucket of clean water and the big yeller sponge with me when grouting.
I change the watter often and basically one wipe with each 4 sides of the sponge and rinse.
I get all the heavy grout off the tiles first, then give it a light diagonal wipe across the grout line.
I do this as I go, and I feel I have more control over the grout. I will basically see the finished product, and will know if I need to add more grout, I can contour the grout with my fingers to form a particular corner. Some tile is really lumpy and bumpy and not meet perfect in the corners. Terracotta comes to mind.
I also like to use tile for baseboard when in a bathroom, is tricky getting into the corners and making the grout look awesome and not just good. I also run blue painters tape 1/4" above the tile baseboard and grout the unfinished edge, also often do same in the shower stalls and saves on buying bull nosed tile for edging.
If I get some grout on the freshly painted walls, want to keep it clean as I work.
Cleaning as you go may take a little longer to grout, but when done and come back the next day, grab a old bath towel and buff off the haze and done until is ready to be sealed.
Thanks guys! And from the differing posts, you can see why I have questions!
Would one technique be more appropriate to a particular type of tile (i.e., my master bath tile is kinda like the terra cotta mentioned by FunFool)?
Also, what does "shape the joints" translate to? I've seen the term used before, and intuitively one understands what it means in a general sense, but when it comes to actually doing it, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do. What should the joints look like when I'm finished? And, how do I go about doing this with the sponge?
Thanks for your help!
P.S. - FunFool, given that you sponge as you go, do you use a stiffer mix than "mustard"? If so, how stiff is it? Thanks. RH
How you shape the joints has a lot to do with the tile and the size of the grout joint---
a flat tile ,like granite, needs a joint nearly flat to the surface==
A tile with a puffy curved edge needs more careful sculpting to clear the curved edge--
This is where common sense come in handy----the shape needs to look right with the tile--
By the way---that 'sponge as you go,"? forget it----the fresh grout will settle in behind the tile a bit---so wiping and shaping before the grout has settled in and firmed up a bit will yeild a sunken grout line---
I agree 100%.
Read the instructions on the grout package and you'll find that the manufacturer receommends waiting 15 minutes before wiping down, at a 45 degree angle, with a damp sponge.
Don't y'all wonder why they would have that on the grout package?
Will never be one right or wrong way, I refuse to read the directions on the grout packages!
I will continue with my own way, would love to hear why it is wrong .... and no, it is not because the grout shrinks to much .... sheesh!
You have worked out a system that works well for you---with your experience and knowledge of grouts, you are successful----I would not recommend that method for a first timer---who does not know how the grout will react----
I sure you have figured it out by now
If you sponge as you go.. you add moisture to your grout.. I don't like adding any more moisture to the grout. I prefer to wait about 10 to 15 minutes before I start to sponge... If you use one of these new grouts that have the pre sealer in the grout.... You need to sponge sooner because it will become very labor intense if you allow the grout to dry on the tiles....they make a pad ... referred to as a doodle bug pad... you sponge a few times and then move on... coming back later (15 to 20 minutes) and use this doodle bug pad to remove the film that you left behind from sponging. Reduces moisture and reduces labor....
Reducing Labor is a good thing for your back and knees....
Yes, read the directions on the package.
Mix the grout as per directions.
Wet the floor first as per directions.
Consider a coating of grout release.
I have the Barwalt bucket system. Wish I would have bought it much earlier.
I don't know what have happened to grouts recently. I used some Laticrete permacolor I think it is called, and it was different. Used to be, you mixed the grout and it was soupy. You let it slake for 5-10 minutes then remixed. When you went to remix, it was set up, then became fairly loose again. Then while grouting, it gets firm again. You could take out a trowel full and beat it around with the grout float and it would become more pliable.
I understand there are grout mixers which continually mix the batch while you use it.
The new grout I mixed up was very soupy. I let it slake and went to remix and it was still very soupy. It stayed soupy during the install. I think it was about 180 square feet I was grouting, 7x14 tile with 1/8" grout lines, 55 degrees fahrenheit. I had extrapolated how much grout to mix from a smaller area I had grouted before. I had only a margin trowel left over. I had moistened the floor first, and the grout stayed very workable throughout the 180 square foot floor.
As soon as I had finished, I went back to where I had started and started sponging.
If you work it down first and get the joints the way you like them and still leave a mess on the floor, it will come off later.
I apply the grout in a 45 degree stroke, in opposite directions, then I criss-cross. I was taught that it is very important to pack it in the joint.
Well, I grouted my first floor. It was an ugly endeavor, but I got thru it. I tried mixing according to the directions on the Mapei package. Per the table on the package, I figured I needed 2 pounds of dry grout to cover 25 sq. ft. of 12x12 tile. To be on the safe side, I did three pounds. Again, following the package directions, that required a cup of water on a prorated basis. I took my handy, dandy mail scale that goes all the way up to 18 ounces, and weighed out a pound of grout in a plastic cup (yes, I compensated for the weight of the cup). Marked the level, and then added a total of three of these to a cup of water.
When all was said and done, the mix seemed a bit on the soupy side (not grossly so, just kinda). So, I took my marked cup for the dry grout, filled it to the mark with water, and poured it into a measuring cup. Came out to 1-1/8 cups. Now, when I had talked with Mapei tech services, one guy had said to use a ratio of 4.5 to 1, dry to wet. So, I added another measure (1 pound) of dry grout. That seemed a bit stiff, so I added a bit of water.
Anyway, when I went to put the grout on the floor, it went on initially OK, but quickly dried out to the consistency of somewhat wet sand. Between that and tiles that seemed to have no two edges at the same height, and sometimes substantial lippage at that (1/16 in or more), things went downhill from there.
(Please note that I had hired someone to lay the tile, and when I saw the result, decided that they weren't going to be used to complete the job. One thing that I discovered tonight was that you quickly learn how well the tile was laid when you go to grout ...)
Whatever sponging regime that I had envisioned (i.e., wait 10-20 min., wipe diagonally, etc.) quickly went out the window. I'd sponge down to the door, and by that time, the first area had hazed over, so I immediately started back in again. Let's just say that I got thru it. I'm not sure how long the actual grouting and sponging took (I additionally had setup and cleanup time), but 2-3 hours would be a guess.
The one good thing that came out of it was that I got a clear sense of what it means to "form the grout line". As I slaved away, Oh'Mike's comment that the line needs to look right for the tile kept echoing in my ears. Oh'Mike, thank you, thank you for sharing that observation -- it was my guiding light in the dark sea of dry grout and crazy lippage.
The floor is drying now. I'll take a picture and post the result when it's finished drying.
P.S. - I should add that all the comments, suggestions, etc. were quite helpful as I labored away -- I think I used every single one of them at one time or another!
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