When grouting a backsplash, begin by choosing the right grout for the job. Specialized grouts may be best, depending on what type of tile you have installed. Once you have your grout, protect your kitchen counters with a dropcloth, mix your powdered grout with water, and begin grouting. Use a grout float to pack grout into the seams between tiles. Then, use a sponge and warm water to wipe the excess grout off your tiles. After allowing the grout to dry, scrub the grout haze off the tiles for a finished look. All that’s left is to caulk the seams where the backsplash meets your kitchen counter, cabinets, or any other surface.
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Can You Grout Over Old Grout Without Removing It?
Never add new grout on top of old grout. The new grout will not bond properly to the tile. This leads to grout flaking and falling off. It also allows water to seep through the grout, where it can cause water damage to your wall. You must always remove old grout before you grout a backsplash or any other tile.
- You cannot add new grout on top of old grout.
- If the old grout is not removed first, the new grout will not stay in place.
- New layers of grout will flake off old grout, leading to a messy look.
- Soften the old grout to easily scrape it out from between backsplash tiles.
Old grout can be stubborn. So, it’s a good idea to use these tips for softening grout for easy removal. Softened grout can be quickly scraped out of the spaces between tiles. This makes preparing for a newly grouted backsplash a fast, pain-free process.
8 Steps to Grout a Tile Backsplash
Grouting a backsplash is a great DIY job if you’re new to tile work. Beginners can achieve a perfect grout job with these simple steps:
Choose Your Grout
Select the grout of the job. Not only do grouts come in different colors, but they also come in different varieties. This pre-mixed grout is great for most tiles, but not all. If you are installing a glass tile backsplash, use unsanded grout. Grout with sand in it can scratch the surface of glass tiles, which will ruin the look of your backsplash. Besides these rules, it’s up to you what color of grout to choose.
- Choose your desired color of grout to achieve a unique look for your backsplash.
- Use this unsanded grout when grouting glass tiles, to avoid damaging your backsplash.
- Pre-mixed grout makes grouting slightly simpler, but not all grout colors are available pre-mixed.
- Below, we will cover how to mix powdered grout.
Pre-mixed grout is a great choice if you are new to grouting tile. It’s mixed to the proper consistency, so you don’t have to mix powdered grout and water. However, specialized grout is sometimes only available in powdered form. If you’ve never mixed powdered grout and water, don’t worry. We’ll walk through the process in Step 3.
Protect Your Countertops
Before you can begin grouting your backsplash, make sure your countertops are fully protected. Spread a drop cloth over the countertop and tape it in place with painter’s tape. If you do not have a drop cloth, use sheets of newspaper instead. It is essential that there are no gaps where grout can drip down onto the counter. Hardened grout can be very difficult to safely remove from countertops.
- Cover your entire countertop with a drop cloth or newspaper.
- Use painter’s tape to keep the cloth or newspaper securely in place.
- When protecting your kitchen from grout, keep in mind that grout will not be applied in the gap where the backsplash meets the countertop or cabinets.
Covering and taping off the countertop is essential. If you are worried about a mess, you can also use painter’s tape to protect cabinets and other surfaces that meet the backsplash. However, this is usually not necessary since you do not grout the gap between tile and cabinets.
Mix Your Grout
To mix powdered grout for your backsplash, review the ratio of water-to-powder found on the grout packaging. Then, add the required amount of water to an empty bucket. The water should be cold. Add the recommended amount of grout powder a little at a time, mixing with a putty knife as you go. It’s a good idea to start with a small batch of grout, so you can practice.
- Review your grout packaging to find the recommended ratio of powdered-grout-to-water.
- Add the water to an empty bucket.
- Mix in the grout powder until your grout has reached the consistency of smooth peanut butter.
- Add more cold water or powder to make the grout thinner or thicker, as needed.
Continue mixing your grout until it is free of powdery lumps. The consistency should be the same as smooth peanut butter. If the grout is too watery, add small amounts of powder and mix it in until the grout has the right consistency. If the grout is too stiff, mix in small amounts of cold water until you achieve a peanut butter consistency.
Use a Float to Grout Your Tiles
Scoop your grout out of the bucket with a grout float and apply it to the tiles. Pack the grout into the gaps between tiles by holding your grout float at a 45-degree angle. Start at the bottom of the backsplash and push the float upwards. It’s essential to make sure all the gaps between the tiles are filled before moving on.
- Use this grout float to grout your kitchen backsplash.
- Scoop grout out of the bucket and onto the grout float.
- Hold the grout float at a 45-degree angle against the tiles.
- Starting from the bottom, push the grout float upwards to pack grout into the gaps between tiles.
- Make sure the gaps between tiles are filled completely before moving to the next section.
It is essential that you do not use grout to fill gaps between tile and other materials, such as where the backsplash meets countertops and cabinets. It is also important that you do not grout corners where two tiled walls meet. These gaps should be filled with caulk. This creates a much more flexible, durable seal.
Clean Off Excess Grout
After packing grout into the gaps between tiles, it’s essential to wipe the excess grout off the front of the tiles before it hardens. To do this, fill a bucket with clean, hot water. Then, use a large sponge to wipe grout off the tiles. Wipe away just enough to remove grout from the front of tiles, while still leaving the gaps between tiles properly filled.
- Fill a bucket with warm water.
- Dunk this sponge in the bucket of water and then use it to wipe grout off the face of the tiles you just grouted.
- Do not disturb the grout between the tiles.
- Replace the water once it becomes murky, to make the cleaning more effective.
When working with fast-drying grout, it’s a good idea to go section-by-section. After grouting a 2-foot (60 cm) section of your backsplash, sponge off the excess grout. Then, move to the next section. This helps prevent stubborn, hard grout from drying on the face of your tiles.
Allow the Grout to Dry
After grouting and sponging your backsplash, allow 24 hours for the grout to dry. This gives time for the grout to properly harden before you tackle the next steps. Do not skip this step and move straight to scrubbing grout haze off the tiles—you may ruin the grout between tiles.
- Wait 24 hours for grout to dry.
- Do not skip this step—it could ruin your grout job.
- Do not use your kitchen for cooking until the grout is dry.
Avoid using your kitchen while the grout is drying. Exposure to moisture from your sink, heat and condensation from cooking, and grease from cooking oils can ruin the appearance of your grout. After grouting, the kitchen is off-limits for at least 24 hours.
Scrub Off Grout Haze
24 hours after grouting, fill a bucket with warm water. Then, use the water and a scrubbing pad to scrub the grout haze off the face of your tiles. This haze is residue left from sponging off the tiles. If you don’t scrub it off, it can leave your tiles with a cloudy, dull appearance.
- Fill a bucket with warm water.
- Dip this scrubber pad in the water and then scrub the grout haze off your tile backsplash.
- Replace the water whenever it becomes murky.
- Use a new scrubber pad whenever yours becomes clogged with grout debris.
No special tools or powerful solvents are necessary to get rid of grout haze. Water and a green scrubber pad are perfect for the job. Just make sure to replace the water when it becomes murky so you can clean all the grout residue off your tiles in one pass.
Caulk Your Backsplash
Before your backsplash is completed, it’s essential to caulk the corners, as well as where your backsplash meets another material. This means anywhere the tile meets the wall, stove, microwave, countertops, or cabinets must be caulked. Silicone caulk is the best choice for the job, since it holds up well to the moisture and temperature changes common in kitchens.
- Use silicone caulk to seal tiled corners and any place where tile meets another surface.
- Caulking these gaps provides a much longer-lasting seal than grout.
- Do not use your kitchen until the caulk has been installed and allowed time to fully cure.
For a more detailed guide for this job, check out our tutorial on caulking between a granite backsplash and a wall. Even though your backsplash is tile, the same steps apply. Using caulk to seal gaps between different materials and in corners creates a much more durable and waterproof seal. So, your tile will retain its brand-new look for a long time to come.
What is the Best Way to Grout a Backsplash?
To grout a backsplash, you must:
- Choose the desired color and style of grout.
- Protect your countertop with cloth or newspaper.
- Mix powdered grout to a peanut butter consistency.
- Pack grout into the seams between tiles with a grout float.
- Sponge excess grout off the front of your tiles.
- Allow the grout to dry for 24 hours.
- Scrub the tiles to remove grout haze.
- Caulk gaps corners and where the backsplash meets a non-tile surface.
We’ve used these steps to create beautiful custom backsplashes from ceramic, glass, granite, and porcelain tiles. Now, you can too!