Sunday, November 3, 2013

How To Grout Your Mosaic

Now that we have cut and glued all of our tiles to the mosaic base, it is time to apply the grout. Before we begin though, here are a few helpful hints.

  • Once we start the grouting process, we have to finish the job.  I often worry that I will get some important phone call during while grouting.  Once the grout dries, it is really really hard to clean up.
  • Grout is a little dangerous because it contains concrete.  Concrete can harm you in two ways -- breathing its dust and contacting your skin. Therefore, please wear appropriate safety apparatus. Wear a mask to prevent inhaling the dust.  Wear gloves and eye protection to keep the grout off of your skin.  
  • No matter how careful you are, grouting is messy work.  Don't attempt to grout your work on the dinning room table.  I'm not saying whether or not I have actually made that mistake.

Now to begin grouting:

Step 1 - Collect Your Tools - Collect up all of the required tools and equipment before you start mixing the grout.  The clock starts ticking the minute the water hits the grout. Here are the things we will need:

  • Grout ~ sanded or unsanded.  Use sanded for gaps of 1/8 inch or larger.  If you are only doing a small project, you can use the small containers of grout sold in the craft store.  Otherwise, I recommend buying a larger bag at Lowes or Home Depot.  It is a lot more cost effective.
  • Mixing container.
  • Wooden paint stick or spoon for mixing grout 
  • Latex gloves to protect your hands. Grout is caustic and will dry out and possible irratate your skin.
  • Mask - Use will mixing to prevent getting concrete dust in your lungs.  
  • Safety glasses to make sure you don't splash concrete into your eyes.
  • Small float ~ you can substitute this with a stuff rubber spatula.
  • Bottled water ~ Use bottled water if you have funky tap water. In some areas, tap water can slightly discolor your grout. You only need a small amount of bottled water for mixing the grout.
  • Paper towels - To clean up the mess you will make.  Notice I didn't say "If" you make a mess.
  • Pail or bucket ~ fill with tap water
  • Plastic sheets for covering table work surface or floor surface.
Step 2 - Put on your safety gear.
Mask and Eye Protection

Latex Gloves
Step 3 - Mix the grout - You will need about 1 pound of grout for each square foot.  I like to mix different colors of grout to get exactly the shade I am looking for.  For example two parts white and one part black gives you a medium gray color grout.  Or you can just do it the easy way and buy exactly the color of grout that you wanted from the store.

Add dry grout to mixing container
The we add the water.  We are looking for grout that is the consistency of peanut butter.  Not too dry and not too soupy.  Just add a small amount of water at a time and keep mixing until you get the consistency that you want.

Mixing Grout
Step 4 - Apply the Grout - Next we apply the grout to the mosaic.  I like to start by dropping portions of grout in the center and in the corners of the mosaic.

Next we use our float to work the grout into all of the nooks and crannies.

Grout applied to mosaic

Step 5 - Clean up the Tile - Next we alternate between a wet sponge and paper towels to remove the grout from the surface of the tiles.  Be careful not to press too hard.  We just want to remove the grout from the surface and not the grout lines between the tiles.

Paper Towel

Wet Sponge
Step 6 - Admire your handiwork

Completed Project

Step 7 - Stop Admiring your handiwork and quickly clean up all of your tools and your work space before the grout that you slopped around everywhere hardens.

Check out some of my other mosaic art pieces in my Gallery.

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