How long should tile set before grouting is a common question asked. You’ll find the mortar and adhesive used to stick tiles to your floors or walls needs to keep them in place, so they don’t fall off or work loose under foot traffic.
It would help if you gave the mortar some time to dry before you start grouting. However, how long do you have to wait to grout tile depends on several factors and can lead to different outcomes.
Grouting too quickly could cause your tile to become dislodged, resulting in more work and later problems. The time it takes for the thinset to dry is determined by the consistency of the thinset, the temperature, humidity, and the amount of grout you have used beneath the tiles. (Learn How To Soften Grout For Removal)
Typically, it would help if you waited at least 24 hours for tile to set before grouting after you tile.
This is because the tiling mortar must completely cure at the end of the drying process before grouting, or else severe difficulties may arise.
In our guide, you can learn how long to let tile set before grouting and what you can do to shorten this drying time.
By the end, you’ll see how to complete the tiling process in the shortest possible time without leaving yourself with more problems.
What Happens If I Grout Too Soon?
When you check the manufacturer’s instructions, you may still wonder how long is the thinset drying process in reality?
It takes at least 24 hours for thinset mortar used to glue tiles to surfaces to fully cure. Because air aids in curing, this process takes a long time.
The curing process is far slower because the mortar beneath the tile receives very little air.
The mortar beneath the individual tiles will cure faster than the areas between the tile and thinset exposed to the air. Therefore, do not rely on visible mortar in a grout line to determine whether your thinset has fully cured.
Allow 48–72 hours for curing if you’re putting a waterproofing layer beneath the tiles.
Waterproofing layers beneath the tiles keep tile floors dry and crack-free, slowing down the curing process.
Because the waterproof layer is non-porous, even less air may reach the thinset, further delaying cure time.
What happens when you grout before mortar is dry?
You may slow the curing process if you grout tiles before your thinset mortar has entirely cured.
This causes tiles to pop loose from your floor or wall, leading to cracked tiles.
Moisture in the mortar may interfere with the grout’s curing process, resulting in discolored grout in some spots.
Thinset that has had a chance to cure correctly can let your tile move, and in doing so, it will pull some of the old thinset with it.
Once this happens, you have a floor that is hard to repair and you are holding tiles with hardened thinset on them you can’t remove. (Read What Happens If You Grout Tile Too Soon)
Can you leave tile too long before grouting?
It’s fine to wait longer than 24 hours before grouting your newly laid tile. You can leave your mortar to cure for as long as you want before grouting as long as the tile surface is kept clean and debris is kept out of the seams between tiles.
There are no drawbacks to waiting longer to grout; however, grouting too soon is a bad idea. Prudence pays off. After 24 hours, if your ceramic tile installation still appears moist or not totally set, wait a little longer before grouting.
Finishing the job correctly will save you time rather than having to repeat a job destroyed by an uncured thinset mortar.
Can You Tile And Grout In One Day?
Before grouting tiles, let the thin-set mortar dry. If you grout before the thin-set mortar cures, you seal the air needed for curing. As a result, the thin-set edge may look completely dry, but underneath, the tile may still be wet.
Tiling and grouting on the same day are not recommended. Before grouting, wait 24 hours for the tiles to dry.
If you use a rapid set thinset, the curing process is much faster, and the tile mortar can set before grouting in a few hours, so you can grout on the same day.
While the tile cement can dry quickly, it will not fully cure during this time; it only provides a working window.
The mortar contains additives that speed up the cement mix’s curing time, and many of these quick-set mortars need the use of a mask and eye protection.
It’s best to wait a little longer for the thinset to fully cure if possible.
Mold is another issue with grouting too fast. The grout will darken because of water in the mortar.
To help thinset mortar dry faster, you can ventilate the area and increase the air flow; however, you don’t want to do it too fast while you can decrease the drying time.
Don’t introduce too much heat or high wind. With a high temperature and lack of humidity, your thinset won’t dry or cure evenly, and you’ll end up with a poor install. (Learn How Long After Grout Can You Walk On Tile)
Step-by-Step Applying Grout Correctly
Grouting tiles after tiling is a crucial job that requires care. Correct grouting enhances the beauty of tiles. However, if done wrong, it might destroy your tile job.
This step-by-step instruction will help you grout tiles properly and finish your tiling project.
1. Clean joints
- Putty knife the grout lines and joints. Scrape any protruding mortar between tiles and vacuum the grout lines.
- Clean the grout lines. Avoid scratching the tiles when cleaning the joints. Too much scrubbing will chip the tiles.
- Tape off tile surfaces, especially imprinted patterns, for easier cleanup.
2. Mix grout
- Pour grout and water into a bucket. Mix until it reaches peanut butter consistency with a margin trowel, and all powdered grout is integrated.
- Never mix grout with a drill, as this churns the grout and adds air to your mix, which causes discoloration and affects the strength.
- Let your grout sit for 10 minutes so chemicals can set. After slaking, your grout may look stiffer, but don’t add any extra moisture, remix the grout to use it.
3. Load your float
- The next step is to load the grout onto the float. Although it can be inconvenient if the grout mixture falls on the floor, this is an easy process.
- To avoid problems, tip the bucket toward you and scoop the grout.
- Keeping the float tight against the bucket’s side makes excess grout fall into the bucket rather than on the floor.
4. Spread grout over tiles
- Use upward strokes to avoid dumping grout on the floor.
- Diagonally move the float across the tile to deepen the grout mixture in the grout lines.
- Always grout the walls before the floor to avoid ruining the floor. Using the float’s side helps drive grout into joints.
5. Squeegee off excess grout
- Remove excess grout by angling the float 90 degrees to the tiles.
- This prevents the float from burrowing into the joints by spreading the grout evenly.
- Squeegee the grout in a twisting motion to save time.
6. Clean tile surface
- After removing grout from the tile, clean it with a moist sponge.
- Rinse it often and sponge diagonally across the tile.
- Only a slight grout haze should remain.
- The grout will appear to spread on the tiles on the first few passes, but don’t panic. Instead, rinse the sponge with clean water and keep washing.
- Eventually, the excess grout will be removed, leaving you with a thin grout haze after letting it dry completely.
7. Shape grout lines
- Remove uneven grout by pushing the sponge with your wet index finger.
- Avoid pushing too hard because your goal is to make the grout even and the same depth.
8. Buff the grout haze
- The last step in grouting is to remove the grout haze using a microfiber towel or cheesecloth.
- Wait half an hour after shaping the grout, polish the haze, and wipe away loose debris before sealing.
Can I wait a week to grout the tile?
Wait at least 24 to 48 hours before grouting. The thinset edges or thinset
showing through the grout lines may appear to be dry.
Because the thinset behind the tiles isn’t receiving as much air as the edges, it won’t cure properly.
Do you have to seal grout?
Not all types of grouts require sealing. Before adding epoxy grout to unsealed tiles, such as natural stone surfaces, they must be sealed.
Some tile surfaces, such as non-porcelain ceramic tiles, may not require sealing as they can handle high humidity and repel water.
Can you use thinset as a grout?
Thinset mortar is an adhesive that holds the tile in place on the subfloor. A filler is used in the joints or spaces between the tiles during the grouting process.
There aren’t any products that can be swapped out. For example, using mortar as grout to fill the cracks may produce long-time troubles for your floor.
How hard is tiling a floor?
It’s simple laying tile, but it’s more difficult laying tile properly. So from that perspective, hiring a professional tiler may make more sense than doing it yourself.
Hiring a professional for the most obvious places is one option if you’re looking to save money. (Learn How Long Does Thinset Take To Dry)
How long does it take tile to set?
The curing process and grouting are the last elements to consider when considering the time frame for tile installation.
Wait at least 24 to 48 hours before walking on any newly laid tile, even when tiles set in 20 minutes.
How do you finish grout?
After the thin-set has dried after grouting the tiles, you can remove the used spacers.
- Clean the surface and grout lines.
- Mix the grout.
- Float the grout.
- Clean off the tile.
- Apply sealant.
How do you get grout haze off tile?
Use rubber gloves to protect your hands, then soak your cheesecloth in water. Too much water can harm grout, so wring it out properly. Then, using the damp cheesecloth/towel, clean the tile surface. (Read Shower Valve Rough In Height Guide)