Tiling can be daunting as it isn’t a small job by any means. However, if you have never done it before, one of the biggest mistakes often made is, you have waited too long to wipe grout off your tile.
It can make a difference if you have countertops with a ceramic tile backsplash or floor tiles you’ll soon be walking on in your entryway, yet the principles are the same. Should you grout today or grout tomorrow, more needs to be considered for homeowners fitting tile for the first time.
Typically, wait at least 24 hours for the thin-set mortar mix you used in installation to dry before grouting between the tile surfaces or adding sealer on top of this.
Although it’s best to allow 48–72 hours to cure your tileset mix, it will depend on your location, so if the temperature is below 70°F (21°C) when working in a humid environment. Also, your tiles may not correctly attach to the surface should you grout before the tile glue has fully set.
You can still have moisture and air in your thin-set, and it can harm your install sooner or later if you end up sealing the joints too early.
In our guide, you can learn what happens if I grout too soon, as there can be consequences. Likewise, you can also see what happens if you seal grout too soon or if you leave it too long.
What Happens If You Grout Too Fast?
You may delay the curing process by adding grout before your thin-set mortar has entirely cured. This causes tiles to pop loose from your floor or wall, as well as tiles to crack. Furthermore, moisture in the mortar may interfere with the grout’s curing process, resulting in discolored grout in some spots.
- Grouting before the thin-set has hardened might cause tiles to pop loose or crack.
- Grout will discolor if it is placed to uncured mortar.
- Thinset that hasn’t had enough time to dry before being grouted will disintegrate.
Thinset that has not been treated behaves in unforeseen ways. For example, a tile may come free and take some thin-set with it. The only thing you’re left with is a useless tile and a floor with a hardened thin-set bonded to it.
Replacing tiles and scraping old mortar off the floor before a reapplication is an expensive and time-consuming task.
It’s acceptable to wait over 24 hours before grouting your newly laid tile. Before grouting, you can leave your mortar to dry for as long as you want. However, the tile surface needs to be clean, and debris is kept out of the seams.
There are no drawbacks to waiting longer to grout; however, grouting too soon is bad.
- You will not harm your tile job by waiting more than 24 hours to apply grout.
- If the tile is kept clean and debris-free, you can let mortar cure indefinitely before grouting.
- If you are not sure whether the mortar has cured or not, it is best to wait before applying tile grout.
- Caution pays off. If your ceramic tile job seems damp or not fully set after 24 hours, wait longer before grouting. You will save yourself work by finishing the job right, rather than redoing a job ruined by uncured thin-set mortar.
Can I Walk on Freshly Laid Tile?
Walking on a recently installed tile floor will disrupt the installation, causing the tile to slide away from the mortar and resulting in loose tiles in the future. Do not walk on a tiled floor for at least 24 hours after it has been tiled. (Learn How To Remove Tile From Wall)
- Tiles that have not been allowed to set for at least 24 hours will move, pop up, or dry wrongly.
- When tile floors are exposed to foot traffic too quickly, they become loose.
- Do not walk on or expose uncured tiles to water.
- Prevent exposing uncured tile to water or other liquids in the same way you avoid foot traffic. For example, water is used to dilute thin-set mortar. If you spray recently put tiles with water, the thinset mortar will change into a thin slurry that will not hold the tiles in place.
How Long You Let Tile Mortar Cure Before Grouting?
It would help if you waited for the minimum length of time before grouting tilework is 24 hours. This period allows the thinset mortar to cure and fuse properly to the tiles and floor.
In cool and humid circumstances, waiting longer than 24 hours is recommended. Remember, there’s no damage in grouting your tile a few days after it’s been installed, but grouting it too soon is a terrible idea.
Too soon after grouting, the thinset mortar will cease curing, causing tiles to come away from the floor or wall.
How Soon Can You Grout After Tiling?
Tiles adhere to floors, counters, backsplashes, and walls with thin-set mortar. It should not be walked on or disturbed during the drying process, as this could create major misalignment of the tiles you just set, which would be impossible to rectify.
This implies that you must wait for it to dry before grouting. The amount of thinset you put down before tiling, the humidity, and the temperature all affect how long it takes to dry. (Learn How To Remove Tile From Concrete Floor)
Watch Your Thin Set Mortar Consistency
When combining thinset, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. It shouldn’t be too runny or soupy, but neither should it be excessively stiff. Instead, it should keep its ridges as you spread them using a serrated trowel while being relatively easy to distribute.
Let It Cure Properly
It’s not a bad idea to wait before you grout tiles and let the thin-set have enough drying time. However, even if you do not disrupt the tiles when grouting before the thin-set has cured, you are still denying it access to the air it requires to cure.
The thinset adhesive needs to dry completely to maintain its adhesion properties. You risk having tiles fall into the shower or cracking floor tiles if it doesn’t.
24 to 48 Hours Offers The Best Adhering Properties
Before grouting the tiles, you should wait at least 24 hours. You may observe that the thin-set edges or thin-set peeking through the grout lines appear to be dried.
Don’t let this deceive you, as curing time is far longer than drying time. Also, because the thinset behind the tiles does not receive as much air as the edges, it is not fully cured on the same day, even if the surface looks dry.
Grouting too fast means you are sealing in the internal moisture, and thus your floors can have tile set in position, yet underneath, you have a soft tileset, even if you reach the recommended cure time.
Can You Grout Over Two Days?
Stopping and starting tiling is more challenging than pausing for a long lunch and starting grouting later in the same day. (Read Sanded vs Unsanded Grout For Tiles)
Although grouting is normally a faster procedure than laying tile, and can often be completed in the same day, sometimes you’ll want to stop and resume the next day. You can use a rapid set, yet you still need sufficient time in the day to get the same-day grouting job completed.
Here are some ways to help the grout adhesive blend smoothly if you choose to pause grouting and continue later:
- Leave no excess grout, including the bits of extra grout on the edges, on the floor.
- Ensure that all of the grout is clean apart from the lightest haze on the tile, as the next day, you won’t be able to clean the ceramic tile surfaces easily.
- Taper the edges of the epoxy grout adhesive to half the tile’s depth. This allows the new grout to lay on top of the existing grouted area to form a strong bond.
- To avoid color variances, use grout from the same bag.
- You can use a grout saw to clean up edges if you have an area of grout that wasn’t cleaned correctly or quickly enough.
- Always wear eye protection and a breathing mask. Grout can flake and hit you in the eyes as you work close to the ground. Besides this, ceramic tile dust can cause severe breathing issues.