Grout can be described as a combination of cement, sand, and water. This amalgam of materials creates a pasty concoction that is often used in construction work to clog any unwanted gaps in certain surfaces.
Grout is, more often than not, used for areas like the kitchen and the bathroom, as it is particularly useful to keep tiles fitted together and stuck to the ground or walls as well. Once the tiles are affixed to the walls, they are stuck there almost permanently unless water damage or decay occurs over a long period of time.
Grout fills up the spaces in between the tiles so that no detritus can get stuck there. It also prevents the growth of molds and bacteria in between the tiles. Another benefit is that it serves to keep the floor flatter and with less uncomfortable spaces, corners, and grooves so that your feet can walk on an even and comfortable surface.
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Grout should be left alone for at least 24 hours after installation. If it is still wet when walked on or touched, the surface could be made to be uneven and the process may need to be restarted.
Factors that May Affect Drying Time
The Type of Grout Used
There are four kinds of grout preferred by users working on ceramic tiling, each of which has slight distinctions in terms of consistency.
These types of grout include quarry type, unsanded grout, epoxy, and finely-sanded grout. There are also a plethora of mixed versions of these types of grout in stores, all of which have certain benefits, but also certain downsides.
In determining what kind of grout you are working with and what kind of work it is most suitable for, it’s always best to check the instruction manual given with the product. The manual will specify the exact kind of grout, the ingredients and ratio thereof, and, of course, the time it will take for this kind of grout to completely dry.
Regardless of what the manual says, however, users should always try to give the grout extra time to dry, even twice as much time as recommended. As such, if the instruction manual states that the drying time is 40 minutes, give the grout 80 minutes to dry, just in case, before attempting to stand on the floor or make use of the area.
This is because the manual may be specifying a drying time that would be the case in the most ideal circumstances. If you live in a more humid area or an area with less-than-ideal conditions, the drying time specified may not be long enough. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so always double the drying time suggested.
If the area that you are remodeling with tiles happens to be particularly humid, or you live in a humid climate in general, the drying time for the grout may well increase. This is because the drying process involves the evaporation of the water component of the grout, leaving behind a strong cement-like material. Increased moisture in the air would, therefore, serve to make this evaporation process a lot slower.
The humidity of your home may depend on your region of residence or certain other factors to do with your living space specifically. For example, having many indoor plants will increase the levels of water vapor in the air and, as a result, increase the overall humidity of your living space.
The issue of increased humidity can be solved with a dehumidifier or air conditioning unit. If you place one of these appliances inside the room or in the entranceway, the grout will undoubtedly dry far more quickly.
It’s also a good idea to get a small electric fan to spread air around the room and decrease the heat and moisture in the air. A small fan will be great for decreasing the drying time.
How to Apply Grout Property
Wait a Sufficient Amount of Time for the Tiles to Dry
The last thing you want is for the tile adhesive to seep into the grout and cause mixing and discoloration around your tiling job. It is, therefore, imperative that you give the tiles a good amount of time to dry.
If the grout has failed to dry properly, your tiles will likely be loose to the touch, and this can be a cause of severe inconvenience, as the only real remedy is to start the whole process again. This will cost a great deal of time and money. If the tiled area is very sizeable, it may even take a few days for the drying process to be completely finished.
Although it can be frustrating, waiting a long time for the grout to dry will be significantly less time-consuming than starting from scratch, so it’s in your best interest to be as patient as possible.
Plan Carefully Before You Get Started
It is very important that you are absolutely certain when it comes to the room that you want to have tiled, what kind of tiles you want to use, and what end result you are looking for.
If you are going to be using grout in a kitchen area, make sure that you set aside a room to keep all of the essentials for the time being, such as snacks. You don’t want to go hungry, but you also don’t want to risk stepping on the drying floor and possibly compromising all of your hard work.
If you are regrouting a bathroom, you will also need to make a plan for occupants in the house so that they can shower and relieve themselves. This is especially important for the tiles in and around the sink and shower; as they may look dry but wetting them could still compromise them if they haven’t been given sufficient time to set.
Let the Grout Dry
If you want the best outcome, you should let the grout dry overnight. If you applied the grout to a large area or in most of a room, you should leave it to dry for as much as 24 hours.
As stated above, you should always heed the drying time given in the instructions, and if no such instruction manual is available or the instructions have gotten lost, you should try to reach out to the manufacturer of your brand of grout for advice.
If you intend to seal the grout once everything is installed, you’ll have to extend the recommended waiting time so that there is no residual moisture left in the grout before you start to apply the sealer. This can take as much as 24 hours and it’s always better to give the grout more time to dry than less.
Appliances to Hasten the Drying Process
In order to speed up the drying process, it’s always useful to cool the area down and decrease the humidity as much as possible. This is why many users make use of appliances such as an air conditioning unit, an electric fan, or a dehumidifier in the room being grouted.
Removing Excess Grout
Cleaning away excess grout should be done while the area is still drying so that the grout will not be solid. Once the grout has been applied for 15 to 30 minutes, you can clean away any unwanted grout from the surface. If you wait overly long and the grout dries and solidifies, you will have a much harder time trying to remove the excess grout without causing damage to the grout you want to keep there. After all, it is a very dense and durable material. A wet sponge can be used to gently wipe away the excess grout to leave a thin layer behind.
Sealing the Grout
The instruction manual for the grout and sealer should explain, clearly, how to go about sealing your grout, how long it will take for both to dry, and when it is safe to start using the area and allowing water to make contact with the renovated area.
Adding sealer too soon may cause damage to the tiling. If the grout in use is cement-based, it may take as long as 48 to 72 hours to be dry enough for a sealer to be applied.
Most sealers on the market take about 5 hours to dry but there are those that can take as much as 2 days as well. It would be in the user’s best interest to wait for the 48 hour period to be done just to be safe and one should not try to walk along the floor in that time. If you have used an epoxy-based grout, a sealer may not be necessary at all, which will reduce the overall drying time and the length of the process altogether.
Before you get started, you should always check the user manual or instructions provided. The sealer can be applied in a spray or in a liquid form using a wide paintbrush or roller. It should be applied evenly along the floor or walls.
If you want to check whether the sealer is dry without touching it and causing damage, you can sprinkle a couple of drops of water on the grout. If the drops accumulate over the grout line, the sealer is dried but if the water is absorbed into the grout, you need to give it more time. Apply more sealer immediately if the water is absorbed.
The Damp-Curling Process
Damp-curling involves the placement of craft-type paper over the finished floor. This paper is left there for 3 days to keep all the work done intact.
Damp-curling is also often done using a wet sponge or a mop to dampen the grout. This process is repeated every day for 3 days in a row.
As a result of damp-curling the area, the grout will be stronger and significantly more durable in the long run. This is why many homeowners use this method on the grout for their bathroom and kitchen floors.
Grout has the capacity to greatly enhance the use and durability of ceramic in your bathroom and this is especially so if you, the user, are certain about how much time you should give the product to dry before use. Walking over the floor before the drying process is complete will undoubtedly compromise the grout job and the process may need to be restarted.
Remember to check manufacturer instructions to ensure that you stick to the correct drying time. Make use of appliances to help you and be patient.