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Grout Basics

A glimpse of grouting day. This is when a carefully assembled mosaic gets its final touch.

Grouting checklist

1. Completed mosaic, checked for any loose pieces

2. Grout

3. Water

4. Spatula for mixing grout

5. Bowl for mixing grout

6. Rubber gloves for protecting hands

7. Sponge and cloth, paper towels for wiping the grout

8. A bowl of water for cleaning the sponge

9. Enough time to complete the process.

10. Optional: A mask to wear and a plastic sheet to spread over the workplace

Before deciding to grout it is important to check that the adhesive has dried well, and all the pieces are firmly stuck to the base. Any loose tiles might just come off in the grouting process.

Unlike the task of creating the mosaic pattern, which can be done in small parts, grouting needs to be done in one go. After applying the grout, it needs to dry until it is ready to be wiped and cleaned off. Plan for enough time before starting.

Applying the grout

This little bird is ready for grout today, the grout colour chosen is white. We can experiment with different grout colours too. Wearing a mask while mixing grout is a good practice. Since the bird is a small piece a lot of grout is not needed, so two teaspoons of grout mixed with a little water is enough. The water needs to be added gradually to ensure that the grout does not become too liquid. It should be easily spreadable and have the consistency of peanut butter. It should stick to your mixing spatula without falling off. Ensure there are no lumps or dry bits remaining. Don’t be tempted to add too much of liquid.

Once the grout is ready, a glob is dropped on one side of the piece and slowly spread in one direction with fingers, pushing it into the gaps. Grout that falls off the piece can be reused. Gloves protect fingers from cuts if there are sharp edges, and protect skin of hands from the grout. Once the entire piece is covered, it is important to inspect it and check there are no air bubbles left. Any gaps should be filled. Tapping the piece gently can help the grout settle.

Cleaning the grout off

Before cleaning the piece, the grout must be allowed to dry for a little while, maybe 30- 45 minutes. The exact drying time will depend upon the amount of water in the grout and the climate conditions. If it is too wet it will be pulled out from the gaps while cleaning, and if it dries too much it will be difficult to clean off.

Once the grout is nearly dry it should be removed with a sponge. The sponge is dipped into water and then nearly all the water is wrung out. The sponge is then passed over the piece in a single motion to clean the grout off the top of the tiles. Repeat after cleaning the sponge again. Once most of the grout is cleared the piece can dry a little more. Then the haze from the tiles can be cleaned up using soft cloths or paper towels.

The piece should be totally dry in a day and be ready for display and use.

Take care: If grout dries too much on your piece it may be very difficult to get the dried grout off. Do not wash your grout covered hands, gloves tools or bowls in the bathroom or kitchen sink, it will clog the drainage. Dispose of water in which bowls spatula and hands are washed outside in open areas.

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