Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How to grout your peel and stick tile floor

I have a gross confession to make, you guys. Before this week, I can't remember the last time I mopped my kitchen floor.

Don't get me wrong, it gets cleaned. But usually it's spot cleaned by me, on my hands and knees, with a bottle of bleach water and a rag. And it's annoying to do it that way.

I've been putting off a thorough mopping since I realized that, despite my best efforts to put the tiles as close together as possible, the steam and water from my steam mop were causing the tiles to lift up. Some Liquid Nails fixed that, but obviously I needed something to keep the water from getting under there again.

Looking back, I kind of wish I had used the peel and stick tiles that were meant to be laid with spacers and grout. I don't even know that that was an option when I put these down, though, so I jammed them together. Anyway. What's done is done. Eventually these will be gone, but until then I needed a fix. So after some online research, I bought a polymeric nonsanded grout in bright white. They sell this in tubes to be used with a caulking gun, which I have and have used, but frankly they're kind of a pain (the tubes, not the gun). The stuff does not come out very easily. I bought sanded when I bought the caulk tubes, so that might have something to do with it. The big boxes of powder are significantly cheaper, though, so that's what I went with.

My next problem was that I knew that I would not have time to grout the whole floor at once, so I didn't want to mix the whole box up (plus the fact that I was fairly sure my smallish kitchen and dining area wouldn't require ten pounds of grout) but the directions were only for the whole thing. That's where math and my digital scale came in.

The box calls for three quarts of water, which works out to twelve cups. I figured one cup of water's worth of grout at a time was a good place to start (and I probably could have done the majority of my floor with that much, since I have itty bitty grout joints, if you can even call them that). That works out to be 13.333 ounces of grout mix. So I dumped some water in an old yogurt container, zeroed out (or tared) the weight, then just used a big spoon to add grout mix until I got 13.3 ounces.

Fit and active: does not describe me. Next time I will do 6.7 ounces since Baby Girl started crying very shortly after I started and a lot of the mix went to waste.

After that, you stir the stuff for five minutes. Well, if you're me, you dump it all together, realize you forgot to locate a stir stick beforehand, go find a wooden garden stake that had previously been used as a paint stir stick and stir it every ten or fifteen seconds for five minutes, more or less. After that it looks like this.

I suppose it would have helped if I had been holding the stick up so you could see what the consistency was. It was kind of like pancake batter, I guess. Thin pancake batter. Then you let it sit for ten minutes and it turns into slightly thicker pancake batter. I didn't look up any other instructions to see if they had food-related comparisons. If you have bigger grout joints to do, that might be a good idea because I think thickish pancake batter is probably not quite right. I remember hearing the words peanut butter and cake frosting thrown around, but I don't know. For my needs, it worked fine.

There are no pictures of this next part because I had grout all over my hands. You're supposed to use a float and a sponge, both of which I actually own but neither of which I could find. The float is in the garage and the sponge was M.I.A. (although I did find it later, but a wet rag worked just fine). If you have wider grout joints, you should totally buy and use those things. I didn't, so I put on some yellow rubber gloves and used my finger and a 4" putty knife. I used the stir stick to dab some grout along the lines I needed to fill and spread it out over a large section. Not all over the tiles, just on the grout lines. If you have thin grout lines like me, put the grout on one small section, then spread it out, then put more grout on the next section and repeat. A little goes a long way.

Then I scraped off the excess with the putty knife (not too hard, you just want a quick once-over to take off the excess), waited 10-20 minutes like the box said, then wiped off the grout that didn't scrape off with a wet rag. Thankfully Yaya helped with this part.

You're supposed to stay off of it for 16 hours, but again, tiny grout joints and it's the kitchen. Since I hadn't really planned ahead, staying off of it wasn't going to happen. I tried to get the cat to stay out, but this is what she thought about that.

The next day, the appropriate 16 hours later, I headed back in to clean off the remaining haze. The directions say to use cheesecloth, but I didn't have any and didn't feel like buying any. I started out just using the rag again, but after a few minutes I switched to the steam mop, which worked like a charm.

Here's the section I got done. You can't really see any difference in pictures, which I suppose is the point, but it looks much better to me.

Now it can be mopped and steamed. Floors clean enough for a baby to try and crawl on, although I'd still rather she not lick them.

1 comment:

  1. Somehow? Cats always know precisely the one place you do not want them.

    I’d never heard of stick-on tiles that you can grout, either… and while they sound like a good idea, the spacers might have been a huge pain… so maybe what you ended up doing was easier? Especially if it’s just temporary?