The Wonders of Grout

by | Feb 26, 2013 | Kitchen, My House | 57 comments

 I actually had to dig this photo out of my computer’s recycle bin.

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I was embarrassed at the gaps and, while I had faith in grout and caulk, I wasn’t eager to share the full frontal shot of my first tile job.  So, instead I showed shots where my imperfections weren’t so in-your-face.

Well, here’s what that same wall looks like after it has been grouted.  (I still need to caulk around the edges.)

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Amazing, right?!  I was a little nervous that I had too much faith in caulk and grout, but it exceeded my expectations in making my amateur tile job look great.

Here are some things I learned in my inaugural grout-applying project.

 1.) Grouting is a not-fun job.  When I looked longingly at the bucket of grout on my counter before my trip to Arkansas, I imagined I would smooth the grout over the tiles in one swoop, sponge the excess off and be done in an hour at most.  Yes, laugh.  I had no idea how much arm muscle and back bending and time was involved in applying grout.

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2.) Grouting is messy and gravity works against you when applying it to a back splash.  I finally caught onto that and used a piece of cardboard to catch the clumps of grout that fell.  I also still have grout in my fingernails and will be wearing gloves tomorrow.

 

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3.) It takes a little time to get used to the tools.  The grout float tool felt very cumbersome to me when working on an 18″ back splash, especially around the corners…

 

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…so, I used a rubber spreader around the edges and outlets.  It was easier for me to control and there was less mess.

 

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4.) Mosaic tile requires a lot of grout! I had a gallon of grout and I ran out about halfway through my project.  My sweet hubby made a run to Home Depot after work to get some more, so I can finish in the morning.  We live in the middle of orchard, farm and civil war battlefield country, so a run to Home Depot is no small trip.

5.) Grouting is messy and not fun and all of those things mentioned above, but it’s all worth it when you wipe all of the grout away and step back to look at your work.

 

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Sigh.

 

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Today we picked up our counters (well, the raw butcher block) and the finish for the counters and range hood insert were delivered.  My freelance articles on the kitchen and bedroom have to be submitted in a few weeks and the finish line is getting closer…

57 Comments

  1. Lexi

    I absolutely love your herringbone backsplash, it is to die for!

    Reply
  2. Alice

    Hi MMM. You can use the grout all the way up to the wood. Then you won’t see the gap and no need to trim. I like the tile A LOT. Blessings!

    Reply
  3. Fiona, Lilyfield Life

    so so beautiful! imperfections are good to remind us that we did it ourselves!
    (even if they are barely noticeable)
    Fiona x

    Reply
  4. sarah {finding abundance}

    It’s so beautiful, and you’re so brave to do it yourself. The white grout looks great.

    Reply
  5. Sharon in Chicago

    In the quilting world there’s a legend that old-time quilters would purposely make an error in one block. It was in homage to God as only he is perfect.

    Reply
    • Miss Mustard Seed

      I love that! My dad and I actually joked that I was making a theological statement with my tiling about the imperfection of man. 🙂

      Reply
      • Svietka

        speaking of theological statement: did u know that religious jews in israel leave a square the size of 40cm or so of unfinished wall at the entrance of the house-inside-not outside-not painted and not covered, just exposed cement- to remind us of the destruction the temple…so yes, non perfect is definitely the way to go:):)
        with that said-u did a fantastic job and the tile looks superb:)

        Reply
    • Nancy

      My perfectionist husband likes to questions my imperfections (in reno’s, redo’s, diy’s, etc) but I keep reminding him that nothing on this earth is perfect and the sooner he accepts that, the happier he’ll be. 😉 He’s always told me he is a perfectionist and I wasn’t seeing it till I looked it up. And found that he is the kind who doesn’t do many diy’s because he KNOWS they will not be perfect and wouldn’t be able to handle it. 🙂 And that’s ok with me. Only when I get to heaven will my home be perfect. 😀

      Reply
  6. Anna@DIrectionsnotincluded

    Looks beautiful! I did our backsplash myself and I fully sympathize with your grouting woes. It was the part I hated the most. Such a mess but so worth it in the end.

    Reply
  7. Gail

    The white grout was a good choice….it allows the tile to *shine*. 😉 Everything is looking awesome! Can’t wait to see it all come together!

    Hugs,
    Gail

    Reply
  8. Kathryn

    love the look very classy, we did our Kitchen last year, totally different but I like it…
    Your going to have to do a before and after on your house,,you have really made a lot of changes…

    Reply
  9. Anne Boykin

    Dear MMS, It’s absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for the tips on grouting. Hugs, Anne Boykin

    Reply
  10. Alison@soiledrotten

    You should be proud : )

    Reply
  11. Susan

    Nice job! We have a grout job coming up but I’m not looking forward to removing the old grout around little tiny hex tiles! Yours looks great!
    Susan

    Reply
  12. Jo

    It’s beautiful. Several years ago we used the 4″ slate tile as a backsplash. When it came time to grout, because of the irregularity of the tile, a float didn’t really work and we wound up using our fingers for the most part. We literally rubbed the skin right off our fingertips. It’s beautiful today, but I don’t think I’d use that tile again. Yours is gorgeous!

    Reply
  13. Eileen

    Very lovely. The herringbone pattern is very striking. Nice job. Think how healthy and toned your arms are now with all that work!! No gym for you. I’m not sure about how your back feels though.

    Reply
  14. LeeAnn

    Grout is the reason why I don’t tile! Every once in a while I catch myself daydreaming about a tiled back splash in my kitchen and then I think about grout (and keeping it clean) and remember a high quality paint is good for many years and wipes clean. 🙂 The changes you are making to your home are timeless! As long as your house stands, generations will love this tile.

    Reply
    • Rebecca

      LeeAnn, I felt the same way about grout. We tiled our backsplash with tumbled marble a few years ago. After Grouting, we sealed the grout. Splashes of food wipe right off. I made spaghetti sauce from scratch this summer and splashed tomato sauce all over the area behind the stove. It wiped right off.

      Go for it.

      Reply
      • LeeAnn

        Rebecca: Good to know and have a sauce endorsement!

        Reply
  15. tammigirl

    But that ‘big girl’ feeling of knowing you did it yourself? That feeling is the best feeling! I still remember, many years ago, my first meeting with that feeling and how proud I was about fixing my own dryer. A dryer is important when you have four young children!

    Reply
  16. Paige

    That herringbone really is fab. We’re looking to redo our bathroom floor, and hex tiles were in the lead, but now I think they have a challenger!

    But yes, it really is amazing what a difference grout makes, especially for small tiles. We did a penny tile backsplash and it looked so weird in the in-between stage.

    Reply
  17. Melissa Linnenburger

    Are the wonders of grout like the power of cheese? Ah, the wonders of grout. 🙂
    It’s gorgeous!

    Reply
  18. Savvy Seasons

    Beautiful job, I love it!! The pattern is lovely. I hope to do a project like this soon, so I really appreciate this post, thanks! XOXO ~Liz

    Reply
  19. Marsha

    I’m so jealous! I want to redo my kitchen SO bad. I live in a nice manufactured home with those fake cabinets in the kitchen. I love my kitchen because it’s huge but oh how I wish I could afford to replace the cabinets, or do tile, or get stainless steel appliances, or…… 🙂

    Reply
  20. Deb Owen

    That tile is amazing! I inherited perfectly fine tile when I moved into this house. Now I want to smash it all out and install something gorgeous like yours! Beautiful work, looking forward to seeing those counter tops too.

    Reply
  21. colleen

    lookin GOOD !!!!! I just can’t wait untill the counters are done [instant gratification] also ART is not perfect and this is kitchen art ha ha . Oh did want to share with you a hand scrub that does wonders on dry hands/feet got this off Pinterest . works really good even my husband uses it ; 2 1/2 c sugar 1 c olive oil and 4 T lemon juice. use a glob and rub in until crumbly, wash hands= enjoy. I made this for gifts last yr was a huge hit ;).

    Reply
  22. julie

    BEAUTIFUL back splash! And I can’t wait to see your butcher block counters as I am about 99.999% sure I am putting them in my kitchen soon (so much cheaper than other options!) Watching you — and others — in the blogosphere take on all these DIY projects gives me so much confidence that I, too, can conquer just about anything in my house! Thank you.

    Reply
  23. R Sims

    The backsplash looks So beautiful! I love the herringbone look and am now doubly jealous; hex bathroom tile AND herringbone in the kitchen! LOVE : )

    Reply
  24. Shannon aka design

    The backsplash is looking good! WTG you for doing it yourself (with your Dad). I’m waiting for hubby to do ours…I’m a big fraidy cat with power tools!
    Shannon

    Reply
  25. Lillace Christianson

    Looks especially pretty with the existing countertops!

    Reply
  26. Caren wtih a C

    Wow, a little (or a lot) of grout really makes a difference. I’ll be doing my first grouting job this week on tiles on a wall in the bathroom. Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  27. Megan

    It looks beautiful! 🙂

    Reply
  28. Pamela

    I LoVe IT! Inspiring………..

    Reply
  29. Karen

    I have mentioned this in a prior post, but want to again because it is so important. Please remember to seal the white grout. Any kind of colored substance, (coffee, spaghetti sauce, jello, etc.) will stain it. It has to be re-sealed periodically. I re-seal mine annually just to be sure. Once stained, the grout has to be dug out and re-applied.

    The tiles look great! I love how the imperfections are “hidden” with the grout. I have never used the sticky stuff you used to attach the tiles. I have always used adhesive and a v-notch trowel. Love the flexibility with being able to move it around. Again, great job!!

    Reply
  30. Sue Nations

    It is BEAUTIFUL!!

    Reply
  31. Paula Lusk

    Marion, it looks Beautiful! You did an amazing job. Grouting is hard enough on the floor, but you did a great job! blessings

    Reply
  32. Denise T

    Absolutely gorgeous!. You did a great job.

    Reply
  33. Melissa Boyce

    Grout and Caulk– the airbrushing of DIY jobs! This looks SOOOO good. I’ve never tiled but really appreciate your input on the good and bad.

    Reply
  34. Linda S.

    My, that was quite a job. It is looking wonderful and you should be very proud of yourself, and your Dad. I have done a little grouting in my time, and I remember it being a bearcat.

    Reply
  35. Sherry

    Looks fabulous! And the white grout was the perfect one to use! I can’t wait to see your finished rooms!

    Reply
  36. Carolyn

    You’ll never doubt the power of grout again! lol. Great job. I think if we were honest, we would all admit that at some time or another, we all have those moments of doubt. It’s nice when things come together just like you thought they would – such a great feeling of satisfaction…and relief! 😉 It looks bee – you – tiful.

    Reply
  37. Jayne

    It came out great and looks beautiful!

    Reply
  38. Kris

    Okay, I’m going to step right up and say I was very skeptical about this whole herringbone pattern, white grout and pretty much the whole concept. This only goes to show what an amateur I am and I can honestly say the results are just stunning. I am so glad you point out what went well and more importantly what doesn’t, so we can learn from your experience. Good job you!

    Reply
  39. Lin

    Thank you so much for sharing the tips with us as I have never tiled before either. They of course make it look so simple on the decorationg shows. When I finally tile my kitchen, I will feel much better knowing what I will be up against. Inspiring as always Marian. It is lovely!

    Reply
  40. PattyM

    The backsplash is beautiful. I’ve done quite a few tiling jobs and would much rather grout than measure and cut the tiles. I found a float to be cumbersome as well and have always ended up using my fingers and hands – even on 1″ grout lines. I highly recommend gloves for sanded grout, though, or you will end up with raw finger tips. One piece of advice that I wish someone would have given me – don’t allow the haze to dry longer than the instructions recommend. I decided to eat lunch in the middle of re-grouting 4″ tiles in a shower and almost had to sand the haze off. The grout should be moistened once a day for four days and then sealed. There is an additive now which allows you to skip the sealing part, but I can’t testify to its effectiveness. Good luck with the countertops.

    Reply
  41. Shawn

    Wow, fantastic job, love it!!:)

    Reply
  42. Audrey Zumwalt

    Backsplash is looking great. You should be very proud.
    Blessings,
    Audrey Z.
    Timeless Treasures

    Reply
  43. Lucrecia

    This looks amazing, though I’m still scared and think I’m going to paint mine on at first 🙂 I can’t wait to hear all about your butcher block tops and how you treat them, I’m itching to get some for us!

    Reply
  44. Sherill

    I’m so glad you shared…you had too…I’m getting ready to tile and I know I would not have been thinking grout covers a multitude of sins…I would have been in tears and knew I was a loser…but now I’ll I move ahead confidently and boldly with my tile project!!! Thanks for blazing the trail!!! Btw the back splash looks fabulous:)

    Reply
  45. Jessica @ Decor Adventures

    That tile is lovely and your hard work paid off. We’ll be tiling a shower soon, so I’m glad to know what to expect!

    Reply
  46. jodie

    is that white grout that you used? i’m gathering ideas for our kitchen redo and i love your backsplash. i’d like to do mine the same so i want to be sure i’m doing it right. 🙂 would you mind emailing me? i’d really appreciate that! jydardeau at yahoo dot com

    Reply
  47. megan

    I believe I have the very same tile in my kitchen and we are trying to decide on grout colors right now (my google search led me to you:)
    What color did you use? We are thinking and antique white as our cabinets are an off-white shade, but are undecided.

    Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait for ours to get to this stage….so close!

    Reply
  48. jo

    Hi Thank you so much for posting. I’m super nervous that my small herringbone will look too busy with my quartz. I came across this and saw what grout does. Here’s hoping it looks better grouted!

    Reply

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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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