Tiling and Re-Grouting – The Ground Rules

Be prepared. This applies to any house renovation project (or, indeed, any project). Having a simple plan can make all the difference to the success, or otherwise, of a project. The most problem you will have with this is the mess you’ll make. So prepare for some waste disposal and once the waste collection is complete, you will have everything done.

NB: If you are creating a pattern with tiles of different colours, work out that pattern before you start tiling!

Choose the tiles. As well as colour, size, texture etc, make sure they are right for purpose. For instance, not all tiles are suitable for wet areas such as bathrooms.

Calculate how many tiles are required. It is always a good idea to buy a few extra (perhaps 10% – 20%) to keep in reserve, just in case you have miscalculated, or in case one or two get broken during cutting. And you don’t want to do much waste disposal before the actual tiling has begun. Also, if a tile gets damaged months or even years later, you’ll have a replacement to hand.

Have your tools and materials set out neatly before you start, and really do some rubbish clearance before you start to have a clean slate. Prepare the surface. It is important to prepare the wall. Tiles need to be applied to a smooth, even surface, otherwise they may not adhere properly – or even if they do, the finished job will not look good.

Decide on your starting point. There are different schools of thought: some say it is best to start tiling in the centre of a wall, others advise beginning at a corner. This is probably a decision best made on an individual basis, so see what works best for your particular project.

Remember to put spacers in between the tiles as you go, in order to leave channels for the grout.

Grouting – do not apply too much grout at once, a little at a time works best. Allow the grout to firm up slightly for a few minutes before removing the excess with a damp sponge. Wipe gently – you do not want to remove any of the unset grout between the tiles, only the excess on the surface of the tiles. You may need to do this two or three times to remove all the excess. Remember to rinse the sponge so it remains clean. Allow the grout to dry completely. Finally, apply sealant for extra protection if you wish.

Over time, grout can become discoloured and look unsightly. Regrouting is a simple way to give the tiles and bathroom a fresh look without undergoing major bathroom refurbishment. It is vital to do more rubbish disposal and remove the existing grout before applying new grout. Scrape it out manually with a grout rake, or even an implement such as a screwdriver or utility knife. If there is a lot of grouting to remove, you can speed the process by doing it carefully with a power tool.

Before you start, put down a dust sheet if possible; or vacuum continually, to avoid accumulation of grout dust. It is advisable to use goggles to protect eyes from the resulting dust, and wear a mask over nose and mouth. If possible, open windows for ventilation. And after you are done, do a full house clearance and cleaning to see what the result is in the best possible setting and light. Enjoy!

Frank Adam

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