Laying tile is not an easy job. That’s why having as many proper tools as possible is important. You want to ensure that you have everything that you need before you begin in order to make the job as easy as possible.
Today, we’re going to talk about grout floats and how important they are when laying tile. If you’re interested in learning to lay tile, take a look at this guide on laying tile. But right now, it’s all about grout floats.
What Is A Grout Float?
A grout float is a tool used to spread the grout over the tile and in-between the tiles. The bottom of the grout float, the flat part, is usually made of rubber and resembles a thick foam. The handle is usually made of plastic or wood.
The grout float looks similar to a trowel but the two are not interchangeable. A trowel will be made of a rougher material and may scratch tile, so a grout float is the answer to dispersing the grout evenly and safely.
Do I Need A Grout Float?
While you can use cloths and other tools instead of a grout float, it is highly recommended to use a grout float because it is the correct tool for the job. This makes it the best tool for the job by far and will cause the fewest issues.
While the type of grout float you use is up to you, having one is important. Some grout floats are very inexpensive so you can feel free to choose one of those, but there are also different types of grout floats as well.
How To Choose A Grout Float
When choosing a grout float, it isn’t as easy as going to the store and picking the first float that you see. While almost any float will work for almost any project, it’s better to find one tailored to what you’re working on.
These are the things that you should look out for if you are planning on laying tile anytime soon. They will help you pick out the perfect grout float for the job with ease! Check these off of your list today!
Take a look at your size options. Floats are generally fairly close in size but there is a range. If you are working with a small tile in a small area like a backsplash, you don’t want a huge float that won’t fit.
But you also don’t want a tiny float if you have a lot of work to do or else you’ll struggle with cramps and tiring out. Not to mention keeping things even. So pay attention to scaling the float to your project size.
Price does matter to most people. Try to avoid the cheapest option most of the time as it may not work as well as others. But don’t overpay for a brand-name grout float just because you like the brand.
What you do want to look at are reviews. Even if you’re buying in the store, you can always check the item you’re interested in online while in the store and find out if it has good or bad reviews on Amazon or other stores.
The handle is what you’ll be holding so if it is uncomfortable for you, then don’t get it. You’ll be holding this for possibly hours so you want it to be as ergonomic as possible. Everyone prefers different things too.
Some may prefer wood while others plastic. If you want metal, that’s okay too. That’s why it’s great to buy in-store because you can try them out. But checking reviews for overall comfort can work well too.
The thickness of the rubber is important. A thin rubber can work for fragile tiles but a thick one will be necessary for textured or thick tiles. While you can’t know the perfect thickness, you can at least take it into account.
When in doubt, get a medium thickness. Find the thinnest one available and the thickest one available then find what is right in between those two. This will be your safest bet for rubber thickness on your grout float.
Pliability is different than thickness. It is more about the density of the rubber than the thickness. Sometimes you need a thick yet pliable float while other times you need a thin yet sturdy one. This is easy to find out.
If you want the grout to dip down a bit, make sure you get a pliable one. But if you want it to be rather flush, then get a less pliable one. This is something you’ll have to feel for yourself, find the one you think feels right.
Grout type does affect the grout float you use. Especially between sanded and unsanded grout. You can usually check the package and the grout float will say whether it works for unsanded or sanded grout.
Luckily, a lot of grout floats work for both sanded and unsanded. So you can choose one of those if you haven’t decided on a grout type. However, using one for a particular type will give you the best results.
This primarily refers to the handle. Because there are certain margin handles that allow you to reach tough-to-reach places. Normally, a standard handle is most comfortable, but a margin handle may be necessary.
This type of handle dips out so that you can reach corners and holes that you couldn’t normally. Only use this type if you have crevices to grout and not if you are only working with large, flat surfaces.
How To Use A Grout Float
Using a grout float is almost satisfying. But you do have to know how to use it before you start. Otherwise, you’ll stress yourself out far too much and won’t get the job done efficiently nor correctly. Follow these steps instead.
Step 1: Prepare Float
Now, start off by getting just a little bit of grout on your float. You don’t want too much since you’re just starting out. Try to get it on the end of your float and not the side until you learn to control the float.
Step 2: Start Applying
Apply grout to one small area. It usually works best to only go across the line, not all over the tile in areas you won’t grout. However, it’s okay if grout gets on the tile, we can remove this later. So just apply grout and smooth over.
Step 3: Check Work
Take things slowly. After applying grout to a small area, smooth over that grout, the grout lines at least, with the grout float. Then, do it again, paying attention to any bubbles that need to be filled again.
Step 4: Sponge
When the lines look good, dip your sponge in water and then wring it out. Do this a few times before taking the sponge to the tile. Take things slowly again and wipe off any excess grout but don’t go overboard.
Step 5: Clean Up
After you have wiped the excess grout with the sponge but haven’t gone down into the grout lines, then you can let the grout dry. As it does, you’ll notice a hazy later. This is okay and is inevitable, it will happen.
What you want to do is go ahead and let it dry. When it does dry, you can wash the hazy layer away as long as there isn’t any built-up grout in the way. This can be chipped off but it’s best to not allow it to happen.
Tips For Using A Grout Float
We all need help sometimes. So even if you know the proper steps, you may need a few tips to help you whenever you encounter a problem. These are the few problems that seem to come up again and again.
When grouting in corners, place a small bit of grout on the very edge of your float. Push that grout right into the corner, inside the grout line. Press it down and swipe it into the grout line. In short, take it in small, short bursts.
Always move diagonally most of the time when grouting. This prevents the edge from getting into the lines and pushing out any grout. A good angle is around 45-degrees but you can adjust this to what feels right for you.
When filling initially you may want to lower the angle to around 30-degrees to get that first bit of grout in the lines. But again, this is a rule of thumb but not a strict rule that you need to get the square out for.
Ignore The Haze
Don’t let the haze stress you. You will be able to wash it off. So whenever you’re working with the float, make sure that you don’t get caught up in the hazy film on the tile as that can distract you from your job.
But it’s not only that. Focusing on the haze can get you so focused that you keep wiping away grout that needs to dry. So for best results, follow the steps mentioned above and you’ll be a pro in no time.