Do you want your re-tiling project to look professional and last for years? The secret lies in mastering the seemingly simple yet crucial process of grouting. This essential skill gives your tiles a neat appearance, prevents water damage, and increases longevity.
How to grout tile:
Grouting tile is essential for a strong, watertight seal. Prepare the surface by cleaning tiles, checking the spacing, and choosing the grout type to grout effectively. Mix grout according to instructions and ensure the right consistency. Apply grout using a rubber float, working it into gaps and removing the excess. Allow grout to set, then wipe tiles clean.
Complete the project by buffing tiles, sealing grout, and maintaining it with regular cleaning and reapplication of sealer as needed.
Mastering the art of grouting tile can significantly enhance any DIY project, instantly elevating the final product. Following the pro tips, step-by-step guidelines, and common mistakes to avoid in this post, you’ll be on your way to achieving flawless tile grouting in no time.
- 1 How to Effectively Apply Grout to Tile
- 1.1 • Preparing the Surface
- 1.2 • Mixing the Grout
- 1.3 • Applying the Grout
- 1.4 • Final Touches and Maintenance
- 2 What is the appropriate duration to wait before wiping off grout?
- 2.1 • The Importance of Proper Grout Application
- 2.2 • Wait Time Before Wiping Off Excess Grout
- 2.3 • Expert Tips for Proper Grout Wiping
- 2.4 • Conclusion
- 3 What are the procedural steps involved in grouting tile?
- 3.1 • Selecting the Right Grout
- 3.2 • Preparing the Tile Surface
- 3.3 • Mixing the Grout
- 3.4 • Applying the Grout
- 3.5 • Cleaning the Tile Surface
- 3.6 • Final Touches and Curing
- 4 Is it Necessary to Wipe Grout Before Its Drying Process?
- 4.1 • The Grouting Process and Why Timing Matters
- 4.2 • Ideal Time to Wipe Grout
- 4.3 • Equipment and Materials Required
- 4.4 • How to Wipe Grout Before It Dries
- 4.5 • Conclusion
- 5 What is the recommended duration for grout to settle before commencing sponging?
- 6 Is It Necessary for Grout to Be Flush with the Surface of Tiles?
How to Effectively Apply Grout to Tile
Grouting tile is essential for installing new tiles or renovating an existing surface. Properly applied grout creates a strong, watertight seal that holds the tiles together and prevents moisture from seeping through.
I will provide a step-by-step guide on grout tile like a professional, along with useful tips and tricks to help you achieve a perfect finish.
• Preparing the Surface
Before you begin, ensuring the surface is ready for grouting is important. Follow these steps to prepare the area:
– 1. Clean the Tiles
Ensure the tiles are clean and free from dust, dirt, or adhesive residue. Use a damp sponge or cloth to wipe the surfaces and allow them to dry completely.
– 2. Check the Tile Spacing
Inspect the gaps between your tiles, ensuring they are even and consistent. Use a tile spacer or other suitable tool to make necessary adjustments.
– 3. Choose the Grout Type
Select the appropriate grout for your project. There are three main types of grout:
- Unsanded Grout: Ideal for small, narrow gaps less than 1/8 inch wide.
- Sanded Grout: Suited to fill gaps between 1/8 inch and 1/2 inch wide.
- Epoxy Grout: A water-resistant, durable option for areas exposed to high moisture or heavy traffic.
Consider the tile material, the gaps’ size, and the area’s intended use when choosing your grout.
• Mixing the Grout
Follow these steps to achieve optimal grout consistency:
1. Read the Instructions
Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific mixing ratio and recommended water quantity. This will ensure the grout sets correctly and remains durable.
2. Measure the Ingredients
Using a clean container, measure the amount of grout powder and water. Mixing a small batch first is a good idea, as grout can dry out quickly once mixed.
3. Mix the Grout
Combine the grout powder and water, stirring thoroughly until a smooth, lump-free consistency is achieved. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the container to ensure all the powder is incorporated.
4. Let the Grout Sit
Allow the grout to “slake” or sit undisturbed for 5-10 minutes. This absorbs the water and ensures a better bond between the grout and the tiles.
5. Mix Again
After the slaking period, give the grout another quick stir to ensure a smooth, even consistency.
• Applying the Grout
Now that the surface is prepared and your grout is mixed, it’s time to start grouting the tiles. Follow these steps for a professional result:
1. Scoop the Grout onto the Tiles
Using a rubber grout float, scoop a generous amount of grout onto the tiles, spreading it evenly over a small section (approximately 1-2 square feet).
2. Work the Grout into the Gaps
Hold the grout float at a 45-degree angle and press the grout firmly into the gaps between the tiles. Use diagonal sweeping motions, working from different angles to fill the gaps completely.
3. Remove Excess Grout
With the edge of the grout float, scrape off any excess grout from the tile surfaces, keeping the float at a 45-degree angle. This helps minimize the amount of grout you need to clean later.
4. Let the Grout Set
Allow the grout to set for approximately 15-30 minutes. The precise drying time may vary depending on your specific grout product, so refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for guidance.
5. Wipe the Tiles
Using a damp sponge or cloth, gently wipe the tiles in a circular motion to remove any remaining grout residue. Be careful not to apply too much pressure, which can remove the grout from the gaps.
• Final Touches and Maintenance
Once the grout has fully dried, follow these steps to complete your grouting project:
1. Buff the Tiles
Use a dry and soft cloth to buff the tile surfaces, removing any remaining grout haze.
2. Seal the Grout
For added durability and protection against stains, apply a grout sealer to the dried grout lines. Choose a sealer compatible with your grout type and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.
3. Maintain Your Grout
Regularly clean your grouted surfaces using mild, non-abrasive cleaners to keep the grout lines looking fresh and prevent staining. Reapply grout sealer as needed to maintain its protective properties.
These steps and recommendations will give you a professional, durable finish when grouting your tiles. With proper maintenance, your grouted surfaces will look great for years.
Choose the right grout color and type for your tile installation.
Mix the grout according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Wait for the tile adhesive to cure completely before applying grout.
Using a damp sponge, gently wipe the tile’s surface to remove residual grout.
Move the grout float diagonally across the tile surface to remove excess grout.
Wait for the grout to set according to the manufacturer’s instructions, typically 15-30 minutes.
Using a damp sponge, gently wipe the surface of the tile to remove residual grout.
Allow the grout to dry completely, usually 24 hours, before applying a grout sealer if necessary.
What is the appropriate duration to wait before wiping off grout?
Regarding tiling, grouting is an essential step in the process. Applying grout between the joints of the tiles helps hold everything together, prevents moisture and dirt from seeping through, and offers a cleaner, more polished appearance.
One of the most important steps in grouting is ensuring the grout is wiped off at the right time. I will guide you on how long to leave grout before wiping it off, along with some expert tips to achieve a professional and clean finish.
• The Importance of Proper Grout Application
Before we delve into how long you should leave the grout before wiping it off, we must understand the importance of proper grout application. Incorrect grouting can lead to several issues, such as:
- Uneven and messy grout lines
- Lack of proper bonding, which can lead to tiles becoming loose or falling off
- Moisture seeps through the grout, causing mold or mildew
To avoid these potential problems, take the time to familiarize yourself with the correct grouting techniques and be prepared to invest time and effort in carrying out the job correctly.
• Wait Time Before Wiping Off Excess Grout
Generally, you should wait 15-30 minutes after applying the grout before wiping off the excess. This is because the grout needs time to set initially but is not fully cured before you can safely remove the excess from the tiles’ surface.
However, this timing can vary depending on certain factors, such as:
– Grout Type
There are different types of grout available in the market, including:
- Cement-based grout: This is the most common and widely used type of grout. The 15-30 minute waiting time generally applies to cement-based grouts.
- Epoxy grout: This is a more advanced type of grout made of epoxy resins and hardeners, resulting in a stronger bond and higher resistance to water and stains. Epoxy grout sets faster than cement-based grout, so the waiting time may be shorter. It is advisable to read the manufacturer’s instructions on the packaging to determine the recommended wait time for a specific product.
– Ambient Temperature and Humidity
The weather conditions, including temperature and humidity levels, can affect the grout’s setting time. Higher temperatures and lower humidity cause grout to set more quickly, whereas cooler temperatures and higher humidity levels can slow down the process.
To ensure that you leave the right amount of time before wiping off the excess, be ready to adjust your wait time based on the temperature and humidity levels in your area.
– Mixing Technique
Incorrect mixing of the grout (such as using the wrong water-to-grout ratio) can cause the grout to set too fast or too slow. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and mix the grout properly to avoid issues.
• Expert Tips for Proper Grout Wiping
Here are some expert tips to help you properly wipe off the excess grout and achieve a professional finish:
– Use a Damp Sponge to Wipe Off Excess Grout
Always use a damp sponge to prevent scratching the tiles when wiping off excess grout. Gently glide the sponge over the surface of the tiles, working diagonally across the grout lines. This will help in removing the excess grout without causing any damage to the tile surface.
– Clean the Sponge Frequently
After wiping off the excess grout from a small area, rinse the sponge thoroughly before moving on to the next section. Neglecting to clean the sponge can result in grout residue being smeared back onto the tiles, making the cleaning process more complicated and time-consuming.
– Avoid Overworking the Grout
It is essential not to overwork the grout when wiping off the excess. Overworking can cause the grout to become weak, undermining its strength and durability. Wipe off the grout gently while ensuring that the grout lines stay full and even.
– Perform a Final Cleanup
After giving the grout at least 15-30 minutes to dry (or the manufacturer’s recommended time), perform a final cleanup by wiping the surface again with a clean, damp sponge. This will remove any remaining grout haze and give your tiles a clean and polished appearance.
In conclusion, the general guideline to follow when determining how long to leave grout before wiping off the excess is 15-30 minutes. However, this can vary depending on grout type, temperature, and humidity.
By following the expert tips outlined in this guide, you can be well on your way to achieving a professional-looking and sturdy tile installation.
Type of Grout
Waiting Time before Wiping Off
What are the procedural steps involved in grouting tile?
Grouting tile is essential to any tiling project, as it fills the spaces between the tiles to prevent water and dirt from getting underneath. Furthermore, grout enhances the overall appearance and durability of your tiled surface.
I aim to provide a comprehensive guide on grouting tile, ensuring a flawless and long-lasting result.
• Selecting the Right Grout
Before you begin the grouting process, choosing the right type of grout for your specific project is important. Grout comes in two main varieties:
– Sanded Grout
Sanded grout is ideal for an inch or larger joints, as the sand particles provide additional strength and prevent shrinkage. It’s recommended for use on floors and walls with larger joints and outdoor projects where the grout will be exposed to the elements.
– Unsanded Grout
Unsanded grout is best for smaller joints, typically narrower than an inch, and is ideal for delicate surfaces like glass or polished stone that might be scratched by sand particles. This type of grout is commonly used for wall tile installations and smaller mosaic projects.
• Preparing the Tile Surface
Before starting the grouting process, ensuring the tile surface is clean and properly prepared is important. This involves:
- Allowing the tile adhesive to dry: Wait at least 24 hours after installing the tiles to ensure that the adhesive has completely dried and the tiles are securely in place.
- Removing spacers, tape, or wedges: Clear the joints of any materials used to create even spacing between the tiles during installation.
- Cleaning the tile surface: Use a damp sponge or cloth to clean the tile surface, removing any dust, dirt, or adhesive residue.
- Drying the joints: Make sure the joints are completely dry before proceeding, as any residual moisture can negatively affect the grout’s adhesion and curing properties.
• Mixing the Grout
Following the manufacturer’s instructions, mix the grout powder with water until it reaches a thick, peanut butter-like consistency. Make sure to only mix enough grout that can be used within a 30-minute timeframe, as it will begin to harden and become unworkable beyond this point.
– Tips for Mixing Grout
- Use a slow-speed drill with a mixing paddle: This ensures consistent and thoroughly mixed grout, reducing the likelihood of lumps and air bubbles.
- Allow the grout to rest before using: Give the mixed grout a few minutes to slake or rest, allowing the mix’s chemicals to activate fully. After this brief resting period, stir the grout before applying it to the tile surface.
• Applying the Grout
Using a rubber grout float, spread the mixed grout onto the tile surface, working it into the joints at a 45-degree angle. Press the grout firmly into the joints to ensure full coverage and eliminate air pockets.
– Tips for Applying Grout
- Work in small sections: Tackle one small area at a time to prevent the grout from drying too quickly on the tile surface.
- Remove excess grout immediately: After filling the joints in a section, use the grout float at a steeper angle to scrape any excess grout from the tile surface. This will minimize the grout residue that needs to be cleaned later.
• Cleaning the Tile Surface
After applying the grout and setting it for a few minutes, it’s time to clean the tile surface. Using a damp sponge, wipe away the excess grout, paying close attention to the edges of the joints to create a smooth, even finish.
Rinse the sponge frequently to prevent spreading excess grout around the tile surface.
– Tips for Cleaning Grout
- Use a circular motion: When wiping the tile surface with the sponge, use a circular motion to avoid pulling grout out of the joints.
- Be gentle but thorough: Apply enough pressure to remove the grout residue without disturbing the grout in the joints.
• Final Touches and Curing
After the initial cleanup, wait approximately an hour and use a dry cloth or towel to remove any remaining grout haze from the tile surface. Within the first 24 hours, it’s crucial to avoid any direct water exposure, as the grout needs time to cure properly.
After 72 hours, the grout should be fully cured and ready for regular use.
– Tips for the Curing Period
- Seal the grout (optional): For added protection against stains and moisture, apply a grout sealer once the grout has fully cured. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific sealer you choose.
- Clean any remaining haze: If any grout haze remains after the initial buffing, you can use a grout haze remover or a 50:50 vinegar and water solution and a soft cloth or sponge to clean the tile surface.
By following these steps to grouting tile, you can ensure a professional-looking, durable, and waterproof finish for your next tiling project.
Choose the right grout:
Prepare the tile surface:
Mix the grout:
Apply the grout:
Hold the float at a 45-degree angle:
Remove excess grout:
Wait and then clean the surface:
Apply grout sealer:
Is it Necessary to Wipe Grout Before Its Drying Process?
Grouting is essential in installing tiles for your bathroom, kitchen, or any other space in your home or office. Proper grouting enhances the appearance of your tiled surfaces and extends their lifespan. One commonly asked question is, do you wipe grout before it dries?
I will provide a comprehensive guide to answer that question and more, helping you achieve a professional-looking finish on your tile installation projects.
• The Grouting Process and Why Timing Matters
The grouting process involves filling the gaps between tiles with a material known as grout, which is usually a mixture of cement, water, and sand. The primary purpose of grout is to protect the underlying surfaces and edges of tiles from moisture and dirt.
The timing of wiping grout plays a crucial role in the entire grouting process. Wiping grout before it dries helps achieve a clean and consistent look, ensuring that the grout lines are uniform in depth and width and devoid of any lumps or inconsistencies.
The short answer to the question is – yes, you should wipe grout before it dries. However, the process isn’t as simple as wiping the grout immediately after application. Knowing the correct timing and techniques is essential to achieve perfect results.
• Ideal Time to Wipe Grout
Grout should be wiped at the right time, which is neither too early nor too late. Wiping grout too early can lead to inconsistency in the grout lines, and wiping it too late can make it difficult to remove the excess grout from the surface of the tiles.
Based on my experience, the ideal time to start wiping grout is approximately 20-30 minutes after the grout application. This timeframe can vary depending on factors such as the type of grout, room temperature, and humidity.
Generally, grout starts setting up within 5-10 minutes of application and reaches its optimal wiping stage, known as the ‘initial set,’ in about 20-30 minutes. The grout will have a firm yet moldable consistency during this stage, making it ideal for wiping.
It’s worth noting that this timeframe serves as a general guideline, and it’s essential to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the grout you’ve chosen for your specific project.
• Equipment and Materials Required
Before we begin discussing the process of wiping grout, gathering the necessary tools and materials is crucial. Here’s a list of items you’ll need:
- Tile sponge or microfiber cloth
- Bucket of clean water
- Grout float
- Rubber gloves
- Rubber scraper (optional)
• How to Wipe Grout Before It Dries
Follow these steps for wiping grout before it dries to achieve a professional-looking finish:
– Step 1: Observe the Grout Consistency
Keep an eye on the consistency of the grout right after application. Touch the grout gently with your fingertip approximately 20-30 minutes after application. If it feels firm but doesn’t stick to your fingertip, it’s the right time to wipe the grout.
– Step 2: Dampen the Sponge or Microfiber Cloth
Dip the tile sponge or microfiber cloth in the bucket of clean water and wring out the excess water. The sponge or cloth should be slightly wet but not dripping water.
– Step 3: Start Wiping the Grout Lines
Begin wiping the grout lines in a circular motion, applying minimal pressure to avoid disturbing the grout’s consistency. Wipe off the excess grout from the tiles’ surface while ensuring not to pull out the grout from the gaps. Rinse the sponge or cloth frequently to keep it clean.
– Step 4: Remove Excess Grout
After completing the initial wiping round, you might notice some residual grout left on the tile surface. Use the rubber scraper or the edge of the grout float held at a 45-degree angle to scrape off any excess grout from the tile surface.
– Step 5: Final Wipe
Once the excess grout is removed, dampen the sponge or cloth again and give the tiles one last gentle wipe in a diagonal motion. It will remove any minor residue and help to achieve a smooth and even grout line.
– Step 6: Allow Grout to Dry
As per the manufacturer’s instructions, allow the grout to dry for at least 24 hours before exposing the tiled surface to moisture or foot traffic.
To achieve professional-looking tile installation, wiping grout before it dries at the right time is essential. With proper timing and technique, you’ll be able to achieve clean, consistent, and attractive grout lines that will extend the life of your tiled surfaces.
Moreover, always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines to ensure the best results. Happy grouting!
What is the recommended duration for grout to settle before commencing sponging?
Sponging during the grouting process can help achieve a smooth, professional finish on your tile projects. Knowing when to sponge, however, can be a challenge. Follow these guidelines on the appropriate wait time before using a sponge on your freshly applied grout.
• Understanding The Grouting Process
Before diving into the recommended waiting time before sponging, it’s important to understand the grouting process. After you’ve installed and set your tiles, grout is applied to fill the spaces between them.
This provides a cohesive appearance and offers protection by sealing off moisture from seeping through the gaps.
There are generally two types of grout: cement-based and epoxy-based. Both types have their own benefits and drawbacks, but the timing for sponging remains relatively consistent.
• The Importance of Sponging
Sponging serves multiple purposes during the grouting process, impacting the aesthetics and durability of the finished tile project. Sponging helps to:
- Even out grout lines for a smooth, uniform appearance.
- Remove excess grout from the tile surfaces.
- Smooth the surface of the grout itself, creating a clean, professional finish.
To ensure optimal results from sponging, using a clean, damp sponge that isn’t overly saturated with water is crucial. Too much water can weaken the grout and cause color inconsistencies.
• Recommended Wait Time for Sponging Grout
The best time to sponge grout after applying it varies depending on the type of grout used, environmental conditions, and the specific project. Here are some general guidelines to follow:
– Cement-Based Grout
For cement-based grout, there are two main stages of sponging to consider:
- Initial Sponging: Aim to begin this phase around 15-30 minutes after applying the grout. Using a clean, damp sponge, gently wipe the surface in a circular motion or diagonal to the grout lines, being careful not to apply too much pressure. This will remove excess grout and even out grout lines.
- Final Sponging: For the final sponging, wait approximately 2-4 hours after the initial sponging. This time allows the grout to develop a firm enough surface to withstand further sponging without damage. In this stage, use a clean, damp sponge in a light, circular motion to remove any remaining haze or residue from the tiles and smooth the grout surface.
Remember that humidity, temperature, and air circulation can impact curing times. In highly humid or cool environments, you may need to allow more time for the grout to set before sponging.
– Epoxy-Based Grout
Epoxy-based grout dries at a faster rate than cement-based grout. So, following the manufacturer’s instructions regarding sponging time is essential. Generally, waiting around 20-30 minutes after applying epoxy grout before starting the sponging process is recommended.
Monitor the grout to ensure it’s not set too quickly, as epoxy grout can become incredibly difficult to remove once fully cured.
• Tips for Effective Sponging
Here are some additional tips to achieve a professional finish when sponging grout:
- Use a high-quality, rounded-edge sponge designed explicitly for grouting. Avoid using low-quality or torn sponges, which may leave unwanted marks or particles in the grout.
- Do not leave excess water on the grout or tiles during sponging. This can lead to grout discoloration, reduced strength, or an uneven finish. Always wring out your sponge thoroughly before using it.
- Apply minimal pressure during sponging, especially for the initial sponging. Otherwise, you may pull grout from the spaces between the tiles.
- Rinse your sponge frequently with clean water. A dirty sponge may leave a film on the tile surface or reintroduce grout particles into the grout lines.
- Monitor the sponging closely to ensure that the grout remains in the gaps between the tiles and that the grout lines remain smooth and uniform.
In conclusion, it’s important to sponge your grout at the appropriate times to achieve a polished, professional appearance. While these guidelines provide a general timeline for sponging cement-based and epoxy-based grouts, always consult the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific product.
Combined with the above tips and guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to a beautiful and durable tiled surface.
Recommended Wait Time
Consult manufacturer’s instructions
Is It Necessary for Grout to Be Flush with the Surface of Tiles?
Grout is a crucial component of tile installation, serving multiple purposes, such as securing tile joints, providing an aesthetic finish, and protecting the tiles from water, dirt, and other contaminants. One frequently asked question by homeowners and tile installers is whether grout should be flush with the tile.
I will discuss the factors to consider when deciding on grout depth and offer recommendations based on experience to guide you toward an informed decision.
• Importance of Grout Depth
Grout depth can significantly impact your tiled surface’s overall appearance, functionality, and durability. There are a few reasons why the right grout depth is important:
– Aesthetic Appeal
Grout lines can either complement or detract from the overall appearance of a tiled surface. Flush grout lines create a seamless, almost monolithic look, making the grout lines less visible and allowing the tile design to be the focal point.
On the other hand, recessed grout lines emphasize individual tiles and create a more textured appearance.
– Water and Dirt Resistance
Grout, especially cement-based grout, is porous and can absorb water and dirt over time, leading to staining and potential damage to the tile adhesive and substrate. Recessed grout lines can help minimize the contact between grout and water or dirt, thus reducing the possibility of staining and damage.
– Tile Stability and Support
Grout helps stabilize and support tiles by filling gaps between them, distributing weight evenly, and preventing movement or displacement. Flush grout lines may offer less support for the tiles, especially in areas subject to heavy foot traffic.
In contrast, recessed grout lines provide additional stability by better filling the gaps between tiles.
• Factors to Consider
When deciding whether grout should be flush with tile, consider the following factors:
– Tile Type and Installation Method
The type of tile and installation method will influence the appropriate grout depth. For example, non-rectified tiles with uneven edges may require deeper grout lines to accommodate variations in tile thickness. In contrast, rectified tiles with precise dimensions may allow for flush grout lines.
Additionally, mosaic tiles and certain decorative patterns may require specific grout depths to achieve the desired appearance.
– Grout Type
The choice of grout type can also affect the appropriate grout depth. Cement-based grouts tend to shrink as they cure, potentially leading to lower grout lines. On the other hand, epoxy grouts are less prone to shrinkage and can provide flush grout lines without compromising durability.
– Intended Use and Location
Consider the area in which the tiles are installed and the intended use of the space. Recessed grout lines may be more suitable for wet areas like showers or bathrooms to minimize water exposure and prevent potential damage to the tile adhesive and substrate.
However, flush grout lines can be used without compromising durability or stability for living areas or areas with less foot traffic or water exposure.
– Personal Preference
Choosing between flush and recessed grout lines ultimately comes down to personal preference. Take time to consider your desired aesthetic, the overall design of your space, and your preferences for grout line visibility and texture.
Based on experience, I recommend the following general guidelines for deciding on grout depth:
- For wet areas like bathrooms and showers, opt for slightly recessed grout lines to protect against water damage, staining, and grout deterioration.
- For high-traffic areas such as kitchens or entryways, consider recessed grout lines to maximize tile stability and support, especially for non-rectified tiles.
- When using cement-based grouts, expect some shrinkage and adjust the initial grout depth accordingly or choose an epoxy grout if you prefer flush grout lines.
- For decorative tiles, mosaics, or complex installations, consult a professional installer to determine the appropriate grout depth for a visually appealing and functional result.
Ultimately, whether to flush grout with tile depends on aesthetics, functionality, and durability. By considering these and following the recommendations above, you can make an informed decision that best suits your needs and preferences.