Mixing grout yourself can be a somewhat high-stakes affair. You need to get the consistency right because well-mixed grout can be the difference between hassle-free and botched tile installation. Luckily, making a good grout mix isn’t as hard as advertised if you know what consistency to aim for.
Grout should be a thick cake batter or smooth peanut butter consistency. You should be able to work with it in your hands without it dripping or any excess moisture extrusion. This will ensure that your grout dries evenly, resulting in a long-lasting finished product.
In the paragraphs below, I’ll go into further detail about the process of achieving the perfect consistency for your grout mix. I’ll explain how to perform each step and how It’s beneficial to achieving our goal of grout, that is, the consistency of smooth peanut butter or thick cake batter.
How to Achieve the Perfect Grout Consistency
Now that you know the grout consistency to aim for, let’s look at what you need to do to achieve it.
● Measure Out Grout Powder
The best way to start this process is to measure how much grout powder you will need for the square footage you need to cover. It is important to measure only what you need because grout will fully harden after thirty to sixty minutes.
If the grout hardens before you’re done using it, there is no way to get it back to a mixable substance. Water will not bring it back at that point, so it is vital to only mix what you need and work quickly.
Measuring out amounts of grout powder also helps you be more precise when adding water to the mix. How? Well, we know that the standard water-to-grout powder ratio is 2qt. (1.89L): 25lb (11.33kg). The exact proportion may vary with the grout brand, but it never deviates too much from this ratio.
Using this standard ratio (or the manufacturer-recommended ratio, which should always supersede the standard one), you can use your measured grout powder to estimate how much water to add. This takes the guesswork out of figuring out the ideal water: grout powder ratio, setting you up nicely to achieve the right grout consistency.
● Add Water Slowly
Now that you know precisely how much water you need to add to your grout powder, you’ll want to distribute that water amongst small cups. Doing this will force you to slow down the amount of water added at a time. It’s much easier to keep a close eye on the consistency as you mix when you slow down the rate you’re adding water to the mixture.
For small batches, you can use a putty knife to mix by hand. For larger batches, get a mixer attachment for your drill. Mixing by hand with a putty knife is the best way to get a nice, smooth, thick grout mix because it allows you to ‘feel’ the consistency much better.
When pouring in the water, tilt the bucket to ensure that everything inside is mixed and nothing is neglected. This will lessen the potential for lumps in your grout mix.
You would rather your grout be too thick than too thin because you can always add water to loosen it up 一 this is another reason to add water slowly.
If you get close to the desired consistency and the mixture is still a bit too thick, you can dip a sponge in water and squeeze it over the grout mix. This is a great way to add a minuscule amount of water at a time to get the consistency exact.
● Mix To Smooth Peanut Butter Consistency
Slowly adding the water to the mixture should make this step incredibly easy for you. Feel the thickness of the mix and imagine it was smooth peanut butter or thick cake batter. The putty knife should not drip when it is pulled out of the mixture, but you should be able to stir the mix.
When mixing, try not to create any lumps or air bubbles in the mixture as it begins to thicken. You can avoid lumps by mixing in a smooth sweeping motion that overlaps onto itself.
Air bubbles may become visible once the mixture begins to get thicker. These can be smoothed out by squeezing a small amount of water over them and stirring. Doing this essentially remixes that area and destroys the air bubble.
Make sure all dry grout powder is incorporated into the mix. This is usually accomplished in the previous step by tilting the bucket towards you as you mix. If any dry powder remains, ensure it finds its way into the mix.
● Use the Mixture Immediately
One of the most important things to do after mixing your grout to the perfect smooth peanut butter or thick cake batter consistency is to use it immediately. I know that sounds incredibly basic, but grout that isn’t used immediately is susceptible to hardening.
As I said above, grout will harden after thirty to sixty minutes of sitting. This is why it is essential to start working immediately and diligently so your grout does not harden up in the bucket.
Grout that has hardened cannot be brought back with water. It’s too late. I cannot stress enough that getting to work immediately after mixing is imperative. Some suggest letting the mixture sit for ten minutes and then mixing again to strengthen the grout.
While this extra step may add strength to the grout mixture, it also lets it sit for ten minutes, narrowing your work window. This step is optional and not required. It is a personal choice whether or not you want to let the mix sit when it is done.
Getting the right consistency for your grout mixture all comes down to measuring the grout powder precisely, adding in the water slowly, and mixing smoothly. These are the three essential steps to getting perfect consistency.
The perfect consistency for grout is smooth peanut butter or thick cake batter with no excess moisture. You can achieve this easily by measuring grout powder, mixing in water slowly, and smoothly mixing by hand until the mix no longer drips from the putty knife.