How To Grout A Tile Backsplash Without Making A Mess

Last Edited: 10/09/23


A tile backsplash is a great way to breathe new life into your kitchen. But in order for your new backsplash to remain looking beautiful, it must be grouted properly. 

Whether you DIY this project or call in the pros for handyman services, there are a few things you should know before jumping into this project. 

Grouting your backsplash serves two important purposes: the right color will accentuate your tile and seal gaps to prevent moisture from damaging the drywall that supports it. Even a perfect tile job can be effectively ruined if the grout is not applied and sealed properly. A clean, professional-looking grouting job can be the finishing touch that completely transforms the look and feel of the space.

To help you complete this job like a pro, our experts have put together some of our most important tips and tricks for grouting a tile backsplash like a professional. It all starts with gathering the right tools and supplies.

Gather Your Supplies

The first thing you’ll want to do is decide on which type of grout you want to use.

The size of the gap between your tiles will determine the type of grout you’ll need to use. For easier installation, shop for a high-quality grout that has polymers in the mix. This type of grout does not require a sealant, which means it cuts out an extra step for you! 

When picking ‌grout, you have some options. Here are some things to consider when it comes to choosing the right grout for your project:

  • Unsanded: Featuring a smoother texture with fine sand powders, this is a good choice if you do not desire a gritty look to your grout. You should only use this type of grout with seams that are ⅛ inch wide or less. Since it does not bind as well as other types of grout, using unsanded grout on larger seams will result in the grout cracking and separating, which will allow moisture to get behind the tile. 
  • Finely sanded: This type of grout contains sand that increases durability and reduces shrinkage. It is best to use finely sanded grout on joints that are ⅛-inch to ⅜ inch wide.
  • Quarry type: This is a cement-based grout ideal for certain types of tiles, such as slate, quarry, or terracotta. You can also use it if you have wider grout joints between tiles (3/8-inch to ½-inch wide).
  • Epoxy: This grout is a mixture of an epoxy resin and hardener, which is less porous and stain-resistant, making it ideal for kitchens that have exposure to acids and grease. It’s important to note that epoxy grout dries quickly and is harder to work with than other grouts. Unless you’re a professional or DIY expert with experience working with epoxy, we recommend that you avoid using it. 

Another important consideration when choosing grout is the color of your grout. The right grout color selection will help deliver an attractive, visually cohesive result. To help you make the right choice, consider the following:

  • How much cooking residue will be collected in the area? If grease tends to build up, you might want to avoid choosing a lighter color grout, as it will require more time and effort to keep clean. Darker grout, on the other hand, will do a great job and require less cleaning time.
  • Are you using light-colored tiles? Depending on your preference, darker grout can provide a nice contrast to a light-color tile. A darker color also won’t show stain as easily. 
  • Concerned about highlighting a pattern? You might want to go with a soft gray grout. It isn’t as harsh as dark grout but is more forgiving than plain white or other light colors.
  • Want to spice it up a bit? Grout also comes in a variety of colors that can provide a fun feel to your kitchen. Experiment by getting a small sample of different grout colors and holding them up to the tile you choose. 

Don’t panic if the grout you choose looks darker when you begin applying it. Most grout, especially darker ones, will get lighter as they dry.

Once you’ve chosen your grout, gather the rest of your materials. You’ll need the following:

  • Plastic sheeting
  • Painter’s tape
  • Grout
  • Grout sealer (if required)
  • Caulk
  • Grout float
  • Putty knife
  • Two buckets
  • Sponge
  • Cloth

Now that you have all of your supplies ready, it’s time to get to work.

Prepare the Backsplash

Make sure the space where you will be working is clear of any kitchen items so you can gather all your supplies in one area. Having all of your supplies in one place will make it easier for you to work quickly and efficiently. Whether you need to grout newly installed tiles or want to clean the grout on an already installed backsplash, prepare your workspace by putting all of your supplies within reach and cleaning the walls where you'll be grouting. 

Mask and Protect Surfaces

If you’d rather avoid a messy cleanup after you’re done grouting, protect your workspace. Lay plastic sheeting across the countertop or stovetop, and secure the corners with painter’s tape. If you're removing old tile, cover the stovetop with a piece of plywood or hard plastic to avoid damage from falling tiles. This is especially important if you have a glass cooktop.  

Additionally, you have to protect yourself. Wear a mask when working with any type of chemicals to protect your lungs, protective eyewear, and gloves to protect your hands.

Mix the Grout

Now, it’s time to mix the grout. Use your putty knife to mix it in one of your buckets. Follow the directions on the packing to ensure that your grout is properly mixed before you apply it. Mix it until it is the consistency of peanut butter: not too watery, but easy to apply and spread over the tile.

Grout hardens quickly, so ‌mix enough to cover a small area. You can mix more as you go.

Apply the Grout to the Tile Backsplash

Once you’re ready to apply the grout to the tile, select a small work area. Using a 45-degree upward angle, spread the grout over the tiles to fill in the joints. Make sure the grout completely covers the gaps between tile lines. Complete coverage is essential to keep moisture from under your tile.

Wipe Away the Excess Grout

After you apply the grout, allow it a few hours to dry thoroughly. Remember, the goal here is to seal gaps between the tiles. So, remove any excess grout covering the tiles to avoid a messier cleanup. 

After confirming the grout is completely dry, wipe the backsplash tiles with a cloth to remove any excess grout or debris.

Final Touches and Sealing

Once 24 hours have passed, you’ll need to use a product to seal in your grout work! If you used a grout that already has a sealer in it (like ‌epoxy grout), then you can bypass this step. However, if the grout you use does require a sealer, which is the case for non-epoxy grout, then this is an important finishing step to complete the job. Apply the sealer over the grout lines as directed, and wear the necessary eye and hand protection. Once you have applied the sealer and let it dry for 24 hours, you can caulk any areas where gaps exist, including the corners or where the countertops or a window meets the backsplash.

Enjoy Your Newly Grouted Backsplash with Mr. Handyman

As long as you have the right tools, supplies, and some patience, grouting a tile backsplash isn’t too difficult. However, if you don’t have the time, patience, and tools to do it yourself, your local Mr. Handyman can help. Our local experts can grout your tile backslash and help you complete other home renovation or repair projects. 

When you hire Mr. Handyman, all of our work is backed by the Neighborly Done Right Promise™, which means we do the project right the first time. To learn more or to get started completing your home projects, request service today!