How Long Does Grout Take To Dry? (We Have The Answer)
You’ve finished installing your new set of tiles. and applied your grout. Now comes the question. How long should I wait before I can use the room with the newly grouted tile? How long does it take for grout to dry?
It takes 24-72 hours for grout to dry after you apply it. Grout often takes 48 hours to dry, but you must refer to the label on the product that you use. It takes closer to 48-72 hours for grout to dry if it is outdoors, or as little as 1 day indoors.
In addition, if you would like to seal your grout, always let it dry at least 48 hours to ensure you are applying your sealant to grout that is ready to seal.
Read on to learn more about grout and more general information.
Types Of Grout
Depending on the type of grout you use, the recommend drying time will be different. Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of grout out there:
As the name implies, this grout is cement-based. This is probably what comes to mind when you think of grout. It has a grainy look, is not waterproof, and is prone to cracking. Its sand-like texture is mixed using water to form a paste. It is then applied using a flat-trowel.
Since cement grout is not waterproof, it is prone to staining. It contains a water retention additive, keeping the grout moist to slow down the drying process. This helps to ensure maximum hardness. Cementitious grout has an average drying time of 72 hours.
It is the cheapest option to purchase and easy to manipulate when applying it to your tiles. Use it where its look and qualities are acceptable. Since it is less durable than the other options, cement grout is also the most expensive over the lifetime of the tile area’s use. It will require frequent maintenance, repair and possibly replacement.
Sanded vs. Unsanded Grout
When you use cementitious grout, you’ll have the choice of two different varieties: sanded and unsanded. The sanded option is less likely to crack and shrink, making it best for floor tiles and installations with wider gaps.
Unsanded grout, on the other hand, has a much smoother texture and is easier for vertical installations such as shower walls. However, unsanded grout is only recommended in areas where the grout joint is less than 1/8” wide.
The average drying time between both sanded and unsanded grout is similar – roughly 72 hours. Though, when the grout is exposed to moisture, you will generally need to wait longer than the recommended drying time.
Epoxy grout is formed by mixing a filler powder and epoxy resin. It is most often used to fill the gaps between glass and is typically 3 to 5 times more expensive to apply than cement grout and is more difficult to deal with. It is also waterproof and therefore stain-proof.
Since epoxy grout contains a hardener and epoxy resin, it is the ideal choice for tiles that will be exposed to harsher conditions, such as grease or acid. The major advantage to epoxy grout is that it’s waterproof, durable, and more resistant to staining. In addition to staining, this type of grout resists chemicals, cracking, and weather changes.
Epoxy grout is more expensive and the fact that it dries quickly can make it difficult to apply. However, this does allow it to last much longer. The average drying time is roughly 24 hours.
Since this grout doesn’t require sealing, it is cured and ready for use much quicker than its cementitious counterpart.
One downside often noted by users is that epoxy grout tends to have more of a plastic look, which some homeowners may not like.
Single component grout has all the qualities and advantages of epoxy grout, but it does not require a mixture of components. This means the grout also remains usable after opening the container, so you can use one batch of single component grout for multiple tile jobs.
Though similar to epoxy, furan grout is made of polymers of fortified alcohol. As the grout cures, it develops a thermosetting resin which allows it to resist strong chemical and high temperatures.
As a result, furan grout is generally used for quarry tile and brick pavers in more industrial environments such as breweries, labs, commercial kitchens, and meatpacking plants. Like epoxy, the average drying time for furan grout is also 24 hours.
If you’re not sure what type of grout you have, the instructions on the packaging should outline all of the necessary procedures – including how long you’ll need to leave it to cure.
Why You Should Probably Use Epoxy Or Single-Component Grout
Using grout gives your floor or wall a clean, crisp-looking finish. It also prevents dirt and debris from getting between your laid tiles. Finally, it adds an extra source of rigidity to your tile job to increase durability.
Epoxy and single-component grout is much more durable and has nearly zero chance of cracking in its lifetime. It is also naturally waterproof, meaning you will never need to seal it and it will not stain.
Use cement grout only if you want to save short-term money and if you prefer it for visual reasons. Cement grout has a grainy look, while epoxy grout has a plastic look that can also yellow in the sun.
How To Ensure A High-Quality Grout Application
To give your job a polished finish, make sure you do these things.
Allow Tiles To Dry Properly
Make sure your tiles and the adhesive has been given enough time to dry as the tile adhesive can potentially leak into your grout, discoloring it.
In addition, improperly dried tiles can become loose and cause early cracking of your grout. Tiles typically take two to five days to dry fully, so make sure you wait until then.
Plan Around Your Needs
Plan ahead so you have another place to go for that room’s activities. If your tile and grout job is in the kitchen, do the planning necessary so you don’t have to go there as it dries. The same goes if it is in your bathroom.
Use Other Drying Appliances
Place an air conditioner, fan, or dehumidifier in the room with grout to ensure it dries at the most efficient pace. This ensures the moisture forming in the air is quickly removed to speed up the curing process.
Clean Off Excess Grout
The best time to clear off excess grout is as it is drying. Naturally, if you wait until it is already dried, it will be very difficult to remove.
Therefore, plan to remove excess grout from your tiles by using a damp sponge to wipe the area 15 to 30 minutes after you have applied your grout. This will make for a clean and complete job.
How To Seal Grout
Make sure you wait long enough to be able to safely apply your sealant to the grout. Applying sealant too early can damage it. Cementitious grout requires 72 hours before sealant can be applied. Note that epoxy and single-component grouts do not need to be sealed as they are already waterproof.
Warning! Make sure that if you are dealing with non-glazed or natural stone tiles that you completely avoid making contact with these tiles with your sealant. These tiles will absorb sealant and become discolored.
When your grout is dry and ready, apply the sealer using a brush, spray, or roller to distribute it evenly on your grout. Then, after it is applied, you must wait 48 to 72 hours for it to fully complete sealing.
Put some water in a spray bottle and spray some water drops over the grout after the sealant has dried. If the water drops are not absorbed by the grout, you know the sealant has effectively set. Make plans to re-apply sealant to your grout once a year to maximize your grout’s cleanliness and lifespan.
Damp curing is a process where a non-staining, craft paper is placed over your tiles after the grout has been installed so the grout remains damp and cures over three days instead of one. This slow-drying process allows for the grout to cure more completely, therefore allowing it to have more strength.
Consider this if you would like an especially strong result.
Factors That Slow The Grout Drying Process
Type Of Grout
Cementitious grout typically takes 72 hours to cure. Epoxy grout takes 24 to 72 hours to cure. Single-component grout typically takes 24 hours to cure. Note that these are typical times and the ultimate source of truth is on your grout’s package instructions.
Humidity levels in the area of the installation can also affect grout drying time. For instance, bathrooms are typically the most humid place in your home, meaning the grout will take much longer to dry here than it would in your kitchen.
Drying time could also be impacted by outdoor humidity. If you live in an area that has a relatively moist, tropical climate like Florida, you can expect the grout to dry slower than it would in a place like Las Vegas.
Finally, believe it or not, your house plants can affect how long the grout takes to dry. Certain plants, like the philodendron and lily, actually release moisture into the air and will raise humidity levels in your home.
Indoor vs. Outdoor
Overall, it takes considerably longer for grout to dry outdoors than it does indoors. This fact is especially true if it’s cold, snowy, rainy, wet, or humid outside. In optimal weather, it’ll take grout about seven days to cure outdoors.
However, if poor weather conditions are unavoidable, you’ll want to ensure that the area is covered with tenting and allow about a foot of space for airflow.
Additionally, before you consider starting a grouting project outside, make sure that the temperature will remain at 50 degrees Fahrenheit, or higher, for the next seven days. For inside grout projects, you have less to worry about and the grout will take about 72 hours to cure.
How to Make Grout Dry Faster
Are you in a rush to get your grout to dry faster? Unfortunately, since grout cures from a chemical reaction, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to speed up the drying time. However, there are some steps you can take to prevent it from slowing down as a result of external factors.
- Use a dehumidifier or run your air conditioner to keep the air dry. The less moisture that exists in the air, the quicker the grout will dry.
- Remove house plants from the project area.
- Place fans strategically around the room to distribute the air across walls or the floor.
- If outdoors, make sure the grout is protected from rain, humidity, snow, or other external elements.
What Happens if Grout Doesn’t Dry Properly?
It’s not uncommon for grout to dry improperly, and it usually happens when the seal is applied before the grout has fully cured. This is why it’s incredibly important to know how long your grout needs to sit before you can start applying a sealant. When the grout doesn’t dry properly, you’ll often have peeling, flaking, weak joints, and more.
- Cracks and crumbling. Not allowing grout to dry properly increases the risk of the grout crumbling and cracking. This generally occurs when the grout is exposed to moisture before it has fully cured.
- Weak joints. If the grout can’t dry properly, you won’t have a solid joint between tiles. This will result in not only cracks, but gaps and holes in the grout lines. All of these issues cause weak joints that allow moisture to seep underneath the tiles.
- Discoloration. This is most noticeable when using a white or light-colored grout. Discoloration happens if you don’t allow enough time for grout to cure, resulting in an uneven coloring between the tiles.
- Mold and mildew. When you don’t allow grout to cure properly, you increase the risk of mold and mildew growth. It’s not uncommon to find mold and mildew forming in between the tiles – especially considering how porous grout is. Flakes, peeling, cracks, crumbling, and weak joints all allow moisture to infiltrate the grout, which creates a breeding ground for mold and mildew. If mold starts to grow underneath tiles, it can be nearly impossible to eradicate with breaking the tile.
How long does grout last?
A good application of grout typically lasts 12 to 15 years. If it is not done carefully, you may have to replace it in 8 to 10 years.
Why does grout crack?
Cementitious grout may occasionally crack because of air pockets created when mixing. But the most common reason is because the connecting tiles were not properly installed.If your grout is cracking, consider a full tile replacement as a long-term solution. Consult this guide to learn how to retile a shower room.If you have decided to replace only your grout, you will need to remove your old grout. Consult this article to find out how.
How often should you seal cement grout?
The general rule of thumb is to seal your grout once a year. This prevents the formation of mildew or mold on the grout.
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