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Grout—typically either a mixture of sand, water, cement, and color or an epoxy base mixed with a hardener—is the filler used to seal the spaces between ceramic tiles on floors, counters, walls, or tub surrounds. Grout helps keep tiles in place, but is not the same as mortar, the adhesive that actually glues tile to the underlying surface.
Applying grout, whether in a new tile installation or as a replacement for old and damaged grout surrounding existing tile, is not a difficult task, but one that needs to be done carefully if you want professional-looking results. To achieve that goal, you need the right grouting tools.
Here are the best grouting tools in several categories to help you get the smooth, perfect results you hope for.
The best way to start building your grouting arsenal is with a whole grouting kit that provides everything you need to get going. These kits will often come with an assortment of floats, containers, bags, and pads necessary to contain and spread the grout evenly onto the work surface. The Barwalt Ultra Grouting System takes the top spot since it is a reliable and affordable kit for beginners and advanced users alike.
The kit starts with two center handle grout floats that include cushioned grips and sponge bases. The sponges are replaceable so you can switch them out for new ones after heavy use. A bucket will hold enough grout for a large section of wall or flooring to reduce the amount of refilling you will need to do. The bucket contains a large basin so you can easily rinse and clean the inside after you are done.
A grout float is arguably the most important part of a grouting project since it will ensure a level and complete coverage in the right hands. The position of the handle on the float will determine the reach and comfort of the tool while in use. Center handle floats like the M-D Building Products 49827 are the best option if you want the most ergonomic tool for long projects that don’t have any hard-to-reach spots, such as a countertop.
This float promotes the maximum level of comfort with a contoured plastic grip positioned for equal weight distribution. The pad has a gum rubber float bed that makes it easy to push and level grout around into the tile joints with minimal effort. The float bed also has both straight and beveled edges so you can shape the grout lines as you work.
Spatula handle floats sacrifice a little bit of ergonomic comfort for extra reach when grouting in hard-to-reach or high places, such as inside a tub or shower. This type of handle places the float out in front of your hand, extending the reach by several inches. The RIGID Margin float is the best option for this type of handle since its six inch length and durable surface will make the grouting move quickly and without hassle.
The 6-inch x 2-inch float bed is large enough to move a lot of grout at once while retaining fine control over the direction and flow of the grout. The bed is beveled around the edges so you can reach under toe kicks or into deep tile joints without damaging the surrounding areas. For comfort on long jobs, the single handle grip is ergonomically contoured to place your hand in a comfortable position.
In addition to floats, grouting bags are another way to get grout in between tiles. Bags are especially advantageous if you have thicker tiles or thinner spacing where it can be hard to push the grout in properly with a float. Grouting bags work like cake icing pipers, funneling the grout through a small nozzle so you can control the flow and direction of the grout as you work. They are especially useful for grouting around mosaic tiles.
The Marshalltown The Premier Line GB692 has a large, seamless vinyl surface with a 3/8-inch metal tip on the bottom. Using the bag is easy: pour grout into the bag, then squeeze down to push a narrow stream of grout through the nozzle. The durable vinyl material will make the bag last for several projects, and can even handle mortar as well.
Grout is a messy material. That means you are bound to have a spill or make a mistake at some point. Even the occasional overflow is to be expected if you are using a grouting float over a large surface of tiles. When you need to make a quick cleanup or repair on dried grout, a proper grout remover like the QEP Professional Handheld Saw will make the task quick and painless so the finished product is perfect.
The handheld saw is small enough to keep close to you while working. Unlike power tool attachment removers, the saw doesn’t require any electricity to work. The single serrated, carbide blade chips away at dry grout with each back-and-forth swipe of the tool. Once the edge dulls, you can buy replacement blades to extend the life of the tool as well. The handle has two edges ergonomically designed to fit the shape of your hand for extra comfort.
The top pick for the best budget grouting tool is one you don’t know you need until it’s too late. While floats, buckets, and sponges are necessary for the bulk of a project, every now and then you may find yourself just short of enough grout to finish the job. When that happens, reach for Red Devil Pre-Mixed Tile Grout Squeeze Tube. It's just the thing you need when you have a little bit of touching up, or a small stretch of space to complete before your project is done.
The tube holds 5.5 ounces, which is enough grout for quick touch-ups and fixes when you don’t want to make a whole new batch of grout. Just squeeze and push the grout out through the narrow nozzle. The exterior resists cracking and shrinking and is moisture/mildew resistant. When sealed, you can keep the tube stored for a long period of time if you want something you can grab easily during your next grout-related emergency.
Once it comes time to wash and wipe away the excess grout over the tile surface, you will need a sponge that won’t mar the grout underneath. Otherwise, you risk undoing the work you just completed as you clean up. The QEP 70005Q-6D is one of the best grout sponges due to its high water-retention capacity and soft, rounded edges that will protect the desired grout while clearing away the excess.
Coming in a pack of six, you can use this sponge on both walls and floors while the grout is still drying for easy cleanup. The hydrophiliate surface attracts water, promoting more water retention each time you clean the sponge. The extra-large size of the sponge means you can also use it on other cleanup tasks such as washing a car or boat.
If you’re facing a big grouting job and want to make the process as easy as possible, the Barwalt Ultra Grouting System (available at Amazon) includes everything you need to get grouting done quickly, competently, and cleanly. The kit includes special bucket that makes removing excess water from grouting sponges a breeze, as well as two grip-handles and grout sponges. But if the job is small or you don’t want to spend too much, the M-D Building Products Grout Float (available at Amazon) is ergonomically designed for comfortable handling, spreads grout evenly, and won’t break your budget.