Adding grout to tiles is the finishing touch, but how long does grout take to dry? It's a simple question, but there are a host of factors that means there’s not a really simple answer. First, drying times differ depending on what type of grout you use and then there’s environmental factors such as temperature and humidity to consider. These all make a difference to the final drying time.
If you know how to grout tiles then you will know that grout can be touch dry pretty quickly. But, it's the curing time that is more important especially in high traffic areas and areas prone to moisture such as bathrooms.
Here we take a look at drying times and curing times for grout commonly used in the home and reveal how long you need to wait before you can start using your newly grouted area.
How long does grout take to dry? Standard drying times
The standard cement grout commonly found in most hardware stores and used in most residential homes takes around 48-72 hours to cure. But it is worth pointing out that you need to know how to mix grout the right way. If too much water is added it will obviously take longer to dry and won’t do its job as well.
However, if you mix correctly cement grout will be touch dry in an hour or two meaning it's resistant to dust and debris. But it will need to be left to fully cure and strengthen to resist moisture.
Drying times vary due to environmental conditions such as room temperature and humidity. For example, a bathroom typically has higher humidity levels than other rooms in the home which means the grout will take longer to dry. It's worth mentioning that if your home is particularly cold or has no heating, the drying time for all grouts can also be significantly longer.
Epoxy grout is more durable and stronger than traditional cement grout and is non absorbent meaning that it dries quicker than cement based grout, typically 24 hours.
How do you know when grout is dry?
One simple method is to look at it. When grout is wet it is darker than when dry. The difference in colour is generally easy to spot as grout is typically applied in batches. So the first batch will dry quicker than the last batch, meaning that the first batch will be lighter sooner than the last batch.
But don't forget to read the manufacturers instructions and see what they state the drying time will be.
How soon after grouting can I shower?
This will depend on what grout you have used in your shower and whether or not you are going to seal it. But typically, you will need to leave for at least 72 hours to make sure that the grout has cured properly and won’t be compromised when exposed to water. But if you are using epoxy grout this only needs to be left for at least 24 hours.
If you are going to seal your cement based grout you will need to wait until it is fully cured, again best left for 72 hours. Once cured apply the sealer and leave for another 24 hours. Don’t forget you will also need to be caulking your shower to make it watertight.
What happens if grout gets wet before it cures?
If you start exposing grout to water before it has properly dried it can lead to a few issues that you don’t want to be dealing with. Typically it will weaken the grout and eventually it will start to crumble and even fall out.
But the worst part will be that the grout isn’t doing its job properly, which is stopping water getting behind the tiles. Once this happens the tile adhesive will weaken and could lead to tiles falling off.
To solve the problem you will need to remove the grout and start regrouting tiles to get a professional finish.
How long before I can walk on newly grouted floor tiles?
When grouting floor tiles different types of grout can be used, but as a general rule you need to leave for at least 24 hours before walking on floor tiles. You should be able to walk on floor tiles after two or three hours, but the more you walk on the tiles before the grout is fully cured the more likely you are to disturb it.
So try to avoid it if at all possible, especially in high traffic areas. These areas need to be left to fully cure so that the grout will last for a good few years. Make sure you check the manufacturers guide on curing times.
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Steve is Homebuilding & Renovating's DIY content editor, and has been a writer and editor for two decades. He is an avid DIYer with over 20 years of experience in transforming and renovating homes. He specialises in painting and decorating, but has strong all-round building skills, having previously worked in the industry for 10 years.