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If you’re familiar with the concrete trowel but not the grout float, you may be forgiven for thinking they are the same tool. After all, both tools are similar in appearance; however, they have very different applications, making it essential to learn the difference between the two if you are starting a DIY tiling project. Read on to learn everything you need to know about the grout float, how it differs from a concrete towel, and how to choose the right float for your project.
Grout Float Basics
A grout float is one of a set of essential tools you need to start grouting your tiles. A grout float is a trowel-like tool designed to press grout into the joints between tiles or stone bricks. The act of using a grout float is called “grouting.” Although similar in appearance to concrete finishing trowels, the primary difference between the two is the part that comes in contact with your tile. Instead of using a flat metal blade, which can scratch your tiling, grout floats employ a pliable pad made of rubber, polyurethane, or polypropylene.
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Types of Grout Floats
Grout floats are typically categorized by rubber hardness or elasticity level. You should avoid using a single grout float for all your projects, as the rubber pad’s hardness determines how likely it is to scratch your working surface. Choose your pad’s hardness according to your project:
- Soft: Best suited for glass, marble, and other surfaces prone to scratching
- Medium: Suitable for most ceramic tiles and all but the most delicate surfaces
- Hard: Ideal for rough stone, hard tiling, and surfaces that are resistant to scratches.
If you work with coarse or sanded grout, you may prefer to use a harder grout float, as softer models may sustain damage. If you work with epoxy grout, make sure to purchase an epoxy-resistant rubber grout float. Typically, they possess beveled edges made to resist sticking.
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Grout Float Tips and Tricks
Beginners should use grout floats with rounded corners, lessening the risk of accidentally displacing or gouging a tile out. Don’t underestimate ergonomics and handling, especially if you have a large project to complete. Comfort goes a long way when you need to use your grout float for hours. You can use either a margin trowel or the float to apply the grout to the joints, making sure you apply enough to fill tile gaps evenly. After applying, press the grout into the crevices using the float, pushing the grout inside and across to ensure that no void or unfilled space remains. You can then wipe the excess with the float or a damp sponge.
The trick to using a grout float correctly is not to apply the rubber pad flat against the working surface but, instead, to spread it between the tiles by holding your float at an angle. Always move in a diagonal direction and always press it firmly down; you don’t want to leave a void or any air pockets. Don’t worry about making a mess on your tiles when grouting; as long as you use the proper grout and float types, you won’t harm your project. Just make sure to keep a sponge and a bucket of water nearby to clean up any overspill.
If you need to work on both wall and floor tiles, start with the walls. That way, you won’t have to worry about staining an already finished floor. Remember to apply grout upward (down-to-up motions) when working on a wall or another vertical surface, as it results in less grout dropping on the floor. If your working surface is difficult to reach, such as corners, small spaces, or under furniture, consider purchasing an offset grout float. Offset grout floats feature off-centered handles, allowing you to maneuver in tight spaces and corners with more ease. Don’t forget to rinse your float regularly and keep the rubber pad as clean as possible. It is more challenging to apply grout evenly if your float is dirty.
Contractors Direct: Providing the Best Tools at Affordable Prices
At Contractors Direct, we understand the needs of contractors and DIY enthusiasts better than anyone. We are a leading online supplier of tile, stone, concrete, and masonry tools, offering the best selection of premium-quality products and exceptional service since 1993. Our facilities in Connecticut and Utah allows us to serve customers nationwide, with the best prices and fast shipping (2-3 business days). Call us at 1-800-709-0002 for a quote, information about our products, or advice on which tools to use for a specific project.