Duo Ventures

Monday, March 10, 2014

Kitchen Update: Grouting & Caulking Subway Tile Backsplash

Our kitchen makeover is one step closer to being finished!  You can see our progress throughout the last several weeks in these previous posts: ordered countertopspicked out a sink & faucetdemoed our existing backsplash & countersinstalled Frosty Carrina quartz & sink, installed our faucet & drywall, & installed backsplash.

The next step in the process was picking out a grout color.  We stopped at Lowe's, Floor & Decor, & HD to see some color options.  We took the sample cards home to see which one we liked best - we were looking for a taupe/gray grout color.  It was between Warm Gray by Mapei (Lowe's) & Oyster Gray by Polyblend (HD):
They are very similar, but Oyster Gray seemed a touch darker so we went with that (it's actually the same grout color that was used in our original inspiration kitchen too).

We were going to use an unsanded grout for the tile itself, but we wanted to use a 100% silicone caulk where the tile met the countertops & cabinets.  Most forums we read suggested that you use a flexible material (aka: not grout) anywhere there is a change of plane (vertical/horizontal) or where tile meets another surface (tiles meets counters or cabinets).  Luckily, most grout manufacturers also sell silicone caulk in coordinating colors, so you don't have to worry about those seams not matching the grout.

We knew that our HD did not carry 'Oyster Gray' in-store, so we tried to order it online.  Problem was, the grout was "only available for home shipment" (for a fee) & the caulk was "out of stock online".  Ugh.  So the next time we were at HD we asked them to order both items for us to be shipped to the store - for free.   It never hurts to ask.  Several days later our order arrived & we picked it up at our local store:

According to the 'average coverage' on the box, we certainly didn't need to use the entire box of grout.  However, we didn't want to mess around with measuring, so we mixed the entire 10 lb bag (we didn't have a ton of leftover grout in the end, so we think it was a good decision):

Before we started grouting, we taped off all the edges of the tile:

Following the instructions on the box, we started grouting.  In the very beginning, we were apprehensive about how uneven the grout joints looked.  However, just like our experience with tiling the backsplash, we got a system down eventually (Nader grouting & Mel sponging).  We waited 10-20 minutes for firm joints before Mel started cleaning off the excess grout with a damp sponge:
BTW: wear gloves like you are supposed to!  We stupidly forgot to put some gloves on & Mel ended up with a slight rash on her arms.  So dumb - this stuff is full of chemicals.

We also learned that as you clean up the excess grout, you do have control over consistency & uniformity of the grout lines.  In other words, it can be very forgiving.  Mel made sure that the sponge was not too wet & rinsed it often.  You can see the progression of sponging from the 1st pass with the sponge to the 3rd pass:

We also made sure to pull off any blue tape before the grout completely dried:
We waited the recommended two hours before wiping off the haze with a soft cotton rag.

The next day, we wiped down the backsplash one last time & then sealed the grout.

Afterwards, we put all the outlet covers back on:

Here's a close up:

We still needed to caulk some seams:

More specifically, we needed to caulk any seams where the tile met the quartz countertops & upper cabinets, as well as the two corners of the backsplash:

It was a little messier than we thought it would be, as the silicone did not come out of the caulk gun very smoothly for some reason.  We did the best we could, then dipped a finger in some water & ran it across the silicone to smooth it out.

The nice thing about the silicone is that once it was dry, we could cut away any imperfections with a razor blade or pull it out completely & redo it (which did happen):
At least the silicone caulk matched the grout, right?

We are so excited that the backsplash portion of our kitchen makeover is done!  Now we have to update the light over the sink & touch-up the paint around the edges of the backsplash.

More coming soon!

Mel & Nader



  1. It looks really good! Can you tell me what size grout lines you used?

  2. Did you feel like the grout lightened up as it dried at all? It seems like that happens sometimes. We're about to grout our backsplash and I'm so nervous about choosing the wrong color.

    1. Hey Jenna! No, once the grout dried it was true to the original color swatch. I think as long as you add the correct amount of water, per the instructions - you should be fine. We also grouted our shower, and that color also stayed true to the swatch. That's our only experience with grout though - hope that helps!

  3. The tile does look great. I'm hoping your comment about the grout drying true to the swatch is correct, because my swatch says black and I'm seeing dark gray. If it remains dark I am seriously thinking of taking a marker to the grout lines before sealing. Gray totally will not do in this kitchen!!

    1. Thank you Michele! This was our one & only experience with grout, but the color did dry true to the color swatch in our case. I hope it works out for you as well! :)