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Whether you’re installing a new kitchen backsplash, tiling a bathroom, or redoing a fireplace surround, you might be wondering:
How long does it take for grout to dry?
Grout takes between 24 and 72 hours to dry on average. However, the exact drying time depends on the type of grout, humidity levels, and whether you’re working indoors or outside. Most manufacturers advise waiting three to seven days before exposing grout to moisture.
A good general rule of thumb—allow grout to dry for at least the time stated in the product manual for the specific grout you use, but the longer you wait, the better.
In the following sections of this article, I provide:
- The drying times of five popular tile grouts, according to the manufacturers.
- A quick overview of the factors that impact drying time
- Tips on how to reduce drying time
- How long it takes for grout sealer to dry
Let’s get started!
Use the links below to navigate:
- Actual Drying Times of 5 Popular Grouts
- Factors That Impact the Drying Times of Grout
- How to Make Grout Dry Faster
- What Happens if Grout Doesn’t Dry Properly
- Drying Time of Grout Sealer
- Plan for Inconvenience
- Final Thoughts
Actual Drying Times of 5 Popular Grouts
The best way to understand how long it will take grout to dry is to read the instructions on the packaging. In all cases, it is an absolute minimum of 24 hours, but I recommend always exceeding the manufacturers’ instructions.
If you plan to seal the grout, which is typical for most cases, the grout needs to dry even longer so that all moisture is released before you expose it to moisture again.
Cement-based grouts need between 24 and 72 hours to dry before you apply a sealer.
Epoxy-based grouts don’t always need to be sealed, so the waiting time will be somewhat shorter with these.
Averages are helpful, but real examples are even better. In the list below, you’ll find the actual drying time and instructions for five popular grout brands:
SimpleGrout® PreMixed Grout: Let it dry for a minimum of 24 hours. For curing, leave it for 24 hours in temperatures above 50°F. For shower walls, let it cure for three days, and, for shower floors, let it cure for seven days. View the full instructions.
White Dry Non-Sanded Grout: Mist occasionally with clean, cool water for three days. For extra protection, seal the grout with SurfaceGard® Stone, Grout & Tile Sealer after the grout has had time to cure for between 48 and 72 hours. View the full instructions.
Starlike EVO Crystal Glass: After 24 hours, the grout can be exposed to light foot traffic. It’s ready to use and resistant to chemicals after five days, as long as the temperature has remained above 73°F. This is lengthened by low temperatures and shortened by higher temperatures. For example, if the temperature is around 60°F, it’ll take three days before it can be exposed to light foot traffic and ten days before it’s ready to use. View the full instructions.
Polyblend Plus Bright White Non-Sanded Grout: The curing time for this grout is affected by temperatures and humidity levels. For exterior projects, the manufacturer recommends misting the area occasionally with clean water for three days. Do not expose to wet weather elements for at least seven days and maintain temperatures above 50°F. For interior and protected installation, maintain a temperature of at least 50°F and leave for 72 hours. View the full instructions.
Factors That Impact the Drying Times of Grout
Although you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, several factors can speed up or slow down the grout’s drying time. Those factors include the type of grout, humidity levels, and whether you’re working indoors or outside.
Type of Grout
Depending on the type of grout you use, the recommended drying time can change. Here’s a look at a few common types of grout:
Cementitious grout: The average drying time for cementitious grout is 72 hours. Cementitious grout is a common material, typically used for residential projects. It’s a sand-like texture that you mix with water. Once you form a paste, apply it with a flat trowel. It contains a water-retentive additive that keeps the grout moist to slow down the drying time to ensure maximum hardness. Here are a couple of examples of popular cementitious grouts: Polyblend Plus, Starlike Crystal.
Sanded vs. unsanded grout: When using cementitious grout, you’ll face two options: sanded and unsanded. Sanded grout is less likely to shrink and crack, making it ideal for wider gaps and floor tiles. Unsanded grout is smoother and easier to apply to vertical surfaces like shower walls, but it’s only recommended where there is a grout joint less than ⅛” wide. The drying time is similar between sanded and unsanded grout, typically 72 hours, but you should wait even longer before exposing it to moisture.
Epoxy grout: The average drying time for epoxy grout is 24 hours. Epoxy grout contains epoxy resin and hardener, so it’s ideal for tiles that will be exposed to harsher materials, like acid and grease. It’s a more durable grout that’s resistant to stains, cracks, chemicals, and weather changes. It’s more expensive and difficult to apply since it dries quickly, but it lasts for a long time. Since this grout doesn’t always need to be sealed, it’s cured and ready to go much sooner than cementitious grout. Here are a couple of examples of popular epoxy grouts: Starlike Classic, Starlike Crystal.
Furan grout: The average drying time for furan grout is 24 hours. It’s quite similar to epoxy, but it’s made of polymers of fortified alcohol. As it cures, it creates a thermosetting resin to resist high temperatures and strong chemicals, so it’s typically used for brick pavers and quarry tile and in industrial settings like labs, breweries, meatpacking plants, and commercial kitchens.
If you’re unsure what kind of grout you have, the packaging will explain all the necessary instructions, including how long it should be left to cure.
Humidity levels also affect the drying time of grout. For example, a bathroom is usually the most humid room in the house, so the grout will take longer to dry there compared to the kitchen. It can also be affected by outdoor humidity. Grout often takes longer to dry in tropical climates like Florida than in desert climates like Las Vegas.
Indoor plants can also affect how long grout takes to dry. Plants, such as the lily and philodendron, release moisture, raising the humidity levels inside your home.
In general, the more moisture that’s in the air, the longer it takes for grout to dry.
Indoor vs. Outdoor
It takes grout longer to dry outdoors than indoors, especially if it’s humid, wet, snowy, rainy, or cold outside.
It takes at least seven days to cure outside, even in good weather. If you are expecting poor weather conditions, make sure the area is covered by tenting while allowing at least a foot of space for airflow.
Furthermore, before beginning a grouting project outside, make sure the temperature will be at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit for the next seven days.
For inside projects, most types of grout require 72 hours for the grout to cure.
How to Make Grout Dry Faster
In a rush to get your grout to dry faster? Because grout cures due to a chemical reaction, there’s not much you can do to speed up the curing time. But you can prevent it from slowing down due to external factors. For example, try these tips:
- Turn on the air conditioner or a dehumidifier to keep the air dry. The less moisture that’s in the air, the quicker it will dry.
- Run a fan to distribute air across the floor or walls.
- Remove plants from the room.
- If outside, protect the grout from external elements like rain, snow, and humidity.
What Happens if Grout Doesn’t Dry Properly
If grout doesn’t dry properly, here’s what can happen:Peels and flakes: This is usually related to applying the seal before the grout has fully dried. The grout can peel and flake, which reduces its overall strength and appearance.
Weak joints: If it doesn’t dry properly, grout can’t provide a strong joint between the tiles, resulting in holes, cracks, or gaps in the grout lines. These issues weaken the joints and allow moisture to sneak in under the tiles.
Crack and crumble: Not letting grout dry properly increases the chances of the grout cracking and crumbling. This usually occurs when you expose the grout to moisture before it’s fully cured.
Discoloration: This is especially noticeable if you use white or light-colored grout. Discoloration occurs if you don’t leave enough time for the grout to cure, creating an uneven color between tiles.
Mold and mildew: Not allowing the grout to dry properly increases the risk of mold and mildew build-up. It’s common to find mold and mildew in between tiles because of the porous nature of grout. The cracks, crumbles, weak joints, and flaking all allow moisture to penetrate the grout, which can lead to mold and mildew. If the mold grows behind the tiles, it can be impossible to remove without breaking the tile.
Drying Time of Grout Sealer
Adding a sealer after the grout fully cures adds durability, improving both the functionality and appearance. It makes the grout resistant to water, stains, and bacteria build-up.
Of course, you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and drying time. Some sealers can take two hours to dry, while others can take up to three days. The recommended time is usually around 24 hours.
Epoxy grout is already water-resistant, so it doesn’t usually require sealing. But this grout isn’t suitable for all tile types.
Let’s look at two examples of grout sealer to examine the difference between each manufacturer’s instructions. Hopefully, this encourages you to always read and follow the instructions before using any grout sealing product.
- TileLab 1 Gal. Grout and Tile Sealer: Let it dry for five minutes between the first two coats. After the second coat, wait two hours. Apply drops of water to the surface to check if it’s porous. If the water penetrates the grout immediately, apply another coat, and wait for another two to three hours.
- 6 oz. Grout Sealer with Bottle: For best results and longevity, keep the area dry and free from staining materials for 72 hours. However, the grout will be dry after 1-3 hours and may be exposed to moisture.
Plan for Inconvenience
Like any home renovation project, it’s important to plan for inconveniences. Most projects run into complications and delays, so factor in extra time to account for mistakes or unpredictable occurrences.
A few days of inconvenience outweighs the risk of damaging the grout by walking on it or exposing it to moisture too soon.
Here are some things you can do to make the waiting period less stressful:
- Make plans, so you’re not rushing to use the newly-grouted area. If it’s in your bathroom, plan to use another bathroom for a little while. If you’re grouting the kitchen, plan how you will make or buy your meals.
- Meal prep in advance so that you don’t have to cook.
- Move items to another room so you don’t increase foot traffic in the newly grouted area.
- If it’s a big job, make alternative accommodation arrangements. Use this as an excuse to go to a nice hotel or camping for a few days nearby, where you can still go back home to check on the grout or do some touch-ups.
When grouting, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Some recommend 24 hours of drying time, while others recommend up to 10 days. So it’s important to check.
Typically, cement-based grout takes 24-72 hours to cure, and epoxy and furan grouts take 24 hours. The best thing you can do is wait longer than the recommended drying time that’s listed on the manufacturer’s label.
Whatever type of grout you end up using, always plan for a few days of inconvenience as it dries.
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