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I am doing a kitchen backsplash, and I just grouted the coffee bar area. I still have the 2 main kitchen walls to do and I have a few questions before I do the rest.

The biggest thing is the grout color. I know there are many ways to mess up the grout color. I'm actually happy with how it turned out, but something interesting happened. I grouted from top to bottom, and at the bottom the grout in the bucket was almost set up so I barely finished. It's hard to tell in the picture, but the grout color at the top is pretty accurate, but it seems to fade into white at the bottom where I grouted later (and was closer to setting).

So I lost the color in the bottom 1/3rd (it should be light tan, but it's white). I don't think I did anything differently in terms of washing. Is there any relationship to how close to setting and grout color? Should I stop if the grout is getting hard to work with from the bucket?

I'm happy because at least the color doesn't vary from tile to tile, and I don't mind the way it is.

A few notes:

  • I'm using Prism grout. I followed the instructions exactly. Hand mixed with cool water, let it slake for 5 min, and remixed. I applied grout, after ~10 min it was set and I washed with a sponge
  • No matter how hard I ring out a sponge, it seems to be holding a lot of water and it's hard to wash without having a lot of water around. Should I get different sponges? (I'm using grout sponges from lowes)
  • These tiles have a really large rounded edge, so it's difficult to remove the grout from the edges without washing more aggressively. Any tips here?
  • While I feel like I washed too much, I did just as much washing at the top which didn't remove color, so I don't think it was the washing

my tile

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Only mix as much grout as you can use in one go without having it set up on you. That may require carefully weighing water and grout rather than mixing up a whole bag at once. You may have issues with the grout that had started to set when it was applied not holding up well over time, and that may indeed be the cause of the color difference.

Mix it throughly - that can be another cause of "different color depending on where in the bucket it came from." i.e. if you mixed it around without pulling up from the bottom you can get stratification effects.

Most grout makers suggest that even for grout with the same code number you should mix all the dry grout for a project together for best color consistency, as it can vary bag to bag. Of course this also conveniently (from their point of view) means you can't return any extra bags of grout to the store.

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  • Next time I'll mix only half a bag and continue to mix the bucket while I'm working. That's probably the reason: I wasn't fully mixing the bucket enough while I was working so towards the bottom the color changed. I did make sure the two bags in the box had the same code number, and wanted to use a full bag so I could follow instructions exactly (no custom grout/water amount) but next time I'll dry mix it all and weigh out just what I can use
    – James Long
    Commented Apr 29 at 15:20
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Once you start to apply the grout, continue to mix it in the bucket and only mix what you can use in your time frame. There shouldn't be a lot of water running around when cleaning off the tiles. Wring the heck out of those sponges with both hands. The sponges from Lowes should be fine. Also, use a fairly firm float.. you are using a float, right?. Clean the tiles off and smooth the grout as much as possible with the float and use the sponges as a final clean and touch up.

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  • Yes I'm using a float! will try to smooth it more with the float next time. The large rounded edges of this tile makes it difficult because I basically have to run the float along the line to actually pull the grout out to get my line (otherwise it's way too large). However doing this also will pull the fresh grout out, so I need to figure out when I can do that without pulling the grout out. Maybe let it set a little then do that right before washing
    – James Long
    Commented Apr 29 at 15:16

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