A new installation of beautiful tile can improve the look and value of a room in your home. Tile installation can be a costly and labor-intensive process, so you must take care to let the work dry properly. Unlike some other projects, you cannot return to regular use of the rooms with newly installed tile floors. There is a window of time where you need to avoid stepping or putting weight on the floor as much as possible.
After installing the new tile, you should wait at least 24 hours before putting any amount of weight on the flooring whatsoever. It is best to wait 48 to 72 hours to ensure that everything has been set and dried appropriately before walking over the new tile. Putting weight on tiles before the mortar, grout, and sealant have fully cured can cause the tiles to shift and even break apart.
Continue reading to learn more about the steps following tile setting and how long before you can resume using it regularly. There are more variables to take into account than just timing.
What Affects Your Wait Time?
The most important thing your new tile flooring needs after being installed is time. 48-72 hours is the ideal amount of time to wait to ensure that there is the least possible damage. It will still do no harm to wait an extra day if the conditions in your home are not ideal for a regular grout drying process.
One tip for tiling a large room is to work in stages and so that you can have some walkable pathway while you finish the rest of the floor.
Humidity and temperature in a room can affect the amount of time it takes your freshly installed grout to set up. If you've installed tile in a humid room with more moisture in the air, then the drying process will be slowed down. Decreasing the humidity in a room by adding a small fan or turning on the air conditioner can help to reduce the drying time.
Grout and tile adhesive do not make sure or set as quickly when the temperatures are cooler. The ideal temperature for drying these elements is around 70 degrees. Manufacturers recommend between 50 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit as a general rule of thumb.
Some companies provide 18-degree rules: for every 18 degrees below 70, their products will take twice as long to cure. Keep the humidity and temperature of the environment in mind when working on any tile installation job.
If you do have to traverse tile before giving it the time it needs to dry properly, there is a way to minimize the possible damage. A large, flat, clean piece of plywood laid out over the tile would limit the potential damages. This solution distributes the pressure so that one or two tiles do not absorb the brunt of the footstep's weight.
What Happens if You Step on Wet Tile?
Even a light step or shift of the weight on wet tile can ruin the installation and end up being a very costly mistake. Stepping on an unset tile will cause it to compress downwards and push the adhesive and grout outwards. This can cause the affected tile and others around it to warp and move out of place.
When you lift your foot off of the tile, the pressure release can cause the tile to lift up from the adhesive as well. This could lead to loose tiles or air pockets forming underneath the surface. For help picking the best kind of tile for kitchen projects, read our post, "6 Best Types of Tiles For Kitchen Floors".
How Long Does it Take Floor Tiles to Set?
Once you have spaced and placed all the tiles on the adhesive layer, the last step is to add the grout. The group is the last element to finish setting into place before you can walk on the floor. The tiles themselves will begin to set with the adhesive after 24 hours.
However, the grout then needs to be applied, and you should wait for another 24 to 48 hours after that before resuming regular use of the floor. The adhesive bond alone is fragile, and tiles can move or break if stepped on before the grout has been added.
How Long After Tiling Can You Grout?
The basic adhesive layer underneath tiles can cure in 24 to 48 hours. Each manufacturer has its own formula, so it is best to look for some indication from them as to how long it will take. If you add grout before the adhesive has finished drying, then it can keep the adhesion weak. The result would be the tile shifting around and pinching the space between other tiles causing the grout to come up.
Make sure to carefully read the instructions before installing the grout between tiles to avoid making the drying process take longer. If you are grouting your bathroom and wondering how to match it to the walls, check out our article, "Should Floor And Wall Grout Match?"
How Long After Sealing Tile Can You Walk on it?
Sealing is a process wherein a sealing product is added to the tile's surface to prevent the micro-pores of the tile from becoming dirty or damaged. Most sealing will be touch-dry in about 4 hours. That means you can resume regular usage of the floor 4 hours after the sealing job is complete.
You should still not mop the sealed tile floor for 24 hours as, even though it is dry to the touch, it may not have chemically cured. It's best to avoid the possibility of removing and washing away the sealant layer with cleaning chemicals.
How do You Get Rid of Bad Grout Haze?
After you apply the grout to the new tile, you may notice that some thin film of grout has dried over on the tile surfaces. This is commonly referred to as grout haze and can leave a dusty and undesirable appearance.
Grout haze often happens because when the grout mixture is wet, you will not notice the tiny deposits that have been smeared over the tiles. There are many ways to clean grout haze, but the most common is a watered-down vinegar cleaning solution.
When dealing with grout haze, you have to strike a balance between letting the grout settle but not letting it harden all the way. If the grout is too wet, you may end up clearing off some of the regular grout you intended to stay in place while removing the haze. If the grout has been set all the way, on the other hand, you may need more heavy machinery or special tools to remove the haze.
For lighter grout haze removal, you can use a scrubbing pad and a mixture of diluted vinegar. When you have fully hardened grout haze that can't be removed easily, call a professional so they can get it off without damaging the tile underneath.
It's Worth the Wait
A lot of time, hard work, and money can go into new tile flooring installations. One wrong move or step can cause damage that will set the entire project back. It is better to be overly cautious and give more time than you think before resuming full foot traffic over newly installed tile flooring.
Few things can improve the look, feel, and even value of a kitchen or bathroom more than shiny new tile flooring, so it's well worth waiting for the job to be complete.