I got the wall grouted today. As the title suggests, it was, um, messy.
Standard procedure when grouting a floor is to dump a whole bunch of the stuff out of the bucket and use a large, rubber float to push it into the space between the tiles. Gravity is your accomplice.
Grouting a vertical surface is much different. In this case, gravity is your nemesis, and the trick is to try and dump as little as possible. I found that the best way make this work is to grab a handful and smear it around the wall like, um..., like..., well, let's skip the analogy.
Once the grout has been shoved into all of the cracks, the fun ends and the work begins. And the mess continues. Excess grout is wiped off by using a bucket of water and a large sponge. The sponges get covered in grout very quickly and need to be rinsed often. The buckets fill up with grout quickly and need to be changed often. Smart tile people use several buckets of water and many large sponges, but I only had one of each.
Years ago, when I did grout for the first time, my contractor brother-in-law was helping. I filled the bucket the quickest way I knew how - in the bathtub, with both faucets turned on. He stuck his hand in the water and looked up at me in shock. "Warm water? I've never done this with warm water before. Usually at a construction site we use a bucket full of melted snow."
Once the tiles have been wiped and wiped and wiped and wiped, the rest of the grout is left to dry, and buffed off with a dry towel.
Now it should only be another month or so before the little gritty grout grains are finally cleaned up from where they got tracked all over the house.