If you’re just learning how to tile, you will hear this word a lot. So, what is grout? Why do you need it? Is there a right and wrong one to use? In this blog we will teach you everything you need to know.
What is grout?
Using an adhesive / mortar mix when laying tiles on walls or floors is necessary. Once it has dried and become secure, the space in between the tiles must be filled. This is where you use grout. It’s a dense fluid used to bond and seal the joints between tiles, creating a seamless appearance.
An added benefit is that grout makes everything look appealing after it’s applied. When applied, a compressible joint is created to alleviate minor stresses within the installation (not to be confused with movement joints, which are still required) and provides a neat transition between adjacent tiles to accommodate manufacturing tolerances within tiles.
Why you need it
Grout is a necessary and integral part of many tile jobs. It keeps moisture out of the substrate, helps keep tile lines straight and prevents tiles from rubbing against one another and cracking.
Any job completed without grout isn’t likely to last, so while you can technically get away without grouting if you’re in a dry space with less than 0.0025” of space between tiles, we highly recommend that you always use it anyway. The application may be tedious, but the pros vastly outweigh the cons. Grout protects against cracking, uneven tiling, and debris collection between the tiles.
Choosing the right one
Now you know what grout is and why you need to use it; which one do you use? There are a lot of options. Knowing which one to use is integral to successful tile installation, and it all starts with measuring the space between the tiles. If the space is larger than 1/8th of an inch, use sanded grout. Un-sanded options will shrink as it cures and not fill the joint completely.
If the gap between the tiles is smaller than 1/8th of an inch, you can use un-sanded, acrylic latex, or epoxy options to fill the tile joints.
Sanded grout is for large joints – anything 1/8” of an inch or greater. The sand mixed in the material helps hold it in the joints and should be mixed to a consistency similar to peanut butter. It will have a sand-like texture after its cured. Remove any excess grout from the surface before it’s fully cured.
Note: Never use sanded grout with marble tiles. The sand will scratch the marble. Instead, use one of the other options available to you.
An un-sanded grout is used for smaller joints that measure 1/8” of an inch or less. Using sanded material in smaller joints will result in too much sand and not enough grout. Un-sanded options may require extra pressure to work it into those smaller joints. It is important to fill the joints completely, otherwise your grout may collapse. Un-sanded grout should also be mixed to a peanut butter like consistency and should not be allowed to cure on the tile’s surface.
Epoxy grout is very different from the other types we’ve talked about. This material is non-porous and never needs to be sealed. It also prevents bacteria from growing and is less likely to crack over time.
Epoxy is ideal for countertops, outdoor patios, pool decks and waterline pool tile. It is also much more expensive than traditional options and is subject to a very short ‘open time’ (i.e., the time you have to work with the material before it becomes too hard to use). The open time is manufacturer specific; be sure to find out how much open time your epoxy grout will have before mixing it.
Now you know everything there is to know about grout, make sure you share this blog with your friends and colleagues and stay tuned for our next post for more tips and tricks for the best tile installation.