WHAT IS IT REALLY?
Grout? What is it really? It is the material that is applied to the spaces between tiles after the tile adhesive has fully cured during a tile installation.
The most common type of grout used to fill in the spaces between ceramic and other tile during installation is composed of graded aggregate, Portland cement, water dispersing agents, plasticizers, and color fast pigments. In more simple terms, it is the combination of cement, water, and colorant and is sometimes called cement-based or cementitious grout.
Cementitious grout comes in both premixed and powered forms. Powdered grout has to be mixed with water before use, while premixed grout comes in tubs and is convenient for small jobs.
Older cement-based grout was brittle and prone to cracking. It also dried irregularly, leaving colors inconsistent. Today's grouts contain polymer additives, which ensure color quality and increased flexibility, allowing for joint (space) widths of up to 1 1/4 inches.
WHY DO WE NEED TO USE GROUT?
Hard tile for flooring, as well as the tile in wall and countertop installation, is placed into an adhesive backing such as mortar or mastic with gaps between each tile.
This is to prevent the cracking that could occur if and when the materials expand or contract against one another during temperature shifts.
These gaps could allow moisture and germs to penetrate down into the mortar and down to the sub material.
Grout is used to seal the gaps between the tiles because it allows for the expansion and contraction of floor tile over time and prevents moisture and germ penetration.
Grout creates a floor, wall or countertop which is stronger, prevents the edges of the tiles from chipping and cracking, keeps out water, and gives the entire area a finished look with tiles that are perfectly aligned.
In certain situations such as in a shower floor construction of 1"x1" or 2"x2" mosaic tiles are used, the grout every inch or two provides a good amount of slip resistance as well.
BASIC TYPES OF GROUT
3 Basic Types of Common Grout:
- Cement Based Unsanded. Grout without sand is used when the space between tiles or stones are 1/8" wide or less.
- Cement Based Sanded. Grout with sand is used when the space between tiles or stones is greater than 1/8" wide. The sand helps bulk up the grout and keeps it from shrinking in the joints. Sanded grout can be a little more difficult to work with than non-sanded, but it is used because it is stronger and helps prevent cracking in wide joints.
- Epoxy. This type of grout contains neither cement nor water and is instead a combination of epoxy resin, silica fillers, pigments, and a hardener. It is much less porous than the cement type grouts and is used in more complicated installations or in areas where acids and greases occur (such as in a kitchen) where maximum stain resistance is needed.
Epoxy grouts also come in both sanded and unsanded forms but the type of sand is different from that found in cementitious grouts.
When using epoxy grout with porous and unglazed tiles such as limestone or quarry, the tiles should be sealed before grouting since the epoxy grout can badly stain tile surfaces such as these.
Epoxy grouts do not need to be sealed. If they do get stains, they can be scrubbed with a mixture of bleach and water or vinegar and water to clean.
OTHER NOT SO COMMON TYPES OF GROUT
Please continue reading here for more information about grout including how it is installed and information on sealers and why most grout needs to be sealed regularly.