November 12, 2019 | Updated: April 11, 2022
When it comes to laying tiles, the importance of grouting and its professional execution is hard to overestimate.
Whether it be flooring or wall tiling, the choice of grout will impact greatly the aesthetics and the performance of the finished surface. As grouting is something that should only have to be done once it’s critical to get it right the first time.
Here below we look at simple recommendations and the differences between grouting for flooring, wall tiles, mosaics etc. as well as cleaning tips. However, it’s important to keep in mind that for the optimum results, the tiling professional will generally produce a better and longer-lasting overall finish.
With regards to tiling, grout is defined as a dense fluid type substance used to seal the joints between individual tiles. Usually, grout is made with a mixture of water, cement and sand although there are other specialist types. Grout should provide a water-resistant seal and prevent moisture penetration. Therefore, the width of the joints is critical to its performance. Grouting is not used to actually fix the tiles to the surface rather it just pertains to the joints.
The main difference between grouting floors and grouting walls is the impact of gravity. Thus, it works in favour in the first scenario and against it in the second. In practical terms, this means that the joints between the wall tiles should be thinner than those between floors. Approximately 3mm for walls and 5mm for floors. In any case, unless otherwise specified, the minimum joint is always 1.5 mm.
However, the width of the joints depends on the type of tiles as well as the overall area to be tiled. A 5mm min joint, for example, is recommended for areas larger than 3 sq.m. Make sure that the joints are filled with grout to keep moisture out. The tile pattern is also critical. Good planning will ensure less grout wastage and tile cutting.
There are three main types of grout: wall tile grout, floor tile grout and specialist grout. The main difference is that sand is usually present for flooring because it helps avoid shrinkage that can lead to breakage. Grout can also be coloured and this is critical to the finished effect, especially for walls.
Specialist types of grout, such as the Butech range, include epoxy grout material for more demanding situations. Butech products are suitable for natural stone, glass, mosaic and other types of ceramic tiles with relief as well as pools and other permanently damp environments.
Colours: Anthracite, Moka, Dark, Nacaré, Vanilla, White, Graphite, Wenge, Maple, Ash, Doussie, Iroko, Oak, Elm, Beech, Honey
A coloured cement-based mortar for grouting tile joints up to 4 mm in thickness. Particularly suitable for grouting rectified ceramic tiles that are prone to scratching and ceramic parquet floors.
Colours: Manhattan, Cement, Anthracite, Caramel, Moka, Tobacco, Black, White, Grey, Ivory, Beige, Brown, Oak, Perla
A coloured cement-based mortar with fast setting and hardening times for grouting tile joints up to 15 mm in thickness. Suitable for all ceramic tile and natural stone surfaces. Both indoors and outdoors.
Colours: Manhattan, Cement, Anthracite, Moka, Black, White, Grey, Ivory, Beige, Brown, Perla
A coloured cement-based mortar for grouting tile joints ranging from 0 to 4 mm in thickness. Suitable for all ceramic tile and natural stone surfaces. Both indoors and out.
Colours: Manhattan, Cement, Anthracite, Tobacco, Black, White, Grey, Ivory, Beige
Two-component epoxy putty. Suitable for grouting joints ranging from 0 to 10 mm in thickness. Both indoor and outdoor floor and wall tiles.
Colours: Wenge, Maple, Ash, Doussie, Iroko, Oak, Elm, Beech, Honey
Micro-grain porcelain grout for the sealing of joints in porcelain tiles that reproduce the appearance and texture of wood, such as the PAR-KER collection.
Firstly ensure that the tile adhesive has been set, and remove all moisture from the tile surface. Some grouts are quick-drying, so particular attention must be paid as grout must never be allowed to dry out before completing the work. Joints must be clean with a uniform depth of at least ¾ the thickness of the tile. Do not use metal tools or anything else that is liable to scratch the tile surface. Use a generous amount of grout pressing hard into the joints. Allow drying slightly before cleaning off with a sponge or wet cloth which should be moved in a diagonal direction to the tile pattern.
Cleaning the grout off the tiles is critical during installation. Once the works are complete one of the simplest and most effective ways to clean the grouting between tiles is to prepare a solution of one part white vinegar and one part water, put it in a spray bottle and apply it liberally to the grouting. Wait for a few moments and then clean vigorously with a scrubbing brush or a toothbrush.
When it comes to how to grout mosaic tiles, the type of material must be factored in. For example, if the tile is non-ceramic or has an enamel finish, because of chemical reactions, a test patch should be undertaken. The colour, joint width and the profile of the grouting become much more impacting for mosaics. Because there are more joints than for normal-sized tiles, the grout itself becomes part of the composition and so should be considered as such.
Here are some recommendations for tile joints that take into account various situations: