When it comes to laying tiles the importance of the grouting and its professional execution is hard to over estimate. Whether it be flooring or wall tiling the choice of grout will impact greatly on 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 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.
What is grout?
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.
Grouting for floors and walls
The main difference between grouting for floors and walls is that gravity is working for you in the former and against you in the latter instance. In practical terms this means that the joints between wall tiles should be a minimum width of 3mm and 5mm for flooring. However the width of the joints depends on the type of tiles as well as the overall area to be tiled, for surfaces measuring over 3 sq.m. 5mm min joint is recommended. Ensure that the joints are filled with grout which will help keep any moisture out. The layout of the tiles is also critical, good planning will ensure less grout wastage and tile cutting.
Types of grout
There are three main types of group, 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.
Joint size, tile types and different situations
Tiles with an uneven surface and anti-slip tiles require special attention, removing excess grouting is critical. When it comes to how to grout mosaic tiles the type of material must be factored in, i.e. 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. In terms of how to grout bathroom tiles keeping moisture out becomes critical as well as ensuring anti-bacterial grouting is used to prevent mould forming. And regarding how to grout metro tiles the narrower the joint the better in terms of the overall effect, so perhaps an epoxy product should be considered. For under-floor heating joints in tiles must be a min 3mm in width.
How to grout correctly
Firstly ensure that the tile adhesive has 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 to dry slightly before cleaning off with a sponge or wet cloth which should be moved in a diagonal direction to the tile pattern.
How to clean grout off tiles and how to clean grout between tiles
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 liberally to the grouting. Wait for a few moments and then clean vigorously with a scrubbing brush or a toothbrush.