The space between the tiles is called a “grout joint” and the main reason grout joints exist is to accommodate for slight sizing differences from tile to tile that are created during the manufacturing process. The grout joint enables the installer to adjust the tile to compensate for these sizing differences and allow for a straight grout line. Less variation in the tile size allows for a smaller grout joint. Due to the technology incorporated in the manufacturing of tile today, there is very little variation in size and therefore grout joint widths are generally much smaller than they have been in the past. Typically, we recommend grout joints being no less than a 1/8 of an inch however some precision cut tiles and stone can withstand a smaller grout joint.
Grout joints also exist is to accommodate tiles that expand and contract during cooling and heating cycles. The grout will actually compress to allow for this movement. Note that the smaller the grout joint and the larger the tile the less grout there is that can compress.
The filler in a grout joint is called “grout”. Grout comes in many different colors and can be as important in the design as the tile itself. Apart from the many colors, grout can be found with metallic as well as “glow in the dark” enhancements. But typically, a color that either matches or compliments the color of the tile is chosen.
The most economical grout on the market are cement based grouts. This type of grout has been used for many years. There are two types of cement based grout and they are sanded and non-sanded. Sanded grout is for any joint size over 1/8”. Non-sanded grout is for joints that are less than 1/8”.
Although cement based grouts are economical, easy to install and generally do the job they were designed to, they come with some inherent issues that you’ll need to be aware of like staining from contaminants and cracking and discoloration due to poor installation techniques.
Luckily, for a small investment, you can avoid all of the pitfalls of the old style of cement based grout by purchasing one of the new technologically advanced grouts that are on the market now.
The newer grouts:
- Are more stain resistant.
- Have superior color retention through-out the installation.
- Are easier to install and clean up.
- Are more dense and durable.
Examples of the new grouts on the market are:
Laticrete SpectraLock Pro is a high-performance epoxy grout that offers superior color uniformity, durability and the stain resistance of epoxy grout. This high-performance grout inhibits the growth of stain-causing mold and mildew in the grout joints with use of Microban antimicrobial protection. The finished grout joint has an even uniform color with no blotchiness or shading and is easy to maintain the original color. Due to its density, there is no need for topical sealers. One grout fits all joint sizes.
Quartzlock 2 is a pre-mixed urethane grout. Just open the lid and use. When you are done simply close the lid and store the rest.
r Grout (for grout joints 1/16″ to 1/2″)
Latricrete PermaColor offers the maximum performance available in a cement-based grout by providing consistent color and grout joint that is dense and hard. PermaColor utilizes Microban to resist stain-causing mold and mildew. One grout fits all joint sizes from 1/16” to 1/2”.
It’s important to note that all corner joints need to be filled with a flexible acrylic or silicone caulk. At Conestoga Tile we have both acrylic and silicone caulk to match all grout colors.
Visit a Conestoga Tile showroom to see the wide selection of grout colors and learn more about the performance characteristics of the grouts listed above.