One area of a typical tile floor installation that is often overlooked is the actual size of the width of the grout joint between the tiles. Many times, the decision is ultimately made by the tile setter at the time of installation, with little or no input from the homeowner. While a good percentage of jobs are completed to the satisfaction of the homeowner, we have experienced cases where end users were dissatisfied because they expected one thing and got something different.
As with any home improvement project, communication is extremely important, so end users should have a conversation regarding the grout joint size prior to installation. Once the job is done, it’s virtually impossible to correct, so be sure to speak up and talk with your tile setter before the installation starts.
An acceptable grout joint size is primarily the function of two key factors: 1) a true and level surface in which the tile is being installed over, and 2) the range in facial dimensions of the tiles within the field of the installation. Other important factors include the basic rule of thumb that the more level the surface plain, the narrower the grout joint can be held. Also, the grout joint can be held narrower if there is little irregularity in sizing from tile to tile. For example, rectified tiles (tiles produced with a square edge that tend to have little deviation in size) allow for narrower joints. Rustic, irregular size tiles and tiles with a hand-molded or hand-crafted look, on the other hand, are usually set with a wider joint.
Most homeowners prefer less grout to more, and occasionally we hear the question “Do I even need a grout joint?” The answer is yes. In no circumstance should any tile be set with a grout joint less than 1/16”. This allows for structural movement in the building, as well as thermal expansion that takes place when tiles warm or cool.
The width of the grout joint between the tiles is important for both aesthetic and structural purposes. A good discussion with your tile setter can determine the best width for your project and will lead to the look you desire.
If you have additional questions about the importance of the size of the width of grout joints, contact Conestoga Tile today at 888-415-5689. We are happy to assist you with your questions.
Image 1 from Senecatiles.com; image 2 from Mosa.nl.