Uncle Bobs Tips

All About Grout

All About Grout

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Grout is a nifty substance that is easy to apply and has multiple benefits. Even the novice DIY-er will find grouting floor, countertop, and shower tiles to be a fairly simple project. Let's take a look at what grout is all about before we talk about

What It Is

There are different types of grout both in make and in usage. The three main categories are cement, resin or epoxy grouts. Within these grout types there is also the choice of sanded or non-sanded grout, which means sand is either added or left out from the grout composition.

Cement grout is (usually) a Portland cement-based powder. Many companies add latex or acrylic modifiers to strengthen their grip. Latex modified cement is like a booster pack to regular cement, and is great for more durable water resistance. Cement is weaker than epoxy, but easier to work with.

Resin is used for more professional jobs due to the necessity of specialized equipment and procedure. It is much stronger because it is alcohol-based, rather than water-based. To apply, you must first cover tiles thoroughly and excess can only be removed by steaming. The good thing about resin grout is that it withstands chemical exposure.

Epoxy is extremely resilient to contact with water. It is more expensive, but heavy-duty stuff.

Caulking grout is great for hard to reach areas because it is squeezed out of a gun (like caulk).

What It Does

Grout is used to fill the gaps between tiles on walls, floors, countertops, tubs and shower surrounds. Full grout joints don't just look better; they're also easier to clean and serve to protect the delicate edges of your ceramic tiles. Different projects will see more success with specific types of grout, so it's important to know which one to use when (see above and below).

Cement grout is commonly used for wall tiles and other small gaps. The rule with cement grout is to use it for joints measuring 1/8 of an inch or less.

Sanded grout (wall grout+fine sand) is used for larger gaps as the cement version often shrinks in wider spaces, leaving an unfinished space. The sand acts as space filler so the grout won't shrink down on you during the curing process.

Things To Look Out For

Grout comes in several colors, and, while color is not a crucial factor, it is certainly an aesthetic necessity. Decide if you'd like to go light or dark, to accent or highlight your tiles. A lighter color will show off attractive tiles or decorative patterns while darker colors will accentuate the overall geometric design of the project.

Another thing to notice is what type of grout you're working with vis-a-vis surface area. Some grout needs a slightly moist surface, while others will only work when applied to a dry surface.

Non shrink grout (a.k.a. cementious) sets rapidly, holds firmly, and, best of all, won't shrink during curation. The grout materials offset the natural shrinkage in the cement. Note that this advantage may also result in volume increase over time, so be aware of that when leaving for long-term storage. Non-shrink grout is used for 1/4 inch- 24" deep gaps and most commonly used for equipment base plates, columns and rails (to swallow the vibrations and heat, although not extreme vibration or temperatures) and anchoring bolts. Be sure to get a quality non shrink grout as some of the cheaper ones are made with metal fillings, which corrode with time, leaving gaps in your grouting.

Common Mistakes and Tips (also see trouble shooting tips)

- Adding too much water to the powder

Solution: Add more grout powder to thicken the solution. For future projects, only mix part of the bag at one time this way if you add too much water, you can always add more grout powder later. Only mix as much grout as you will be able to use in about 25-30 minutes/to cover approximately 4 sq. ft. More than that, the grout will be difficult to manage. Adding water later on in the procedure can be counterproductive to the entire bonding process. The consistency should be thick enough that it sticks to a tool, rather than drips or oozes off.

- Grouting yourself into a corner

Solution: Think before you start, where am I going to end off? Don't grout yourself into a corner, and DO NOT step on, kneel, or lean on freshly grouted tiles

- Grout can be affected by colorants in lotions etc. (ex shower or body products). Before you choose a grout color, bear this fact in mind.

- If this is a new tub tiling project make sure the bottom row of tiles go on without grout along the horizontal edge butting the tub. This row needs to be caulked with good quality, real silicone caulk. Now you're going to laugh, but this is one of the best tips you're going to hear on tiling. To get an accurate sizing of the caulk line, get into your pool gear, fill the tub all the way and jump in. All that added weight will give you a good indication of the real gap that will occur when bathing. That's the hole you'll want to fill. Wait a bit, maybe even enjoy a nice relaxing bath, before caulking up the gap to ensure maximum shifting has occurred.

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