Figure 6-13: Clear Floor Space required in kitchens (C) J Wiley, S Bliss Guide to Ceramic & Stone Floor Tile Grouting Materials & Procedures

  • GROUT INSTALLATION, TILE - CONTENTS: Grout Installation Guide for Ceramic & Stone Tile Jobs. Properties of Sanded vs. Un sanded Tile Grout. Polymer Additives for Tile Grout. Use Epoxy Tile Grouts to Resist Stains. Instructions for Tile Preparation & Tile Grouting. Grout Installation Details: Mixing & Application. Damp Curing Recommended for Portland cement grout. Guide to Using Tile Grout Sealers.
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how to grout tile joints for a clean, lasting grout job.

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Tile grout installation procedures: how to grout tile floors or walls. this article discusses the types and installation of grout for ceramic, stone, and similar floor tiles.

We address the installation details for each of these tile types. This article series discusses current best design practices for kitchens and bathrooms, including layout, clearances, work space, and accessible kitchen and bathroom layout, clearances, turning space, grab bars, controls, etc.

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Grout Installation Guide for Ceramic & Stone Tile Jobs

Ceramic tile installed, setting before grouting (C) D Friedman Eric GalowWe include advice on choosing and installing kitchen countertops, cabinets, and kitchen or bathroom flooring, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures and fixture controls such as faucets. A list of kitchen and bath product manufactures and sources is included. This article includes excerpts or adaptations from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss, courtesy of Wiley & Sons.

Our photo (left) illustrates a ceramic tile bath floor having been set using spacers. The floor tiles are allowed to set completely in the thin-set mortar before removing the spacers to begin the grout job. Photo courtesy Galow Homes.

A high-quality grout job makes a tile installation stronger, more attractive, and easier to clean. Properly formed joints are generally flat for square-edge tiles and slightly concave for rounded-edge tiles.

Standard grout is a mixture of Portland cement and additives to control its texture and cure time, along with pigments if the grout is colored. In general, floors do best with a basic gray or other dark grout. White and light colors show stains the most. Most grouts also contain latex or acrylic additives to improve their performance.

Properties of Sanded vs. Un sanded Tile Grout

Grout installation (C) D Friedman Eric GalowSand is added to grout to strengthen the grout where joints are wider than 1/8 inch. For joints wider than 1/2 inch, special grout with coarser sand is recommended.

Our photo (left) illustrates the tile grout job at the intermediate stage of partial cleaning. Final cleaning of the champfered edges of these floor tiles was very important for an attractive end job, but we had to complete the grout haze cleanoff in stages.

The first two cleanings left a bit of grout on the edges of the tiles that could not be cleaned properly until grout in the tile joints had set more completely. But if we had not performed an initial cleaning of the upper tile surfaces while waiting for that set stage, tile surface cleaning would have been quite difficult.

Polymer Additives for Tile Grout

Tile grout job completed (C) D Friedman Eric GalowMost grouts now have latex or acrylic compounds added either to the dry mix at the factory or as liquid on the job site.

These polymer additives make the grout more water-resistant, flexible, and stain resistant, and, with colored grouts, better able to maintain a consistent color.

Although cured grout, like other masonry products, is unaffected by water, it cannot be relied on as a waterproof material.

Our photo (left) shows the completed tile and grout job. Notice that we did not install the floor trim tile baseboard until the floor itself had been completed.

Use Epoxy Tile Grouts to Resist Stains

For a higher degree of stain-resistance as well as moderate resistance to some chemicals, epoxy grout is a good option for applications such as showers, bathroom floors, or heavily used kitchen counters. One type, called epoxy-emulsion grout, mixes a two-part epoxy with Portland cement and sand.

Another, called 100%- solids epoxy, mixes two-part epoxy with silica sand filler. Both types require precise mixing and installation. If joint cleaning is rushed, the grout pulls out and smears the tile; too much delay causes it to harden before you can shape the joints. If installed correctly, however, epoxy grout offers excellent protection against staining and does not require sealing. Epoxy grout will yellow slightly over time, however, particularly if exposed to direct sunlight.

Instructions for Tile Preparation & Tile Grouting

Allow the adhesive to dry at least overnight, or longer if recommended by the manufacturer, before grouting. Clean any adhesive or foreign matter from the grout joints. If the tiles are nonvitreous and unglazed, as with handmade pavers, they may need to be sealed prior to grouting to prevent staining. Also, light-colored glazed tiles may need to be sealed to prevent stains from dark colored grouts.

With nonvitreous tiles, which soak up moisture, it is best to mist or sponge the tiles just before grouting so the grout will cure properly. For best results, maintain the room temperature between 50°F and 80°F during grouting and curing.

Grout Installation Details: Mixing & Application

Figure 6-36: Ceramic Tile Setting Compound Guide (C) J Wiley S Bliss

Mix the tile grout by hand or with a paddle bit run at slow speed (air bubbles from fast mixing will weaker the mix).

[Click to enlarge any image]

After letting the grout “slake” for 10 minutes, which allows the ingredients to fully react, the material is remixed and ready to apply as follows, working one small area of several square feet at time (see Figure 6-40 at left):

1. Using a rubber grout float held at about 45 degrees to the tiles, force the grout into the joints from several directions.

2. Scrape away the excess grout with the float held at about 90 degrees to the surface.

3. Once the grout is firm, typically in 15 to 30 minutes, clean the surface of the tiles with a sweeping motion, using a large clean round-edged sponge squeezed as dry as possible (water splashed on the joint lines can weaken the grout or cause splotchy coloring).

4. First remove the excess grout from the face of the tiles, then concentrate on shaping the grout joints. Rinse the sponge frequently, always keeping it as dry as possible.

5. Clean until just a light haze remains, which can be wiped off with a damp rag when the grout is dry.

Now is also the time to pack fresh grout into any voids you discover and clean the grout out of any “soft joints” that are to be filled with sealant.

Use the tip of a margin trowel to clean up any corners or problem joints.

With sanded grout, it is also a good idea to strike the joints with a curved metal implement, such as the back of a spoon, a steel chisel handle, or the side of a nail set to help force any exposed sand below the surface.

This make the joint smoother and easier to clean.

Damp Curing Recommended for Portland cement grout

Traditional Portland cement grout requires several days of damp curing to reach its full strength. This was typically done by covering the freshly grouted tile with Kraft paper and periodically misting or sponging the tile.

Most modern grouts with latex or acrylic additives, however, do not require wet curing except in very hot, dry weather. As with all tile products, check the label for instructions.

Guide to Using Tile Grout Sealers

While latex or acrylic additives help protect the grout from staining, sealing the grout after it cures provides the best protection. There are a wide variety of products on the market.

Consult the directions regarding when and how often to apply. Many require reapplication annually or more often, depending on the specific use. Regardless, to keep grout from darkening and staining, it will need regular cleaning with a grout cleaner or mild detergent. Avoid oil-based soaps as they tend to darken grout.

Ceramic Tile-Setting Material Manufacturer List

Bonsal American Setting compounds, grouts, preformed shower pans, curbs, and niches. Also, distributor of backerboards, isolation membranes, and other tile-setting products

Color Caulk, div. of Roanoke Companies Group Color-matched caulking

Custom Building Products Elastomeric and liquid-applied membranes, self-leveling underlayments, setting compounds, and grouts

Laticrete International Trowel-on membranes, self-leveling underlayments, setting compounds, grouts, and sealants

Noble Company CPE sheet membranes, trowel-on membranes, clamping ring drains, and preformed slopes, niches, and curbs

Mapei Trowel-on and sheet membranes, self-leveling underlayments, setting compounds, grouts, and color-matched sanded caulks

Ceramic Tile Backerboard Producers

-- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.

Ceramic Tile Articles


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