Why Grout Is Just as Important as Tile

grout

What’s under your feet is as important as anything around the house. That’s why this fall, we collaborated with The Home Depot on an A-to-Z guide that will give you the confidence to make the flooring choices you’ll love. Read the manual from A to Z here.

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Tile has one of the biggest personalities in the flooring world and loves to be the center of attention. It always attracts a lot of “oohs!” and “ahhs!” visitors, whether in a splashy entryway or a serene bathroom.

It’s time, however, for these masterpieces to start sharing the limelight – and the credit! – with their sidekick: the coulis. The Home Depot is a true one-stop-shop for tiling, whether you plan to hire a professional or DIY a tile (or even a backsplash or shower). Knowing a thing or two about grouting will help you in either case.

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The project dictates the type of grout

Usually sold as a powder with the addition of water or pre-mixed, grout is a mixture of cement, sand, and water that fills the grooves between each tile. It comes in a variety of hues and can dramatically change the look of tiles, whether that’s adding a deeper level of contrast (think white subway tile, black grout) or complementing it for a more look. uniform (white metro tile, white grout).

Sanded grout is used when the seams – the space between tiles – is greater than 1/8 ” and is the ideal solution for most flooring projects due to the fact that it is more resistant to cracking. Unsanded grout, on the other hand, has a thinner consistency and is best suited for vertical tile work, such as a back splash. (An exception to the rule is when working with a softer material like marble, which requires an unsanded grout due to its delicate nature.)

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Color and spacing go hand in hand

1/8 ” Original Gravestone Style Tile Spacers (250-Pack)

When it comes to choosing a color, be aware that the grout will likely darken over time due to dirt from foot traffic. And there is also the grout / tile ratio to know. With smaller tiles, the grout lines will be more prominent as the tiles themselves take up less space. The two will work more in tandem than with larger tiles, where the grout will take up more space in the back.

1/8 ”is the standard spacing for a line of floor grout, but will depend on the type of tile, its size and the pattern created. (Typically you are never going to dip below 1/8 “for the flooring, but you might have a 1/4” or 1/2 “grout line.) Using spacers – like the ones pictured below – will ensure an even grout -line throughout the project, so unless you really trust yourself don’t try to freestyle.

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The right tools make it easier

If you plan on doing DIY, thinking of tile and grout as two parts of an aesthetic whole can make the installation process easier. “When laying tiles, keep a bristle brush with you and a bucket of water,” advises general contractor Mark Clements, who uses the brush to remove any excess mortar when installing the tiles before the installation. grouting step. “It’ll save you a day when you’re ready to point.”

Unless purchased pre-mixed, it’s important to mix your grout well according to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure the strongest and most even result possible. After all, no one is looking for tie-dye grout. After mixing, the grout sits for a period of time to allow the water to completely penetrate the dry ingredients, a process called “slaking”.

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Working quickly is the key

Then the spreading process begins. Working in a section of small manageable size (think 3ft x 3ft at most) and using a special trowel-shaped tool known as a “grout float”, spread the grout as evenly as possible over the sides. empty spaces between the tiles at a 90-degree angle, filling in the joints while wiping off excess grout. The grout will start to harden after a few minutes—success is near!– but the next step is the one that often suspends DIY enthusiasts.

Provisions

The grouting process (top left, clockwise) is a quick job. Grout preparation, application and washing must be done quickly.

Using a “grout sponge” (essentially, a heavy duty kitchen sponge), wipe the tiles in a circular motion, being especially careful not to disturb the edges of the grout line. Being careful is the name of the game here: you can end up spreading wet grout all over the tile and doing excessive, messy work. Luckily, general contractor Joe Truini has a trick.

“The grout sponge quickly becomes saturated with grout – you can only wipe it on a limited amount and it’s full, then you just move it around,” he says. “So the formula for wiping up the grout is the count,” One, two – flip the sponge – three, ring it. “” This wiping and rinsing process may need to be repeated several times, especially if you are using in the dark. green or black grout.

Once you have successfully “one, two, flipped” and the grout has dried (approximately 24 hours), the tiles will likely be left with a film called “grout mist” on them. This can be cleaned with several types of specialty products, but wiping with a damp towel, then buffing with a dry towel, usually works just as well.

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Remember to seal

And while you bask in the glow of the perfectly matched tile and grout combination that now makes up your new floor (or shower, or backsplash), be sure to take the time to seal the grout, which is porous and requires additional protection. elements, especially in damp areas such as bathrooms. Truini prefers a quarter-inch or narrower artist’s brush and recommends using two coats the first time and resealing your grout once a year.

The relationship between grout and tile is a give and take relationship – choosing complementary colors, styles and patterns – as well as a relationship of mutual respect, which ensures that the grout receives as much attention as the tile. during installation and over the years. come. What if this happens? You yourself have the start of a beautiful flooring friendship.

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