After finishing laying the tiles on the floor or walls, it is imperative to fill the joints with grout. This stage of work should be approached with all responsibility, otherwise the coating will lose its tightness over time, and the paints will become cloudy and dirty and instead of pleasing the eye, the finish will only spoil the mood.
What is grout, what is it and how is it used? The answers to these and other questions are in our article..
Grout is used for finishing works using tiles. The surface after facing, as a rule, is left alone for 24 hours so that the glue is completely dry, and after a day the joints are filled with grout.
The main purpose of grout is to protect walls from the adverse effects of moisture and pollution, as well as to improve the overall aesthetic appearance of the finish. With the help of grout, the wrong geometry and other flaws in the masonry are hidden.
Grouting mixtures are available in two types:
- Dry – usually these are the simplest cement-based compositions with the addition of mineral components. For work, they are dissolved in water or liquid latex in the proportions indicated on the package..
- Liquid – mixtures obtained from resins. They can be ready-to-use, or they can be brought to the required condition with special hardeners..
The main performance characteristics of all types of grout include:
- Water resistance. The composition is water-repellent, it forms a solid substance, excluding deep penetration and moisture retention.
- Wide palette of shades. The assortment of leading grout manufacturers includes a variety of colors from white to black (blue, green, red, pink, light blue and others).
- Plastic. During operation, the mixture does not spread, and the processed seams remain even.
- Color fastness. Grout is resistant to sunlight, over time it does not fade and does not change its shade, while maintaining the brightness and saturation of colors.
- Smooth surface. The mixture forms a firm and even surface without bumps and other irregularities. This improves the quality of the coating and the overall aesthetic appearance of the room..
- Resistant to temperature fluctuations. Grout does not change its properties when exposed to high and low temperatures, can be used in unheated rooms.
What is it for?
The use of grout serves several purposes. First, it is the waterproofing of the surface and its protection from the appearance of unpleasant fungus, the spread of mold and moss, which have the most destructive effect on the human body, causing allergies, asthma and other dangerous diseases. These microorganisms release spores into the room, so if they “settled” in the apartment, it will not be so easy to get rid of them. That’s why it is better to take preventive measures and use special mixtures for processing seams.
The use of grout helps to strengthen the adhesion between decorative elements, their additional fixation on the surface, prolongs the life of the tiles, makes the coating durable, impact-resistant and wear-resistant. Grout prevents debris, dust and insects from getting between tiles.
Fugue contributes to the creation of a stylish interior, allows you to implement interesting design solutions. For example, using grout, you can create a visually even coating, or, on the contrary, using contrast, you can make the surface original and unusual. With a well-chosen grout, even the most ordinary-looking finishing material acquires decorativeness and style.
Regardless of which composition you prefer, the principle of operation of grouts is simple: when filling the joints between ceramic tiles, the mixture sticks to the edges and hardens, forming a solid partition between the cladding elements. This film is highly waterproof, resistant to temperature fluctuations and UV rays, and is hard and shockproof..
The composition is of high quality, therefore it does not shrink as it hardens, this avoids the appearance of cracks and splits.
The effect of using grout is similar to the principle of action of sealants and gaskets.. Both those and others pursue the same goal – they create isolation of the main facing field from external elements.. The active component of modern sealants is sand, due to which they can create an elastic joint, identical to the joint from the grout mixture. but sealants and seals wear out over time and need to be replaced. This can be avoided by using a grout mixture..
Like other building mixtures, they are produced in accordance with the requirements of GOST and sold in tubes.
There are several types of surfaces, work with which has its own specific characteristics, therefore, special requirements are imposed on grouting..
For example, standard grout is suitable for a tiled surface, but if you use brick for decoration, then by itself it looks quite unconventional and grout is needed here to give the surface a stylish and well-groomed look. In this case, use special formulations with fine fractions.. Such mixtures will improve the coating and at the same time maintain the texture of the brick..
If an artificial stone acts as a facing material, rub very carefully and use very little mixture. Remember that the plane of the stone or brick must certainly be higher than the seam surface. As for the light, here it is worth giving preference to grout one tone darker than the facing material – this will emphasize the seams..
If work is being carried out on facing a fireplace or stove, then the main requirement for each composition is its fire resistance. The grout must be able to withstand any high temperatures.
For a gypsum surface, it is extremely important to carry out work only if the tile is glued firmly. If at least one part shows mobility, it should be re-glued and only then grout should be used..
Varieties of mixtures
All existing groutings are divided into three groups – cement, synthetic and sealing. Let’s dwell on each type of mixture in more detail.
As the name suggests, the main component of the composition is cement; according to this principle, the mixtures can be divided into cement and cement-sand. The former consist only of cement and various mineral additives, they are diluted with water or liquid latex. Such compounds are widely used for finishing narrow joints less than 4 mm..
Mixes of the second type, in addition to cement and impurities, contain sand, which gives them special strength when drying. The mixture is used for wide joints, the exact size of which depends on the degree of graininess of the sand in the grout composition. So, if the grains of sand are large, the composition is used for grouting wide joints, and if it is necessary to process more seams less than 4-5 mm, then it is worth giving preference to grout with fine particles of sand.
Do not use sand-cement grout when processing the edges of marble and glazed slabs. Sand is a powerful abrasive and can ruin the appearance of finishes.
Cement grouting is usually done in white or gray shades. They are distinguished by a fairly low price and low consumption. So, a volume of 25 kg will cost the consumer 700-1200 rubles (according to 2017 data) and this amount is enough to process 100 sq. m cladding.
The undoubted advantages of cement grout are also considered to be ease of use – it is easy to prepare, and if necessary, it is easy to remove even a decade after repair..
Despite the abundance of positive properties, cement mixtures also have disadvantages..
- Cracking tendency. Over time, cracks may appear on the surface of the seam, moisture, dirt, debris and pathogens get into them, all this leads to a violation of the strength and integrity of the coating.
- Low hygroscopicity – like any other cement mortar, the grout allows moisture to pass through. Manufacturers are trying to neutralize this property with the help of liquid latex, but no one on the market has yet succeeded in creating a completely water-repellent composition. Sooner or later, water penetrates to the base, but good mixtures lose their consumer qualities 5-10 years earlier than simple formulations without mineral additives.
- Cement-based grouts are not suitable for use in environments where the coating is exposed to aggressive external influences – on kitchen aprons, in the workplaces of catering establishments and shops, where detergents, acids or blood often get on the walls.
Disadvantages led to the scope of application of grout based on a cement component – they are ideal for home renovation and decoration of hallways, corridors, balconies and loggias.
Synthetic grouts are made on the basis of different types of resins with the addition of mineral components, pigments and a hardener. The advantages of such compositions include their resistance to moisture and the effects of acid-base solutions..
Depending on the basic substance in the composition, there are several types of synthetic grout:
This category includes two-component mixtures of chemically curable resin with the addition of colored fine sand.
Such grout dries quickly and turns into a dense hygroscopic mass. This is the best option for decorating bathrooms, showers, baths and swimming pools – in short, all “wet” areas in the premises, the anti-fungal component of the fugue prevents the occurrence of mold and mildew.
The advantages of epoxy grout mixes include:
- high elasticity, waterproof;
- when solidified, they do not absorb dirt and dust;
- resistant to detergents and abrasives;
- the mixture is frost-resistant, resistant to temperature extremes, withstands t from -20 to +100 degrees Celsius;
- have a long service life – up to 50 years;
- do not fade over time and do not crack;
- have a wide color palette, including luminescent modifications, metallic and chameleon.
There are also disadvantages:
- form a rough surface due to the high sand content;
- are difficult to remove from the surface;
- harden very quickly, therefore, they require certain work skills when applied;
- have a high cost.
Epoxy grout has a wide range of applications and is used even outdoors. At the same time, they require experience and a lot – otherwise, you can ruin both the tile and the not cheap grout..
These are plastic mixtures that exhibit extremely high water-repellency characteristics. They are used for grouting joints from 1 to 6 mm, they perform well on movable substrates.
The undoubted advantages of the compositions are:
- do not absorb dirt and dust;
- easily penetrate even the thinnest seams;
- freeze slowly, so in case of an unsuccessful application, there is time to correct the situation;
- easily removed from the tile surface;
- implemented in a ready-to-use form.
There is also a drawback – the mixture is destroyed by the action of chlorine, which, unfortunately, is an indispensable component of tap water..
Compounds with high ductility, used when working with seams 2-3 cm thick. These mixtures are heat-resistant, compressive and bend-resistant. They are immune to adverse external conditions, do not crack and do not change color over time. Often used as a top anchorage layer.
The disadvantages include the high cost of grouting.. If the composition is not immediately removed from the tile, a cloudy film will form on its surface.. The mixture does not tolerate steam cleaning, which significantly limits its scope.
Like epoxy compounds, they are made on the basis of resins, only latex or Portland cement is used as an additional component, which provide elasticity and increased strength of the seams.
The advantages of the mixture are obvious:
- moisture resistant;
- resistant to acid-base solutions and ultraviolet light;
- forms a hard seam;
- does not crack throughout the entire period of operation.
However, the mixture has a significant drawback – it can react with aggressive chemical solutions, releasing toxic compounds. This makes it impossible to use furan grouts in a residential area..
The mixture is produced only in black, it is difficult to find them on the free sale..
Manufactured on a silicone basis. These include the aforementioned sealants and seals. The advantages of such grouts include moisture resistance and elasticity. However, the material wears out quickly, so it is not very popular among consumers..
Keep in mind that contrary to popular belief, silicone floor grout does not exist at all.. There is only silicone sealant, but they shouldn’t rub the seams – the composition is used exclusively for sealing the joints of the cladding with the sink and other sanitary installations. For finishing, a surface layer of grout with a suitable composition should be applied..
The choice of grout shade largely determines the appearance of the entire room. A well-chosen mixture can revive even the most “unpretentious” and boring tiles..
When purchasing a mixture, you can rely on your own preferences, but several rules should be taken into account:
- grouting of light shades visually increase the space of the room due to the effect of the “combined pattern”;
- dark seams, on the contrary, emphasize each specific tile in the overall cladding;
- if there are decorative elements on the tile pattern, then the colored grout should be combined with them in color. It is optimal to take a fugue a couple of shades darker;
- for dark tiles, the grout is selected a couple of tones darker, and for light tiles, on the contrary, it is lighter;
- when working with multi-colored tiles, you should give preference to transparent joints or grout with the “chameleon” effect;
- if you want to give the tiles maximum expressiveness, feel free to arrange the seams in a contrasting shade.
Today, manufacturers produce a wide range of grouts: blue, yellow, light blue, burgundy and orange, as well as metallized, pearlescent, gold and silver shades, bronze and glitter grouts.. Not so long ago, luminescent mixtures appeared on the market that glow in the dark.. They are in great demand among lovers of creativity in the interior..
When going to the store, take with you the tiles that you will use for cladding. This will help you choose the best fugue color option..
Which one to choose?
Understanding clearly what is the peculiarity of each type of grout, it is easy to determine which composition is suitable for a particular type of work.
If we are dealing with relatively dry walls of the hallway or bathroom, then the simplest cement grout is quite enough. In rooms with high humidity, it is worth giving preference to more hygroscopic mixtures; here it is worth choosing a polyurethane or latex grout.
If the surface is constantly in contact with water (rooms in pools and showers), you should purchase a composition that prevents the formation of mold and mildew. These include epoxy grout, you can also use polyurethane.
The choice of the mixture is largely influenced by the peculiarities of using the coating itself..
If the tile is laid on a moving surface or vibrating base, then you should opt for compositions with high plasticity, for example, furan fugue, polyurethane or latex..
The same compositions will be optimal for unheated rooms or for facade work. If you purchase other types of grout, then due to temperature fluctuations and the corresponding thermal expansion and contraction, the grout will simply crack..
Joint width is another factor that influences the choice of mix:
- narrow slits of 1-3 mm are best sealed with plastic mixtures without mineral components;
- seams up to 6 mm thick, it is preferable to process with joints with fine sand;
- if the track is 1-2 cm wide, then the composition must be very plastic, here it is recommended to purchase a plasticized cement mixture with a coarse-grained filler.
It is worth paying attention to the features of the tile itself, since the grout not only fills the gaps between the tiles, but also glues the ends of the tile:
- Glossy tiles require polyurethane and latex blends. It is possible to use a cement composition of small grain size, grouting with abrasives is strictly prohibited here..
- Glass tiles or mosaics require an epoxy grout.
- Decorative epoxy grout works well with cement-sand joints. Liquid formulations are not recommended here. This will cause overconsumption of grout, which will be quite difficult to clean up later..
For facade work and exterior wall decoration, the furan mixture is optimal. Finding it in stores is quite problematic, so if you could not buy this composition, then try cement with the addition of a latex mixture and a fungicide, it will extend the life of the coating.
If you are choosing a grout for your floor tiles, opt for a sand-cement or epoxy grout.. By the way, if you are decorating a fireplace or stove, feel free to purchase the same grout mixes. But underfloor heating requires a polyurethane compound..
An incorrectly selected grouting mixture will significantly impair the quality of the finish coating, shorten the life of the cladding, and lead to a deterioration in its sanitary and aesthetic characteristics..
Fugue application is a simple process. It does not require any special skills or a lot of experience. However, you still need some skill..
Grouting is carried out a day after facing the surface of the wall or floor. This is due to the peculiarities of the facing material. One day after the veneer, the adhesive is not yet at its maximum strength. This makes it possible to quickly and easily remove all stains and dirt..
After 24 hours, the residual moisture of the tile ensures effective adhesion of the mixture to the material. If there is more liquid, then the trowel mixture will become liquid and the elasticity will be reduced – such a composition is hardly distributed at the seams..
In the same time not worth it for more than a day, as open seams are susceptible to dirt, dust and debris, which can ruin the fixation, as well as complicate the application of any fugues.
Before work, you should clean the seams from the remnants of glue, then use a sponge, a brush or a paintbrush to clean out dust and small fragments.
Please note that the cleaner the surface to be treated, the higher the quality of the grout, the smoother the solution will lie and the more firmly it “adheres” with tile edges.
Application of the composition
To apply grouting compounds, you will need construction tools:
- rubber spatula;
- construction cone;
- jointing cable.
In addition, a rag and a damp sponge are useful in the work..
Grout can be applied in several ways. Let’s consider each of them:
With a spatula
A little fugue is taken directly onto the tool, and then with force, going across the seam, pressed into the seam. After that, it is necessary to cover the seam again, but already along, removing the excess mixture.
This process is simple, and if you enter the right rhythm, then all the work can be done quite quickly..
The grout pressed with a spatula must occupy the entire space of the joint – the occurrence of voids is unacceptable! Otherwise, the fugue will not protect the tile, it will begin to crack and burst..
Using a grater
The trowel is specially designed for quick application of the mixture to the tiles. The composition diluted in water is simply taken on a grater and “poured out” onto the tile. After that, you should move the float diagonally, carefully covering each seam. As in the first case, at the end of the work, it is worth walking with a grater along to remove unused remnants of the mixture.
This method is optimal when working with large volumes, as well as in the case of floor tiles..
Try to limit the area of work to about 1 square meter, this will make it possible to control the quality of work and the distribution of the grout over the surface..
If you have ever decorated a cake with a baking syringe, then you have a rough idea of the principle of applying grout using a trowel cone. The tool is a bag inside which the mixture is placed, which, when pressed, comes out of the cone in a thin, even layer.
To grout in this way, you need to put the nose of the cone exactly to the seam and, pressing on the walls, gently move along the seam. Well, the excess can be easily removed with a damp cloth or with your own finger. However, professionals use a piece of cable of a suitable size for this..
Tips & Tricks
Over time, grouting on walls and floors requires restoration, this is especially true for cheap mixtures and compositions applied several decades ago.
To renew old seams, sometimes it is enough to simply paint them.. To do this, prepare paint, a toothbrush and a small brush. You will also need chlorine bleach in your work. First, clean the seams from dust, dirt and greasy stains with a toothbrush, then apply bleach mixed with water in a 1 to 1 ratio for 10-15 minutes. After the specified time, rinse it off the surface and apply paint with a brush. This method is the simplest, but it is designed for no more than 6 months. Six months later, the procedure must be repeated..
If you need a longer lasting result, you will need to remove the old grout and apply a new one.. Apply new grout with a rubber trowel.
If the quality of the grout suits you, but you decide to slightly change the color of the joints, then it is worth applying a thin layer of grout, to which the color of the desired shade has been added.
Let’s take a closer look at how to remove the old grout. Professionals use special tools for this, but if it is not there, it doesn’t matter. Basically, you can use any knife, as long as the blade does not scratch the tile. If you don’t even have a knife at hand, use a simple screwdriver. She, too, is excellent at picking out the old coating..
After the old grout has been removed, seams should be cleaned of material residues using any brush or vacuum cleaner.
Experts recommend renewing the grout every 5 years to keep your walls and floor looking stylish and fresh for years to come..
The most popular domestic consumers are grouting from such well-known manufacturers as Atlas, Kiilto and some others.
The products of the Polish concern Atlas are very competitive in the market of finishing materials and building mixtures..
This grout is preferred by professional fitters. This is due to the high performance characteristics:
- the mixture does not crack over time and does not crumble after drying;
- the solution is plastic, does not scratch the tiles and easily fills even the narrowest joints;
- the solution retains its elasticity for 2-3 hours – this time is enough to correct the shortcomings made during application;
- characterized by resistance to temperature extremes and hygroscopicity;
- the assortment list includes more than 3 dozen shades, including such tones as bronze and silver.
This is an Italian brand. Grouts of this brand are used for joints from 1 to 15 mm, they are used for the installation of glass, wood and metal tiles, as well as mosaics.
The undoubted advantage of the manufacturer is the widest choice of shades. In total, products are presented in 103 shades, among which there are even luminescent options, metallized and pearlescent compositions. These joints are 10 times superior to cement joints in such important indicators as elasticity and water resistance.. That is why professionals prefer this particular brand when decorating pools, showers and saunas..
Separately, it is worth noting the resistance to temperature extremes. Grout does not lose its operational properties at temperatures from -20 to +110 degrees, does not crack or crumble.
For many decades, mortars from Germany have been synonymous with the highest quality and durability. Grouting from a German brand is no exception. Ceresit grouting compounds are used to seal the joints of tiles, as well as glass or stone tiles. They have a wide range of applications, both in interior and facade work..
The advantages of grouting the German holding include:
- environmental friendliness;
- high speed of solidification;
- resistance to temperature extremes.
This Finnish company produces grout for tiles and clinker bricks, and is also famous for its products for cleaning and protecting tiles..
Grout mixes from this manufacturer differ in the minimum emission of harmful substances. Used for joints from 1 to 6 mm with a depth of no more than 3 mm.
The benefits include:
- wide color gamut -32 shades;
- versatility – used for both interior and exterior finishing works;
- dries in 2-3 hours;
- immune to sunlight;
- does not change color and does not crack over time;
- protects against mold and mildew;
- gives a smooth and even seam.
This composition is most often used for designer tiles..
It is an epoxy grout made in Italy, often referred to as “grout varnish”. The material can be called a symbiosis of the mass of grout and adhesive. The mixture is made on the basis of epoxy resins with the addition of sand and mineral admixtures. Thanks to this composition, the fugue acquires special resistance to aggressive environmental factors, therefore the mixture is used in any work, any temperature conditions and for any coatings..
In all environments, the material exhibits only the most exceptional consumer characteristics:
- good distribution of the mixture;
- adhesion strength to tiles;
- resistance to temperature extremes and UV radiation;
- uniformity of the shade upon drying;
- high strength.
A distinctive feature of this brand of grout is its transparent texture, due to which the surface of the joint acquires a glossy “varnish-like” appearance.
The following video discusses the nuances to consider when choosing a tile grout..