Using the Correct Type of Grout

by Roger

There are three basic types of grout available for your tile installation. They are:

  • Non-Sanded (also known as Unsanded)
  • Sanded
  • Epoxy

Choosing the correct grout for your particular installation will not only complete the job correctly, it will also cut down on maintenance. Properly installed and sealed grout will last for the life of your tile. So which to use and when?

Non-Sanded (or Unsanded) Grout

Unsanded grout is made specifically for grout lines smaller than 1/8 inch wide.  This is a general rule. I use unsanded grout only in tile with grout lines smaller than 1/16″. Unsanded grout (all grout to different degrees) will shrink as it cures. The reason for only using it in smaller grout lines is the wider the grout lines, the more grout must be used to fill them. The more grout you have, the more it will shrink. If you try to fill grout lines that are too large the grout will shrink enough to pull away from the sides of the tile.

Unsanded grout is easier to work with, especially on vertical surfaces such as a shower wall, because  it is “stickier” than the sanded variety. You can spread it onto the wall and it will stick there while you force it into the grout lines. It is also much easier on the hands than sanded.  Although it is easier to work with, you need to make sure that the application for which you are using it is correct.

Sanded Grout

Sanded Grout is used for any size grout lines 1/8″ and wider. Although the specifications state unsanded grout be used in grout lines that are exactly 1/8″, you really should use sanded for them. It will ensure proper adhesion to your tile and guard against too much shrinkage. No, not Seinfeld shrinkage, grout shrinkage.

Sanded grout has fine sand added to it. This prevents the grout from shrinking too much as it cures. That’s why it is used for larger grout lines and should be used for the majority of tile installations.

If you have a polished stone such as granite, marble, limestone, and some polished travertine, you should be careful about using sanded grout. While sanded may be the correct choice for the size of grout lines, it may not be the best choice. Depending upon the polish of the stone the sand in the grout may actually scratch it. If you decide to use sanded make sure you test it in an inconspicuous area first to ensure it will not scratch your finish. Or use epoxy which would be a better choice anyway.

Epoxy Grout

Epoxy grout is the top of the line and best choice for any tile application. It can be substituted for sanded or unsanded grout.  It is more sturdy than both as well as being waterproof and stain resistant.

Epoxy is a two or three part chemical consisting of the base and the activator. With some brands the color is an additional part that must be added. Once the parts are mixed a chemical reaction begins. From that point, depending on the brand of epoxy, you have only a limited amount of time to get everything grouted before the grout becomes stiff enough to be unworkable. When it reaches that point, if you do not have everything grouted you are SOL.

To help slow the cure time you can mix your epoxy then put half of it in the freezer. The cold air will slow the chemical reaction and lengthen the working time. You can then work with the other half until it is all used. Clean it up, wipe everything down, then grab the second half out of the freezer and finish up. When you first pull it out of the freezer it will be, well, frozen. It thaws quickly, though, so should be workable within a few minutes. This essentially doubles the working time of your grout and ensures you don’t have to rush through it.

Since most epoxy grouts do not contain sand (or at least not in the classic sense of sand) it will normally not scratch your tile. If you have highly polished granite or marble that’s important. Be sure to test first anyway!

Different brands of epoxy have different working times as well as some being more difficult to work with than others. The brand with which I have had the most luck and the only brand I ever use is SpectraLOCK from Laticrete. It has a longer working time than any other epoxy grout (at least any I’ve ever used) and is virtually stain proof. Please don’t take that to mean the you can grout a jacuzzi with it, fill it with cherry kool-aid, and expect it not to be pink (Don’t do that). It just means that for all intents and purposes it will not stain without concerted effort. In my opinion it is the best on the market.

The only drawback of epoxy grout would be the price. It is fairly expensive. When weighed against the upside, however, it is well worth it. Low maintenance demands and high durability of epoxy grout make it well worth the money.

Picking the correct grout for your application is a key part of a proper tile installation. If you choose incorrectly you could end up with a multitude of problems and headaches. Grout, chosen and installed correctly, will complete your tile installation and push it from a good tile job to a great one. Do not underestimate the power of the grout.

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Tad

Hi Roger,
 
Great site!  And trust me, I’ve seem a thousand of them while researching how to DIY tile my kitchen counter.
 
I have two questions:
1) I am using 23 inch  tiles which are 1/2 inch deep. Is 1/8 gap wide enough to get our epoxy grout deep enough into the 1/8 inch gaps between our tiles?
2) The house is over a century so the wall is not a flat plane and waves quite a bit.  it is subway tile but where the counter meets it, the gap between our tiles and the wavy wall varies from one quarter inch to 3/8 inch.  Would it be best to grout this with our epoxy grout or caulk it with a backer rod placed in there?  and if the caulk is the way to go, what type would be preferable? (I guess I snuck three questions in there!)
 
Thanks so much for any advice you can provide.
 
 

Reply

Roger

Hi Tad,

1. I use epoxy on 1/16″ all the time – so yes, 1/8″ is plenty.

2. Ideally (I know, I know…) remove the subway tile, install 1/2″ backerboard or drywall shimmed out to a flat plane, and install a brand new backsplash for your new countertop. But (I know…) given what you have the best option would be backer rod and 100% silicone. I prefer Latasil by laticrete – you can get it in colors to match your grout. And yes, it’s gonna look like you caulked something that should not have been caulked. But it will look better than grouting something that shouldn’t be grouted, may crack, or worse – crack your tile.

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Tad

OK, sounds great, Roger!  I’ll tear out that subway tile tonight!  (or maybe not – he he!)  Thanks for the tip on the caulk – that I will most certainly do.  Should I use the caulk like a grout and keep it level to the counter tile or should it be a bit of a bigger bead that overlaps onto the surface of the horizontal tile of the counter? 
(I do have some idea how I’m going to approach it because i’ve seen some tidy step by step pictures using blue tape to make a nice bead in the change of plane corner but the professional who provided the mini picture tutorial had created a perfect little space between the vertical and the horizontal planes which made it look much easier than i know it is going to be for a rookie like me).
Thanks again, Roger – you’ve already been a great help.

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Roger

Overlap the tile a little bit. If you keep it even you’ll be able to see the edge of the tile – and how uneven it is. If it overlaps you can hide some of that unevenness.

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Jane

Hey Roger:
 
In a last ditch effort to find tile, I went to Sierra Tile here who at one time, carried the grout that is on my floor. Thought I’d pick up another bag for the floor bathroom. They no longer carry C-Cure, but told me where I could get it. Their line for sanded is Polyblend. I’ve heard you say never to use it, and I am curious as to your reasons. When I explained to the guy that I was instructed never to use it, he said that some contractors won’t use anything else, some only use Mapei, some will only use C-Cure. We have decided to go with a close-out tile that looks like slate, and it’s cheaper than HD’s price, comes in all sizes that we need, etc. Please tell me again, why you don’t recommend Polyblend grout. I am not locked into buying the grout at this place by any means.

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Jane

Also, their line of epoxy is CEG-Lite. Comments?

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Jane

Pricing on TEC grout is $24 a 25# bag at World of Tile. Is that comparable? The Mocha will go with this tile. AND I gave the manager the name of this site, she wanted to check it out!

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Jane

What price should I be looking for on this? I’ve got to say that Polyblend has an awful lot of colors compared to other brands!

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Roger

I don’t know – I dunno what the price points are where you are located. I pay about $25 for the tec, 17 for the c-cure, 21 for laticrete and 32 for accucolor (that’s tec as well). To be honest – don’t get hung up on the price. Ten bucks one way or the other isn’t gonna make a difference if it’s still in great shape after 10 or 15 years, eh? :D

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Roger

That’s about what I pay for tec, it’s normal. It is about 40% more expensive than c-cure or polyblend, but worth it, in my opinion.

You tell her to come on by and say hi – I’m fairly friendly most of the time. :D

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Jane

OK. She was wondering where I’ve been. Told her I haven’t even bought tile yet, which I haven’t. Told her you hated the Grout Boost, but that others you spoke with loved it. David doesn’t want to go that route, and I am fine with a regular sealer. This Italian tile at $1.79 a foot and $2.50 per bullnose I just can’t pass up. Sent you the pic to post.
 
David used C-Cure with our floor a few years ago when we took out a pony wall and laid our floor tile in its place. He had no problem with it. After all, he has 25 years in concrete construction, so he understands consistency with concrete products. I never even sealed the grout that he patched in, and you can’t even tell. Looks like it has always been there with the original stuff from 15 years ago.

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Roger

Not really, never used it. Once I began to use Laticrete Spectralock I (literally, seriously and religiously) will not ever touch another epoxy grout. Guys that I’ve talked with that have used it seem to like it.

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Roger

Polyblend grout is very, very sensitive to water. It can effloresce easily (that’s the white film on grout when it’s installed). If the water is hard (lot of minerals) it may turn white when curing. It is just way too touchy to the installation environment and, for me, inconsistent. I simply don’t like it – and a lot of pros don’t. Have nothing against it at all, if you want to use it, use it. But keep in mind it’s very touchy.

C-cure is not the same as polyblend. A lot of pros have problems with c-cure grouts too, I don’t. Probably because that’s the grout I learned with, I know how it works. Any grout can be touchy and any grout has it’s own individual quirks. Polyblend seems to get the most grout questions regarding efflorescence on this site – and I’ve had problems as well. Just trying to save headaches. It’ll work just fine if it likes the heat, humidity, amount of water you use, etc. Just no way to tell – it’s too inconsistent if the amount of comments about it here is any indication.

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Jane

What about the price listed above on TEC? Shall I look elsewhere?

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Roger

I’m only one guy answering 6000 questions. Patience grasshoppa! :D

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Jane

Sorry. I should let you enjoy your adult beverage once you got home. Didn’t know I had asked the question three times. Too many beers on this end.

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Jeff Hays

Hi Roger.

Im diggen your blog here.  So much awesome information to educate myself with
before flying off into uncharted territory.  

Im in the planning/prepping stage of a complete gut & remodel of my bathroom.
Keeping the tub though & will have it refinished.

Ive worked on four different floor tiling projects in the last few years and with each one sharpend my tiling skills enough to have the confidence to do this bathroom myself.

My questions pertain to grouting with the Laticrete SpectraLOCK Epoxy.

I plan on a 1/8″ gap where the tile meets the tub.  Can this gap be grouted with the
Spectralock epoxy?  Or should I run a bead of silicone or caulk?

Same question for the inside corners/change of planes of shower walls and nitch.

Thanks again for sharing your expertise with all us DIYs. 

Jeff Hays

Reply

Roger

Hey Jeff,

While at times I do grout the inside changes of plane with spectralock it is always better to silicone them. The tub/tile transition should ALWAYS be siliconed – different materials. When you silicone the tub fill it with water first and let the silicone cure, then drain it. When drained the tub will move ‘up’ squeezing the silicone bead rather than stretching it out when filled – lasts much, much longer. Laticrete makes silicone that matches their grout colors – latasil.

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Jeff Hays

Different materials, ah yes I now remember reading that in your blog.
Thanks for reiterating.
Ive been reading so much on the subject of backer boarding, water proofing, tiling
ect. that my brain is overloaded.
  
Filling the tub first so that the weight of the water will press the tub down.
Freaken genius Sir.

Now this may sound silly. I assume its as simple as careful grouting as to not get 
grout into the areas to be siliconed. If some does indeed get in these areas just gently scrape/tool out?

Thank you for the reply Roger.

Jeff Hays 

Reply

Roger

Yup, I always have a ‘hook knife’ in my back pocket but you can just scrape it out of there with a razor knife or screwdriver, whatever. Just keep them clear as you are grouting, it’s easy before it begins to cure.

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wayne

I am tiling a shpwer with travertine natural stone. It;s kind of porous and has a lot of rough areas that will be grouted along with the joints.  Sounds like I should go for the epoxy for the durability and water proofing.  Can I mix the epoxy with the laticrete 1776 enhancer?  Should I pre=seal the stone before using epoxy grout?

GREAT SITE! thanks for any advice

Reply

Roger

Hi Wayne,

DO NOT mix epoxy with anything – you’ll screw it up. It’s nearly bulletproof the way it is, nothing additional is needed. Pre-sealing will assist with clean-up.

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ariel

I have 24×24 porcelain tile with 1/16 grout line throughout my apartment (rectified, diagonal).  It was installed in November 2011.  I have had a “grout disappearing” problem since.  The installer was here today and said he would remove the grout (which was coming up pretty easily) and regrout using sanded grout with a bonding.  Is this correct? 

Reply

Roger

Hi Ariel,

Not too sure what ‘bonding’ is supposed to mean – I’m assuming that he means using a latex-based admix to the grout in order to achieve a certain level of flexibility. The stage at which your tile is currently that is one solution, and it may work provided there is not an extraordinary amount of movement in your tile. And it’s the easiest, because the other solution is to remove what is currently there and determine why your tile is moving if that is why it is disappearing. The other reason it may be disappearing is that the grout was simply mixed incorrectly to begin with. But yes, that is one correct solution.

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ariel

Thanks for the feedback!  I really appreciate it.

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Daniel

Hi Roger,
Would you also recommend using Miracle Sealer 511 or Stonetech Impregnator Pro on Carrara marble, or would a different product be better? Thanks.
Daniel

Reply

Roger

Hey Daniel,

Either one of those will work perfectly for marble.

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John

Thanks for the reply. It leads to two more questions… First, can you recommend a good penetrating sealer for unglazed porcelain? Second, will you move to Wisconson tomorrow and finish my bathroom remodel?

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Roger

Hay John,

I like miracle sealant’s 511 impregnator pro or stonetech’s impregnator pro.

and…

For Packer’s season tickets I’ll consider it. :D

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mary

I am tiling a fireplace hearth and wall. When i am  ready for grouting which unsanded grout should I use, Latacrete or TEC?   Need to use unsanded due to tile surface.
the fireplace has a gas insert so no wood smoke. 

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Roger

I prefer laticrete but tec is good stuff too. Either one will work just fine, I think laticrete is easier to work with but with unsanded grout they are all basically the same. Just don’t use polyblend. :D

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mary

which sanded grout would be better  … latacrete   TEC accucolor or hydroment?

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Roger

Hi Mary,

Laticrete easier to work with, accucolor is also fairly easy but has a bit of a learning curve – never used hydroment.

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mary

why not hydoment?

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Roger

Never said anything positive or negative about hydroment Mary, I’ve never used it so I can’t give you a personal opinion about it. The guys I know that have used it like it, but as to how it compares to the other grouts I honestly couldn’t tell you. They don’t sell hydroment up around this part of the country – or at least my half of the state.

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John

Hi,
What a great site!  I just had a unglazed porcelain mosaic floor from Subway Ceramics installed in my bathroom.  It’s not grouted yet.  These tiles have perfectly square edges and I’ve read that the most important thing with grouting them is to get the grout as close to perfectly flush with the tile as possible.  Do you have any tips on techniques?  Would Spectralock be an appropriate material given this concern, i.e. does it shrink much when it sets?
Thanks,
John

Reply

Roger

Hey John,

Yes, spectralock shrinks much less than regular grout and is easier to get flush. Whether you go with that or regular grout be sure to seal the porcelain first – unglazed will soak in the grout and discolor. If you use regular grout just let it set up fairly firmly before beginning to clean – don’t use a lot of water in your grout or for clean up – just enough to work.

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Jane

My hairdresser told me today that she uses a liquid silicone on her grout to keep the color bright and keep dirt out. She paints this on with a thin brush. What are your thoughts on doing this once the grout is dry and sealed? I told her about the product Tile Boost which we’ve discussed previously, which essentially does the same thing.

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Roger

Your hairdresser is doing the exact thing that silicone-based sealers do, except she’s doing it the hard way. Most solvent based flouropolymer sealers do exactly that. If you have a good sealer on your tile you’ve already done it. Tile boost (grout boost) does not do the same thing. It infuses polymers throughout the entire grout product rather than only on the surface and a bit below. It would actually be better to use it than what she is doing.

You ever seen a bead of silicone in an older shower that has all sorts of nasty crap growing behind it? That’s what’s going to eventually happen by only applying silicone on the surface. Abrasion from regular traffic will eventually compromise that bond. Sealers are made with solvents to allow the polymers to infuse into the pores of the grout rather than simply lying on the surface.

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Jane

Hi Roger – Me again!
 
Is there a shelf life on sealer? I have some Sealer’s Choice from our original move in job here and it’s been under my kitchen sink for about 14 years. Does this stuff break down over time, or is it OK to use? I would need to buy more for the bathroom job, but was just trying to use up what I had. Thanks for your timely response, as always.
P.S. Are you going to accept my friend request on FB?

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Roger

Hi Me again (if that is your real name :suspect: ),

I’ve never heard of an expiration date for sealer, but 14 years is a long, long time for any type of chemical. I would recommend NOT using that. Don’t know that it will lead to problems, but I wouldn’t take that chance.

I just did accept your friend request. I’m trying to combine all my facebook accounts into a single admin panel so you may notice some changes here shortly – don’t panic. :D

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Jane

I’m heading to Dal Tile on Monday to see what they have tile-wise. We got everything to start the shower/wainscot/ceiling, but haven’t decided on tile. We’re right at about $400, including a big-ass bucket of Redgard. We’ve decided on the topical. I’m scared shitless, but my husband does such good work, I really don’t have any reason to worry.

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Tim

I used LATICRETE® 1776 Grout Enhancer with my grout instead of water, do I still need to use grout sealer after it dries?

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Roger

Hey Tim,

Nope, 1776 seals it just fine. No sealer needed.

Reply

Amanda

 
Roger,

Hello…. just stumbled across your site as I have been researching pros and cons for an “inexpensive” kitchen countertop update.

The countertop is laminate and although it is original 20yrs plus, it is in good shape.
 
I was hoping to just purchase marble tile and lay it directly over the existing counter as an
 
‘not so difficult’ DIY project , and of course being happy with the finished result.
 
I’m now sitting on the fence…..
I have read many comments some stated,  ‘no way’ while others said,’ as long as the laminate is in good shape’ the process would be just fine.

Last night I dropped into the building supply store while still debating if I should go in the direction of the tile, and came across the stone effect option for countertops.
I researched that idea as well; unfortunately it still hasn’t got me anywhere. J
Either option would cost roughly the same price in the end, if nothing fails.
My question to you is, (since you have wonderful advice) which one would be the better choice, or……scratch both ideas completely?

Thank you very much!
Amanda
 

 

Reply

Roger

Hi Amanda,

Don’t know who told you that it would be okay as long as the laminate is in good shape, but thinset will absolutely not last long-term over laminate. Your best bet would be to get some 1/4″ backerboard, place thinset over the laminate (only to fill voids – not to adhere anything at all) then screw the crap out of it. Use a screw about every six square inches. Then you can just tile directly to that. As long as you get it screwed down well it will last.

Reply

Amanda

Okay i will do so…

Thank you very much! 

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cthenn

Hello there!

I have been trying to find out the best product to use to grout sandstone tile.  I was going to use Spectralock, but the technical support people from Laticrete said it may not be the best product because the epoxy resins in the grout my leech into the sides of the tile, causing “picture framing”.  Do you have any advice on grouting sandstone tile?  I have already installed it, and have put two coats of sealer on the face of the tiles, so it is ready to be grouted.  But I don’t know what product to use!  

Reply

Roger

Hi Cthenn (if that is your real name :suspect:)

I’ve grouted several sandstone installations with spectralock and have never seen that – it’s a new one on me. But if they say that, there’s a reason for it. You can check with CEG lite from Customs building products or check one of the suppliers of urethane-based grouts such as Tec’s Starquartz which is a VERY good grout. Check the tec first, that may be the solution.

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cthenn

It’s just my log in name haha.  Well, if you’ve used Spectralock on sandstone, then the proof is in the pudding.  I’m getting kind of tired searching for solutions, and I may just be overthinking it…

The other product you recommend seems to be difficult to find online, so I’ll probably skip the treasure hunt, and stick with the spectralock.  The color is similar to the tile, so if there is any framing, it may be fine.  I’ll post again later after I finish the grouting.  Thanks!

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Roger

Yes, please let me know if you have any problems with that. I have never seen it nor heard of it but, as my wife is fond of reminding me, I don’t know everything. :D

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cthenn

BTW, did I do the right thing by pre-sealing the tiles?  I used Miracle sealer/enhancer which, per the bottle, can be used as a grout release.  Should I re-seal after grouting?

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Roger

Yes, pre-sealing helps tremendously. If you use spectralock you do not need to seal again.

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cthenn

OK, and do you follow the directions provided in the kit?  Do you wait the 20-30 minutes before cleaning?  This amount of time will not set the grout or stain the tile face?

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Roger

If you follow the time directions on the spectralock it is the absolute easiest to clean. They actually researched it quite a bit – and they’re right. Other time frames make it either difficult to remove or not set up enough to keep a firm fill in the grout lines. Those time frames are perfect. Make sure to use your cleaning packets in your cleaning water.

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cthenn

OK, so I finished the grouting earlier, and thankfully, there are no problems with picture framing.  However, to me it looks like the tiles have a haze to them now.  It’s hard to say for sure but I think it looks more hazy.  Have you run into this problem?  Should I go buy grout haze remover?

Also, in your experience, do you usually finish sandstone tiles in some way to make them shine or do you leave them having a matte finish?  The sealer we used has waterproofed them, and brought out the color more, but they don’t have a glossy finish.  I don’t know what products, if any, can be used to shine them up (like a wax or polyurethane?)…or if you should do that to sandstone.

Thanks for your awesome and helpful blog!    

Reply

Roger

The haze can be cleaned away by using warm water, dish soap and a micro-fiber towel.

The finish on the face of the tile depends on the look you want. If you want a shiny look you need an enhancing sealer. Keep in mind that an enhancer is a topical sealer, which means that it will show wear over time in traffic areas.

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Cynthia

Just googled and found your site.  This isn’t about a floor but I am trying to figure out what to do with the grout line where my granite countertops meet the glass mosaic tiles we just installed for a backsplash (btw you are right about those home shows that make it seem like anyone can do this – we have never done tile and it was much harder than we thought – took us a whole week!) I sealed the grout with a spray on Armstrong sealer the guy at the store sold us but I think we need to use some kind of silicone caulking too (over the grout that meets the granite)? Also we have an area where the grout meets the wall and think we want to paint that out? Would we use caulk (over the grout) there and then paint over the caulk? and what type of caulk would we use there? 

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Roger

Hi Cynthia,

The area where the counter meets your backsplash is what we call a change of plane. That is where two surfaces lying in different directions meet. All changes of plane need to be caulked or siliconed. Everything you install tile on moves – everything in a house moves. When there is a change of plane those two surfaces not only move – but they do it in different directions. Grout is a solid cement-based product, which means it has no flexibility. It cannot compensate for that movement, silicone and caulk can.

You want to remove the grout that is currently there completely, then silicone. You do not want to go over the grout with caulk or silicone – the grout will still crack which means you won’t have a solid surface behind your caulk any longer and it will compromise the bond of the caulk to the tile. Any edges where the tile ends at a painted surface should be painted first, then silicone or caulk should be used to make the transition. If you can get caulk or silicone that matches your grout that would be best, either that or a clear silicone. Unless your walls are painted white, in which case white caulk or silicone looks fine. You want to remove the grout from that area as well.

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Cynthia

Just to be clear, I should take out the grout between the glass tile and the granite countertop? How do I do that? Sounds scary. I don’t think I can get all the grout out without breaking the glass or scratching the granite (the tiles are skinny about 9/16″ and of varying lengths.) Interestingly, I researched on the internet (and I have read your comments about there being a lot of misinformation out there) about how to finish the ends of these tiles and the reason we grouted the ends and the top was due to some info on another site! Maybe I should just wait until it starts cracking? Ugh! I was mostly worried about the water situation never thought about movement.  BTW, thanks for the quick response, I thought it might take awhile due to the play offs – I do think football (college & pro) have made this project take longer:) I know for sure it has this weekend!

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Cynthia

Just clicked over to your Tile Art web site – the tiles we used in the kitchen are just like the ones in your kitchen tile gallery picture! You didn’t grout those that sit near the countertop?

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Cynthia

In fact, that kitchen could be our kitchen even down to the wood floors – same color cabinets,layout, window, etc.  So how did you finish the end of the tile that is out of the picture past the left cabinet on the same side of the dishwasher? That is basically where we grouted the ends of the tile where it meets the sheet rock (wall)

Reply

Roger

It ended at a door jamb. I left 1/16″ and siliconed it.

Reply

Roger

Nope, I always use color matching silicone. It cures the exact color of the grout. The ends where it meets the drywall will likely be fine, they rarely crack (about 15% of the time in my experience) but the plane change between it and the counter will crack – guaranteed. The easiest way would probably be just a regular razor knife. Hold it at a 45 degree angle into that corner and go over it with several passes removing a little at a time. As long as you keep your angle you should be fine to do it without scratching the glass or granite – the point of the blade will stay in that corner.

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Cynthia

thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! I appreciate it.

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Owen

I just tiled my shower and the walls have 1/8 grout and the floor and designs pieces have 1/16 grout. Can I use the same sanded grout for both or should I switch between sanded and unsanded. Also do you recomend grout then seal or is grout boost okay to use.

Thanks a lot for your help

Reply

Roger

Hey Owen,

Yes, you can use sanded grout for both of them. I always recommend grout then sealer. I absolutely hate grout boost – hate it. More of a personal thing, though, I hear it works just fine. :D

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Pete

Hi Roger,
i have a shower bath in my home and the silicone keeps going black with mould, also the grout keeps going the same way and it keeps getting orange/red stains all over last type of silicone i used was evo-stick anti germ shower and bath sealant (UK product) and the same or similar grout could you please advise me on a real goood silicone and grout for this.
Many thanks Pete 

Reply

Roger

Hi Pete,

Unfortunately the problem has absolutely nothing at all to do with what type of silicone you are using and everything to do with the way in which your shower is waterproofed (or not waterproofed). You haven’t mentioned how your shower is constructed but I’ll start with the easiest solution first: weep holes. If you read through this: weep holes in shower tile installations it will explain what weep holes are and why you need them.

If your recently installed silicone is growing black and orange mold (yes, that orange stuff is mold also) behind it the most common cause is lack of proper drainage leading to trapped moisture behind your tile and silicone. Water which gets behind your tile needs a way to drain out and into the drain. If that water gets trapped and remains stagnant it will begin to grow mold. Check to make sure you have open weep holes in your silicone line so water doesn’t get trapped.

For the record, anti-germ sealant and like products only indicate that mold, mildew, and all that nasty stuff will not feed on any component of the sealant – it does not mean that mold will not grow because you use it. The only method to eliminate mold is a properly draining shower which is properly built and waterproofed.

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Judith

What a great website!

I am having my floor tile replaced and was about to buy grout at Home Depot when I saw two reviews on their computer screen that concerned me.  The product I was considering is Custom Building Products Sanded Polyblend grout.  One reviewer stated that the grout stunk of rotten eggs (a sulfurous odor, I imagine) and the other said his grout turned pinkish in color after it was applied.

Have you ever heard of such problems?  Should I find another brand of grout, and if so, what do you recommend?  I have 19 x 19″ ceramic tiles with 1/4″ grout lines.  Thank you!

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Roger

Hi Judith,

I, as most pros I’ve spoken with, absolutely cannot stand polyblend. The smell doesn’t really bother me but it effloresces so easily (the pink or lighter color) it’s a huge pain. I prefer laticrete brands or mapei sanded grout. Either one is 100 times better.

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Judith

Thank you!  I was able to find Mapei grout in the color I needed.  A contractor was in the store and overheard my conversation about Polyblend efflorescing; he thinks it’s caused by the terrible water we have around here (extremely hard and full of chlorine).  As a precaution we’ll be using reverse osmosis water with the Mapei grout. 
Again, thank you for your advice.  I’m sure it saved us a lot of problems.
Judith

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Daniel

Roger,
Would you recommend the same solvent-based fluropolymer sealer for a marble kitchen counter? In any case, can you recommend a particular brand? Thanks as always.
Daniel

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Roger

Yes, I would. For those applications I prefer Stonetech’s Impregnator Pro.

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Claire Mullisen

Hi Daniel,
Just a quick question; I just used sanded grout to regrout kitchen tile.  Spacing is 1/16 to 1/8.  Which sealer is the best for the kitchen counter situation.  I’d like to avoid stains and wash out of the grout from foods that are acidic.  I have a silicone grout sealer but I’m questioning whether it’s the best choice.  Thanks so much for your advice.  Claire

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Roger

Hi George (I’m Roger, not Daniel :D ),

No sealer is going to protect very well against acidic properties of high ph foods or liquids. That said, a fluoropolymer-based sealer (with a solvent carrier) would protect kitchen tile more than a silicone based. With a solvent carrier the sealer will get deeper into the pores of the grout than a water-carried, silicone based.

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Margaret

Love reading your helps!
We’re putting in new tile in a 36″ x 36″ separate shower, above a soaking tub to the window, and on a shelf area adjacent to the tub–just under 60 sq feet.  We’ve put on the new cement board and tape and will be using Redgard for waterproofing.  Our new tiles are 6 3/8 inch squares with a border of 1×1 inch slate, and we plan to use 1/8 inch spacing (which is about what the slate is set at on the mesh.)
My question is regarding the grout.  I’ve read your comments on Spectralock.  I’ve also seen in a big box store a product called TEC Invision stain resistant grout.  It’s ready to use, and the container says that it’s highly durable and stain resistant.  You do not need to seal; in fact, they say not to put on a sealer.  What do you think of this product?  Someone at the store said to use regular sanded grout but be sure to seal now on installation and again yearly.
Thanks for all the info.
 

Reply

Roger

Hi Margaret,

The TEC Invision is a urethane grout. It is stain resistant and does not need to be sealed. It’s a good product. Keep in mind it will have a longer curing time (seven days, I think. It’ll say so on the bucket) before water exposure.

Just for reference for everyone else: your tile DOES NOT need to be sealed yearly. More like every 5-7 years. Guess who’s trying to earn a sales bonus. :D

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Dan

Hi Roger-

Question on using SpectraLOCK for vertical inside corners and walls to floors joints in a tiled shower. My home, which is not quite 5 years old, has the most of the grout on two of the corners cracking and flaking off, and only a couple of very small cracks in one of the other three changes of plane. There is also a bit flaking/cracking on the walls to floor transition.

Upon the (very easy) removal of some of this grout it appears that the tiles were not cut at a 45 and the grout was applied to the face of one of the tiles and doesn’t get a very good bite on the side of the other. The corners that are doing well appear that there was a larger gap and that the grout is able to bite on the sides of both tiles at the plane change. I think they may have started at these corners and were able to leave a large enough gap to get grout to reach both tiles evenly.

My question is- would SpectraLOCK work in a situation like this (stick to the face of the ceramic tiles) or should I just scrape it all out and use a color matched caulk? I’ll do whatever is best, but it may look odd to have 4 or 5 grouted inside and outside corners and 2 caulked.

Any other options/thoughts?

Thanks in advance-

Dan

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Roger

Hey Dan,

Spectralock WOULD work, but it may lead to more problems than solutions. The grab that epoxies have, on the face or side of the tile, is a lot of times actually stronger than the tile itself. This means that when expansion and contraction happens the stress will cause the weakest point to crack and/or give way. In your current application the grout is the weakest point – the grout cracked. With epoxy the tile may be the weakest point – the tile cracks. That’s a larger problem. :D

Ideally you should scrape out ALL the changes of plane, remove all that grout, and replace it with caulk or silicone. It’s the proper way to have it and it won’t look funny because all of them are caulked. More work now – no work later. :D

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Dan

Thanks Roger-

OK, Will do. Do you thin the TEC or Laticrete sanded caulks would be a decent choice to keep the look of grout. Also, I think I am going to remove the caulk at the transition from the walls to the floor since it is starting to show some signs of wears/small cracks. I’ve read that the siliconized/sanded caulks are not good in this area, but it looks lie the Spectralock may work well in this location. Figure I might as well fix all the issues now while I am in there.

Thanks again-
Dan

Reply

Roger

TEC and Laticrete both make 100% silicone (colored) as well as the siliconized acrylic sanded caulk. I would get the 100% silicone and use it in all areas, as well as the floor / wall transition. It is approved for below waterline installations. Same issues apply there at the floor / wall transition as the corners. It may lead to problems.

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Dan

Thanks again Roger-

I’ll go that route. I just found another issue that I need to address. I noticed that one of the tiles at the step up into the shower was loose. I thought I’d address this while in there. Upon removing the tile the backer board was still glued to it and cracked in other areas. Also, the wood (OSB) that they used to build up the step is rotten due to water intrusion from the cracked grout not being addressed by the previous owners.

There appears to be a plastic liner installed and all of the floor tiles are nice and solid, but it doesn’t appear the person who laid the tile brought this over to the step. I could explain a lot better with a picture since I am a novice at this.

At this point is it still DIY’able by a pretty handy person (me) or should I call in the pro’s to make sure it it is fixed correctly. I am sure that the tile was laid by a professional as the house was high end new construction less than five years ago.

Thanks
dan

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Roger

The water intrusion to osb was not due to cracked grout. Grout does not waterproof anything. That step should have been properly waterproofed before any tile was installed at all. The best option, short of having a professional take care of it, would be to take out that osb, rebuild the step and properly waterproof it with a topical membrane like kerdi or redgard, then reinstall the tile.

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Tom Pullan

I agree Spectra Lock from Laticrete is the best for shower flloors, but where can you buy it?
Neither Home Depot nor Lowes in my hometown carry the brand. I tried calling Laticrete but their customer service dept consist of an answering machine asking you to leave a message. Any suggestions?

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Roger

Hey Tom,

They ask you to leave a message because they give your number to their closest rep and they will actually call you – weird, huh? You can also search online here: http://www.laticrete.com/homeowners/find_a_distributor.aspx

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Daniel

Roger,

I’m tiling two bathrooms in relatively light-colored carrara marble tiles and want to use a white grout. I know you’re a real proponent of Spectralock epoxy grout, and I would love to use it, but Laticrete’s technical support told me to avoid it for marble or other natural stone.

What would you recommend as an alternative, assuming (of course!) that I want the most stain-free, mildew-free, non-yellowing, waterproof grout I can find? Is Quartzlock 2 (urethane) a good choice, or must I stick with a more typical cement grout like Laticrete 1600 with 1776 grout enhancer (what Laticrete recommended)? Incidentally, I think my contractor typically uses cement-based grout and probably hasn’t used urethane or epoxy.

As always, thank you so much for your help – it’s invaluable.

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Roger

Hey Daniel,

Quartzlock 2 is good stuff but it does require adherence (strict) to the installation instructions as well as the amount of time required before foot traffic, cleaning and water exposure. Laticrete with 1776 would be my choice given the option. The 1776 works very well and it is a much easier installation in my opinion, than urethane would be for someone not familiar with it.

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Germain

Roger

I’ve installed polished marble in my bathroom using 3/16 grout size. After reading some of the epoxy grout reviews, it seems some people had serious trouble with epoxy grout over the traditional sanded grout, which makes me a little nervous. However I know sanded grout does present problems with scratching and staining polished marble. Can I use sanded grout if I applied a sealer over the marble before grouting?

Reply

Roger

Hi Germain,

You can, but it won’t guarantee that the sanded grout won’t scratch the marble. Epoxy is a bit more difficult to work with – some more than others. I’ve fount that Laticrete Spectralock is the easiest. Whichever you decide make sure to test it on a scrap piece of marble first to ensure you won’t have any problems. Some marble will scratch, some won’t. Testing it is the only way to tell most of the time.

Reply

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