Have you ever stopped to wonder what all of those little lines of material are between the tiles in your home or business? Is it possible to have a tile surface without this hard material? Grout is the material put in place between each section of tile that provides a protective barrier from outside elements and prevents damage that would occur if the tiles were allowed to touch.

Why do I need grout?
Every tile floor, counter, wall, backsplash, or shower stall requires a space between the tiles to eliminate damage from movement and rubbing. Placing tiles too close together without grout will lead to premature wear, chipping, and cracks. The measured space between each tile is open to moisture filtering between and under the tiles. It needs filling with grout, or an acceptable grout alternative material. Completing this step avoids the unnecessary damage caused by water that leads to wood rot or mold. The amount of grout material used is minimal and adds little to the overall cost of your tile project.

What is standard grout?
Standard grout for tile is not comprised of any mystery ingredients. It is made of Portland cement. It comes as a powder in bags and is mixed with an appropriate amount of water. Creating the right consistency is the as important as a proper application. Your tile expert will know how to mix the grout to perfection and apply the correct amount to fill each gap evenly.

Defining the gap size
Part of the art in creating a beautiful tile surface is deciding and measuring out the perfect gap size for the grout. Spacing too large or small for the desired tile size will provide results that are not pleasing to the eye, or limit the protective quality of the grout. The basic rule of thumb for grout spacing is the smaller the tile, the smaller the space needed for each tile. Some larger clay tiles can have gaps of up to 1/2-inch, which is fairly wide. Smaller bathroom or backsplash tile can have gaps between that are considerably smaller and provide effective protection.

Sanded or non-sanded
You can normally tell the difference in sanded or non-sanded grout by the feel of the texture on your skin. If you carefully run your finger along the grout line and it feels extremely rough, it is non-sanded grout. Sanded grout will still have a rough feel, but it is noticeably smoother. The difference in texture is based on preference since both offer equal stand-up ability and protection for the tile. What makes the composition different is an addition of small grains of sand in the sanded mixture. It still provides texture, but it is smoother and easier to care for in areas that see a lot of moisture, like showers and bathroom floors. You will get less soap scum build-up with smoother grout.

Non-cement grout products
Being able to install grout that offers a variety of colors and high levels of protection from staining requires the use of a partial latex epoxy mixed with Portland cement. It provides a good protective barrier to staining and chemical damage. 100-percent epoxy for grout uses silica fillers and epoxy hardener. It is somewhat softer than the Portland cement mix and epoxy blend, but completely resistant to stains, water, and most chemicals.

Commercial and industrial tile surfaces might require more intensive protection from chemicals and water intrusion through a different type of grout material. Furan is a product used that consists of epoxy resins and inert fillers, which has a hardener added before use. It creates a barrier that allows protection from a variety of chemicals, including mild acidic compounds. The need to protect the structure behind and beneath tiles in commercial and industrial settings is critical to safely staying in operation. Each tile must be coated in wax before the application of this type of grout. Steam cleaning afterward offers perfect results.

Caulking is the preferred method of sealing the areas between the tile and walls, around sinks and tubs, and around 90-degree angles. It is applied using a caulking gun or tube. When dry it will be soft and rubber-like or hard, depending on the silicon content. It provides a softer, waterproofing barrier where needed.

Call us at On the Spot Floors for any questions you have about tile flooring and grout options for your home or business. Stop by our showroom in Powhatan and view our selections of tile and find the perfect material for your surface needs right away! Our experts offer affordable tile and grouting services throughout the Richmond area.