Which Type of Grout Should I Use for My Project?
Grout is a mixture of materials that is used to fill the joints between tile and masonry units. It bonds the tiles, making them stronger and more resistant to chipping and cracking. Grout is necessary to make your floors, walls, or counters watertight and to give them a finished look. Choosing the right grout for your project depends on the application, the materials you are grouting, and the width of the joints.
Types of Grout
Grout is either cement, epoxy, or polymer based.
Cement grout is either sanded or unsanded. Sanded grout is a mixture of Portland cement, color pigments, sand, and water. Sanded grout is used in joints that are 1/8 of an inch or wider. The sand is added as a filler to prevent the grout from shrinking in larger joints. Unsanded grout is a mixture of Portland cement, color pigments, and water. It is a smoother blend that is ideal for joints less than 1/8 of an inch wide. Cement-based grouts are porous and should be sealed with a penetrating sealer after the grout has completely dried. Cement-based grouts are appropriate for most home floor, wall, and countertop tile installations.
Epoxy grout is a mixture of resin and a hardening agent. Like cement grout, it is available sanded or unsanded. Epoxy grout is best for floors that are highly trafficked and kitchen countertops. It is more durable and stain resistant. It also forms a moisture barrier and does not need to be sealed. It is more expensive than cement grout and harder to install because it sets up very quickly. Epoxy grout is best applied by a skilled tradesman.
Furan grout is a mixture of polymers that are chemical and moisture resistant. It is similar to epoxy grout and best suited for areas that are subject to grease, chemicals, and staining. Furan can be used with quarry tiles. However, it may stain the tile during application. The tile should be waxed prior to grouting to protect it. Furan grout is only available in black. It should be applied by a skilled tradesman because of the fumes the grout emits while being mixed. Furan is well suited for commercial projects, such as food preparation and storage areas, or in a home workshop where grease and chemicals might be present.
Caring for and Cleaning Grout
Cement grout applications may require periodic resealing to prevent staining. Floors especially should be resealed once a year. Most grout can be cleaned with a grease-removing detergent and a brush. Grout cleaning with steam can be performed by a professional grout cleaning service. Over time, grout may crack or deteriorate and areas of your tiled surface will need to be re-grouted. This entails removing the old grout with a small digging tool or specialty knife and applying new grout. You can find tubes of repair grout caulk at hardware stores to make the job easier.
To prevent toxic mold from building up, it is recommended that your tile surfaces be cleaned often. Drying the surfaces after cleaning is also recommended.