Here at Country Custom Tile we believe all good tile and grout installations are due to correct and careful workmanship by the installaer and follow through with proper curing conditions, cleaning and sealing procedures. Many times after the tiles have been set and grouted, the jobsite is left overnight to dry with no follow up procedures. Attention to follow up procedures will carry on the good work and produce a superb tile installation.
- Curing Conditions – This is one of the most important factors in grout color, yet is the most overlooked. Inconsistent, uneven and splotchy colored cementitious grout is often due to poor curing conditions. Changes in temperature of the grout installation during the installation and into the first 72 hours will cause some degree of discoloration. Variation in the rate of evaporation or absorption of the water in the grout due to wind, sun, fog, rain, fans, heaters, drafts, vents, water puddles and moisture from a mud bed or substrate cause color problems.
- Maintain a constant temperature ( ideal temperature 70 degrees Fahrenheit ) for the installation. The temperature may be lower or higher but a consistent temperature is required to achieve a consistent and even color.
- Prevent, block or remove all sources that would cause uneven drying conditions for the first 72 hours. Use of natural kraft paper is recommended to cover the installation after the grout has been cleaned from the face of the tile. All excess water should be removed from the tile and grout surfaces before covering. Plastic sheets or newspaper should never be used to cover the tile and grout.
- After 10 days of curing, the tile and grout may require a sulfamic acid cleaning. Use C-Cure’s C-Clean and carefully follow the directions on the container. Always saturate the grout with clean water before applying the Cleaning solution. Never use acids on natural marble or thin glazed tile installation because etching of the polish or glazing will occur.
Types Of Grout
There are basically two types of grout used that are widely used today. They are referred to as Sanded and Unsanded.
Sanded grout consists of: 1 part portland cement, 2 parts fine sand, cellulose (to hold the water in the mix), defoamers (to prevent air entrapment during mixing), and polymers (for strength and flexibility).
Unsanded grout consists of: 1 part portland cement, 2 parts calcium carbonate (used as a filler powder), cellulose, defoamers, and polymers.
Grout Types For Different Materials
Granites, marbles, and other natural stones will require unsanded grout for all practical purposes. Granite tiles with chamfered edges are usually set at very close tolerances to produce a very elegant look. This requires the smooth unsanded grout to fill the void because the sand particles in sanded grout will not penetrate through.
Marble tile share some of the same characteristics of granite tiles but are much softer. For this reason alone it is much safer to use unsanded grout so you don’t scratch the marble with the sand particles present in the sanded grout.
We hear horror stories all the time from many people when it comes to grout. People even give up on the idea of installing a tile floor because of what happened to them in the past.
Some of the problems I’ve heard and experienced actually can be explained easily. When properly used, grout can be a long lasting surface just like tile. If it’s not properly used it can create a major problems.
Just A Few Basic Principles
Mixing instructions are provided on the bag or the box.
It doesn’t matter if you are using water or an additive make sure you don’t over mix the grout. This can trap air bubbles in the grout causing premature failure.
Don’t add excessive water in the mixture. This weakens the grout and makes it much more porous. The grout will then lack durability and will stain more rapidly. Grout should have a consistency of mayonnaise or toothpaste when mixed.
Let The Grout Slake
This is a term that refers to letting the grout sit in the bucket for at least 10 minutes after mixing it. This helps the chemicals interact with one another before use it. After the “slake” period remix slightly then you apply it.
Grouting: The trick here is to Buy a good grout float. Don’t buy the economy floats with the grooved faces on them. They leave lines in the finished grout joint and should be avoided at all cost.
A good professional float with a totally smooth face on it usually costs just a few dollars more and is well worth it the investment.
The grout has to be worked into the joints at a 25 to 35 degree angle. This prevents removing excessive grout from the joints.
When grouting You have to be systematic in the application of the grout. The job needs to be divided into quadrants and apply the grout as such. This permits me to deal with any problems that arise along the way and also keeps me from letting the grout dry too hard.
Clean-up: Don’t over wash the grout. This takes away the surface pigments and also produce’s lower joints that can vary in color.
Don’t continue to wipe and clean the grout after it’s begun to set. This will remove the smooth cement surface paste exposing the sand or aggregate. If you do that you get a rough, gritty appearance.
The grout sponge has to be rinsed often. This prevents build up on the tile that will be hard to clean later. Also the paste on a dirty sponge will collect in the voids of the grout joints leaving a rough residue that makes the joints vary in color.