Finding the Best Grout for Your Tiling Job

The best grout option will not only ensure a good finish, but will also help to minimize future maintenance. Grout that is properly applied and sealed should have a lifetime comparable to the tile itself. This article explains the best grout to use for most tiling jobs around the house…

Unsanded (or non-sanded) Grout

As a rule of thumb, unsanded grout is designed especially for grout lines that are less than an eighth of an inch wide. Thin lines suit unsanded grout because a wide line of unsanded grout will tend to shrink as it cures. So if you are using a lot of grout and have wide grout lines thicker than 1/8 inch, be prepared for shrinkage. When this happens, the grout will pull away from the tile edges.

Unsanded grout is better for jobs such as tiling a shower wall or other vertical surfaces, as it adheres better than the sanded grout. Simply spread it onto the wall and then you can work on the grout lines around each tile. Unsanded grout is also a lot gentler on the hands as compared with sanded grout.

Sanded Grout

If you have grout lines greater than 1/8 inch, then consider using sanded grout. Sanded grout will not shrink as much as unsanded and it will also ensure good adhesion to your tile over the gap width.

Obviously, sanded grout includes very fine sand as an ingredient. It’s the sand that protects against a lot of shrinkage. The best grout choice for a majority of larger-grout line tile installations will be sanded grout.

However, do take care if you are using limestone, marble or granite stone tiles, as sanded grout may scratch the tile. It’s always a good idea to test if the grout might scratch the finish of the tile – try an inconspicuous area before going ahead with the job. Using epoxy grout might be the best choice here.

Epoxy Grout

At the ‘high end’ of the market, the best grout is undoubtably epoxy-based, suitable for pretty much any tiling installation. Epoxy grout is better than sanded or unsanded grout – and so can be easily substituted for these types. In addition, epoxy grout is also tougher, stain resistant and waterproof – so it is a good choice if you don’t mind paying a higher price!

How does epoxy grout work? Well, it usually consists of 2 main ingredients, the ‘base’ and ‘activator’ that must be mixed together. Quite often there will also be a third chemical which will give the grout the correct color. Simply mix up the parts as per the instructions and a chemical reaction will start.

So is it true that epoxy grout is always the best grout to use? Well, the challenge with this type of grout is that after mixing, you will only have a limited time before the mixture has ‘set’ and become unworkable – so make sure your job is properly prepared before mixing the grout! If you run out of time, then that batch of epoxy grout will become unusable.

Top tip! Once you have mixed a batch of epoxy grout, put half of it in a freezer! The cooled mixture will take a lot longer to cure, so you can increase the amount of time you have for finishing the job. It’s a straightforward procedure to clean the first epoxy grout application and then use the cooled grout batch to finish the job. However – give the frozen batch a few minutes to thaw otherwise it will be unworkable.

So this is a handy tip to effectively double the working time that you’ll have with your grout – ensuring a well finished job that is not rushed.

Please note, even for Epoxy grout it is always wise to test for abrasiveness, just in case – especially if you are using expensive polished marble or granite tiles.

Your Best Tile Grout Choice

The main characteristics of the best grout for any particular job will be its working time (time to cure – after which it will be unworkable), its adhesiveness, and its workability.

A good and trusted brand of grout would be stain resistant, and have a longer working time than other other epoxy grouts – check the reviews of different brands to get an idea of the best grout that people would recommend. Of course, even if the brand you select has a long working time, you may still want to freeze half your mixed batch to extend your working time even more. Please note, that ‘stain resistant’ means ‘pretty good’ at not discoloring, as long as any dyes (e.g hair dye) are quickly wiped off.

In DIY, there is always a compromise to be made. For epoxy grout, although it is probably the best grout to use in many applications, it does tend to be expensive. However, you will find that it is well worth the extra money in terms of its extra durability, an easier tiling job and low future maintenance.

Your choice of grout for a tiling project will be essential. A lot of tiling problems can be avoided simply by doing your research and choosing the best grout for the job. Choosing a good quality grout will transform your tiling installation from a good result to a great result, so using a well respected grout brand is well worth the effort and extra expense.

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