Grouting materials for ceramic, glass, and stone tiles are available in many forms to meet the requirements of the different kinds of tile and types of exposures. Portland cement is the base for most grouts and is modified to provide specific qualities such as whiteness, mildew resistance, uniformity, hardness, flexibility, and water retentively.
Non-cement-based grouts such as epoxies, furans, and premixed polymer resin grouts offer properties not possible with cement grouts. However, special skills and precautions on the part of the tile setter may be required.
STANDARD CEMENT GROUT
Standard Unsanded Cement Grout: A factory-prepared mixture of cement, fine aggregate, and other ingredients to produce a water-resistant, dense, uniformly-coloured material meant for joints 1/8” in width or less.
Standard Sanded Cement Grout: A factory-prepared mixture of cement, graded sand, and other ingredients to produce a water-resistant, dense, uniformly-coloured material meant for joints 1/8” in width or greater. Grouts in this category are suitable for grouting walls and floors subject to ordinary use.
On stone and glass tiles, make sure the surface will not be scratched by sand in the grout; unhanded grout may be required. Unsanded grout is commonly used with polished calcium carbonate-based stones. Some glass tile manufacturers require unsanded grout to prevent scratching on smooth glass tile surfaces. Complete installation and material specifications are contained in ANSI A108.10 and A118.6. For applicable ISO material specifications, see ISO CG criteria.
HIGH PERFORMANCE TILE GROUT
High Performance Unsanded Tile Grout: A factory-prepared mixture of cement and other ingredients, including a dispersible latex/polymer powder, to which only water is added at the obsite, or a liquid latex admixture. When added in a latex form, it is added as a replacement for part or all of the mixing water. These groups are designed for installation in joints 1/8” in width or less.
High Performance Sanded Tile Grout:
A factory-prepared mixture of cement, sand, and other ingredients, including dispersible latex/polymer powder, to which only water is added at the jobsite, or a liquid latex admixture. When added in a latex form it is added as a replacement for part or all of the mixing water. These groups are designed for installation in joints1/8” in width or greater. The maximum allowable joint width is designated by the grout manufacturer.
Grouts in this category provide improved characteristics such as increased tensile strengths, flexural strengths, and lower water absorption to resist frost damage. Some of these high-performance grouts contain a finer aggregate and cover a range from the industry standard minimum 1/16” grout joint up to1/2” joint. On stone and glass tiles, make sure the surface will not be scratched by sand/aggregate in the grout; unsanded grout maybe required. Unsanded grout is commonly used with polished calcium carbonate-based stones.
Some glass tile manufacturers require unsanded grout to prevent scratching on smooth glass tile surfaces.
Complete installation and material specifications are contained in ANSI A108.10 and A118.7. For applicable ISO material specifications, see ISO CG criteria.
STAIN RESISTANCE AND COLOR CONSISTENCY OF CEMENTITIOUS GROUTS
Colour consistency and stain resistance vary depending on several factors: water absorption of the tile (with lower absorption generally producing a lighter shade), grout colour chosen, whether polymer or water is used, amount of water used in mixing and cleaning, degree of curing before cleaning, grout compaction, joint depth, joint finishing, humidity, and many other parameters. In-field colour can vary significantly from factory-prepared colour samples, and many grouts are darker when wet.
While there is currently no industry standard to evaluate colour consistency or stain resistance of cementitious grouts, there are grout formulations and/or admixtures available that allow for improved colour consistency. Similarly, there are grout formulations, and/or admixtures, and/or sealers that allow for improved stain resistance by reducing the extent or severity of staining. Notal stains are affected similarly; consult grout manufacturers for application suitability and maintenance recommendations.
Regardless of the grout used and whether or not a sealer was applied, tile and grout can generally be cleaned by sweeping first and rinsing with water. In cases where excess dirt cannot be removed, use an alkaline or pH-neutral cleaner at the lowest effective concentration and rinse thoroughly to eliminate residue. Do not use oil-based cleaners, which are difficult to remove and entrap dirt.
Epoxy grout is a grout system employing epoxy resin and hardener portions, often containing coarse silica filler, especially formulated for industrial and commercial installations where chemical resistance is important. These grouts also provide high bond strength, impact resistance, and improved stain resistance. High-temperature, chemical-resistant formulas are also available. Chemical and stain resistance can vary between epoxies; consult grout manufacturers for application suitability, including exterior UV exposure and maintenance recommendations.
Complete installation and material specifications are contained in ANSI A108.6 and A118.3. For specifications, see ISO RG criteria.
EPOXY EMULSION GROUT
Epoxy emulsion grout is a grout system employing epoxy resin and hardener portions, both of which contain additional water to form an emulsion. The coarse silica filler portion also contains Portland cement. These groups are not designed for chemical resistance nor designed to meet ANSI A108.6 or ANSI A118.3. Complete installation and material specifications are contained in ANSI A108.9 and A118.8. For specifications, see ISO RG criteria.
PREMIXED POLYMER RESIN GROUT
Premixed polymer resin grouts are one-part ready-to-use grouts containing various types of polymers such as acrylics or urethanes and fillers that may be sanded or unsanded. Manufacturers contend these pre-mixed grouts typically do not require sealing; are efflorescence resistant, flexible and crack resistant, offering limited chemical resistance. The appropriateness of these grouts for commercial use, water-immersion, and exterior applications varies widely; review and follow manufacturer recommendations before use.
Credit: Australian Tile Council
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