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Article 18 - Using the Correct Grout

Article 18 - Using the Correct Grout

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Published by Michelle Symonds

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Published by: Michelle Symonds on May 17, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Installing Floor Tiles – A Basic Guide
Laying floor tiles seems like it should be easy for an amateur DIY enthusiast 
after all isn't it  just a matter of sticking square or rectangular tiles to a flat surface? In practise it is never that easy 
floors are never perfectly flat and tiles have to be cut to fit around immoveableobjects like sanitary ware, pipes or doorways.
Laying floor tiles is a job for a professional tiler or a very competent DIY enthusiast becauseit usually requires special tools and a certain amount of skill to get it looking perfect. Layinga square or rectangular shaped tile may seem relatively easy but the difficulties arise whentiles have to be cut (as they always do) and shaped around obstacles in the room. Cuttinghard tiles such as porcelain floor tiles or some types of natural stone is a job that onlyprofessional equipment can do properly. It is possible to hire the right equipment but thatcan be expensive and there is still a risk of ruining expensive porcelain tiles with a bad cut.If you are confident enough to install your floor tiles yourself, or whether you haveemployed a professional tiler, the most important thing to do first is prepare the surfaceonto which the tiles will be laid.If the existing floor is concrete then the job will be quite straightforward
the mortar can beapplied directly to the floor and the tiles laid on top.If the existing floor is wooden then the solution is less simple - cement backer units (CBU)used with a moisture-proof membrane are a good choice for a wall tile substrate in wetareas and are often also used in order to strengthen a floor and provide a moisture barrierbetween the tiling and underlying wood. But cement backer units will not entirely preventbending of a wooden floor under the weight of very heavy floor tiles. For very heavy tilesbeing installed over a wooden floor a plywood substrate will be needed.Once the substrate is prepared the area must be measured and the layout for your tile sizeplanned and marked out. A cement based adhesive (thinset mortar) is then applied insections to the substrate with a trowel and each floor tile laid on top using the markedguidelines and plastic tile spacers to maintain even gaps between the tiles for the grout. Theadvantage of a thinset mortar is that it doesn't dry too quickly so you can shift the tilesslightly to get the perfect layout.As each section of floor tiles is laid the level should be checked with a large spirit levelbecause floors are rarely entirely flat. Extra mortar can be used to even out areas wherethere is a slight difference in level.For hard tiles such as porcelain tiles a wet saw with a diamond blade is used to cut themaround fixed obstacles such as sanitary ware, pipes and doorways.Once all of the tiles have been laid leave the mortar to dry thoroughly before beginning tofill the gaps between them with grout. There are three different types of grout available:
Unsanded - for grout joints less than 3mm wide
Sanded - for grout joints with a width of 3mm or more
a waterproof and stain resistant grout for any width of grout jointChoosing the right type of grout for porcelain floor tiles will give a professional finish but will also reduce the amount of maintenance required, and if it is properly sealed it will last for aslong as the porcelain tiles themselves. Avoid walking on the floor until the grout has completely dried
this can take up to 2 daysdepending on the thickness of your tiles and on the width of the grout joints.
Using the Correct Type of Grout
by RogerThere are three basic types of grout available for your tile installation. They are:
Non-Sanded (also known as Unsanded)
Choosing the correct grout for your particular installation will not only complete the jobcorrectly, it will also cut down on maintenance. Properly installed and sealed grout will lastfor the life of your tile. So which to use and when?
Non-Sanded (or Unsanded) Grout 
Unsanded grout is made specifically for grout lines smaller than 1/8 inch wide. This is a
general rule. I use unsanded grout only in tile with grout lines smaller than 1/16″. Unsanded
grout (all grout to different degrees) will shrink as it cures. The reason for only using it insmaller grout lines is the wider the grout lines, the more grout must be used to fill them. Themore grout you have, the more it will shrink. If you try to fill grout lines that are too large thegrout will shrink enough to pull away from the sides of the tile.Unsanded grout is easier to work with, especially on vertical surfaces such as a shower wall,because
it is “stickier” than the sanded variety. You can spread it onto the wall and it will
stick there while you force it into the grout lines. It is also much easier on the hands thansanded. Although it is easier to work with, you need to make sure that the application forwhich you are using it is correct.
Sanded Grout 
Sanded Grout is used for any size grout lines 1/8″ and wider. Although the
state unsanded grout be used in grout lines that are exactly 1/8″, you really should use sanded
for them. It will ensure proper adhesion to your tile and guard against too much shrinkage.No, not Seinfeld shrinkage, grout shrinkage.Sanded grout has fine sand added to it. This prevents the grout from shrinking too much as it
cures. That’s why it is used for larger grout lines and should be used for the majority of tile
installations.If you have a polished stone such as granite, marble, limestone, and some polished travertine,you should be careful about using sanded grout. While sanded may be the correct choice forthe size of grout lines, it may not be the best choice. Depending upon the polish of the stonethe sand in the grout may actually scratch it. If you decide to use sanded make sure you test itin an inconspicuous area first to ensure it will not scratch your finish. Or use epoxy whichwould be a better choice anyway.

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