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Bathroom Remodel Part 7: Grout Choices

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Not too many years ago picking a grout was as simple as choosing a color. The thickness of the grout joint determined whether you needed sanded or unsanded. Gone are the days. Now grouts come in many types, and not every type is suitable for every job.

The old-school standard grouts are generally suitable for most applications, interior, exterior, wet, or dry areas. They need to be sealed, either with a sealer additive that goes in during mixing, or an application of sealer after the grout has cured. They don’t always provide complete color consistency over the entire installation, some colors being more uniform than others.

Manufacturers have begun offering premium grouts, epoxy grouts, and pre-mixed grouts, boasting benefits such as color consistency, and stain resistance. Some are adequate for wet areas, some are not. Some require long cure times if used in wet areas. If you’re a DIYer with no tiling experience, do your homework before picking a grout. Make sure it will work for your intended application. And read the customer reviews, don’t rely solely on the manufacturer’s information.

Epoxy grouts may seem intimidating, but if you’re willing to closely follow the manufacturers directions, they’re not significantly more difficult than any other grout. The washing process has to be done thoroughly. Cured epoxy residue can range from extremely difficult, to impossible to remove. The good news is, uncured epoxy grout is not especially difficult to wash off. The addition of vinegar to the wash water can help you achieve a residue free installation. You’ll need several clean sponges to wash epoxy, as they quickly become clogged and unusable. If you’re considering an epoxy, carefully read all the manufacturer’s instructions. Each brand has specific procedures. And watch some how to videos. That’s what I did before tackling epoxy for the first time, and the job turned out fine.

I’ve run into some issues with one manufacturer’s premium grout. The first time I used it, no problem. The second time, a few months later, it cured so fast I had to scrape it off a portion of a wall. The product line was pretty new at the time. I don’t know if the manufacturer was still tweaking the formulation, or if the mineral content in the water at the location may have played a role, or what happened. I’ve used the product since and had issues with the recommended amount of water leaving me with dry powder instead of floatable grout. Both previous times the recommended amount gave me a near perfect mix. For liability reasons, I’m not mentioning any product names in this public forum, so do your research. Customer reviews are an invaluable resource.

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