Grout: Inside and Out
Grout has the same ingredients as concrete, but because of the water/cement ratio, has a greater plasticity than concrete.
Natural stone and tile have been popular inclusions in modern home design for many years. They are loved because of their vast style options, durability, cleanliness, and natural qualities. Although it is possible to install tiles and stones without any space in-between, most homeowners prefer to have at least a small space. Not only does it look better, but it allows for some flexibility in the design. Obviously, these spaces can’t be left empty, and thus it is a common practice to fill them with a concrete substance.
This concrete substance is called “grout”. Grout has the same ingredients as concrete, but because of the water/cement ratio, has a greater plasticity than concrete. Grout is worked into the spaces between the tiles and then allowed to dry. After it is dry, it is finished with a protective seal to protect it from cracking or staining. It can be tinted several different colors to create a close match with the stone or tile.
Be sure your tile or stone has been allowed to dry for at least three days. Purchase a powdered grout, either sanded or non-sanded. Sanded grout is used primarily for wall joints or very thin ones, but non-sanded is mainly used on floor surfaces. Be careful to follow the mixing instructions on the package. An ideal consistency is a smooth paste. Too much water will make a messy, weak grout that will be more prone to cracking. Work the grout into the joint, being sure it settles completely without leaving any air pockets. Clean off the top of the seam and the tile with a damp sponge.
The application of exterior grout is much the same as interior, although you need to take extra precautions against weather and temperature extremes. Be sure to follow the recommendations on the package. For exterior applications, choose a sanded grout mixed with a latex additive for more moisture resistance. Epoxy grouts can also be more resistant to moisture, but they can also trap moisture beneath them; so care must be taken in the installation. There are specially made grouts for exterior purposes depending on the material of your stone or tile.
Of course, tile installation is important. Each step requires patience and careful installation to ensure the lasting quality of the tile. If done in the wrong temperatures or if the process is hurried, it can lead to cracking and other problems. Be sure to only hire prescreened tiling and flooring contractors to install your tile or stone.
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