Nearly all forms of tiles use some type of grout to fill in between the tile seams Whether the tile is made of porcelain, ceramic, natural stone, or quarry, it is imperative that the seams between the tiles are filled with grout to prevent moisture from reaching the underlayment. To make tile flooring water-resistant, all the grout should be properly maintained and repaired when cracks become evident.
There are three main types of grout used by tilers when installing tiles and these are cementitious grout, epoxy grout, and furan resin grout. Each grout type has its own unique properties that make them suitable for specific applications. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at these three grout types to find out which one you should use for your next tiling project.
1. Cementitious Grouts
Cementitious grouts use Portland cement as their main component along with filler particles of different sizes, coloured pigments, and a water-retentive additive. Cementitious grout is the traditional grouting material which is commonly used in both residential and commercial tile installations.
Cementitious grout comes in a variety of colours that allow the installer to match or contrast it with their chosen tile. The grout is mixed with water and applied with a trowel. The water retentive agent is what allows the cement to cure slowly for maximum hardness
Cementitious grout comes in two types namely sanded grout and unsanded grout. Let’s take a look at the differences between these two varieties:
* Sanded grout – A type of cementitious grout that includes fairly large sand particles which contribute to its gritty look and feel. Sanded grout is generally recommended for grout seams that are 1/8 inch wide or more as the sand provides extra bonding power to help prevent cracking. Care is needed when using sanded grouts on highly polished tiles as the sand particles are abrasive and can scratch the surfaces easily.
* Unsanded grout – This type of cementitious grout is smoother in texture since it contains mineral particles that have no noticeable grit. Unsanded grout is often used in grout seams that are 1/16 to 1/8 inch wide. Anything more than that and unsanded grout may crack due to the insufficient binding power compared to sanded grout.
Cementitious grout is by far the most popular grout type and can be used virtually on any tile project. that tile is installed. When it comes to maintenance, cementitious grout needs to be sealed with a penetrating sealer once every two years to keep them waterproof and stain-free.
2. Epoxy Grout
Epoxy grout is entirely different from cementitious grout in that it doesn’t use Portland cement nor water in the mixing process. This type of grout consists primarily of epoxy resin along with silica fillers, pigments, and a hardener. Epoxy grout is significantly less porous than cementitious grout and is an excellent choice for applications where acids and greases are commonplace such as kitchens.
Epoxy grout also comes in both unsanded and sanded varieties, although the type of sand used is different than those found in cementitious grout. Epoxy grout has a relatively fast setup time which makes them a bit tricky to use for amateur tile installers. This type of grout is also more expensive than cementitious grout at around $4-$8 per pound.
For areas where stain resistance is important, epoxy grout may prove to be an excellent choice. Keep in mind that epoxy grout can potentially stain limestone or quarry tiles which have porous and unglazed surfaces. If you decide to use epoxy grout on such tiles, make sure to seal them first before grouting to avoid unsightly stains.
One benefit of epoxy grout is that unlike cementitious grout, However, they can become stained over time which is why cleaning them regularly is an absolute must. Scrubbing with a mixture of water and bleach (or vinegar) is more than enough to clean epoxy grout effectively.
There is a variety of epoxy grout called modified epoxy grout which contains Portland cement. The characteristics of this hybrid grout are similar to cementitious grout in that they require regular sealing. However, this type of grout is harder, stronger, and more stain-resistant compared to a standard epoxy grout.
3. Furan Resin Grout
Furan resin grout is quite similar to epoxy, but instead of using epoxy resins, a blend of polymers with fortified alcohols are used. The name is derived from the furfuryl alcohol included in the grout formula which contributes to its chemical resistance. Furan grout consists of two-component systems which are the furan resin and a filler powder with an acid catalyst. The acid causes the furan resins to cure and form a thermosetting resin, thus giving it excellent thermal, chemical, and physical properties.
Furan grout is commonly used to grout tiles that are frequently exposed to harsh chemicals such as laboratories, distilleries, institutional kitchens, and breweries. Prior to grouting the tiles, they must first undergo a wax coating to protect them from staining. Because of the difficulty of installation, these grouts are normally used for industrial projects and are reserved for experienced tile installers only.
Precautions should be made when mixing furan grout to avoid inhaling the vapours which are harmful to human health. Installing furan resin grout requires skill and precision as knowing the right temperatures are crucial for a successful installation. Installing furan grout should be done when the temperatures are between 15ºC and 32ºC so that it cures properly.