All About Grouts & Adhesives
At Beaumonts, we’re here to help ensure your project not only looks amazing but is fit for purpose. With our range of quality grout and adhesives, your project will go from wow to WOW!
Our tiling experts are always happy to recommend the best adhesive and grout types & colours to ensure you get it right because when you’re thrilled with your new space, we’re thrilled too. Everything you need to know is right here.
There are many different substrates (that’s the term for the surfaces that we tile over) and different types of tiles so it’s vital that the correct adhesive is chosen to ensure your tiles stay in place for years to come. The tile and substrate will have different characteristics such as porosity, moisture absorption, thermal expansion, as well as the conditions in the area. These will determine the most suitable adhesive.
There is an international standard for tile adhesives. It’s a bit technical but the table on the right will help your understanding of the types of adhesives and characteristics.
Firstly, all tile adhesives are classified as one of three types: [C] Cementitious (the most common type), [D] Dispersion (Mastics) or [R] Reaction (epoxy types for example).
Each adhesive type can have additional performance characteristics such as  Normal adhesive (standard strength) or  Improved (stronger for heavy-duty commercial areas).
They can also have special characteristics such as [F] Fast setting (drying quicker), [T] Slip-resistant (so wall tiles don’t slip while installing), [E] Extended open time (the adhesive is slower to skin over), [S] Special deformable characteristic (for cementitious adhesives only), either [S1] flexible, or [S2] highly flexible.
As the name suggests, cement-based adhesives are mixtures of cement, fine sand and compounds that allow the cement to properly hydrate. They are the most commonly used type of adhesive, working well in the recommended thin layer, and providing structural support so that minor adjustments in height can be made.
The advantages of cement-based adhesives are that they can be used in areas where there may be moisture present. While they are not waterproof, they are not water-soluble. When moisture is present, the adhesive will not return to a liquefied state as for example a traditional mastic might. Cement-based adhesives are inorganic so will not sustain or be a source for any mould growth.
What Is Grout?
Grout plays both a functional and decorative role in any tiling job. Grout’s main role is to seal the joints between tiles and help keep the tiles in place and to keep them nicely and evenly aligned. Grout is also more compressible than a tile to accommodate any movement in the substrate. In a nutshell, it fills the slim lines between tiles, helps hold your tiles in place and prevents water penetration. The colour you choose is completely up to you and will make a big difference to the final look of your new space.
Different Grout Types
There are two types of grout; cement-based and resin-based (epoxy grouts).
The cement-based grouts are the most commonly used and often have added characteristics. Cement-based grout is generally a mixture of cement, water, sand and sometimes polymers or other materials that help improve its performance and durability.
Cement grout can be improved with the addition of latex polymers which are either supplied pre-mixed into the grout powder or added separately as a liquid during mixing. The addition of the latex increases the water resistance and flexibility of the grout.
One key benefit is the large range of grout colours to choose from.
Sanded grout is, as the title suggests, normal cement-based grout which contains aggregate sand. The sand makes the grout much more durable than unsanded grout and reduces the risk of shrinkage normally associated with cement.
Exterior tiling typically has wider grout joints. There are specific grouts made to suit wider joints that contain more coarse aggregate sand to prevent cracks or shrinkage.
Unsanded grout is smoother and easy to work with. It is cement-based and uses superfine particles rather than regular sand in the mix. Unsanded grout is typically used when the tile has a high gloss surface, metallic glaze or delicate surface effect or with a polished marble or soft limestone where the sand could act as an abrasive (like sandpaper) on the surface. Unsanded grout can shrink or pull away from tiles if the grout joint is very wide. It is ideal for narrow and normal width grout joints.
What Grout Colour Should I Use?
Grout comes in so many colour shades and we love grout's ability to completely elevate a tiling job. Will you choose to make a statement with a grout colour that POPS, or keep it subtle and camouflaged with a matching colour to your tile? The choice is yours!
Special care should be taken when selecting a grout colour for marble and natural stone and any special effect tiles. Natural stone and unglazed materials that have a higher moisture absorption can absorb colour from the grout during installation. Neutral grout colour is recommended with natural stone.
Here are some of our expert tips to help you when choosing your grout colour:
- Want to go BOLD? Choose a fun tile laying pattern paired with a contrasting grout colour.
- Keeping things subtle? Choose a grout colour that's a shade or two lighter than your tile.
- Grouting colourful mosaics? Choose a contrasting grout colour to show off the beautiful shape and colour and if your mosaic runs down a wall to meet a floor tile, consider running the same grout colour through the two for a stronger connection between the two surfaces.
- When choosing your grout colour for dark floor tiles (hello timber-look, concrete-look and stone-look), find the darkest hues in the tile and choose a grout colour to match for a seamless look.
- HAVE FUN! Use the opportunity as an outlet to be creative and create a look that's uniquely you.
- Quality matters! Make sure you choose a high-quality grout to ensure the longevity of your grout.
Our Hot Tip: Speak to our in-store or online experts for advice on the type and colour of grout you should choose for your project and style.
How To Successfully Mix Cement-Based Grout
While we always recommend following the manufacturer's instructions, the following is a general guide to successfully mix cement-based grout:
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the packaging.
- Mix the grout in a clean bucket with clean water.
- Following the guide on the packaging, place the amount of grout powder you require in the bucket.
- If the grout you are using does not already contain a flexible grout additive, you may want to add it at this point along with the water to make up the total recommended amount of liquid.
- Mix the grout using a trowel or a mechanical stirrer (a mixing drill with paddle attachment). Use a slow speed setting on a mixing drill to avoid excess air bubbles in the grout.
- Stir the grout mixture into a thick paste that contains no dry lumps. Scrape the sides and ensure you mix the bottom corners of the bucket.
- Use a clean sponge to drip in the extra water, taking care to not make it too watery. The correct consistency is like toothpaste or smooth peanut butter. It should not drip from the mixer or trowel when lifted. If it is too watery, add a little more grout powder and mix in well.
- Leave the grout to stand for the recommended time - usually around 5 to 10 minutes to strengthen, and then briefly remix to loosen it up and apply it immediately.
NOTE: The grout will harden in 30 to 60 minutes, you cannot add more water after it has been mixed and left.
How To Grout & Silicone
Listen to the hot tips from our tiler mates.
How To Grout Tiles
Grouting isn’t hard when you follow our simple step-by-step instructions for a professional-looking job.
While tiles themselves are impervious to water, moisture would still be able to make its way under or behind them unless the gaps between tiles are sealed with the right grout. Grouting your tiles also helps to strengthen the whole installation.
Follow our simple steps:
Step 1 You can grout your tiles after your adhesive has completely dried. This is normally 24 hours with normal adhesive but may be longer in cold areas or when tiling over a waterproofing membrane.
Step 2 Before beginning, remove all grout spacers or protruding levelling system components. Carefully remove any excess adhesive that may have filled the space between the tiles.
Step 3 Mix the flexible grout to the consistency of a thick creamy paste following the manufacturer’s instructions. Dampen (not wet) the joints with clean water before grouting to ensure correct curing.
Step 4 Apply the grout to the wall or floor with a rubber grouter using a driving diagonal motion, pushing the grout firmly into the joints leaving no air pockets or voids. Don’t worry about only grouting individual joints, just go over the whole surface. Do not apply the grout to the corners where walls meet floors or where two walls meet. This will be a movement joint that you will need to fill with silicone later. Leave as little grout on the surface of the tiles as possible. A handy hint is to start in a small section until you're confident.
Step 5 Allow the grout to dry and for a film to form on the face of the tiles. This should take about an hour. If you clean too soon before the grout has a chance to dry, you risk removing grout from the joints. Once the grout has become slightly powdery on the surface, remove the excess grout on the tiles with a clean, damp sponge by wiping across the tile diagonally to the joint. Turn the sponge over and repeat. Rinse and squeeze and keep repeating. Do not wash or overly wet the surface. The trick is to lift the film without wetting the actual grouted joint. Make sure that you wipe on a 45-degree angle and keep rinsing and squeezing out the sponge in clean water as you go.
Step 6 After most of the grout has been removed from the tiles, allow the tiles to dry until a slight haze appears on the tile surface. Give them another once-over with the damp sponge. Then carefully buff over the tiles with clean, dry cloths and a doodlebug. Do not allow grout haze to dry and set on the tile surface.
Step 7 Once the tiles are completely clean, we recommend applying a grout sealer to increase water resistance and for easier maintenance.
How To Clean Grout & Grout Haze
Baz from The Living Room gives us a quick demo on how to clean grout off of your tiles.
Our Hot Tip: To learn more information about why grout is important for your tiles, read our What is Grout section. Luckily, grouting is one of the simplest parts of DIY tiling. There’s no secret to grouting, all you need to do is put in a little effort.