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Grout is the filler squeezed in between tiles to keep tiles from twisting or sagging and to keep moisture out. Grout can also be used as an integral part of the decoration.

When selecting a grout, here are some characteristics to compare:

  • composition - while most commonly used grouts are concrete based, grouts can be made from epoxy and resin. Pick one of these more exotic grouts if you have special requirements such as stain or heat resistance. Application of these grouts is more difficult in part because they bond to the glazed tile surfaces, so in most cases, choose a concrete based grout. While caulk can be used for minor repairs and in places where flexibiilty are required (such as between the bathtub and the tiles), caulk does not provide the rigidity needed to keep tiles from twisting under pressure and so does not make a good substitute.
  • sanded vs non-sanded - grout lines are nomally kept thin to avoid the tendency of grout to crack. When using grout lines over an eighth of an inch in width, use a grout that has sand added to increase its strength.
  • color - grouts are available in an array of colors to match, complement, or contrast the color of your tile. Buy pre-colored grout or follow the grout manufacturer's directions closely for tinting. If you want satisfactory results, do not attempt to color the grout mixture by adding paint or to blend various grouts to make your own colors; introduction of chemicals can affect the curing of the grout.
  • waterproofing - most grouts are porous, which can be a problem in wet or very humid environments

    (e.g., swimming pools and saunas) because over time moisture can get to the backing behind the tiles. The propensity of grout to absorb moisture also provides a place for mold and mildew to root and grow. For most applications, sufficient waterproofing can be accomplished by applying a sealer to the grout once the grout has cured.

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