1/16 th grout width I want but 2 installers want 1/32!

susanlynn2012December 10, 2011

1/16 th grout width I want but 2 installers want 1/32! My two favorite tile installers both seemed to have knowledge to go under the gas range, dishwasher and refrigerator and both checked the legs to see if room. The installer I liked best called me to see if I got his estimate that included a plumber for making sure the dishwasher removed properly and then installed properly. I was very comfortable with everything until he called and I asked him what width did he feel was best with my 17.25" X 17.25" rectified tiles. He said he felt due to the bevel on the edge, to push the tiles next to each other and put the grout in-between the bevel. I told him I wanted a 1/16th grout line and not skinnier. I never had to tell an installer to go wider!

Today's installer that does high cost places in NYC and was highly recommended did not even ask me what size grout line instead told me he felt a 1/32nd grout width would look very nice with the tiles in a dark taupe color (Polyblend Custom Mushroom) since my tiles have a gray bevel around them. I told him, I wanted a 1/16th grout line in a Laticrete Mushroom color(much less gray and less dark than the Polyblend Mushroom) to blend with my tile. He told me that color was too yellow but I told him it dries less yellow and slightly lighter like in my foyer where I used it with darker tiles. He told me then we can use another grout he chose that looked nice.

What is the bevel around the tiles for? Isn't a 1/32nd grout line too skinny? I love skinny grout lines but I felt if there was not enough grout, the tiles could have movement and not be cushioned by the grout. Am I wrong?

I need to choose an installer ASAP and I know the other installers I interviewed awhile back before looking for cabinets told me between 1/13th to 1/16th they will aim for. A recent installer told me 1/8th but he would not do the floor unless I bought cabinets from him.

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I'm sure I've read that 1/16th is the minimum for a sound install.

I believe I've heard tile men talk about even rectified tiles not always being perfectly flat so make sure you don't run into the following problem.

With larger tiles, there can be some unevenness in their height. This is due to bowing that occurs when clay shrinks during firing. This can make setting tricky to get a completely flat floor.

The narrower the grout lines, the closer the tiles butt up to each other so those differences will be more prounounced by creating lippage. Certain ways the tile are laid out will also make this more pronounced. In a brick, running bond pattern, the corners (flatter) lay against the middle of the adjacent tile (where the bowing usually occurs). So again the difference will be pronounced when laid in that pattern.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 4:18AM
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Concerning rectified tiles, grout joint width is purely 100% a design decision ... aesthetics.

Grout joint width has absolutely no effect on installation integrity, structural integrity of the tile system, nor a "sound" installation. Its a finish surface along the same "structural" lines of paint, formica, varnish, carpet, sheet vinyl, etc.

If you have an installer spewing unsolicited design opinions and are not paying them to submit design opinions or requesting them, ignore them or get another installer.

I have had some customers request thick 3/8-inch tile joints because thats what they grew up with.

The ONLY time grout joint width is a required non-design consideration is when installing non-rectified tile where the tile size may vary from tile to tile, and its only to maintain tile-block squareness of the installation grid.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 5:42AM
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Thank you Samantha111 for your input since I had also read that 1/16th was difficult enough to do especially since I wanted to install the tiles in a brick running pattern.

Floorman67, thank you for letting me know that grout joint width has nothing to do with a sound installation and since my tiles are rectified, I can go with any grout width that the installer feels he is capable of doing correctly.

I am going to interview one more installer and then make up my mind. The installer not pushing his grout color taste on me is winning so far since I like that he will have a plumber uninstalling and reinstalling the dishwasher and I liked how he spread the tiles on the floor to see if he did the pattern that I wanted, will it look nice with no small tiny piece on one side. He is also $920 less despite still being over $1,000 for my 10 X 14 kitchen that will not have tiles installed under the cabinets so the space to install tiles is much less. But in all fairness, the less expensive installer is not buying the grout (I am) and he did not include sealing the grout afterwards so I guess I have to ask him what that cost and also says in his contract that there will be an additional charge if there is a lot of glue on the floor when he removes the Linoleum floor.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 10:14AM
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When I said sound installation I meant sound in terms of overall no problems with the tiling project, not the tile itself coming up since grouting is not related to that. I'm sure I've read on JB that 1/16" is the minimum otherwise there isn't enough grout there to hold itself together and it can come loose. Maybe times have changed or it was an isolated thread where someone didn't know what they were talking about.

Lynn, also make sure to test your grout color. I just had mushroom put in and it is a light gray. I think they used too much water as the instructions say not to. Nevertheless the sample colors aren't going to be exactly the same so you might want to check this color out first since mine came out so different than the samples. The bathroom guy did the same thing with too much water and the cornsilk grout color came out a light gray instead of a warm golden color. I told both of them not to use too much water because of that problem but to no avail. They both said that's just the color of the grout which I know it isn't. Maybe have your tile guy do a test board.

I went with what the tile store uses this time but wish I'd used TEC XT again as in the bathroom or an epoxy rather than the regular Custom Blend product.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 3:04PM
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Samantha111, thanks for letting me know that I should test the grout color out since I don't want a light gray and wanted a very neutral light color. I want to use Laticrete Perma Grout. I used the Laticrete Spectralock in my two small foyer areas 3 years ago and it dried slightly lighter and slightly less yellow than the plastic sticks that the store gave me but Epoxy grouts dry lighter I heard. The installer had no idea how to clean up and messed up a deadline I never finished the next day as I had to clean the white glaze off the tile all day with white vinegar and water which must be the reason the grout is staining.

Thanks for also letting me know that the grout holds itself together only and is not related to sound installation.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 3:18PM
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Lynn, here is one brief discussion on this over at JB. It is only from a month ago. I would be very cautious doing such a narrow width and go by industry standards on all aspects of your install. They have been developed for a reason. Failures do occur.

Why would they insist on 1/32?

GW views this link as spam so here it is butchered with extra spaces:

www . john bridge . com /vbulletin/showthread.php?t=97088&highlight=minimun+grout+rectified

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 3:23PM
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I saw above you were planning to use the same Polyblend Mushroom I did. I'm sure mine is gray because of too much water but sample colors won't be completely accurate no matter what they are made of. Bag to bag the coloring can also be a bit different. They can't get these things to be exact. Even when patching an area with the same bag of grout, the color can vary due to mixing differences.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 3:34PM
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Samantha111, I took out the spaces after copying and pasting above and it says the link was broken. What should I search to find the correct link? I want an install that will last a long time so I think the installers saw the bevel and thought that was how they can create a skinny line but the bevel is there to lessen the lippage I was told on the bathroom forum today. The bevel is not for setting grout like some tiles have side areas for that.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 3:43PM
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Here's another referring to rectified tiles also having some warpage to consider when figuring your grout width size. bbcamp is an engineer. I'm sure it had been an installer I'd been reading who was talking about how there was still variance in rectified tiles but don't know which thread.

This is something the tile man should be able to calculate and assess to advise you of himself before putting your specific tile down (which might be perfectly flat and square). I was only minimaly aware of all this when mine went in and the installer said he could handle it and he wasn't worried. My floor now has significant lippages.

My tile was an expensive porcelain and is only 14 inches. I don't know if it was rectified or not (suspect not). It was set running bond 50% and has significant lippages of the (height of a quarter) with a 1/4" joint. Those I've checked appear to occur in the middle of the tile so I believe it is probably due to warpage in the tile rather than a subfloor issue.

However, I did not have a stellar installer. It might have come out better otherwise because a more experienced installer would know how to handle those tiles better and also would have warned ahead there was going to be a problem. I'm glad it didn't go down with the 3/16" he had planned which would have been worse.

It is not a perfect world. Make sure you've got this covered before it goes down. You might need to make adjustments to your plan.

www . joh nbr idge . com/ vbulletin/showthread.php?t=96236&highlight=minimun+grout+rectified

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 4:02PM
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Looks like the thread address doesn't change when you click on something in the search list. The t= part of the link is the thread number.

Here they are again:

"Grout line rules? or not?"
http: // www.joh n bridge. com /vbulletin/showthread.php?t=97088

"Getting tiles flat"
http://www.jo hnbridg e.com/vb ulletin/showthread.php?t=96236

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 4:11PM
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Samantha111, I totally understand not having a stellar installer. My first installer 3 years ago on my two very small tile floors, messed up so many tiles that I had to buy more boxes and remove the mess he did and hire a more expensive experienced installer who did a good job except for not knowing how to use an epoxy grout. I am trying to do my job right and I purposely bought a rectified tile with a 5 rating since I want small grout lines but I want no smaller than a 1/16th knowing from what I have read that 1/16th is difficult to achieve. I am going with the running bond pattern so now I am a bit worried since I don't want lippages. Hopefully the bevel in the tile compensates for my design choice.

I will look at the links after I walk my little dog.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 4:17PM
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My tile is somewhat rustic so doesn't have a clean straight edge. Looking at one now it looks like a bevel and the lippage is not in the middle on this one. I think he messed up generally and it didn't have to be this way. At least not to this degree. The tiles stick into my foot in numerous places. It's not a visual thing at all.

I have learned he is much more inexperienced than we had been led to believe. I wish I had known more myself at the time about lippage problems in tiling and how patterns play into it. I try to reserach things but am just a lay person and can only grasp so much at a time or when some problem surfaces that leads me to more information I didn't know to try to head off.

Your tile might very well be perfect but 1/32" is pushing the limits.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 4:31PM
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Here's a good one:

http://www.j ohnbridge. com/vbull etin/showthread.php?t=90998

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 4:42PM
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There are two "general" types of grout in consideration of joint width.

Sanded and un-sanded. The use of which depends upon joint width.

Sanded grout is intended for above a 1/8th-inch joint-width.

Unsanded is intended for a 1/8th-inch and below joint width.

You can butt properly sized tile together and still use unsanded with absolutely no "holding-itself-together" issues spoken of above. I have successfully completed miles of butt-tile installations that were required by architectual design and specifications using unsanded grout.

No properly-installed unsanded grout will pop out or otherwise not hold itself together without movement in the tile, backer, setting bed, or underlying structural system. Its a finish surface product only. If properly specified and installed grout pops, then the problem is not the grout.

What CAN happen is unstanded grout not being properly installed. By that I mean an installer did not work the unsanded grout down into the joints, leaving air spaces below and minimal surface coverage on top that "fell" down into the air space after some foot traffic. All grout, especially in thin-joint installations, needs to painstakingly be "worked" all the way into the entire depth of the joint. Thin joint installations are also generally a bit more expensive for the extra time because of more precise and time consuming layout, installation, and grouting processes.

Lets us not confuse problems with improperly specified products and improper installation technique by uneducated, lazy, or inexperienced installers with properly installed products using approved techniques by educated and experienced installers.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 5:14PM
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Can a house and its subfloor ever be guaranteed to never settle or deflect over the years?

If there weren't potential problems with less than 1/16" joints or in using unsanded grout in joints > 1/8", the industry standards wouldn't be in place.

I wouldn't risk it. I doubt they're basing their specs on incompetent installers (which there seem to be plenty of for some reason).

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 6:23PM
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Thank you Floorman67 for your input and thank you Samantha111 for your input that I appreciate.

With Samantha's last link I copied and pasted this: " Running Bond/Brick Joint Offset: For running bond/brick joint patterns utilizing tiles (square or rectangular) where the side being offset is greater than 18" (nominal dimension), the running bond offset will be a maximum of 33% unless otherwise specified by the tile manufacturer. If an offset greater than 33% is specified, specifier and owner must approve mock-up and lippage"

I would like to do a staggered running bond/brick pattern with the 50% offset and my tile is 17.25" X 17.25" and rectified. Will I be able to do this?

I do not want a grout width less than 1/16th even if an installer can do it. I just will feel more comfortable with no less than 1/16th and hopefully no more unless I have no choice since I bought the rectified tiles for this purpose. I would only live with a 1/8th grout width if after removing the Linoleum we find structure problems but I doubt it since my home is only 21 years old and the slab was in dry and in good shape when I removed the carpets to install the engineered wood floors in 2009.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 7:54PM
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In some of the links, installers talk of the quality of rectified tiles varying. Claiming to be so-called rectified but not really. Even the quality ones are said to have some degree of warpage, so I would make sure they check it all out first. Significant lippage is unpleasant to walk on. I think those areas will be prone to chipping too because the edges stick up. Say when an appliance is moved over it.

Did you decide not to use epoxy grout?

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 8:11PM
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I saw you had laid tiles out and were taking votes over in kitchens. I would lay them in running bond to see if you find they are laying flat, have raised edges anywhere or are rocking a bit. It might make you feel better to find they seem to be perfectly flat.

To me, 17.25 and 18 is pretty darn close in size even if 18" is the industry's breakoff point. So it's marginal to my mind where you're close to problem territory. If they are flat it's not a problem whatever size they are. My tiles are only 14" but probably are not rectified. I think the warped tiles could have been pulled and placed where they wouldn't be a problem. Two guys were working together, one selecting and handing the next tile to the setter. Seems it was kind of his job to check them out that way.

Any tile size can have warpage. One of the threads was talking about the smaller rectified tiles being quite warped because they were cut from the worst place.

Where did you get the tiles? Who makes them? How much did they cost?

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 8:27PM
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Samantha111, Apex Tile in NJ was having a 40% off sale on the tiles since the Ilva tiles have been discontinued. My neighbor had them in his house and told me they were $2.79/square foot on sale plus 7% sales tax. I would not like any more chipped tiles than I already have so I will spread them out with my installer when I finalize who I will use and we will see what we should do but I knew I do not want to go with less than a 1/16th grout width so that bothered me when the installer thought that he could use the bevel for making the grout line this skinny but maybe I am wrong but I don't want to take a chance. I had no idea anyone did grout lines less than 1/16th.

My tiles say on the box that they are rectified with a 4 rating and are supposed to be 18 X 18 but all measure 17.25" X 17.25".

My tiles in my foyers are 3/16th since they were not rectified and not square so despite wanting a skinnier grout, all the installers visiting showed me why this was the smallest I should go. My tiles have no lippage and are all on the diagonal and look nice despite the epoxy grout being stained.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 9:26PM
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So they don't sound like "cheap" tiles contractors complain about then at $4.67 SF. Mine are 14" tiles that measure 13 3/4 inches. Warpage but not cheap tiles at $7.20 SF. Tiles don't seem to measure what they state their sizes to be for some reason. I like the wider grout joints for a country or old world look.

Why are your other tiles still chipping? I'm surprised the epoxy has stained. I don't think vinegar would do that. Acids are resorted to to clean stubborn stuff from tile and grout. Sometimes a mild one like vinegar is used as a first step because acids are not good for cementitious grouts. I find that scrubbing with baking soda and letting it sit works well to lift stains and renew. If it's discoloration from a chemical like clorox that's another story. Some of the older grouts used to turn yellow from clorox. Can't remember what they're made of. Some sort of a plastic I think. I'm sure you researched how to clean up the epoxy grout before applying anything. If acids are used on them also, I wouldn't think the vinegar would have caused it.

I had wanted epoxy for that reason. No absorbency and staining issues. My contractor had never used it so I was afraid to be his first guinea pig even though he wasn't worried about it. Wise move as it turned out. I'd have hated to ad that fiasco to the mix.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 9:58PM
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Samantha111, I have learned that if tiles are not installed and they are pointed and rectified, you have to be careful of the ends if they hit one another. If the tile hits my lamp (crystal) as I was trying to see the effect of different light bulbs on the tile, the lamp cracks and not the tile.

My other tile in my foyer was $4.99 plus 7% sales tax and is not rectified and is a 4 rating.

Dog pee from puppy pads has stained the epoxy grout badly and I can't get the stains off. Also in my front foyer, the grout is staining from dirt so next time, I will use the Laticrete Perma Grout and seal it frequently instead. This is why I want skinny grout lines, so I have less grout to clean.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 10:09AM
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Hm, I'm surprised at the epoxy staining. I thought that was the beauty of using it. I guess I didn't miss anything there after all. Good to know!

You've probably tried Natures Miracle but that's supposed to be a stain remover as well. Try scrubbing a water and baking soda paste into it. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes. Add some vinegar let it bubble and scrub and rinse down well with a rag. That seems to work well on cleaning tile and grout. I've done it without the vinegar and it worked beautifully at lifting dirt and renewing. Others have used the vinegar with it. It worked around the toilet too! I would check to make sure a vinegar and baking soda combination is alright with the epoxy first, of course. It might somehow react differently than the cement grouts.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 1:05PM
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I am not pro or anti ultra-thin or ultra-wide grout joints. It makes absolutely no difference to me so long as the customer gets the "look" what desire. I do not state opinion. I do not do design work. I state verifiable fact, based on the standards and practices (best proven methods agreed to by industry professionals) and experience.

What I am for is properly specified product installed to or exceeding standards.

As I have previously stated, tile and grout are not structural products. They are finish products having absolutely no structural components. They will fail if the underlying systems fail, and they offer absolutely no protection, structural or otherwise, that can assist in their own integrity should there be movement, or failure, outside of their system.

The issues you speak of when you state: "... If there weren't potential problems with less than 1/16" joints or in using unsanded grout in joints > 1/8", the industry standards wouldn't be in place ..."

are not issues of structural integrity of the system. The issue with that is sanded grouts components are to large to effectively and efficiently fill the 1/8-inch and thinner joints. Sanded grout is made of much smaller component sizes allowing the filling fo the jopints more efficiently and effectively. Its simply the fact that the powder used in un-sanded grout is smaller in diameter than the sand in sanded grout. Thats why that standard exists and for no other reason.

As to risk, there simply is none. If there is a failure, the grout joint size plays absolutely no part in it because its a finish surface.

To say or think otherwise is really like saying paint, stain, or varnish caused cracks in a wall.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 6:17PM
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UN-sanded grout power is made of much smaller component sizes allowing the filling of the joints more efficiently and effectively.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 9:53PM
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Thank you so much floorman67! I sure wish you lived near me in Northern NJ so you could install my floor and let me know what is best to do. I now feel even better about my choice of think grout width of 1/16th IF the installer finds no problems after removing the Linoleum floor. I want to go with the Laticrete Permagrout and I hope the Mushroom dries a tiny bit lighter than the sample stick I have here. I prefer the Laticrete Antique White with my tile but seeing that the grout dried a tiny bit lighter in my foyer a few years ago when I used the SpectraLock Mushroom with a darker tile than I have now, I think I should go with Mushroom. I just tried out the Laticrete Antique White Sanded (small bag friend bought over for me to try .... was supposed to bring me two sample bags of the Laticrete Permagrout but he went to Lowe's and not Apex Tile and Lowe's did not have Permagrout)and I tried a small amount to tile in between the two pieces the cracked tile that I had dropped the piece of wood on the other week, and it first was greenish gray and then after several hours dried lighter than the grout stick with the green gone.
I actually like how the light color blends with my tile but it is a tiny bit lighter than the ivory/beige/gray color that is dominant in the tile and I would like it to be slightly darker. The tile also has reddish beige, grayish beige and gray veins in the tile.

I am going to go back to get the Laticrete unsanded grout in the Mushroom Color to see how it dries on two more pieces of the same tile that cracked. I wish I could try out the Permagrout but they will only sell a big bag.

Does the Permagrout dry more true to color or dry like the sounded or unsounded grout made by Laticrete?

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 10:56PM
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All grout may dry a slightly different shade than their paper "samples". The closest you can get is real grout chunk samples which will dry with a lesser degree of color variance. Other determining factors is the amount of water used to mix it, the time is has been curing, as well as any additives used if applicable. You can usually get real grout chunk samples upon request from your retailer, or from a product distibutor if the retailer does not have them available.

I no longer use paper grout (picture) samples so I can not offer an educated opinion on which ones are most accurate. Stopped using them a long time ago after a few complaints.

If grout color is important to you and you can not obtain real grout chunk samples, I highly recommend investing in a small container of each grout color you are considering, mix some up per manufacturer instructions and allow to fully cure for the most realistic color representation. Its not expensive and only a little of your time.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 11:44PM
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Additionally, Samantha, I neglected to add that un-sanded grout problems in joints wider than 1/8th-inch stem from the shrinkage of the un-sanded grout from the drying process, which can cause shrinking and cracks that is increasing in liklihood and effect the wider the joint is, which is why you use sanded grout only in joints wider than 1/8th-inch. It has to do with the sand acting as an aggregate-like filler to prevent/mitigate shrinkage.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 11:55PM
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Floorman, I'm not clear on your post. I have been reading over on JB for years. Tiling projects are constructed as an entire system and are not viewed as just a finish material. Any system has structure and integrity. To say that tiling material, grout, spacing choices, etc. play no part in the quality or integrity of the system and are inconsequential considerations does not make sense to me. I'm also not sure why it seems you are saying that what you refer to as structural integrity or soundness (no failing tile?) is the only criteria for a successful tiling job.

You question what I posted below.

FM: "The issues you speak of when you state:

Sam: "... If there weren't potential problems with less than 1/16" joints or in using unsanded grout in joints > 1/8", the industry standards wouldn't be in place ..."

FM: are not issues of structural integrity of the system. The issue with that is sanded grouts components are to large to effectively and efficiently fill the 1/8-inch and thinner joints. Sanded grout is made of much smaller component sizes allowing the filling fo the jopints more efficiently and effectively. Its simply the fact that the powder used in un-sanded grout is smaller in diameter than the sand in sanded grout. Thats why that standard exists and for no other reason."

What I stated are industry standards not my own personal opinions. If there was no reason for them, the standards would not have been developed and put into place. I'm not sure what you are questioning about them.

To quote from JB tile forum, sanded grout is stronger than unsanded and is the first choice for that reason. I heard one installer advise that it CAN be forced into small joints successfully with care and that there are also some with smaller particles that will fit into the smaller joints. Additionally, unsanded grout is not used in larger joints because it fails (cracks) requiring it to be redone.

I think grout serves a purpose beyond aesthetics and that allowing water to actually flow through the system due to cracks or open joints would not be a good thing. It could affect the integrity of the whole system or cause damage to whatever is behind or beneath it by allowing too much moisture to pass through too quickly. That aside, no one wants cracking grout and that would be considered a (component) failure to most of us (even tile men I would suspect) which requires repair.

From a link to JB above. Here is a picture of an attempt at using a grout joint less than the 1/16" standard:

http:// www.jo hnbridge . com/v bulletin/showthread.php?t=97088&highlight=grout+line+rules%3F+OR+not%3F

"Ceramic tile industry standards call for no joint less than 1/16th" and no joint less than three times the size difference between the largest and smallest tile in the layout.

finding tiles well enough rectified to be able to physically install with no grout joint is pretty difficult even with natural stone, but even if you find some it's not a good idea to try what you're suggesting. Might look good when initially set, but you're looking at this sort of problem down the road:

photo courtesy of ceramictec "

I am a firm believer of following accepted standards to best ensure a quality install. My house could also serve as an example of what happens when contractors don't do this.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 1:38AM
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Lynn, since you have the tile in hand, here's a little test for joint size decisions:

ht tp://www.jo hnbrid ge.com/vbulle tin/showthread.php?t=93360&highlight=joint+size

Does the manufacturer recommend a joint width for that particular tile? I would also check with them as it seems some companies actually state what they recommend for their tile.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 2:08AM
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The tile failure in the photo you posted is from excessive movement (which I have explained previously in this thread) in an underlying system, not the tile system nor the grout or joint width. Ive seen it many times on stone repair calls from customers that had bad installs from someone else. The excessive movement caused the marble tiles to rub against each other, chipping them at the edges, debonding the tiles, and often cracking them. Marble/stone requires a deflection ratio TWICE that of ceramic tile. L/720 as opposed to L/360. Or half the maximum allowed movement. While a wider joint certainly would have prevented edge chipping, a failure would have still ocurred as exemplified by the debonded tile that caused the lippage in the picture. It had nothing to do with the grout joint width.

Now, I am looking right at my Handbook for Tile Installation, which is THE published standards by the Tile Council of North America, who create the standards in cooperation with the America National Standards Institute, and nowhere in that publication does the standard you state exist, so whoever told you that either lied or was lied to.

Tile manufacturers do not state required grout joint width, although some recommend them for aesthetic purposes.

In fact, here is a field report from the Ceramic Tile Institute of America, a partnering organization that sits on the board with the ANSI and TCNA, which states specifically: "... The width of the grout joints is one of the items that should be selected by the owner. The width of the grout joint should not be left to the whim of the installer. ..."

I agree with the exception that some mass produced tiles need a wider joint to maintain installation-block squareness.

In fact, grout joint width is not addressed at all by the TCNA except in relation to grout type as I previously addressed.

I am sorry if you were misled, were given inaccurate information, or experienced an installation by an uneducated or inexperienced installer that did not check and confirm substrate rigidity and underlying system deflection was within the parameters required for the product being installed.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 9:38AM
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floorman, I am not misled. Please read the following thread link (posted above and had the chipped tile picture) or the others above:

http://www.jo hnbridge.c om/vbulleti n/showthread.php?t=97088

While I might not understand the intricacies of tile installations, what I was quoting above is very straightforward. I do not question the authorities on JB one bit. They follow and quote the ANSI standards for tile installation and that is where I get my information. I don't have access to the ANSI standards. They need to be purchased. There is reference on the net to a Spring 2009 update noting a standard was revised to reflect a minimum grout width:

Also note in the above linked thread that expansion of the tile can occur through thermal expansion or moisture which can cause that type of chipping. Not just deflection.

I would never expect a house to remain static over time no matter how tight you get the tile substrate. Buildings settle or deflections occur or could develop for other reasons. That could be years down the road.

Expansion joints are required for multiple reasons (link).

So there are many reasons tile will move. I personally would not try to predict the specifics or that conditions do not or will not exist or that all possible movement has been prevented. Conditions on a site fluctuate and might also change over the years. From shade trees to no shade trees for instance, then allowing sun to beat down on a floor. Moisture conditions can also change over time. Buildings move. Their materials expand and contract. Ground settles. No one is in control of all those factors.

Here is a link that might be useful: Expansion joints for tile

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 1:45PM
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Definitive answer (as far as I'm concerned) that manufacturer recommendations for joint size is not strictly for aesthetic reasons but because they understand the caliper of the tile they manufactured:

http://www.jo hnbridge .com/vbulleti n/showthread.php?t=93360

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 6:39PM
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Absolutely, lack of expansion joints could have also been the part of the problem, which is unrelated to grout joint size.

When installing, manufacturer instructions comes first, then the standards second if there is missing or conflicting information and instruction. If there is a failure, an inspector (or a court) will first use manufacturer specs and instructions, because they are the liable responsible party in a claim, so their information takes presidence. Thats what installer must follow first if there is conflict, and if there is missing information, the TCNA/ANSI standards come in. Now, many manufacturers refer to the TCNA/ANSI standards. Additionally, some manufacturers do not offer all needed information which then the TCNA/ANSI standards kick in. Every installer should be well versed in both.

There are many tile and stone manufacturers who still allow for ultra thin grout joints.

In regards to the standards changes you mention in grout joint sizes, indeed the TCNA/ANSI has made recommendations for the first time concerning grout joint size and spacing. To completely understand the new changes you have to understand how recommendations are made. When they say "in general", these are not absolute standards. Simply guidance lacking any other source taking presidence. When they say "absolute", these are standards that are never to be strayed from.

The new changes on grout joint width is an "in general recommendation" or situational recommendation.

Ultimately, the project owner should choose the grout joint they desire. -from the TCNA website.

Please view the TCNA link for more information. It explains it pretty well.

If you have tile cut or manufactured to tight size tolerances, you can have any joint size you wish. Of course, as I stated before, not all tile is able to be installed with the ultra thin grout joints. Again this is situational. There is no absolute standard for tile joint width. Tile it is a finish topical product, relying on the subfloor/framing/substrate structure for rigidity and in-range deflection for its stability and structure.

Now if you continue to believe otherwise, that the tile system itself aides in overall system stability and structural integrity and/or that grout joint size matters at all when tile sizing is withing parameters, I really dont know how else to convince you.

Since this obviosuly matters a great deal to you, I would suggest you buy a copy of the standards. Its relatively inexpensive. Then you can read for yourself in context. Also I would suggest that you start reading up on tile manufacturers installation guidelines and instruction for various products you may be interested in, as they take presidence, although they usually are in line with the standards.

Here is a link that might be useful: TCNA Standards For Grout

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 6:48PM
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"Since this obviosuly matters a great deal to you, I would suggest you buy a copy of the standards."

Of course it matters to me and a gazillion other homeowners. That's what GW is about. It's our home and no one else's to be playing engineer with it. Industry standards. They are there for a reason. To promote quality and prevent failures. Many of us have experienced firsthand the expensive and heartbreaking results when they aren't adhered to.

I can't debate details with you but I confirmed over on JB (who follow TCNA/industry standards) and they are not in agreement with what you have stated.

On the theory that you keep trying to reinforce: "Grout joint width has absolutely no effect on installation integrity, structural integrity of the tile system, nor a "sound" installation. [Tile and grout are finish surfaces] along the same "structural" lines of paint, formica, varnish, carpet, sheet vinyl, etc."

Moderator's response: I would expect him to give you the same argument about movement accommodation joints at the perimeter and within a tile installation. And he'd be wrong about both.

As far as the joint size standard and my needing to get a copy of the handbook, the moderator there refers you to page 33 of the 2011 TCNA handbook.

I also link another thread with a reference to an update by the TCNA's on joint sizes. Maybe this is the one referenced in the 2009 announcement I posted. I'm confused on the 1/8" minimum for all rectified tiles. I've been reading 1/16" is the minimum.

I will add that I like your cautious and conservative views on asbestos. You seem to be very diligent about your work.

Here is a link that might be useful: TCNA update on joint sizes

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 10:04PM
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From a Jan 2011 thread:

This is something inherent in ALL large format tiles. This came out from The NTCA (national Tile Contractors Association) and the TCNA (Tile Council of North America) about 2 years ago, and was distributed to all contractors by Daltile:

Rectified tiles continue to increase in popularity, particularly in the commercial arena. For years, the industry and Dal-Tile have recommended that Rectified tiles can be installed with a 1/16" grout joint. However, from the contractor´┐Żs perspective, installations have become more time consuming and difficult to ensure compliant installations when attempting to install a Rectified tile with a 1/16" grout joint. In response, the new TCNA (Tile Council of North America) Handbook addresses this issue by recommending that the width of the grout joint used be determined by the ANSI A108.02 specification which states that the actual grout joint size shall be at least 3 times the actual variation of facial dimensions of the tile. To simplify: Rectified tiles, regardless of size, shall have a grout joint width no less than 1/8". As a result, Dal-Tile is changing its recommended grout joint width to be 1/8" for all of its Rectified tiles.

In addition, we will no longer recommend in our literature that Rectified and Non-Rectified large format rectangle sizes (Ex: 12" x 24") can be installed in a brickwork or running bond pattern where the overlap is 50%. The reason for this is that the allowable warpage for a tile based on ANSI specifications can create an installation issue when large format rectangular tiles are installed in a brickwork/running bond pattern. This allowable warpage can create a scenario where lippage is inevitable given the overlapping pattern. To mitigate this effect, Dal-Tile will be removing the brickwork pattern from our catalogs and literature. This will be replaced by a new pattern that will be referred to as a "Staggered" brickwork pattern where the overlap does not exceed 33%, and the grout joint width must be a minimum of 3/16".

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 10:07PM
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Thank you Samantha and everyone else for participating. I never planned to do less than 1/16th and I was shocked when installers said I could. I want the grout to hit the floor and have some line between the tiles so it does not look like a vinyl floor. But I have a lot to think about now.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2011 at 10:12AM
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Hi Lynn,

I was surprised to see the 1/8" standard noted above. That's confusing as installers often refer to a 1/16" standard. I know you want the 1/16" but I would be very careful your tiles can do that and remain flat. Walking on floors that weren't installed flat is not pleasant (ask me how I know). Don't leave it up to your contractor or his laborers to be responsible for having the skills to set them well or advising you of a problem beforehand. Check it out yourself and be there to supervise.

1/16" still collects dirt. It might even be easier to clean a 1/8" joint well than trying to get compressed dirt out of a tiny crack.

A dirty grout color that isn't too light is also a good option to hide it as you probably know.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   December 15, 2011 at 10:32AM
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It appears that now they are making that the minimum standard accross the board, so I stand corrected, at least in regards to American tile isntallation standards. The last vestige of American tile manufacturers have added minimum grout width requirements (I just checked with those I knew to be able to install ultra thin joints). Unfortunately, you have to buy foreign tile to be able to have joint below 1/16" now. Sad day for our trade to dumb us down and stifle craftsmanship with this bullspit.

Its unfortunate when hundreds of years of quality crafstmanship goes down the drain because of politics and poor installations.

That said, I stand behind my 30+ years of ultra thin and butt joint tile installations when product and conditions merit.

I wonder if all those years of installation perfection will fail all of a sudden because of the recent changes.


I know many consumers who will be extremely saddened by this news.

Thanks for the heads up, Samantha, and healthy debate.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 1:48AM
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