To grout or not to grout? That is my question. ;)

michellelovesbeesDecember 18, 2012

Hi again folks.

We're heading into the final stages of this kitchen nightmare, I mean remodel. ;) On Saturday, our contractor told us to go out & grab some sandless grout while we were out so we could pick the color. My husband said OK. Then realized, he didn't know why so it was hard to choose said color. He went back in to ask and then the guy said "Nevermind nevermind. These are so close, you don't need it." The style flooring we have is that faux wood ceramic style in 24x6ish planks. They are very tight together, but should we do grout anyways? He says it'll ruin the aesthetic (making grid lines) and that it wasn't necessary.

I'm just worried since it is a kitchen and will get wet. Do we need to do grout/sealant/whatever?

We've been having our fair share of communication issues with this contractor (isn't that always the case?) and just want to make sure what he is saying is true.

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We just put that same style in our kitchen/family room. Our was laid in a mud bed and definitely grouted. The grout lines are very tiny and the grout color is almost exactly the same color of the tile. It looks fantastic.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 6:42AM
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Ours was definitely grouted, unsanded. We love how ours turned out too. Good luck and post pictures!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 7:06AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Would you rather fill that space with dirt, spilled cereal, broken eggs, and all the other kitchen trash, or with grout?

If your contractor is even suggesting to not use grout, he's suspect at doing other stupid things that you just haven't noticed. I hope he didn't use mastic to set the tile and actually used thinset. And I hope that your joists are close enough together to give the proper support for large format tile. And a bunch of other issues that I hope are right too that that comment about not using grout brings into questions if he's incompetent enough to make that suggestion.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 7:27AM
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Let me start by saying that I am no expert, however I have never heard of not grouting tile.

It would seem to me that floor tile would absolutely need to be grouted so it wouldn't move, and/ or get stuff in between. Also aren't there 'grid lines' between the tiles already where the gaps are? You could use a grout of a similar color to try and minimize the lines.

Your GC sounds lazy and incompetent to me. I'm so sorry but I would start digging around into the below the surface work he did to make sure he didn't cut corners there too.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 7:46AM
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They do a groutless floor tile installation in Italy and Greece all the time. They use thick, rectified edge (often marble) tile and leave no space between the tiles but mount them flush to each other (called a butt joint or a marble joint). This is an art, not an accident, so it's hard to imagine you got this lucky, but if you did, wahoo! These are incredibly beautiful and durable installations and it is hard to find an artisan in the US knowledgeable and skilled enough to pull it off.

If your floor tile is not rectified you probably have a grout bevel/chamfer (a little depression at the edge of each tile meant to hold the grout). If you don't fill it with grout, it will fill with gunk.

Bottom line: if there is there any visible space between the tiles no matter how skinny, or the tiles are not rectified, you need grout.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 9:38AM
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I believe I read from Bill Vincent or Mongo that the grout serves to monolithize the floor. If that's a word, but the idea is that the grout makes the floor a solid entity to stabilize and strengthen it. I would never do a floor without grout, but I knew somebody who did many years ago with perfectly rectified tile. I don't know how it turned out.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 12:52PM
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My contractor is grouting our 6x24 porcelain plank tile right now. We have a 1/8" grout line (he used spacers when he laid the tile). He said the same thing Hollysprings pointed out with one addition: "If they don't grout I hope they like ants because that's what you'll most likely have with all the crumbs between the tiles".

FWIW, we chose an espresso grout that nearly matches the warm cherry tile. We saw more grid lines before there was grout.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 1:08PM
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Grouting is no longer in style, just look to the trendsetters in Europe and see it's a rectified setting now instead.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 2:31PM
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It may not be in style in Europe, but is not something you just decide to forgo at the last minute because you can't decide on what color grout to use.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 2:38PM
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oceangirl, what would we do without your wacky proclamations?

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 2:41PM
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Well, he is Italian, but highly doubt he is one of the artisan type since his crew does the work (he's older).

I've attached a picture. As you can see, it is very fine, but there is definitely still a space/slight bevel. My husband did go out and get grout today for him though. It wasn't that we couldn't choose a color.. it was that we were told "get it" and then "Nevermind don't, we don't need it."

Just like many stories seem to go with remodels, we have had our fair share of issues. Right now, I'm just grateful we have the right color flooring & right size cabinets. Oh and that we're also running on time still. That's nice too. We were referred to this guy by a friend, but we quickly learned that we were just not specific enough in the process & relied too much on his judgement since he does have a good reputation and did an awesome job on our friend's place.

However, things like how he installs, etc? Well, neither of us are so inclined and honestly, he has a good reputation and our friend's kitchen has held up nicely so far (over a year later) and it's beautiful. I don't know how we are supposed to know this. Isn't this why we hire experts? Just a bit confused there.

Well, we'll see what he says. Granite is supposed to be installed this afternoon and we're going to bring up the grout issue then.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 4:24PM
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Trying to upload the photo again...

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 4:29PM
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TEC grout in Light Smoke or Light Buff would blend nicely and you'd never see the grout lines. It would actually be less prominent that without the grout. If you want to emphasize the separate board look instead, then choose something darker like Summer Wheat or Coffee.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 4:55PM
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Update: talked with our contractor and grout will be done. :) Again, it was misunderstanding due to the language barrier. He thought when my husband asked why that we were implying that we didn't want it. He said he'd never advise against but he just does what clients want.

I really do not think any of our problems have been due to him being dishonest. I think it is because we were not specific enough and he seems to really be the type of GC that relies on his customers wishes. Also, the language thing is tough because we were relying so much on his input. With someone else who knew the specifics of what they wanted done, I think he'd do a fine job.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 5:29PM
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Glad you got it resolved!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 5:35PM
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Beautiful tiles, definitely post pics once its done. So glad you worked it out!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 6:41PM
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First you would never want to have open grout lines for all the reasons stated in the thread. Grout joints should never be less than 1/16 of an inch to allow for expansion and contraction. Dont confuse the butt joining of stone tiles which is a part of a grind in place installation of stone flooring. The original way stone floors were installed by craftsmen.The floors were layed in slabs of various sizes on a mud floor. The edges were buttered with grout anf then butt joined together creating a sealed joint so that water could not get into the joint.If you have ever looked at a marble floor installed in the 1920 and 30's you will notice how flat they are.When you give it some thought why shouldnt stone be installed similar to wood which is layed down and ground flat. Todays floors are really just wall tiles being installed using thinset.
Installations where the installer tries to replicate the look of a butt joined floor can fail.
Tiles may crack and any grout that ends up in the bevel line will become dislodged. Grout needs to pushed fully ionto the joint to be effective. Setting the grout in the shallow bevel is a big mistake that I see on floors from time to time. Most of it is always gone and they are usaully filled with black soils. Water finds its way underneath the stone and can cause some issues.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 12:10AM
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