If you walk into any random home where there is tile, either on the walls or on the floors, indoors or outdoors, chances are the grout used for the majority of those tile projects will feature cement-based grout. Grout made from cement has been in use for many decades and continues to be a go-to choice for contractors today. This is baffling when you take into consideration that there are other options on the market that make using cement grout obsolete. There are arguments for using cement grout, but even in situations where some contractors insist this type of grout is the best option, epoxy grout is still a better choice.
What Is Cement Grout?
Cement grout is a particularly fluid type of concrete used to fill gaps between tiles and to seal tile joints. Cement grout is a mixture of water, cement, and sand. Cement grout contains pigments. Due to the nature of cement, grout made of this material is porous in nature, which makes it prone to cracking, staining, water damage, and even breaking away. Cement grout comes in sanded and un-sanded varieties. Which of these you choose depends upon the size of the joints. Un-sanded grout is typically used for the smaller width between joints.
Why Are We Still Using Cement Grout?
One reason is human nature. Contractors who have had a long career may be accustomed to using cement grout because they have been using it for so long. Also, there is a misconception that epoxy grout is harder to work with than cement grout. This used to be true, but newer epoxy grout products, and in particular, products like the The Tile Doctor’s Starlike grout, have come a long way. Starlike Grout is easy to mix and non-corrosive. It also contains no toxic chemicals, making it safe for installers and easier to use. Cost is a factor as well. Cement grout is less expensive than epoxy grout. In the long run, however, this isn’t such an advantage, given the durability of epoxy grout, which is much longer lasting than cement grout. It is also resistant to stains, moisture, and doesn’t require sealing for these features. If you seal your cement grout, as is recommended to keep it from staining, after a few applications you will have spent more on sealer than simply using epoxy grout from the start, so with epoxy grout you save money and you save time because it never requires sealing. That really makes the difference in cost nominal when taken into consideration over the long run. When there are so many issues associated with cement grout, it’s easy to wonder why it’s still being used.
Problems with Cement Grout
Cement grout is mixed with water. This opens the door for human error because any batch of grout can differ from the next, even within the same project. Adding too much water can reduce the strength of the grout and impact its color consistency. This is one of the reasons why cement grout is not the best choice for high-quality, consistent work. Another reason is the porous nature of the grout, which makes it easy for cement grout to pick up stains and hold on to mold and mildew.
There are health concerns associated with cement grout as well. The sand in the mix, when mixed with the dust created during application, can cause severe eye and skin irritation as well as burns. For someone who works with cement grout on a regular basis, inhalation of the dust can lead to scarring of the lungs.
Another hazard associated with concrete grout, and often undetected, is black mold and mildew. Since the cement grout is so porous and easily absorbs moisture, it’s easy for mold to form and become embedded in the grout lines. In many cases, this goes unnoticed and untreated, leading to concerns for the health of the people and pets living in the home. Bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoor areas are especially at risk for this type of contamination. This being the case, inhalation of the mold spores, or even touching it outside and transferring it to the eyes or mouth, presents problems that range from mild irritation to severe allergic reactions or respiratory issues. The older the tile installation is, the more likely it is that mold contamination is present.
Alternatives to Cement Grout
There are alternatives to cement grout:
- Ready-to-Use Grout Products:Ready-to-use grout are often mentioned as an alternative to cement grout. A lot of people immediately think it is easier to use because it comes pre-mixed. These grout products can be a bit easier to use than cement grout, but they can be much more expensive and don’t yield enough difference in results to warrant the higher cost. One of the things to look out for with these grouts is shrinkage, which can cause grout to pull away from tile and allow moisture penetration when you are doing tile work in wet environments. In addition, these ready-to-use grouts can have extensive curing times and be very sensitive to moisture and humidity during the curing process.You end up paying a lot more for something that is only marginally easier to apply than cement, making many of these ready-to-use products an unwise choice in the long term.
Another thing to remember about many ready-to-use grouts is that a lot of them are acrylics. Many are based on glue formulations, which makes them very difficult to work with on a lot of today’s wood look and real stone tiles because they can be sticky. Some even require chemicals to remove haze. Acrylics are also known to be a food source for mold, and to offset this, they typically contain pesticides to retard mold growth. These pesticides dissipate over time, leaving the grout susceptible to mold and bacterial growth.
- Epoxy Grout:Epoxy grout is another alternative to cement grout, it’s also the best. Many contractors feel that epoxy grout is far superior to cement grout for a number of reasons. Epoxy grout, made from epoxy resins and filler powder, is durable and will last the lifetime of a tile product. Epoxy grout is stain resistant, weather resistant, resistant to cracking, chipping, and peeling, and ideal for high traffic areas or areas where there is excessive moisture. Unlike cement grout, epoxy grout requires no sealing and uses a quartz aggregate, which means there are no pigments. This greatly reduces any chance of operator error, ensuring that the color consistency is even throughout. In many cases, the grout between the tiles is stronger than the tiles themselves, which makes epoxy grout the best choice for tile and mosaic projects.
Better Grout for Better Living
The Tile Doctor is committed to bringing you a better quality of grout that is both eco-friendly and safe for people and pets. This means everyone from the installer down to the consumer can rest assured that they are not endangering themselves or those around them and that they are all doing their part in helping to keep a cleaner, more stable environment. Health risks like Silicosis, which can be caused by the inhalation of silica found in many grout products, might not be a concern because you may not know anyone who has it. The truth is, Silicosis and silica-related problems don’t show up for several years after exposure. Early symptoms include a chronic dry cough and shortness of breath, but more severe issues occur over a long period of time and can lead to extreme respiratory issues. That’s why it’s important to choose a grout that doesn’t present these issues.
The Tile Doctor is the exclusive distributor for Litokol Starlike Grout products. Starlike grout is the best, safest choice for epoxy grout on the market, designed to be completely safe for the installer and the consumer. It comes in an array of colors and textures that make it not only functional, but one of the best design choices you can make. Starlike boutique grout color collections give you access to over 159 colors and finishes that include the Starlike Classic Grout collection, which features a range of simple and subtle classic colors, the Starlike Glamour Grout collection, which lets you create flashier designs, the Starlike Metallic Grout collection, perfect for creating the modern look that metal tones bring to any area and the Starlike Crystal Glass Grout Jewels which lets you bring the stunning, shimmering brilliance of jewel colors to your tile installation. It’s the perfect way to showcase your glass tile work with style and elegance. Starlike Crystal Glass Grout is another great product from The The Tile Doctor. It’s perfect for glass tile installations because Starlike Crystal Glass Grout contains small hollow glass beads that constantly reflect and refract the light, letting the translucent grout take on the color of the tile itself, which eliminates the need for colored grout altogether.
The Tile Doctor also brings you the highest-quality, safest grout and tile products anywhere, with a focus on Express Finish products that include PH neutral, environmentally-safe cleaners, degreasers, floor restoration products, floor strippers, and products designed specifically for removing calcium and lime. Express Finish products are useful for homes with inferior grout or grout that has been poorly maintained. Eliminate the need for expensive re-grouting by using Express Finish products and make the most of the tile you already have.
Ensure your tile installations are the best they can be. The The Tile Doctor and Starlike epoxy grout offers you the best in durability, artistic flexibility, and environmental safety. Litokol grout products are the highest quality grout products in the United States. It stands up to time and the forces of Mother Nature to bring you a lifetime of elegance and functionality without jeopardizing the health of your family or the environment. For more information on the absolute best epoxy grout you can find anywhere, contact The Tile Doctor at 1-877-TileDoc(845-3362) and learn how you can make a difference by getting away from using harmful chemically-enhanced grout in your tile projects.
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