Expert Guide on Grout

22 min read

Expert Guide on Grout - Architessa

Grout is a crucial element of tile design that is often overlooked until later in the installation process. Did you know that poorly maintained or damaged grout can actually  decrease the value of your home? It’s essentially equivalent to making a sandwich and forgetting the bread, so why don’t we talk about it more?  Specifying or choosing tile can be tough, and maybe the answer simply is - we are out of steam by the time we get to the grout selection stage. So let's change that narrative, make grout part of your checklist, and learn a little along the way.

This blog will cover a lot of ground but will not provide resources on the physical act of grouting. We leave that part up to professional installers.

Grout Sticks
Architessa showrooms and commercial reps have grout samples in their toolbox and can help select and specify grout.

What is Grout?  

When it comes to tile installations, grout is the medium used to fill in the gaps between ceramic, glass, and stone tiles. The most common type of grout is cement-based grout, but there are now specialized grouts available with a range of additives to improve their performance.

To keep it simple, there are essentially two categories of grouts: cement-based and non-cement based.


Cement-based grout: These make up the bulk of products most commonly used.  The base ingredient in cement based grout is portland cement.  There are many cement based products now available, some with additives that improve performance, such as mildew resistance or antimicrobial properties, uniformity, hardness, flexibility, and water retentivity.


Non-cement-based grouts: A newer class of grouts which include epoxy, furan, and premixed polymer resin grout offer properties not previously achieved with cement based grout.  Epoxy grout is not porous, and was historically used in hospitals & industrial purposes, and was initially difficult to work with.  Over time, the industry has evolved, as has the formulas for epoxy, making it less difficult to work with, albeit special skills and precautions are still required. 



Much like sandwiches, grout comes in many shapes, sizes, and colors, which we will bite into more later. Until then, here is a fun fact about grout:  


Grout joint sizes have gotten smaller, with an average size of only ⅛". Combining this with the fact that larger tile sizes like 12x24 now rule the market, today's projects now require 75% less grout than 10 years ago.

-Will White for Tile Magazine 


Yes, Grout is Required!

Looks can be deceiving. Tile samples, photography, or renderings may not show grout, but this doesn't mean you can skip it on the job site. In fact, sanded grout actually helps with slip resistance, which comes in handy on shower floors.


550 Morse Grout

550 Morse by Design Collective, featuring  BOHO, meticulously grouted


While there are specialty mosaic products on the market that don't require grout, such as split-face stone mosaics or our Baywood Collection, these are rare exceptions to the rule. Grout is required for most tile installations, and for a good reason:
    • Grout helps protect the longevity of your installation by preventing dirt and debris from getting in between or under your tiles, which could potentially cause the tiles to come loose over time.
    • Grout assists in minor amounts of movement, which can otherwise lead to breakage. All tile expands and contracts based on moisture and temperatures, including porcelain. In fact, all building materials experience coefficient of thermal expansion based on exposures to moisture and heat. Interior areas with direct sunlight, exteriors, and materials in wet areas will see the most movement.  Grout accounts for the minor amounts of compression and contraction experienced during these natural or created events.
    • Grout allows tile installers to adjust the tile pattern, layout, and grout joint size to accommodate tile size variations, and warpage to a given degree. This also includes reducing lippage between tile courses when tile warpage is on the high end of the allowable range. All tiles have an acceptable degree of variation, as defined by the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) Specification for Ceramic Tile.


    Now that you know how important grout is, it will forever be part of your journey to select tile. In addition to grout, here is a quick overview of all the things that should be included on your tile buying checklist in case you were looking for one. 


    Tile Buying Checklist


    Grout is a Design Element 

    Grout is not just a technical requirement. It's also an important design decision. Regarding design, layout, and overall feeling in a space, grout color is equally important as the actual tile and can make a big design statement or blend into the background.


    Look at the hand-clipped natural stone mosaic below, for example. The tile's incongruent edges and large gaps are completely defined and highlighted by the choice of grout that fills them. Incongruent or hand-cut tiles and mosaics often rely on grout to create the intended look, whether it be with a close color or a contrasting one.

    KALIP Vanilla hand-cut mosaic


    Matching the color of your tile creates a more subtle look, whereas a contrasting grout color makes the shape & pattern the grand feature.


    Light vs Dark Grout

    Subway Tile Grout Comparison; light v. dark

    Image Credit:


    White subway tile with dark gray grout actually pays homage to the early days of tile. Before grout was invented, mortar was used in place of grout, making this design perfect for historic renovations. The contrasting grout adds a touch of simplicity to your space and takes you back to a bygone era. Subway tile with contrasting grout is now popular and versatile enough to fit into any design style.


    Design Considerations

    Room & Tile Size: Expansive rooms with large format tile are typically designed with grout that matches the tile. A continuous look has the advantage of letting the pattern on the tile steal the show instead of creating a grid in the room. The  JETTY Collection shows this concept quite beautifully.  


    Jetty collection Architessa

    JETTY  White natural (left),  Beige natural (right)


    Location: Drawing from what you have learned so far about contrast and blending, the location of a tile plays a role. An area with high visibility, such as a fireplace or backsplash, will stand out with contrasting grout colors. On the other hand, you might find your decision more flexible in a space less visible, such as a powder room or guest bath.


    Pattern Dynamics: Tile Shapes are obviously deliberate, but they require a careful grout color decision in order to visually exist. Our FANFARE scallop would disappear into the deep sea without a lighter grout color. Conversely, tile patterns may need to blend or stand out depending on pattern dynamics, whether ink-jet printed on a tile, implied through a waterjet cut, or mosaic shape.


    Fanfare Architessa Tile

    FANFARE Scallop Aqua Glossy Crackle


    Take a closer look at just how much grout color can play a role in design by exploring this  case study. ESTRELLA is a mosaic with a delicate petal shape, shown grouted in 3 different colors; white, warm grey, and charcoal.




    ESTRELLA mosaic, shown with 3 different grout colors. Source: Artistic Tile


    The same mosaic pattern now appears to be 3 completely different mosaics. As this example shows, if grout color is not part of the selection process, you might not even recognize the tile you chose. This might feel like an extreme case, but it's important to note that tile has become more beautiful and complex, with more choices thanks to the internet, and is not slowing down anytime soon. This means grout color will continue to push the boundaries of design dynamics.


    Grout Joint Size

    Grout Joint Size: When rectified porcelain was introduced to the market, grout lines began to shrink. Rectified tiles and technological advancements in grouts opened up flexibility in grout joints. Rectified porcelains are typically installed with ⅛" grout lines, but there are no rules or technical guidelines for grout size, except that the minimum required joint width for ceramic tile and natural stone tile is 1/16". The TCNA states that anything less than 1/16" is referred to as a butt joint and does not provide sufficient accommodation for dynamic building movement, differential thermal expansion, or allowable variation in fabrication or manufacturing. We will discuss this in detail later on, but before diving into that, let's discuss grout joints more as they relate to the material.  

    Handmade - Tiles that are either handmade or appear to often vary considerably from piece to piece. In these cases, a larger grout joint provides a more uniform design than a Zellige tile, which is highly varied and traditionally installed with a small grout joint. The smaller grout joint highlights the intensity of these variations, as shown in our  TANGIER collection. It is important to note that tiles not mimicking a handmade look may appear disheveled or installed improperly with a small grout joint. It's important to discuss the grout joint size with your installer as they will have expertise on if a small grout joint can't occur due to layout or space requirements.



     TANGIER Moroccan Sky 4x4 Nouveau


    Chiseled, Antiqued, or Special Edges: Natural Stones may be available with a chiseled, antiqued, or pillowed edge, often with multi-sized patterns, such as the Versaille pattern. The grout joint should be large to show off the edges in these cases. Often these edgesare meticulously made by hand, and they are the grand feature of the design. See our  VERANDA Collection by Lauren Liess as an example.   


    This also applies to some handmade terracotta tiles, like our  HABITAT Collection, also by Lauren Liess. To some, the edges might look chipped - indeed, they are! It's part of the process to achieve an antiqued feel, and extra steps are taken to make these edges look vintage and timeworn. You might cover up these perfectly-imperfect edges if you're not careful grouting. Also, notice the raw terracotta coming through on the edge. This edge is hand-scraped, and another design feature is achieved by hand to create a lived-in, organic, yet timeworn feel.  




    This blog could go on for pages and pages, simply discussing material & grout joints, but let's condense some information into a tidy chart. Remember, the graphic below is a guide that may not always align with your specific tile. As you know by now, many factors will play a role in what grout joint is best for your job. This is simply a general visual guide. 

    Grout Spacing Chart


    Talk to your installer when Grout is the Design
    Any installation considered trendy, unusual, or outside the box warrants a discussion with your tile installer, as the skills and time necessary to execute these designs may require more budget.  Not all grouts are created equal or can be used to achieve the desired aesthetic. Ensure the type of grout you desire is compatible by reading the rest of this blog & checking with a salesperson or installer.  


      These Pinterest boards are a window into the world of grout trends & unique designs. 


      Tone on ToneThick & Thin Pinterest BoardThick is Bold Pinterest BoardBrass or Metal Pinterest Board


      Special & Unique Grout

      Special & unique grout is a concept that has been introduced previously, and you might find it overwhelming as to what is available today. In some cases, there are additives, or pre-mixed grout compounds, to make your grout glow in the dark, sparkle, or disappear. Translucent grout isn't the top seller on the market but is certainly unique. It's formulated for use with glass tiles and other highly specialized materials or installations (think back-lighting). Here is a breakdown of a few options found at Architessa.


      Glitter  - Laticrete currently offers a dozen options to  bedazzle your grout. This is an additive called Dazzle, available only for use with SPECTRALOCK Epoxy. Other brands also have this option as an additive or pre-mixed compound.


      Glow in the Dark - This is another additive to be used with SPECTRALOCK Epoxy, found on the same  brochure as the Dazzle.

      Translucent - Another unique option is  translucent grout, designed to diffuse light to make the design more vibrant. This is most commonly used with glass and can be combined with the Dazzle additive for SPECTRALOCK Epoxy installation.


      Spectralock Dazzle

      Image Source:  Laticrete EU


      If you're not feeling the disco vibe with your grout, you can always opt for some of the newest, soothing colors available from Laticrete in neutral tones for both cool and warm visuals. 


      2022 New Grout Colors


      Technical Requirements 

      The tile industry is lucky to have the Tile Council of North America (TNCA), to guide us in material, installation, and grout. You can find a direct link to their  library of grout topics here, which is available free of charge, or you can purchase a copy of the  TCNA Handbook and explore more.


      The TCNA is full of information required to install tile, so don't discount this tremendous industry resource. This blog won't review the Handbook, but you should know this one fact in section 4.3.8.


       "The actual grout joint size shall be at least three times the actual variation of facial dimensions of the tile supplied."  

      -TCNA Handbook, Section 4.3.8


      The online Topics in the library of grout are an additional resource that embodies the theme that setting tile is considered a science and an art, and the TCNA is essentially run by the professors, experts, and stakeholders that guide the discipline. The two standards organizations that the TCNA Handbook uses to develop its recommendations are ANSI and ISO.    


      TCNA website and handbook

      2022 TCNA Manual                                                              Library of TCNA Grout Topics


      To learn about all the organizations behind tile standards, visit the  Tile 101 resource in the Architessa  Tile Learning Center. Here is a recap of ANSI and ISO.


      ANSI (American National Standards Institute): ANSI Facilitates voluntary national consensus standards for ceramic tile manufacturing and installation systems. 


      • ANSI A137.1 – American National Standards Specifications for Ceramic Tile is the crucial compliance document for the ceramic tile industry. It is the American National Standard developed by the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), which covers specifications for ceramic tile, offering quality criteria and listing and defining different types, sizes, physical properties, and grading procedures.


      • ANSI A108.02, Section 4.3.8 = Grout Standards. This contains the criteria regarding grout joint size, particularly concerning the tile size, dimensional precision, and offset pattern. Here is what Section 4.3.8 says:


      4.3.8 Grout Joint Size:

      To accommodate the range in facial dimensions of the tile supplied for a specific project, the actual grout joint size may, of necessity, vary from the grout joint size specified. The actual grout joint size shall be at least three times the actual variation of facial dimensions of the tile supplied. Example: for tile having a total variation of 1/16" in facial dimensions, a minimum of 3/16" grout joint shall be used. The nominal centerline of all joints shall be straight, with due allowances for hand-molded or rustic tiles. In no circumstance shall the grout joint be less than 1/16".

      Running Bond/Brick Joint Patterns

      For running bond/brick joint patterns utilizing tiles (square or rectangular) with any side greater than 15", the grout joint shall be, on average, a minimum of 1/8" wide for rectified tiles and, on average, a minimum of 3/16" wide for calibrated (non-rectified) tiles. The grout joint width shall be increased over the minimum requirement by the amount of edge warpage on the longest edge of the actual tiles being installed. For example, for a rectified tile exhibiting a 1/32" edge warpage on the longest edge, the minimum grout joint for a running bond/brick joint pattern will be 1/8" + 1/32" or 5/32", on average. Of necessity, in any installation, some grout joints will be less and some more than the average minimum dimension to accommodate the specific tiles being installed.

      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 exceeding 33% is specified, the specifier and the owner must approve the mock-up and lippage.


       ISO (International Organization for Standardization): ISO is an international standard-setting body comprising representatives from various national standards organizations. 


      • ISO/TC189 - The ISO Technical Committee 189 develops standards for ceramic tiles and related installation materials, including grouts, adhesives, and membranes. These standards include test methods, definitions, specifications, and classifications, which unify the global industry and facilitate international trade.
      • For applicable ISO material specifications, see ISO CG Criteria.  


      Types of Grouts

      Specific types of grout are available to meet the needs of the tile, grout joint, and environmental exposures. Using the wrong grout in specific applications may lead to job site failure. For example, concave joints can occur using an unsanded grout with joints larger than the manufacturer's recommended threshold.  


      Earlier, we learned about Cement and Non-Cement based grouts, so let's review them in greater detail along with the product sub-categories available within. Keep in mind, The tile manufacturer will always specify what grout to use when a special grout is required, so there is no need to memorize all of this information.  


      Cement Based Grout

      • Sanded
      • Unsanded
      • High Performance or Hybrid

        Non-Cement Based Grout

        • Epoxy
        • High specialized category

          Cement-Based Sanded Grout (⅛" ≤ grout joints) - A large amount of material can be grouted with sanded grout. This includes ceramic mosaics, quarry tiles, pressed floor tiles, porcelain tiles, cast glass (also known as through-body glass), and some natural stones. Sanded grout is to be avoided on material susceptible to scratching, such as polished, glossy, or sometimes specialized finishes. 


          Cement-Based Unsanded grout (1/16" to ⅛" grout joints) Wall tile, polished surfaces, and rectified tiles are typically grouted with unsanded grout. The size of the grout joint allowed with unsanded grout ranges from 1/16" to ⅛" and should not exceed ⅛".  


          Cement-Based High-Performance Grout or Hybrid (recommended grout joints vary by manufacturer) - This class of grouts has additives, such as latex/polymer powder, antimicrobial ingredients, and sealers which classify them as high-performing grouts. Architessa carries  Permacolor Selectby Laticrete within this category. Permacolor is a two-part system where the colorant is sold separately and must be mixed in. Large market share and corresponding shelf space is now dedicated to high-performing grout. Each manufacturer establishes standards for grout joint size recommendations within this class. Laticrete Permacolor also offers a  pre-mixed option, which may be more suitable for small jobs.  


          Non-Cement Based Epoxy Grout - Epoxy is a grout employing epoxy resin and hardener portions, often containing coarse silica filler, which has been engineered for industrial and commercial use, where chemical resistance is prioritized. Additionally, epoxy provides ultimate bond strength, impact resistance, and improved stain resistance. Certain materials, such as glass or polished natural stones, are not approved for use with epoxies. Chemical and stain resistance can vary between manufacturers, so consult with the manufacturer or distributor on application suitability.  


          Non-Cement Based; Highly Specialized Category - This class of products includes Furan Resin, Pre-mixed Polymer Resin, and urethane-based grouts. These are highly specialized grouts, not typically used in common commercial applications, and rarely used residentially. Special materials may require specific handling or installation, such as a urethane-based grout. However, this is rare, as tile manufacturers actively work to make tile easier to install, not harder.  


          Grout Q&A and Helpful Grout Tips

          Now that you're equipped with grout trends, types, technical info, design tips, and more, grout is easy, right? We don't have an easy button, unfortunately, but if you really need help deciding, you can always sample grout with some extra material, grout, and time. This is not something a tile installer includes in their quote, so you must request this ahead of time before your quote is provided if this is something you desire. You can also DIY this type of set-up by using a large piece of colored poster board as your grout to get a sense of color, or simply use grout stick samples, which most tile providers keep handy.

          Tile Designers, Installers, and reps have seen almost every grout combination out there. So take advantage and lean on them for advice if you are having a hard time making your decision.  


          Photo source:  Emily Henderson Blog


          Do I have to seal my grout?

          If you are using a non-epoxy-based grout, you can seal it (only if clean).  Sealers are not permanent and must be reapplied, sometimes yearly or more, depending on the intensity of foot traffic. If you are already sealing your tile or stone, the grout will be sealed alongside it. The resealing process is easy, but must be done meticulously to not let any sealer accumulate or pool.  Routine cleaning & vacuuming are the best way to maintain your tile & grout. Grout is not self-cleaning, even if it's stain-proof, so don't convince yourself to think you can skip maintenance.  Always choose a penetrating, not topical, sealer.


          Can I change my grout color?  

          If you have a change of design heart and want a different color grout, your only option is to paint over them, but it's not an easy task. Grout colorant kits are available on the market in a small selection of colors that can be painted on your grout joints. This is not a fun job, and I don't recommend it under any circumstance because this is not a task you want on your honey-do list! If patience is your virtue, pause and consider if your efforts would actually be improving the space. Can inherently bad design really be improved?


          Do I have to clean my grout?

          After spending time, money, and energy on building or renovating, preserving the material is important to protect it from being ruined from stains or dirty grout. Grout needs to be cleaned regularly because it's a naturally porous material. As we generally tile areas used regularly, like bathrooms and kitchens, the grout is then exposed to moisture and dirt almost every day and can cause discoloration and, eventually, mold growth.


          As grout ages, it can develop micropores from wear & tear over time, where dirt can hide and build up in pockets. Cleaning grout properly is vital for maintaining the design of your tiles and preventing the tiles and the surface beneath from becoming damaged.



          Can you imagine discolored grout in this  PEMBROOKE Oval Installation, where the grout essentially dictates the design?


          How do I keep my grout looking nice?

          For floor tiles, invest in bath mats and walk-off mats. When you step out of a bath or shower, a bath mat can absorb excess water, preventing it from reaching the tiles. Placing walk-off mats at every entrance to your home or building will absorb moisture and allow people to clean their shoes. This keeps the area by the door clean, reducing dirt and grime being tread across your tiles.


          We addressed sealing earlier and will reiterate here that sealing may help protect from stains a little longer than unsealed grout, but it is not a replacement for cleaning & maintenance tasks, nor does it allow you to clean less frequently. You will still need a regular cleaning schedule to stop stains from setting in your grout or mold from developing.


          How often should I clean grout?

          Wet Areas: Using a squeegee after the shower or bath removes excess water and is one of the best habits for general tile cleaning & maintenance. When possible, cleaning directly after a bath or shower will help remove soap scum, and bacteria, which is the culprit of most grout problems. In addition, a weekly clean of any tiled area will help prevent dirt buildup from staining or damaging your grout. Remove any excess debris and dust before spraying and wiping bathroom tiles. 


          You should spray and wipe kitchen tiles after cooking, as there will likely be food stains and condensation on them. Floor tiles also need to be cleaned regularly, preferably weekly. Remove debris and dust like pet hairs or dropped food, giving you a smooth surface to clean. 


          How do I clean grout? 

          Routine & frequent cleaning is recommended as a way to keep grout stains to a minimum and prevent a build up of dirt that could prove difficult to remove if left unaddressed. Daily cleaning may be necessary for commercial applications, and weekly may be more appropriate for a residence. However, as we all have busy lives, cleaning grout as often as we'd like might not be practical. Cleaning grout is actually pretty straightforward; whether you need to restore heavily stained grout or simply want to keep on top of things, a few basic household products and a bit of elbow grease can have your beautifully tiled bathroom or kitchen looking like new.


          Brushes - You will need a brush with stiff nylon (no metal) bristles to get the best results. This will help reach trapped dirt in any small holes in your grouting. There are specifically designed grout brushes available that are made from nylon, but a firm toothbrush can be used, too (just don't brush your teeth with it afterward). Scrubbing with the right kind of brush can make a marked improvement in your grouting, even when just used with water. Even if this does not remove the entire stain, it will take away the top layer of grime. This is the best way to prepare the surface for more powerful cleaning products. Rubbermaid makes a really great spinning nylon brush, available at  Targetthat helps save your wrists for grout cleaning that requires extra muscle.  

          How to clean grout

          Steam Cleaning - If you have a steam cleaner or can purchase one, this is a brilliant way of cleaning grout as it is powerful and non-corrosive. Regular use will help lift dirt from small pockets. It is also the most environmentally friendly way to clean, as you do not need chemicals.


          Cleaners and Sprays - You might naturally go to bleach or vinegar when it comes to cleaning. However, both are corrosive, so while they might whiten stains, they can also do more damage than good on grout. As a general rule, you want to start cleaning with the mildest cleaners in your cupboard. Some specialist grout cleaning products are available specifically to remove dirt from grout without damaging the surface. It's also recommended to use a suitable product in areas such as showers or bathrooms to help prevent mold and mildew from taking hold or to remove black spots when they occur. Always read and follow the instructions on the product label. 


          DIY - If you prefer the DIY route, you can make your own solution with ingredients you likely have in the house already. First, try one part water with two parts baking soda or bicarbonate of soda mixed together into a paste. Spread this on your grout and leave it on the surface for at least 10 minutes. This gives it time to sink into the dirt and makes removing it easier. Then scrub with your brush until you are satisfied, rinse or mop down with water, and towel dry. If your stain is a bit more stubborn, try a solution of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. This is an excellent mix as baking soda is only mildly abrasive and causes less damage than caustic materials, and hydrogen peroxide is a natural alternative to bleach that will still brighten the grout. Leave for 20 minutes for more effective whitening.


          Grout Cleaning Rules

          • Do not use essential oils to clean grout. They can stain and may attract more dust & debris after use.  
          • Do not use a metal brush to clean the grout as it can scrape or damage the surface of grout & tile.
          • Do not use acid to clean. 
          • Do not use vinegar (acid)
          • Do not use bleach (acid)
          • Do not use scented plug-ins close to any area with grout or porous stones. These can discolor grout & any porous stones, especially colored oils & compounds.  


          Grout Mold

          Grout which has surface mold, or worse, is one of the most frequently misunderstood topics due to a lack of straightforward information, which we know all about. Check out our recentblog covering tile product classifications extensively, another area difficult to research. Showers and baths are essentially playgrounds for bacteria, which come from soap, shampoo, and people. When used, these areas become covered with organic matter, which will cause mold if not cleaned properly or timely. Surface mold is one of the most common problems in showers, but typically the easiest to address through scheduled cleaning & maintenance - including the tip earlier on regularly using a squeegee.


          In cases where you have an established cleaning routine, and the mold persists & appears problematic, it may be a deeper issue. Earlier, we talked about tile installation being an art and a science, and this is where that becomes most evident. There are many ways a wet area can fail, ranging from waterproofing issues or lack thereof, clogged weep holes, improper drain slopes, improper thin-set coverage, etc. This could mean that the culprit of stubborn mold may be a deeper assembly issue and, indeed, not surface mold at all - it may be coming from under the tile, which means it won't disappear with any cleaning muscle. Showers can fail almost immediately, or take 20+ years to fail, so don't discount this fact. In these cases, a full replacement may be the only way to shut down stubborn or persistent mold. 


          White grout residue or efflorescence

          If you have white residue that can be easily removed, you are dealing with dried products (soaps, cleaning products, shampoo, oils) that have settled into the grout. The shavings will either be soapy when water is introduced or oily if it is conditioner, lotion, or hair treatment. If shavings can be scraped, it may be an accumulation of soaps, cleaning products, or hard water build-up. If the white residue is powdery, it's likely efflorescence.


          Efflorescence— A white powder that may appear on the stone's surface caused by water carrying mineral salts under the installation to the surface, which has evaporated. When the water evaporates, it leaves a powdery salt residue. Typically efflorescence is a minor inconvenience that can be remedied without replacing the tile or grout. If the installation is new, dust mop or vacuum the powder. Repeat as necessary as the stone dries out. If the installation is not fresh, follow regular cleaning procedures and use a Stonetech cleaner.


          When the efflorescence cannot be treated, a more significant problem underneath the tile may be present (moisture in the substrate, etc.). Read more about efflorescence from the  Ceramic Tile Education Foundation.


          Tile Efflorescence



          Cracked or Damaged Grout

          If your grout is cracked or crumbling in areas, it may be able to be restored with grout caulk or professional regrouting if required, but it may also be a deeper issue. Grout should not have major failures, and in these cases, there may be a deeper issue at fault, like improper soft joints, omission of caulk during a change in plane or material, or, worse, structural problems. Grout caulk can help fill minor gaps in the grout, but a job needing to be regrouted entirely is, in-fact, a labor-intensive undertaking and not a favorable job for contractors with busy schedules, nor a good long-term solution if there are other issues.


          Grout Haze

          After tile installation, grout residue can form a haze-like film on the surface of the tile, often white in color. This can be buffed off the surface using a clean cloth once the grout has finished curing. If the residue is very stubborn or the tiles are unglazed, a special grout haze remover solution may be used. Read and follow the instructions on the product label. The solution will break down the cement and allow the haze to be wiped away. Rinse the area with clear water and wipe dry with a clean towel or sponge to remove any residue. Do not use acidic solutions/cleaners as part of a regular maintenance routine. Many grout products on the market today are polymer modified, meaning they have latex in them. Be sure to purchase a solution that is compatible with the type of grout you have used.


          Before & After

          Photo Source:  Tile Magazine

          Last but not least, check out a few last tips and tidbits you might find helpful.


          More Helpful Grout Tips

          • Grout (& thinset) expires. Always check the date before using the setting materials. Don't expect the material to perform up to its claims if it expires.
          • Grout Caulk - Caulk is required for almost all jobs and should be applied anywhere a change in plane or material occurs, and when the TCNA manual specifies, a soft joint must be present. Grout has matching caulk in both unsanded and sanded options, so this is easy to add to your checklist.  
          • Spacers - Not all tile setters will use spacers, but they are available to help guide the spacing you want in between your tiles or mosaic sheets.  
          • Grout Timing - The best time of day to grout is the morning or early afternoon. Avoid grouting at the end of the day when you may be tired.
          • Never leave excess grout (or thinset) to dry where it doesn't belong. Dried setting materials are serious business and will require special cleaners to remove.
          • Grout that needs repair should be looked at by an experienced professional. Missing or cracked grout can unearth many other issues, and addressing minor repairs can sometimes be in vain when a larger issue is the cause.
          • Follow the TCNA manual & be careful of what you read online. There is lots of bad advice floating around.  

          Complete Grout Tips Care & Maintenance PDF

          We hope you enjoyed this blog. Please comment if you have any tile or grout questions we can answer to help your project along.  



          Julie TauryJulie Taury has thrived in the tile industry for two decades and held various positions ranging from retail sales to product development. Her unique background in distribution, manufacturing, strategic sales, and the A&D industry has built an unparalleled skill set to navigate the unpredictable surprises of the tile industry. Currently, she is the Chief Innovation Officer at Architessa, and is a remote trailblazer  residing in Auckland, New Zealand. 

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