GROUTING YOUR HANDMADE ENCAUSTIC CEMENT TILES (GENERAL)
this page is of particular importance to your encaustic cement tile installation. this is because the highest degree of incidence with cement tile installations are based on failures that occur using the wrong grout or the wrong grouting methods. remember, your tiles are cement and they can be stained with the grout pigment as this pigment is the exact colorant that is used to pigment cement tiles.
- what size grout joint is preferred for encaustic cement tiles? always use 1/16" grout joint or butt joint. because there is little irregularity in cement size, you don’t have to provide large grout spacing to allow for variation. ALSO, most cement patterns will not repeat properly if you use larger than a 1/16" grout joint.
- what colors are suitable for grouting encaustic cement tiles? clé always recommends a neutral natural grey (un-pigmented) grout color for all cement tiles. besides being the traditional shade for these historic tiles, the lack of pigment allows for a stain-free installation. another color recommendation is to select the shade that matches closest to the lightest shade in your pattern. CAUTION: many grout manufacturers have begun to pigment their “natural gray” grouts. so be sure your contractor checks with the manufacturer. If there is pigment, your contractor must take care against staining.
- but what if I want to use a contrasting or dark grout? using a contrasting or dark grout isn’t impossible, however, it will require GREAT CARE. your installer will need to be extra careful with applying his grout release. next, a test patch should first be attempted to insure that the grout release and the contractor’s application is working. if not, he may need to either finger grout- using his finger to fill the joints, or use a grout bag to assist filling the joints. either procedure will insure that the dark grout stays off the tile surface. but they obviously take a great deal of skill and care.
- is there a particular grout brand clé recommends? yes, clé recommends using Mapei Flexcolor CQ, which is intended for unglazed tiles
- why do you caution against using permacolor grouts? Permacolor grouts are the newest iteration of grout development. it’s really great for color-fast qualities, however everything that makes it color fast is a demon to your beautiful cement tiles. first, the grout is colored with more intense pigments that will stain any unglazed stone, cement or unglazed tile. second, it is fast drying and less viscous than standard grouts and therefore there is a greater possibility of leaving a grout film. should grout film develop on your installation, it is generally irreparable.
- if clé encaustic cement tiles are pre-polished and pre-sealed, why do I have to use a grout release? clé is pleased to offer cement tiles that are pre-polished and pre-sealed. if you have witnessed the difference in cement tiles without this hand-rubbed finish, you know that clé cement tiles’ smooth finish helps our tiles through transportation blemishes and the first stages of installation care. HOWEVER, grouts are very problematic to cement tiles and taking extra care against staining is essential to success. please be sure to ALWAYS use grout release.
GENERAL GROUTING TIPS
below are our general grouting tips to insure a great outcome for your beautiful installation
- once your mortar bed is sufficiently dried/cured, sweep your floor thoroughly, removing all loose and gritty particles. (this step should be done no sooner than 3 days and no later than 7 days)
- wash or mop the floor with a neutral detergent (NEVER vinegar or acid based cleansers), rinsing the floor thoroughly using liberal amounts of clear water, remove water and allow the floor to dry thoroughly before sealing or buffing.
- once dry again - you can now apply a grout release following the manufacturer’s instructions. this helps to protect the tiles from being stained by the grout. it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully or the grout release application may fail resulting in grout staining.
- grout your installation using a rubber float (finger grout or a grout bag is required with contrasting color grouts).
- immediately remove any excess grout with a clean damp cloth or sponge. this will also remove the grout release.
- do not let any excess grout dry on the surface as it may be difficult to remove and may stain the tiles.
- clé recommends using only natural gray grout - NOT “PERMACOLOR” grouts, or matching the lightest shade of your patterns.
should you (or your client) prefer to use a contrasting grout on your cement tiles - please be sure to do so with great CAUTION and either finger grout or use a grout bag.
AFTER GROUTING TIPS
- any excess grout should be removed with a damp cloth or sponge before it dries.
- this step is not required, however, after the grout is dry (usually after 48 hours) you may elect to use a 17” floor polisher with a sand screen pad over the green pad to clean and finish the cement tiles. you will want to wet the floor enough so that the floor polisher is always working on a wet surface. This step will take care and experience so only proceed if your contractor has used this step in the past.
- some color from the cement will come up during this buffing process, which is normal. but be sure to rinse and dry any residue left from this process to leave your floors and patterns clear and clean.
- if a slight shine is desired, buff the tiles with the floor polisher and white pad using a back and forth motion. this will give your tiles a sheen.
- you will want to seal prior to using your newly finished project. please read our sealing and maintenance guide for ongoing care of your beautiful walls and floors.
it is recommended that your encaustic cement floor be the last step of your remodel or construction project. however, if you have completed your tile project before your construction project is finished, make sure you protect them appropriately by covering them with a large piece of cloth, fabric or a tarp.