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Groutless Tile Installation: Can I Get Tile Without Grout?

Groutless Tile Installation: Can I Get Tile Without Grout?

Jul 31,2023
is grout required for tile
It's an old question: Can you do a groutless tile installation? Well, the short answer is a simple "no" - you should not attempt to install tile without grout.

Why this is so, you might wonder. Grout doesn't add stability to a tile installation (unless we're talking about some special cases), so why is it needed?

In short, various natural materials, such as stone, are manufactured in very consistent dimensions. Not to mention, most of them look the same. That's why a novice's first instinct might be to install them without a grout line.

There is also an argument that a groutless tile installation simply looks better and makes the job appear more compact or put together. Still, experienced contractors will tell you that it's not a good option and that even the tiniest grout line can make a big difference.

Don't Do a Groutless Tile Installation: Here's Why You Need Grout

Most installers understandably have a love-hate relationship with grout. This takes a lot of time and requires meticulous work. In some cases, laying tile without grout may make the job look better.

But here's the thing: If you want the job to last, then you need to use grout. Ungrouted tiles have a higher chance of cracking, which means you need to get back to work.

With these factors in mind, this article discusses some of the reasons why no-fill tillage is an ineffective method, and why you should stick with traditional practices.

Different Tiles

Your tiles may appear to be the same size, but most likely they are not. These differences may be relatively minor and impossible to notice without taking action, but they can interfere with the groutless installation process. When you put the tiles together, these tiny irregularities can add up and make the end result look a little unprofessional. After spending hours installing tiles, the last thing you want is for them not to line up properly.

Grout allows you to mask differences in tile size and control the results. In fact, even the smallest lines can make the tiles fit perfectly into each other, giving the end result a nice symmetrical look.

Material May Become Trapped Between Tiles

Regardless of the size of the project, some elements may get in between the tiles if not grouted. No matter how tight you think your installation looks, dust, dead cells, or other debris can find its way between your tiles. Grout prevents this from happening.

You can spend hours putting tiles together and be very happy with the results. But without grout, there will always be a tiny space between the tiles, like a magnet waiting to attract debris. Over time, these tiny differences between tiles will collect enough dust and debris to ruin the entire ensemble.

Don't assume that you can clean the tiles after the installation process is over. This can be quite a difficult task as even the slightest mistake can be enough to damage one of the tiles and require more work on your part than originally planned to fix the mistake.

One of the easiest ways to avoid this nightmare scenario: You guessed it - use grout when installing tile.

Yes They Moved

Another reason why you should rethink the whole concept of groutless tile installation is that tile will move. Since the edges of the tiles are constantly rubbing against each other, they may chip or even break at some point. Honestly, it's not ideal.

Of course, there are other tips and tricks you can use, but they only minimize the impact, they don't stop the tiles from moving and rubbing against each other. Grout, on the other hand, acts as a buffer, preventing tiles from touching as they expand or contract.

What Can You Do

It's not all bad. After all, grouting is the biggest and most powerful scene before the finale. This is the final step in the tile installation process. In the end, it even completes the entire look of your piece. This is the main difference between a tile job that stands the test of time and one that will eventually need tweaking.

Most importantly, keep in mind the ANSI code for minimum grout joint size (A108.02-4.3.8):

"In order to accommodate the range of face sizes of tile supplied for a particular project, the actual grout joint size may vary from the specified grout joint size as necessary. The actual grout joint size shall be at least three times the actual variation in the face size of the tile supplied. Example: For tiles with a total change in surface dimension of 1/16", a minimum of 3/16" grout joints should be used. The nominal centerlines of all joints should be straight with appropriate allowance for hand-formed or antiqued tiles. amount. In no case shall grout joints be smaller than 1/16".

The biggest problems you are likely to face with grouting tools have a lot to do with getting the right mix thickness or getting it to dry solid before you have a chance to use it.

What About Straightening Tiles?

You may have heard of orthodontic tile and wondered if these machine-cut materials don't require grout when installed.

So, is this true?

Straightening is a mechanical process that requires milling the tile edges at a specific angle, which indicates that the material will have the same dimensions. So you can install them without worrying about the end result looking discordant and unprofessional. This happens because this process allows you to cut each tile to the same size with an accuracy of 0.2mm. Renovation works of floor and wall tiles.

It is generally accepted that tiles that have undergone this process do not require grout, as they are nearly the same size and have perfectly cut edges. However, it is not.

Even though corrected tile allows you to avoid using grout without the result looking misaligned, there is still a risk of chipping or damage to the material. Perfectly cut edges will not perform any better than regular tile when rubbing occurs, so they can still cause all kinds of problems if you choose groutless tile installation.

In fact, rectified tile can result in thinner grout lines. However, the misconception that they can be ungrouted can make your work look unprofessional. If you want your rectified tiles to stand the test of time, they still rely heavily on grout. However, you will find that in the case of these rectified tiles, their grout lines may be more difficult to notice.

The Polished vs. Unpolished Debate

Most experts have a good understanding of the differences between sanded and unsanded grout; therefore, we won't go into too many details.

Sanded and Unsanded – These are the two most common grout materials. Not an argument per se, but you need to be able to choose the right grout for your type of job to get the job done right. We've already mentioned that grouting tile ensures your work will last. Well, choosing the right grout material for the right type of job also plays an important role in the success and durability of your project.

For lines less than 1/8 inch wide, use unsanded grout as it will shrink as it dries. If you're working on a vertical surface, you'll find it much easier to use unsanded grout for wall installations because it sticks much more than other materials. So it won't fall off when you try to fit it into the grout line.

Sandpaper grout, on the other hand, works better with wider grout lines. If the name isn't good enough, know that this material has fine sand added to it to keep it from shrinking as it cures. While it can also be used on smaller grout lines, it is much easier to apply it to larger grout lines.

With mortar, however, you also need to pay attention to the type of tile material you are using. In some cases, mortar may not react positively with these materials because the sandy texture can scratch the tiles. Be sure to test before use to check whether the mixture will scratch the tile surface.

In Short

Yes, it is technically possible to do a groutless tile installation, but as the above article points out, it's not worth it. There are three main disadvantages to skipping grout when installing tile:

1. If the tiles are not the same, they will appear misaligned;

2. Dirt can get under them and damage them in the long run;

3. Moving may cause breakage.

So what happens if one of your customers insists on not using grout? Well, you should try to talk them out of it. Ultimately, of course, it's their decision, but do your best to help them understand why grout is important. Some people may want the compact look and think the grout just ruins the pattern of the tile. Try to make them see that the benefits of grout will ultimately work for them in the long run. After all, many people would likely prefer to choose something that lasts longer than something that "looks pretty" for a few months.

The above has introduced the benefits of grouting when installing tiles. If you want to know more about tile laying, please contact us.

TILER is a professional custom tile laying tools manufacturer, since the invention of the first tile cutter, we have been committed to providing installers with high-quality and efficient tile-cutting and laying tools. With over 28 years of experience, patented technology and unparalleled production capabilities, TILER has become an industry leader, serving customers in more than 130 countries. We advocate the spirit of craftsmanship and are always committed to creating perfect, precise, and safe products. Through advanced design, high-quality products and custom service, TILER makes laying tiles easy and an enjoyable experience for installers.
TILER Rubber Grout Float A42102 Double Color Soft Handle
The TILER EVA Grout Float A42101 is used for filling and smoothing grout lines between tiles during tile installation.
TILER Grout Cleaning Bucket 24L A54102
A grout cleaning bucket is typically used for cleaning and maintaining tile and grout surfaces in bathroom, kitchen and so on.
TILER Sealant Removal Kit A53101
Sealant Removal Kit A53101 comes with 9 different finishing profiles. Supplied with handy storage box.
TILER Rubber Grout Float A42103 Wooden Handle 180mm
The TILER Rubber Grout Float A42103 is used for filling and smoothing grout lines between tiles during tile installation.

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