Grout Joints are an important part of your project specifications. Using the proper grout joints will reduce the likelihood that tiles will chip and reduce inconsistencies in tile and pattern.
Many designers like the idea of thinner grout joints, because of their more aesthetic look. However, it is important to understand the various considerations that come into play when selecting the proper grout joint.
There is no standard for grout joints. According to the TCNA, the grout width can vary depending upon the size of the tile. Many stone and tile manufacturers suggest that grout joints be no less than 1/8″ to 3/16″.
While the 1/8” grout joint is visually more aesthetic, any variations in tile or grout become more evident with thinner grout joints.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN SELECTING GROUT JOINTS
Tile Size and Variation
Grout joints must accommodate the difference in thickness and size of the tile. Which can vary up to 3/32”. A thicker grout joint should be used in larger format tiles and thinner grout joint in smaller format tiles, because large tiles create more lippage and surface unevenness.
The grout joint accommodates the variation of surface plane. When the floor is not level and tiling is done over a bump or depression of the subfloor, the grout accommodates the plane difference, by respectively opening or sloping. Although using a proper grout joint will accommodate subtle differences surface leveling is important, particularly where thin-set is used.
Aesthetics and Client Preference
Once the client understands the benefits of a proper grout joint and the possible effects of a thinner grout joint, it’s up to them to make a decision. However, it is important to understand that when tiles are set too close together or have a grout joint that’s too thin, any variance in that grout joint may be visible. This is especially noticeable on a thinner grout joint. A note about perimeter and field movement joints (soft joints): Grout variation differences are especially noticeable with soft joints, which occur every 20′-25′ for interior and 8′-12′ for exterior applications. These joints allow for expansion and contraction and must be a minimum of 3/8″-1/4″ depending upon the tile type and the application. When compared to a 1/16″ grout joint, this difference is highly visible.
It is important to understand that in installations using a grout joint less than 1/8” or butt-joint, the skill of the installer is crucial to achieve even look.