What to Know About Grout for Wood-look Tile

By Michelle Corley

Wood-look floor tile is a superstar for many reasons. But one of its best qualities is how close the tile can be laid side by side. With a minimal grout joint, the result is a floor that performs very much like hardwood.

This newer plank style installation does require a bit of an explanation, though. Here are the need-to-know basics.

Tight Grout Lines
Most wood-look floor tile requires an 1/8 or 3/16-inch grout joint. That’s pretty narrow and very important. Without that joint, the tile won’t be able to adjust to minuscule movements in the subfloor. This will result in breakage, lippage or an uneven floor surface.

Spacers should be used to ensure the correct minimum grout joint is achieved. Installers should also carefully review manufacturer recommendations, as some tiles will require a different grout joint for various layouts like an 1/8-inch for grid layouts and 3/16-inch for brick joint layouts.

Rectified Tiles
Rectified tiles allow for the smallest grout joints, usually 1/8 to 3/16-inch. They have very exact edges that are smooth and uniform. Without these precise edges, much more grout is needed to even things out across the floor. This is a must-have for a realistic wood-look floor tile.

Managing Lippage
Tiles greater than 15 inches like the planks of wood floor tiles are prone to lippage. Lippage is defined as variation in the height of adjoining tiles by the Tile Council of North America. This means the corners of a tile pop up above the surface of those surrounding it, which is not pretty. Installers need to make sure that overlap of individual tiles does not exceed 33 per cent when laying a brick joint pattern.

Choosing the Right Colour
With wood-like tile, always choose a grout colour that blends with it so that the grout ‘disappears’ and doesn’t detract from the continuous feel of the floor. A seamless blend between the tile and grout colour also creates uncluttered lines and helps a room feel light and open. Plus, hardwood floors don’t have much of a joint so a wood-look tile floor shouldn’t either.

Finding the right colour grout for tile with high variation can be tricky. (Think reclaimed wood that has many shades.) In this case, match the grout to the darkest colour in the wood-look tile. Over time, the grout will naturally darken with everyday traffic to even better match the tile, drawing less attention to it and hiding wear and tear.

Michelle Corley is the public relations manager at Dal-Tile Corp. Daltile is a leading manufacturer and distributor of ceramic tile, porcelain tile and natural stone.

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