28 Apr Modern Fireplace Tiles – Grouting
The penultimate step in installing our cast concrete tiles and fireplace surrounds is grouting the joints. Though the temptation is to leave the gaps empty, we highly recommend grouting them. It has the effect of tying the whole installation together and adding a level of polish.
There are two ways that we recommend grouting our product: traditional grout and siliconized grout caulking. Traditional grout is a cement-based product that is mixed with water in a bucket and applied with a grout float. Once applied, the grout is allowed to set for a few minutes and then it is wiped with a sponge to remove excess and to shape the grout joints. As the grout continues to harden, the tiles need to be washed a few more times to remove any excess grout ‘haze’ (the cement portion of the grout that tends to remain on the surface of the tile or fireplace). This tends to be a quicker way to grout if you have a large area or a lot of joints, or both. It is also the best way to grout a floor, as the grout is extremely hard when it is cured (Caulking stays a bit rubbery). It is however, messier and requires a more elbow grease than using caulking. It is also extremely important to ensure that the tiles or fireplace surround is properly sealed before you apply the grout to avoid the possibility of staining.
Though traditional grout is a perfectly acceptable way to finish a concrete tile or fireplace, we tend to prefer caulking. The type of caulking we use is quite specific. It is ‘sanded’ to make it resemble traditional grout and it is colour-matched so that you can seamlessly use it right next to traditional grout. The key to perfect caulked grout joints is taping. If you tape perfectly, then grouting with caulk is a snap. With our product, the factory edges have a small bevel or chamfer on them. It is important to line the tape up just to the outside of this chamfer. In other words, do not let the tape go into the chamfer. For cut edges, the tape can be used to create a nice, straight grout line, even if there are some small chips in the cut.
Once the joints are taped, the grout can be squeezed into the joints using a caulking gun. Fill only as much as you can do in five minutes, and then go back and scrape off the excess grout flat and clean. We recommend using a caulking tool (available at most hardware stores). After scraping the excess grout, the edges of the tape adjacent to the joint should be visible and clean. The tape can be removed immediately. It is best to go over joints only once as the grout quickly starts to skin over and become unfriendly.
Grouting is an important final step in the installation of modern concrete fireplace tiles and surrounds which can make-or-break a project. No matter which method of grouting you choose, taking the time to familiarize yourself with the materials and paying close attention to the details, will ensure a successful and spectacular installation. Additionally, we recommend purchasing only the highest quality grout. We use Mapei Ultracolor and Keracaulk S which are outstanding products with a colour range that matches our own.