Adivce needed for "historical grouting technique" [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


View Full Version : Adivce needed for "historical grouting technique"

02-14-2010, 09:03 PM
Does anyone have any knowledge of how tile was grouted historically? I would like to re-grout a 1920's fireplace, but would like to replicate its appearance.

Things i've noticed:
-Old grout is usually grey, and sometimes white (dirty, but white).
-Old grout is insanely hard, almost like concrete.
-Old grout is usually more "filled" in the grooves, up to the surface of the tile.
-Old grout is very fine in texture

Is there a material that i could successfully mix on my own to replicate it? How did they apply grout way back when?

Any help is appreciated...

Sponsored Links

Houston Remodeler
02-14-2010, 10:14 PM
Welcome to the forum.

I see you posted your link after 630pm. Most of the guys who can answer this question have gone to bed already. :gerg: I am sure you'll have an answer early tomorrow morning after the coffee and geritol kick in. :dance:

02-14-2010, 10:24 PM
Usually grout back then was gray portland and sand about 3 parts sand to one part portland.It was used and put in the joints, then let sit awhile and burlap bags were used to rub over it till it was cleaned off the tile.Done it a few times myself on pavers.Sometimes even sawdust was used in the same manner in place of the burlap.

02-14-2010, 11:09 PM
My Dad talked about Portland being mixed like Davestone mentioned. The white grout was made using white Portland. I am sure somebody here is experienced enough to tell youhow it was done. I am just too young. We did mix the sand and Portland for pacers too. We bagged it, scrapped and then cleaned wit a sponge.
Posted via Mobile Device

02-15-2010, 07:23 PM
thank you for the advice. So i'll go with 1 part grey portland cement to 3 parts sand. And then i'll just float it into the joints, let it set a bit, and rub it down with a burlap sack (or maybe a synthetic sponge).

Is it difficult to buy different size grades of sand? Would a masonry supply co have such a thing?

Also historically was the same material used for the grout as well as the thinset?

thanks again.

02-15-2010, 08:16 PM
Historically, there was no thinset until sometime in the 50s. I am sure somebody on this board can tell us when thinset first came out, right Henry. In the old days, the mud was installed. A mixture of water and portland were mixed to make a paste. The back of a tile (that had been soaking in water) was buttered with this paste. The tile was then set on the mud and tapped in place. Then the white portland, sand and water were mixed to make a grout and it was used. My Dad talks of learning this way in the early 60s. Once all of the tiles were set and prior to grouting, a wooden block was rub over floor and any high tiles were tapped down. I can remeber doing this with quarry tile and wet mud in the late 80s.

As for sand, the finer grained the better. Some places refer to it as washed sand.

Maybe one of the historical experienced tile setters can verify this.:)

02-15-2010, 09:35 PM
Whoa!!!! Not just any sand. This needs to be a gauged grade of silica sand. Find out where the local sand quarries were in your area back in the 1920's and you'll know where you need to shop for the right sand. Not only is the grit important, but also the color and shape. Silica sand from a chain store is likely going to have been shipped from out of the area so it is less likely to match what you've already got.

02-15-2010, 10:25 PM
Thanks for the clarification Shaugnn. I never mixed my grout for inside. When I was a kid we mixed sand and protland for brick pavers. All I can tell you is it came of the back of the flatbed. I have seen sand with courser grain that we used whenever we were in a town that was near the river. I can honestly say that most of my mud today comes out of an 80# bag.

02-15-2010, 10:31 PM
the silica sand I've worked with was gauged #60, #80, #100. Sometimes it's creamy tan, sometimes it's gray and sometimes it's white. Most masonry yards will have an open big for you to sample before you purchase. I've also used dolomite for grout that really needed to be white.
I'd shop at a real masonry yard first.

gitchi gummi
02-15-2010, 11:25 PM
If you want the best shot at matching what is there, send in a sample of the existing for analysis. They can tell you all about your sand.

02-15-2010, 11:37 PM
Thanks Mark,
That's a great resource!

02-16-2010, 06:38 AM
One thing that hasn't been explained is as someone said, the stuff was wetset. That means that usually the tile was set and grouted all at once or close to everything still being wet. What this does is fuse all materials into one solid block. Because of so much moisture trying to leave, the cure is slowed down greatly on the grout. This is why it seems incredibly hard. Not to mention it's been curing for the last 90 years. I think you may have to moisten your tile and joints down with a bugsprayer filled with water. Just don't have standing water anywhere. This will slow down the cure and make your grout much harder.
This is what the latex in modern grouts and thinsets do. Slows the cure down to acheive a better bond and hardeness.