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Old 08-30-2008, 09:28 AM   #1
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Is sanded grout 1/16" in grout lines really a bad thing?

I just finished installing white glazed 3 x 6 AO subway tile in the bath/shower area. I used the natural "nub" edges as spacers, which made an approximate 1/16" tile space.

I made a sample board last week on plywood to test out a few color and texture finishes and really like the look of the SANDED grout - it just feels right in my 80 year old bathroom with its 1" hex floor, 1920's Crane pedestal sink and the original ceramic cross-handle hot/cold mixing valves.

However, it seems to be the general consensus that thinner grout lines should have UNsanded grout.

Am I really in for a lot of trouble if I use sanded grout? All the posts I've read mention that it's "not as easy to get sanded grout in spaces that small," but I'm not afraid to make the extra effort to do a thorough job.

I haven't really heard anyone mentioning any functional issues with it; whether or not the grout will fail or crack, or even fall out of the joints, etc. Only that it's easier to use unsanded in 1/16" joints. If I knew I was in for a heap of performance/function trouble down the road, it would help persuade me in the other direction.

I guess I'm just hoping to find out that it'll be alright to use the sanded grout, but I definitely don't want all my efforts to fall apart (literally) in a few years.

Any opinions on this?? Thanks very much!!
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Old 08-30-2008, 09:40 AM   #2
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it's best to use the UNsanded grout as recommended by industry standards.
a sanded grout might work but is not recommended and might not fill the small joints properly and create small voids that could fall out later on.

TCNA - Technical Services: FAQ

2) Grout that is insufficiently packed into the joint. This most often occurs with wall tile. If insufficient force is used while grouting wall tile, it is easy to "bridge" the joint where the grout does not penetrate to the back of the joint. This is especially true if sanded grout is used in joints narrower than 1/8". The sand grains can easily bridge a narrow joint - in this case the grout may be only on the surface and have little strength.

For cementitious grout, joints smaller than 1/8" generally should only be grouted with unsanded grout and joints of 1/8" and larger should only be grouted with sanded grout. Joints larger that 3/8" usually need a more heavily sanded grout to accommodate the large joint.
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Last edited by ceramictec; 08-30-2008 at 10:21 AM.
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Old 08-30-2008, 09:40 AM   #3
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Laticrete sanded grout is now rated for 1/16" joints. Laticrete sanded grout.
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Old 08-30-2008, 10:07 AM   #4
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Custom's PRISM grout (which is sanded) is also rated for use in 1/16" spacing; 1/16" to 1/2" spacing, matter of fact.

I've use regular Custom's PolyBlend sanded grout in 1/16" spacing many times. Takes a little more time and patience to pack in well, but it does work. Like you, pja, I generally prefer the look of sanded grout. A small margin grout float helps with that.

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