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Unread 10-16-2021, 05:45 PM   #1
Stuart
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Smallest Grout spacing

Hi,

We are installing tile in a 1/2 bath room, about 5 x 5.

I'm am wondering what is the smallest grout line that can be used before leading to grout failure becuase of lack of surface area to bond?

As you can see in the picture, the tile has a design in the corners and my wife likes them butted up against each other. The tiles, although they do not have a built in spacer, the edges are "bumpy" allowing for a small space between them. Is the space , without the use of spacers too small to hold grout? Or should a 1/16" spacer (right two columns) be used?

Thank you
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Unread 10-16-2021, 06:55 PM   #2
jadnashua
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Industry standards call for the minimum grout joint to be no smaller than 3x the difference in the tile's size from min/max...it's unlikely it would support maybe even 1/16".

Grout needs to extend at least 2/3'rds the way deep between the tiles. Anything less than 1/8" generally requires unsanded grout. Keep in mind that a really small grout joint also will make any lippage errors show up more.
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Unread 10-18-2021, 08:13 PM   #3
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I’d go with 1/16 or maybe 3/32 grout joints. So much easier to install to a nice finished look and the right color grout will enhance the finished look. Tile and grout go together, and without the grout you don’t have anything to prevent moisture from flowing between tiles.
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Unread 10-18-2021, 08:54 PM   #4
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Listen to Jim.

I installed this shower a week ago, manufacturer recommended 3/16, I didn't want to go that big so I fit everything for a 1/16, I wanted a seamless look, as I started setting tiles I quickly figured out a 1/16 wasn't going to work and moved up to a 1/8 and I fought the tiles the whole way and ended up with a little bit up lippage. It wasn't so much that a good grout job couldn't hide it. I should have used the 3/16 like was recommended and I wouldn't have had such a chore when grouting. What does the manufacturer recommended on your tiles, in matter like this I would lean towards their recommendations since they made the tile but as a general you should use the industry standards if none are present from the manufacturer
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Unread 10-18-2021, 11:36 PM   #5
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WHat a pro can handle (with some tile exceptions) and a DIY'er, at least in a timely manner can be two different things! It's really hard to both hide slight elevation changes between tile and to overcome the sightlines if the tile aren't flat or if they are not very carefully rectified. I've used 1/16" grout lines on granite tile before, but most everything else gets a larger gap. It's REALLY hard to hide even minor imperfections the closer your grout line is, and some tile just don't work with such a small grout line as you may just end up with no gap at all, and the grout just can't be inserted in place, or it's just in the bevel on top and cracks out after things cure or gets washed away in the cleanup.

A leveling system can help, but not overcome all issues...and, a little thinset in the wrong places can make them jack a tile up, or make cleanup a major pain. They can force the joint open, and in worst case scenarios, might create a void underneath leading to other problems.
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Unread 10-19-2021, 06:03 AM   #6
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Those look to be hand made, rustic and will vary in size. I'd go with at least 1/8, myself. But, you'll find that when you set a large tile, the joint will be smaller and the opposite with a small tile. To show the design in the corners more, select a grout color that blends well with the tile color. It will take on a whole different look than what you see now. I've always used sanded grout with those type tiles.
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Unread 10-19-2021, 06:15 AM   #7
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Thank you all for your insights...I'll go with 1/8".

R/
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Unread 10-19-2021, 08:57 AM   #8
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I used to do work for a number of designers, most of whom didn't like to see grout, i.e., "I hate grout," etc. I would tell them, "If you don't like grout, you don't like tile. Go with something else."
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Unread 10-24-2021, 04:26 PM   #9
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Hi,

I have a layout question.

In order to get the grout lines to line up, I need to cut some off the tiles

Is the preference to start the layout in the room middle and shave off from tiles at each wall?

Or start at one wall and shave off just the last tile on the opposite wall.



It won't be more than 1/2-3/4 inch or so in order to make adjustments to the the grout line lined up. The tiles are 5" square and have a pattern as you can see.

Thank you
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Unread 10-24-2021, 05:36 PM   #10
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Since you will see it every time you walk into the room, I think I'd keep a full tile at the doorway, and cut the tile at the back of the room. Side to side, I'd probably make them symmetrical, and cut a little off each side, if needed. Generally, you don't want a sliver, but your room and that tile shouldn't need one, so a little should be fine.

Functionally, the tile doesn't care! Others may feel differently.
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Unread 10-25-2021, 02:54 PM   #11
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I always shoot for full tiles at the doorway. I'd lay it out like Jim.
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Unread 10-27-2021, 04:32 AM   #12
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Hi,

I laid it out per your suggestions and it looks good.

Two more questions before I start.

1. What trowel size would you recommend for these size tiles (5 in x 5 in.). It's going over hardi board which is pretty flat.

2. Is back buttering helpful for these smaller tiles. Its a bit confusing from what I read.

Thank you again for the help..you guys are great.
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Unread 10-27-2021, 10:46 AM   #13
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It depends on how flat the tiles are. Some rustic hand painted tiles are cupped so a 1/4 inch notch trowel may not allow the thinset to touch the centers of the tiles. If they are cupped, a 1/4 inch notch will likely work if you skim coat the backs creating a flat bottom. It's never a bad idea to skim coat the backs anyway. Just takes a little time.
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Unread 10-27-2021, 02:41 PM   #14
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One thing many omit when using HardieBacker is to wipe the surface with a wet sponge JUST prior to spreading the thinset...HardieBacker is particularly 'thirsty', and will suck a significant portion of the moisture out of your thinset prior to you being able to set your tile on it. This makes the thinset stiffer, and harder to embed the tile properly. To maintain the designed fluidity of the thinset, making the surface damp prevents it from messing with the thinset. It's not too wet unless there's liquid water on the surface...damp is just fine. As we get into the heating season, with the (typically) dry air from central heat, you may need even a bit more wiping down to make things work smoother.

A bisque tile is quite absorbent, too, so burning a layer of thinset onto the back can help the bond strength significantly.

Thinset cures chemically, started by the addition of the water...any excess water will eventually dry out, but is not necessary for ultimate strength...wet cured cement is as strong as cement that has eventually dried, and the longer the moisture stays there, providing all of the material it needs in the chemical process, the better.
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Unread 10-27-2021, 04:12 PM   #15
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great advice...thank you
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