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Unread 09-27-2022, 12:43 PM   #1
IWannaTile
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Another grout sanded vs unsanded question...

Hello all!

I must say it is good to be back to this great site after 4 1/2 years of my first bathroom remodels including redoing the floor tiles. That was an adventure and I appreciated all the great help I received from this site.

Now after spending three hours yesterday reading through this forum I have another question that I can't quite seem to find a straight answer.

- Grout question sanded vs unsanded...

Yes I know the spacing requirements to death, 1/8 below and 1/8 above.

I am installing ceramic Daltile White penny rounds from Home Depot.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Daltile-...D1P2/313088786

My last remodel I also used penny tile and had the question of varying joints widths, where penny tile can have anything from 1/16 to 1/4 between tiles and rows. I was referred to utilize the Mapei Ultracolor Plus FA which can handle all the different widths and won't scratch tiles either.

I did not have a great experience with that as it set within about 10-15 minutes, and as a novice that was a stressful situation and did not get the grout lines I wanted.

So here is my question and thank you for dealing with the ramble:

- Can I use regular sanded grout on these penny tiles? I think some of your will say yes but will the sand be able to fit into the joints smaller than 1/8? I just have never used sanded before so not familiar with its workability.

- Also, is the ceramic glaze in any danger of being scratched by sanded grout? I have read on the forum that there is a lot of "shouldn'ts" but that isn't very reassuring.


Now I am sure, no, I know I am overthinking this and the old salts are going to chuckle at my questions. I also realize someone may read this and suggest I stick with the Mapei Ultracolor Plus FA, which I also gathered that part of my problem previously could have been environmental conditions and the fact that ceramic tiles get quite thirsty.
Again my concern is that this is going to be done in a desert house with AC but still very dry. I suppose I could circumvent with a pre wipe down and possibly a humidifier.

Thank you so much for taking your time to assist in any way. It is appreciated.

Jake,
San Diego
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Unread 09-27-2022, 12:54 PM   #2
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Welcome back, Jake.

Same advice as you'll find a hundred places here on the forums: The only way to determine if any particular sanded grout will fit in 1/16th" grout joints and whether it will scratch the surface of any particular tile is to make up a test board using that tile and that grout. It's really as simple as that.

I've rarely used an un-sanded grout on anything other than the old-style lugged, glazed wall tiles. I use sanded grout unless the joints are just too small to force it into. But if you really wanna know in advance if your grout will work with your tiles, you gotta try it.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 09-27-2022, 01:12 PM   #3
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CX I suspected I would hear from you! I have seen you around quite a bit in my searches and yes that appears to be the full proof answer I desire. Test it out. I guess I was just trying to to be cheap and lazy by asking the pros, hoping that maybe someone has specifically used sanded on penny tiles.

Also I could still use the FA by Mapei, and possibly work in small batches due to the extreme heat/dryness. The grout wasn't bad, it just set way too fast to even wipe it away.
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Unread 09-27-2022, 02:09 PM   #4
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Well, I've used sanded grout on penny tiles, Jake. But it wasn't your sanded grout and they weren't your penny tiles, eh? Mine worked out fine.

The FA in that MAPEI grout actually stands for Fine Aggregate, which is gonna make it even easier to get into small joints. But there are other manufacturers who are using smaller aggregates in some of their grouts these days, too. And the newer single component grouts are sanded, but I find the two I've tried go quite easily into 1/16th" joints.

I suggest you find a grout you like and just try it on a sheet of those penny rounds.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 09-28-2022, 08:05 AM   #5
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Welcome back, Jake,

I went on a bit of a grout testing spree in my current bath remodel; Mapei's Ultracolor Plus FA and Flexcolor CQ (single component), Laticrete's Spectralock One (single component) and Spectralock Pro Premium (epoxy).

On my 4" X 8" marble floor tile, with 1/16" joints, the CQ was leaving a haze that I couldn't really remove, even though I sealed the top of the tiles. But if the glaze on your penny's is high gloss I bet the CQ would work fine. For my marble I ended up using FA. Yup, it sets up quick, but it cleans up very nice. The key is to mix small batches. Use a kitchen scale to measure both the grout and the water to ensure each batch is identical.

I also have some frosted glass accents and the CQ left a haze on those that would not budge, but was fine on the polished glass. It also left some scratches in the polished glass. The Spectralock One also left a haze on the frosted glass that just wasn't coming off. It worked great on my high gloss glazed wall tile though (1/16" joints), just had to buff off the haze with a microfiber towel. Spectralock Pro Premium left no haze on the glass at all.

So, if your penny's have a gloss finish you might consider the CQ or the One. If they have a matte finish FA will work, just mix small batches.
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Unread 09-29-2022, 10:01 AM   #6
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CX:
Right. I am understanding that now. Whether friend, pro, or supplier, every single job is unique due to experience, environment, and materials. I won't really KNOW unless I KNOW.
Yes and some of the sheets have misaligned tiles so a few spaces are only 1/32!! or maybe a hair wider but not even a 1/16.


Dan:
Thank you thank you for telling me about your experience! That information is very helpful.

Overall I think I would be okay with using any standard sanded grout. But no guarantees from no one. From what I gather the smaller the joint just requires a little more effort but not that the sand won't eventually go in there. Many posts in here from guys putting sanded in 1/16 lines, but also I noted to CX, some of the joints are really small, 1/32.

Yesterday I call Mapei Tech support and they were very informative, which of course they recommend Ultracolor Plus FA. I was walked through some critical steps, like drymixing! Which I didn't do before, and how to accurately match different small batches.

Dan, you used kitchen scale for FA, so you did it by weight? I know volume vs weight is different. But as long as I match how I measure the batches regardless I should be good right?
Also how much would you make in a batch to cover? How large an area?

I am leaning towards using that Mapei FA stuff primarily because it hits all my wickets (any joint size, won't scratch) even though I am apprehensive due to my past experiences a few years ago. And I am not familiar with the other products you mentioned like the premixes (but maybe that would be easier than trying to accurately mix the FA), but I suppose I could be. I think the dry mixing is a crucial step. I only have to cover 25 sq ft.

Last time it was even a smaller area but by the time I even covered the whole bathroom my first wash was running over damn near cured grout.

Thanks again guys.
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Unread 09-30-2022, 06:51 AM   #7
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The primary advantages to the new(er) single component grouts are 1) no mixing and 2) color consistency because, well, no mixing. One does need to do smaller areas at a time because timely clean up is crucial.

FA. I bought a 10 pound bag of the stuff and, IIRC, the instructions call for 1QT of water per 10 pound bag. Convert the 1QT into OZ's then figure out how many OZ's you'll need for, say, 1LB of powder. I didn't like the inaccuracy of the simple glass measuring cup I started with for the water so I used the scale to weigh the water (right; 16OZ of liquid does not equal 16oz in weight), just remember to zero out the scale for the weight of the vessel(s) you're using (both grout and water). Assuming a digital scale it's all probably easier if you convert to grams, if your scale will do that. The goal, natch, is to create small batches that are identical to each other so the color/consistency of the batches you mix are the same.

I think I ended up with a bit more than a pound of powder per NN water, just to make the math easier. I actually wrote down my FA recipe but my wife, who was not present when I wrote it, found it a week later and thought it was nonsensical scribble and tossed it. Fortunately I had already finished grouting the floor.

Using a single component, or small batches of FA, you can do sections over the course of hours or days. Pretty much eliminates the anxiety of racing against the clock, and be comfortable that the color of each batch will match.
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Unread 09-30-2022, 07:16 AM   #8
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Another tip they may or may not have mentioned is to use very cold water (some people put ice in their water) for the UCP FA to delay the set. I would also consider the Flexcolor CQ, it's very DIY friendly. The haze that Dan mentions can usually be removed with Windex just after installation or a citrus-oil based cleaner afterwards. Traditional grout haze removers won't work because they are designed for cement-based grouts. If you have an area that doesn't get completely filled initially (common with penny rounds and pebbles), you can go back and add some Flexcolor CQ to it after the fact which you can't do with cement grouts.
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Unread 10-01-2022, 03:32 PM   #9
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- Dan. Ha when you lay it out like that pretty obvious. 1 quart, ten pounds, figure it out. Even a Navy guy could do that.
I appreciate the feedback tremendously. And as I told CX I am usually overthinking. It just seems with tile so permanent when you make decisions, but in reality I suppose it isn't. You COULD always tear up and try again.
Thanks again Dan. I will be heading out there end of next week hopefully to finish up. I'll post a picture and hope that this thread helps someone in the future.

- Other Dan. Thanks for the tips. Yes! I have heard that one about cool water. I think dry mixing the bag, even it is only one bag, and using cold water will greatly help my situation, especially in that I am doing the job in a hot desert house. Borrego Springs, CA to be exact. Appreciate the tips.
And right the CQ is tempting but the price for the ease is a bit much.
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Unread 10-08-2022, 06:42 AM   #10
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Well I gotta admit that I am a little embarrassed to post these pictures.

I chose the Ultra Color FA and after a phone call to tech support I was confident I could handle this grout from not setting fast... cold water, hand mixing, small and even batches.

I was killing it last night. Took my time and did three sections grout was never an issue. Everything cleaned up real nice.

Now I woke up to this!

Last night I was pondering what to post thinking how I nailed it and tips I could share. Not so much now. I am in defeat of this grout after two attempts.


Any recommendations on what happened or what I could do to remedy besides tear out?

Which I don’t think I would do because that’s life but still, if I did this as a job it would make for a very unhappy customer.

Dang it I was feeling so happy with myself thinking I was learning from mistake so!

I believe it had something to do with multiple batches where they met. Maybe grout over grout. Idk.

Thanks for all the help.

Jake
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Unread 10-08-2022, 06:43 AM   #11
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Dangnabit. Photos always come out sideways.
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Unread 10-08-2022, 10:05 AM   #12
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Jake, I never seem to be able to see the grout coloration problems in the photos posted here, so I'm not sure I see your issue. Some variable coloration throughout the floor, perhaps?

I do see that you've avoided the most common problem we see with those penny-round tiles, which is obvious sheet lines. Appears to be a very good job of setting those tiles.

I suspect the grout problems are likely to diminish with age and you're likely the only one who'll notice. But, again, I don't do well with the photos.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 10-08-2022, 02:21 PM   #13
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Same here, I'm not seeing much. I can guess that you used a contrasting color which will show any imperfection. If you have grout haze on the tiles, you may want to wipe it down with a clean rag. If it still has a haze then you may need to vinegar wash it after a few days
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Unread 10-09-2022, 10:08 AM   #14
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Morning CX and Davy,

Right I know, it is always hard to tell with digital images and I agree after looking at the images it is hard to tell any variation. I will post some close ups just because I have started this thread.

Wife and I decided to keep it because as you said CX I will be the only one who notices.

Thank you for comments on layout! Yes that is why I was upset because I put a lot of effort into laying the penny tile well and then I went and messed it up with a bad grout job.

I believe it was the multiple batches that was the issue. I did not make clear lines of grout between one batch and the next. I think the variation had to do with putting fresh grout on drying grout.

I should have done research when doing grout in batches on a same plane. Like if you do a wall and then another it is hard to compare the two. But on a small floor it is very noticeable.

Does anyone have tips on grouting with small batches, as in best practice to stop one grout line to start another?


On a side not for future readers:

Mapei Ultracolor Plus FA is a good grout. First time I used it it set in about 10 mins. The issue of this project was that I had variations in batches but my working time was perfect!

Huge aspects that made a difference:

- Mix by hand! Do not use a mixer! Too much air.
- Cold water, I used distilled which might have been overboard but I heard about in a video.
- Dry mix ingredients! Even if single 10lb bag give it a good shake.

One more thing, some people such as Dan and others I have seen online used a kitchen scale to accurately weigh out their batches. I did not do this but I think you probably should. Mapei tech support advised a simple 3/1 ratio of grout to water by volume. Due to time restraints and isolated location of my project I didn't have a scale so I just did the 3/1. Not sure if that was my issue or not as well. But if you are concerned then I would use a scale to be accurate.

I hope my experience guides someone else. Good luck and thank you CX for the steady presence.

I think I am done with penny tile...
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Unread 10-09-2022, 10:14 AM   #15
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