Don’t just fill joints, celebrate them!

As digital inkjet printing and continuous pressing technology have altered the formats and finishes of tiles forever, tiling grouts have undergone a revolution of their own with significant advances in performance, sustainability and, above all, colour choice.

Once viewed as a niche product and no threat to the predominance of white wall tile grouts and grey floor tile grouts, coloured grouts are now seen as an integral part of a complete surface system.

Sceptical traditionalists may take some convincing, but coloured grouts are now a significant influence on new tile designs. Pre-scored large format tiles, designed to emphasise the grout lines, are now a mainstream product. There is a growing trend for coloured grouts in glass and ceramic mosaic installations, while metallic and glitter effects are being used to add a fresh zing to wall tiling.

Colour matching grouts (and silicone sealants) to the base colour of both floor and wall tiles is also becoming popular. This is only possible now that major manufacturers have extended the grout palette far beyond the limited hues of yesteryear to 150 colours or more.

Fashion forward

There is a growing recognition that coloured grout is a great way to make a statement in any kitchen or bathroom. These days there is a whole rainbow of colours to choose from, and even glitter options. As home interior magazines are starting to show, the chosen shade can dramatically change the look of tiles, transforming even the plainest ceramic tiles into something glamorous or dramatic.

Used carefully, grout can be instrumental in either creating a seamless finish through a co-ordinating shade, or adding structure and definition through a contrasting tone. One example that is commonly cited is pairing a standard white Metro tile with a dark grout or, for the more adventurous, a bold, bright colour, such as lime green. Dark grey grout is particularly popular with white tiles, adding a defined edge to the tile, and creating a strong, geometric look.

Other pairings worth considering are white tiles with blue grout, black tiles with golden grout, orange tiles with bronze grout, or dark tiles with bronze grout. Bold designers are also pairing red grout with subtle tile colours, such as off-white or grey.
Coloured grout can also take advantage of well-established colour theory, with energising coral, calming turquoise, or sophisticated anthracite now just a tile joint away from any interior.

There can also be practical advantages to using coloured grout. A darker grout used on a floor tile installation, for instance, can help to mask any build-up of dirt between cleaning.

One of the companies that has been setting the agenda in this design space is Litokol with its Starlike collection, a two-component acid-resistant epoxy mortar for the installation and grouting of ceramic tiles and mosaics with joints of 1 to 15 mm width.

Litokol advocates using specific colours to achieve specific effects. For instance, it notes that teal can help to highlight tile colours that are less explosive and bold, such as white or grey. Teal can work equally well on a kitchen backsplash, in the bathroom, or in other rooms. It is a great colour for outdoor tile work around a swimming pool because it highlights the aquatic aspect of the design.

Today’s tiling accent colour of choice, true blue is another grout colour choice in pools, saunas, showers, or entire bathrooms. It is also possible to grout blue tiles with a complementary shade of blue for a really striking effect.

This trend is all about using grout as a fashion statement, and is one of the simplest ways to elevate a design. If this colour choice is not enough, glitter grout, and its near relative, grout glitter, can add sparkle to the plainest of tiles and, in small spaces, also help to reflect light.

Company colours

One company that has led the way in coloured grouts is Mapei. It bands its vast range into four colour families: serene, traditional, romance, and glamour. The colour’s names really speak for themselves: Moon White, Silver Grey, Vanilla, Crocus Blue, Tormaline, Bardiglio Grey, Golden Dust, Terracotta, Cappuccino, Sahara Yellow, Jasmine, Pink Powder, Cherry Red, and Lime Green to name but a few.

Mapei’s Ultracolor Plus, available in 35 colours, is a fast-setting, high performance, polymer modified, anti-efflorescence, water-repellent, grout for joints from 2 to 20mm.

Keracolor SF, available in seven colours, is a fine grained, high performance, polymer-modified, water-repellent cementitious mortar for grout joints up to 4mm wide. Keracolor FF, available in 17 colours, is a high performance, polymer-modified, water-repellent, cementitious mortar with DropEffect for joints up to 6mm. Keracolor GG, in 14 colours, is a high performance, polymer-modified cementitious mortar for grouting 4 to 15mm joints. Keracolor Flex, available in seven colours, can be used with a wide range of surface finishes for interior and exterior installations for grout joints up to 6mm.

Kerapoxy, available in 20 colours, is a two-component, acid-resistant, epoxy grout for joints over 3mm. It is used for internal and external grouting of ceramic floor and wall tiles, and stone materials, that are subject to heavy traffic or where complete hygiene and string chemical resistance is required.

Kerapoxy Design, offering in 32 colours plus 23 MapeGlitter colours, is a two-component, decorative, translucent, acid-resistant epoxy mortar for grouting glass mosaic, ceramic tiles and stone.

Kerapoxy CQ, available in 19 colours, is a two-component, acid-resistant epoxy grout that is particularly easy to apply and clean. It also has an anti-mould capability due to the use of BioBlock technology.

Flexcolor, available in eight colours, is a flexible ready-to-use acrylic resin grout. It is water repellent with DropEffect and BioBlock anti-mould technology. This grout is suitable for joints from 2 to 10mm wide.

It was back in 2010 when Laticrete launched SpectraLock Pro Premium Grout: a high-performance epoxy grout designed for use on porcelain, ceramic, glass, and natural stone tiles, in both interior and exterior floor and wall applications.

This formulation offers the colour consistency, strength, and ease-of-use of SpectraLock Pro, plus advanced stain protection, improved non-sag performance, and superior workability.

From day one it was available in 40 lifestyle colours, and 220 Dazzle options, providing design flexibility with vibrant, consistent, long-lasting colour.

Davco Easy Grout is a premium, pre-mixed, ready-to-use wall and floor tile grout suitable for interior tiling applications. It offers easy and fast application, and is resistant to stains, mould, and bacteria. This grout is bright white so it has no efflorescence for maximum colour consistency.

Davco’s six new Easy Grout colours can be used to match, complement, or contrast any tiling project.

Integral Microban anti-microbial protection inhibits the growth of stain-causing mould and mildew. Laticrete SpectraLock Pro Premium Grout can be used for commercial and residential tile designs, including swimming pools, and other permanent wet areas.

This premium grout is also ideal for re-grouting projects.

GRT-20 from ACT Australia is a high quality, flexible, high strength, hydrophobic, sanded grout suitable for grout joints between 2 and 20mm wide. It can be used both internally and externally, in both wall and floor applications. GRT-20 has stain-resistant hydrophobic qualities that enable easier application and clean off of grout residue from tile surface leaving fuller joints.

With coverage 80% plus greater than standard sanded grouts, GRT-20 is claimed to be the most economical and user-friendly grout on the market.

Also available from ACT is CEG­Lite 100% solids commercial epoxy grout manufactured in the USA by Custom Building Products. It provides chemical- and stain-resistance with a fast cure time. The lightweight formula makes that it is easier to spread than typical epoxy grouts, and is water-cleanable. The two-component formula combines a pigmented hardener with a resins and lightweight aggregates. CEG-Lite can be used as both a grout and as a setting mortar with virtually any tile, including ceramic, mosaic, quarry, pavers, cement, porcelain, glass, brick, terrazzo, and natural stone.

Fusion Pro single component grout, by Custom Building Products, is billed as the original stain proof, colour perfect grout. This sanded grout can be installed in commercial and residential environments, interiors and exteriors, and on walls and floors; specifically shower floors. It offers built-in Microban antimicrobial protection.

Prism Ultimate Performance grout, another product from Custom Building Products, is said to set a new standard in cement­based grout technology. Prism’s calcium aluminate cement-based formula offers consistent colour with no shading regardless of tile type, temperature or humidity. The rapid setting formula results in high early strength and dense joints for the highest stain resistance in grout joints up to 12mm. A blend of lightweight recycled glass and fine aggregate sand creates a smooth consistency that is easy to spread and clean.

By international correspondent Joe Simpson

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