I wanted to title this post “Epoxy Grout: The Best Grout Ever Invented!” but I seeing as we just installed it I don’t have any daily bathroom observations of it yet. I have a feeling though I might have a post tiled that in the future because let me tell you this stuff is kind of amazing.
I know many of you are wondering what epoxy grout even is. It’s a two part resign based product just like regular epoxy but it has sand and coloring mixed in. It is often used in high traffic areas of commercial buildings or areas where chemicals are used. Unlike standard cementitious based grout it is waterproof, stainproof, and never needs to be sealed. Yes you heard that right never needs to be sealed! Everyone I know seals their grout when it’s first installed and remember to reseal it for about a year after that. Then “re-sealing the grout” falls off the radar and their grout slowly gets more and more stained. There are thousands of products out there that claim to make your grout look like new but if you could avoid the whole issue would you? This is especially easy to see in light colored grout.
We wanted to use a light gray grout color to match the gray veining in the tile but I didn’t want to be constantly cleaning and re-sealing the grout. The main bathroom is the most used bathroom in the house so it needed to take a beating and still look good.
The downsides of epoxy grout is that it costs a lot more than traditional grout and that it’s harder to install. It’s also not the best to use natural stone like marble, travertine, or slate because they are porous and cleaning the grout out before it dries could be a challenge. It can be done though if you seal the tiles before grouting and are very meticulous to clean off each tile. With a natural stone you should be sealing the tile every 6 months to a year anyway so you might as well save yourself some money and use a cemetitious grout. For these reasons many pro tilers don’t like to use epoxy grout others think it’s great and consider it “bulletproof.” Some think it’s a little extreme for residential applications and they are probably right but you can’t deny the positive aspects of using it. Our pro tiler friend immediately tried to talk us out of using it. It was too late to change our minds though we had already bought it and I had extensively researched it before deciding to use it. He wasn’t going to be the one to have to seal it for the next 50 years or live with stained grout or even be the one installing it. We felt confident in our decision and stuck to our guns. Knowing this is our “forever” home made that decision a lot easier. A little extra upfront cost would save us a lot of maintenance and hassle in the long run. If you know me I over engineer everything and we don’t ever plan to redo this bathroom again so the tile and grout are here to stay.
After extensively researching how to install it and preparing for the worst we were pleasantly surprised to find it really wasn’t that hard after all! I swear. This is our first tiling job ever so you don’t get any more green than us and we didn’t have any issues with it. We did however mix it up in small batches and carve out a large chunk of time to install and clean it off the tiles before the grout dried. I can see why pros don’t like to use it because it takes more time to install and they can’t just put it in and clean it off right away. Leaving the job site to come back the next day to clean off the last bits of grout off the tile isn’t an option either. There are ways to clean dried epoxy grout off the tiles but you really want to avoid them if possible by meticulously cleaning off the tile before the grout dries. If anything epoxy grout is better suited to DIY because you’ll be home and able to spend as much time as needed to clean it all off.
We went with Laticrete’s SpectraLOCK Pro Premium epoxy grout in Silver Shadow. From what I’ve read the CEG Lite epoxy grout found at Home Depot doesn’t preform near as well. Laticrete’s product has been around for longer, better customer service, have a lifetime warranty, and are highly recommended by the professionals. So we drove over 2 hours away to pick up the grout in mini units from Lowe’s (they only sell mini units). At the time I couldn’t find anyone else who would sell to a non-contractor in our area but since buying this a new tile store has opened up and they are willing to work with us. Note Laticrete’s “Where to Buy” function on their website only gives you a list of distributors which is less than helpful. Maybe someday they will expand that.
For added assurance that all of these little batches would match in color we tried to get all of the Part C cartons from the same batch (pink underline). But they didn’t have enough from any one batch so we had to get one from a different batch and from what I’ve read their color matching between batches is near perfect.
Flannel Man had done all of the tile cutting so I said I would do the epoxy grout but he ended up helping anyway.
Step-by-Step Epoxy Grout Installation
1) Have everything ready. Clean thinset out between the tile joints. Find all of your grout floats (you’ll want to use the hard rubber ones that say they are for epoxy grout). At minimum you’ll want one large float and one margin float (aka. the smaller ones). Have sponges and buckets of water handy along with paper towel for any spills.
2) Mix parts A & B like the instructions say making sure to get out every last drip out of the bags.
Then mix in the sand/coloring mixture. Mix this in slowly and save 10% of it until you see what the texture is going to be like. Add more as desired.
With cementitious grout you use sanded grout for wider grout joints and unsanded for thinner grout joints. The sand used in Laticrete’s epoxy grout is very fine and can be used in any grout line but for thin grout lines they say you can leave up to 10% of the sand/color mixture out. We found that we preferred the slightly smoother finish it had when we left 10% out and used that even with our 1/8″ grout joints.
3) Now spread the grout out right away. You have a total of 80 minutes before the grout dries starting from when you mix it. Half way through it will be very stiff to work with though. With bigger full or commercial units you can either separate the parts individually before mixing or mix the full unit and put half of it in the freezer for an extended working time. For a first time user buying individually divided Mini units sounded like the safest option.
Because we were using large format tile we tried using a grout bag to keep clean up only to the edges of the tile. There was no need to drag the grout across an 18×18″ tile. It worked OK but it was an extra step and the epoxy grout is hard to squeeze out of the end. Plus we went though a lot of bags with all of the separate batches.
Spread the grout diagonally across the grout joints like you would do with any grout only make sure to use the hard rubber grout floats made for epoxy grout.
The grout is thick and takes a bit of power to force into all of the small cracks. You want to make sure everything is sufficiently packed full and don’t worry about a little of it being on the tile. You want all of the grout joints to be nice and full if not overflowing so as you clean the sponges don’t take too much off of the joint. Stop grouting before you use the whole batch. Use the last extra bit to go around and check that there are no low spots before or after cleaning. We were too careful about making everything look perfect in our first batch and had to go through and to some of the grout joints after our first cleaning.
4) The first cleaning should be done within 1 hour of mixing the grout. Use a vinegar/water mixture of 1/2 cup of vinegar in 2 gallons of water. Fill low spots as needed.
5) One hour after the first cleaning do your final inspection and wash. Mix up another vinegar/water mixture and a new sponge. We used a sponge with a terry cloth on one side. It gave everything a nice clean finish.
6) Repeat steps 2-5 as needed. After the final inspection we felt confident with the process and mixed up two mini batches at once to finish off the room. I carefully applied it before the first batch was completely dry. The thought was that they would blend more seamlessly that way. It worked OK but I’m not sure you would ever be able to make out a small seam if there was one since the end of the batch wouldn’t be perfectly straight or flat.
For this batch I kept everything a little messier and it worked out better.
The next day everything was dry and ready to go.
Overall I loved the look but the slightly warm undertone of the Silver Shadow do bug me a little next to the very cool toned tile. I am very picky about my colors though. I was trying to match the gray veining of the tile and this was the closest color Lowe’s had. I had read that all white epoxy grouts tend to dry with a yellow tone because of the amber matrix.
You can see a few flecks of sand to give you an idea of the fine texture.
This bathroom has come so far from the 70′s harvest gold disaster it once was!
The room looks huge with the wide angle and without the cabinets in it yet. It was a lot of extra work, time, and materials to tile under the vanity but someday if we ever want to change it out we’ll be happy we did it.
Pretty white tile!
We grouted all the way around the sink supply and drain lines.
Same with the toilet ring and supply line.
But wait! It was at this point we realized something didn’t look quite right. Can you see it?
Yes we messed up our quarter turn tile pattern on one tile. Of course it has to be right out in the open area that won’t be covered up by cabinets or hidden in the linen closet. Dang it! *smacks head into wall* Too late to change it now so let’s hope people won’t notice it.
All Sophie wants to know is “Are you done in here yet?!”
No, sorry we’re not done yet but we’ve picked up the pace and are making good progress. Stay tuned for some big changes happening soon!