For years, tile installers have had a love-hate relationship with grout. This product adds strength to any tile installation job.
It also keeps debris from getting between tiles, and the best part is that it enhances the finish of your tiles. However, grout installation is tiresome and time-consuming.
Not to mention the installation process is surrounded by lots of problems, such as there not being enough grout between tiles.
Whether you are a DIY tile installer or you have hired someone to lay tile on your property, below, I am going to list the causes of there not being enough grout between tiles.
I will also mention how you can remedy this problem and avoid it in the future.
How Can You Tell There is Not Enough Grout Between Tiles?
There are two ways you can tell that there is not enough grout between tiles.
The first and most obvious way is by looking at the grout joints. If the joints are much deeper than the tile surface to the point you can see the edge of the tiles, then the amount of grout applied was not enough.
The other method is by feeling the grout joints when you walk on the tiles barefoot. If you feel pain when you walk on a tiled floor, there is a good chance that there is insufficient grout between the tiles.
Diagnosing insufficient grout lines is pretty easy, even if you are not a professional tiler.
Why is There Not Enough Grout Between Tiles?
In the professional tiling industry, this is a problem that we refer to as low grout lines. There are multiple reasons why there may not be enough grout between tiles. These reasons include;
• Failing to apply enough grout between the joints – If you are in a hurry to grout your tiles, you may unknowingly apply insufficient amounts. This would outrightly lead to there not being enough grout between tiles.
• If you add a lot of water when mixing grout, it may also cause low grout lines – As grout dries, the water evaporates, thus leaving a lot of room in between the joints.
• Excessively cleaning the grout joints with water and sponge after installation – In an attempt to clean your tiles after grout installation, you may accidentally remove some of the grout from the joints.
• Presence of voids under the tiles or floor – When there are holes or voids between tile joints, some grout may settle at the bottom, leaving much space between the tiles. In scenarios where there are holes between tiles, always apply more grout to compensate for the extra space.
What Should You Do When You Notice Insufficient Grout Between Tiles?
If you have recently discovered insufficient grout between tiles, you don’t have to panic or get a headache trying to figure out where you went wrong.
There are two main solutions to this problem. I will share both approaches, which are suitable for varying situations.
In case you have noticed there is insufficient grout between tiles a day or two after installation, here is how you can remedy this problem.
You must clean the grout to remove dirt and impurities, which may affect adhesion. Then you should re-wet the existing grout before adding new grout. When the grout is wet, it is easier to bond with fresh grout than dry grout.
Please note that the above method only applies to grout that has been recently installed. If you notice low grout lines weeks after it was installed, the above method will not work.
The other method, which is highly recommended for dried grout, entails the use of a grout removal tool which is reciprocating saw with a carbide-grit blade.
Using this powerful tool, you should remove all the grout in your tile joints and apply a fresh coat, ensuring that you don’t make any of the mistakes listed above.
Does Insufficient Grout Between Tiles Meet Tiling Industry Standards?
There being not enough grout between tiles is actually against tiling industry standards and regulations. These regulations require that grout adequately fills the joints between tiles. If it’s too low, you will be infringing the recommended practices.
Also, other than not meeting current standards, such a setup can significantly lower your floor or wall’s aesthetics. It’s in your best interests that you use adequate amounts of grout between your tile joints.
What Should You Do When You Run Out of Grout?
It’s normal for anyone to run out of construction products. In case you run out of grout, you can always stop at a certain spot and make arrangements on how you can get more.
The assumption here is that you were adequately filling the joints before stopping at a certain spot. However, if you were spreading the grout all over the floor with low joints, then that is unacceptable.
A pro tip when working with grout: Always adequately fill the joints, even when you are working with a little product. It’s better to run out of grout without covering some parts of your tiled floor or wall than running out of product and having low grout joints.
What are Some of the Drawbacks of Not Having Enough Grout Between Tiles?
You may assume that you can live with insufficient grout between tiles. But on the contrary, there are plenty of disadvantages to having such a setup;
• Inadequate grout between tiles makes your floor or wall look hideous – Can you imagine how tiles would look if the ends and edges were protruding? It would make your tiles look unprofessional.
• The gaps can attract dust and debris – There being low grout joints on your tiles, it will be easier for dirt and debris to accumulate there. Eventually, your joints will appear dirty and ruin the tile finish.
• Your tiles will chip easily – Tiles are susceptible to movements. When that happens in the absence of grout between the joints, they will chip and break easily. So, if you use insufficient grout between tiles, you will always be replacing broken tiles.
Should Grout Be on the Same Level as Tile Surface?
As we talk about low grout joints, you need to understand what enough means. Grout should not be on the same level as the tile surface. However, it should be high enough to the point it covers the edges of your tiles.
Grout is considered insufficient if you can put several inches of your finger or nail inside the joint. As mentioned earlier, if it’s painful to walk barefoot on your tiles, then there is a high chance that the grout is too low.
If you prefer an exact measurement, after the grout has been installed and cured, it shouldn’t have a depression exceeding 1 mm to 6 mm, depending on the width of the joint.
Is It Advisable to Add More Grout to Tiles If It’s Not Enough?
This is the first thing that usually comes to the mind of most DIY tile installers. However, it’s not always the best approach. As simple as this problem may seem, grout, as a construction material, is a bit complicated to work with.
When grout cures, it becomes difficult to bond with a fresh layer. So, when you add new grout to old grout, there will be no adhesion. And the grout on the surface will eventually wash away or crack.
There are only two exceptions to when you can add more grout when you notice it’s not enough. First is when the grout has been installed a few days ago. If the grout is still fresh, you can re-wet it and add more.
The other exception is when there is sufficient depth exceeding 1/8 inch between the tiles. If the existing grout is too low, you can clean the joints, add more grout and let it cure.
Before adding more grout to your tiles, you need to ensure that your project meets the above criteria. If not, grab a grout removal tool, remove all the dried grout, and replace it with a fresh layer.