Grout has been the weak link in tile installations over the tile industry’s entire lifetime. It historically cracks easier, discolors, and wears faster than the tile it is placed in between. This is only sometimes true today, and is preventable with proper material selection and installation.
Many people think that grout has failed when it is flaking out of the space between the tiles. In most cases, the failure is actually with the substrate and the grout failure is only a symptom. Many installers will skip proper sub-floor reinforcement and underlayment to save short term costs. The movement that occurs because of this will fatigue the grout over time, and appear like a grout problem. If you have grout coming out of the joints in sections, there is a strong possibility that the only lasting repair is total replacement of the tile installation.
Assuming that the tile substrate and installation were done up to industry standards, then grout should last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance.
There are essentially three types of grout available: cementitious, epoxy, and single component.
Cementitious grouts are cement bases (as the name implies) and are mixed with water at time of installation. They are the type of grout that most people think of when they think of grout (especially dirty looking grout). Although the technology is significantly better today than it has been historically, there are still many limitations.
Here is a list of the qualities of each category of grout on the market today:
Most cost efficient initially
Highest lifetime cost
Can dry uneven or blotchy
Porous and accept stains readily
Require maintenance sealing
Prone to installer error
Vary greatly on quality based on price
Impervious to water
High installation cost
Turns yellow in areas exposed to sunlight
Require entire batches for patch work and touchup
Single Component Grouts:
Newest grout technology
Best stain resistance
Lower cost to install than epoxy
Require long dry times before use (in wet areas)
Useable for patches/touchups for up to two years
Consistent from bucket to bucket
Here at Custom Expressions, we use only two main grout products for our tile installations:
Prism + High Quality Grout Sealers (cementitious)
Fusion/Fusion Pro Designer (single component)
We are happy to install other brands when specified or requested, but have had great success with these proven product lines over the years.
If you are interested in learning more about grout, please follow this link, or send us an email and we will happily answer your specific question.