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What’s the difference between Sand-based grout and Epoxy grout and why does it matter?

Why do we need grout?

Grout is applied in the spaces between your tiles adding structural stability to the tile work and filling in the gaps between the tiles preventing debris from entering. As grout is quite visible it can also function as a design/style element to the area.



What is sand-based (sanded) grout?

Sand-based grout is exactly what it sounds like. It is usually fine sand particles combined with cement, inorganic aggregates, and chemicals. It is often chosen for most tiling projects as it is cheap, easy to install and provides a tight lock between the tiles. Sand-based grout is not waterproof and usually requires a separate sealant to be applied. Once set sand-based grout is also very ridged meaning that any building movement may create stress through the grout causing it to crack.


If you are experiencing discolouration in your grout, it is likely to be sand based and has not been sealed making it very porous attracting water, bacteria, dirt, oils, etc which penetrate deeply into the grout, undermining it and causing mould to grow back to the surface which cleaning alone will not resolve. This deterioration can then cause cracks and holes to appear in your grout which over time may loosen your tiles as water makes its way underneath them.




What is Epoxy grout?

Epoxy is a more modern grout that is made from resin giving it many similar characteristics to plastic. Its benefits are that it is waterproof and it won't crack, shrink, or discolour, making it ideal for applying in wet areas, such as showers and outdoor areas. It's also highly resistant to the harsh chemicals found in cleaning products. As a bonus, unlike traditional sand-based grout, epoxy grout does not need to be sealed due to its naturally non-porous nature.

Compared to sand-based grout, Epoxy grout is a more expensive product and is trickier to install as it sets quickly and must be applied in small stages with a thorough cleaning after each application however, the benefits and long-lasting protection of your wet areas make it a wise choice in the long run.




What can I do if I’ve got sand-based grout?

If you have sand-based grout, there are a couple of solutions available to you that don’t involve the cost of re-tiling the area.


Penetrating Sealants:

These are typically clear water or chemical-based fluids that can be applied to new or freshly cleaned sand-based grout. They penetrate the grout and offer some protection against moisture, natural deterioration and daily wear and tear. They will wear off over time and the sealant must be topped-up to maintain the protection. This solution will not alter the flexibility of your grout, nor will it restore old grout to look as good as new.


Re-grouting:

In many cases, it is possible to re-grout your tiled areas. Using special tools and a very steady hand the existing grout can be cut out from between the tiles creating space for new Epoxy grout to be installed. This is a risky task that is best left to the professionals!


What’s the best way to maintain my grout?

Whether you have sand-based or Epoxy grout, both require regular cleaning and maintenance. In addition to general dirt, water contains bacteria and minerals and when allowed to dwell on any surface, mineral deposits and mould will form and start to cause damage.

The cheapest and easiest way to care for your grouted areas is to dry them when not in use and clean them regularly with a non-corrosive PH-neutral cleaning solution.

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