“Grout.” The most daunting word in the wonderful world of tile. Do you want to know a little secret? Grout isn’t as scary as it seems! In fact, as long as your installer follows a few simple rules, grouting should be the easiest part of the entire process! We get asked questions about grout and grout spacers on the daily, especially regarding our favorite Moroccan marvel: zellige. How wide should the grout line be? Does it matter where I am placing the tile? Do I need to use grout at all?? Not to worry! From unglazed zellige to thin glazed brick and encaustic cement, we’re here to answer all of your grand grout questions.
The rumors are true, zellige CAN be installed edge to edge. That means minimal grout in those naturally open gaps left by the uneven handmade cuts that we love! Grout helps protect tile over time, so grout is recommended even with edge to edge installations. Zellige tiles already have textural variation, so they won’t lay entirely flat, even with the use of grout.
If you want to go the traditional grout spacing route, that’s an option as well and we recommend the smallest grout lines possible at 1/16” spacing. We recommend Mapei Ultracolor FA for all zellige installations, and the installation guide is available on the Resources tab of our website.
Pro tip: There is only one zellige tile that requires a sealer – our Unglazed Natural zellige tile. If you’re going with our unglazed zellige, remember to use a grout color as close to the tile as possible and seal with 511 Porous Plus prior to grouting so that the grout does not stain the tile.
If you don’t like the look of a traditional grout line in between your zellige tiles, you can use something wedges to keep a more even application. The tiles will still look as if they were installed edge to edge, and the wedge will help keep the overall installation in alignment as your installer works with the naturally uneven pieces. All you have to do to remove the wedges is tap them lightly and they should pop right out prior to grouting. Wedges are lightweight, easy to use, and won’t damage the tile.
Most customers request the thinnest grout spacing possible, which is why we recommend 1/16th’” for our handcrafted cement tiles. However, you can also use a 1/8th” grout spacer if you’re covering a larger area or you want a more traditional look. The most important aspect of grouting with cement tiles is to choose a neutral color grout (Avalanche and Frost from Mapei’s Flexcolor CQ line) and apply in small sections after properly sealing the tile with 511 Porous Plus. The sealer acts as a grout release to ensure that the grout does not stain the tile. Even with proper sealing, it is critical to only grout in small 2 feet by 2 feet sections and remove the excess grout from the surface of the tile immediately. Dark grout can damage cement tile and must be avoided unless using a grout bag to grout the open spaces slowly by hand. Be sure to review each step of our cement tile installation guide closely with your installer prior to starting the project.
Our newest product, thin glazed brick, is a little more straight forward when it comes to grout spacing. Brick is naturally textured which makes 3/8” the ideal width for grout. We recommend Mapei Ultracolor Plus FA.
Even though the process is fairly simple, grout specifications can get confusing as they are unique to the type of tile that you are installing. There’s a lot of information out there, and it’s time consuming to sift through all of it! That’s why we’re available to answer all of your grout-related questions. Our team loves to talk all things tile! We will walk you through the entire process from choosing your tile to sealing it. Zia Tile is based in Los Angeles but we ship all over the world!