Grouting Between Wall and Floor

When you install ceramic tile floors you will need to know a few things when it comes to grouting between floor and wall. When you begin applying grout, most instructions will tell you not to apply grout to expansion joints, which are the areas surrounding fixtures, in corners, and between the floor and the wall.

In other words, you will not grout these areas as you would grout other areas in the room, as they need some degree of flexibility. The reason you need this particular flexibility in spaces such as these is because you need them to be able to bend and flex as the room settles, doors get slammed, and walls vibrate.

Floors

There are vast differences when grouting between floor and wall requirements. When grouting floor tiles you will want a strong grout that allows no movement or flexibility. You will begin by applying the grout. For this you will use what is called a grout float for the actual spreading of the tile.

This works very much like a squeegee that would be used for cleaning windows and it works by not only spreading the grout but also by forcing the grout into the cracks and crevices where it needs to be. You should work in a diagonal direction across the tiles and check often to make sure that you are adequately covering all the tile and leaving no air pockets or areas where there is no grout.

Once the grout has had an opportunity to firm up a bit you will need to wipe the tiles clean. This can be done with a damp, not wet but damp, sponge that is cleaned often. The final step of course is to seal the grout. This should be done several days after the initial grouting and after the tile has been cleaned and allowed to completely dry.

You can follow the directions for this step, as they are fairly straightforward. You should be aware that in order to properly maintain the protection of the sealant you will need to reapply it every two years. The money you will save over time for this effort is well worth it.

Between the Wall and Floor

Grout is a material that allows little to no flexibility whatsoever. As a result it is generally a good idea not to use grout in the space between the wall and your floors. The primary reason for this is the fact that as we close and open doors our walls vibrate, floors flex, and there is always some degree of expansion and contraction in our homes as the wood adjusts to the tremendous strain of changing temperatures and relative humidity.

This means that you need to allow plenty of room for these expansions and contractions to occur or you will face potential damage as a result of grout breaking and water seeping through (this is especially important in basements, bathrooms, and kitchens, which have more exposure to heat and humidity.

My best suggestion is to allow a ¼" gap between the floor and the wall and use a baseboard in order to hide the gap. This is the common response to this particular situation and can be quite an elegant solution. The major different when grouting between floor and wall is that there really doesn't need to be any grout in this location as that often causes far more problems than the potential solution.