Epoxy grout has seen an immense growth in popularity over recent years, but is it really worth the hype? Our post explores the many different factors that will play a part in your tile grout choice, from comparisons between epoxy and cement based products, to cost differences and more.
Epoxy vs. Cement Grout
Epoxy grout is made up of a combination of epoxy resins and filler powders, resulting in a hard wearing, durable, stain and water resistant grout that can be used in just about all tiling projects, from bathrooms and kitchens to mosaic murals and outdoor tiling projects. It is non-porous so will not require sealing throughout its lifespan and is capable of withstanding the harsh chemicals found in many household cleaners. Unlike traditional cement based products, epoxy grouts will not crack, shrink or crumble over time, allowing for a strong, durable and flexible finish.
Cement based grouts however, are made of a simple cement powder mix. Being a porous material, cement based grout will require sealing at the time of installation and every couple of years afterwards in order to maintain its integrity. This porosity in the material means that it is more susceptible to staining and erosion over time while also being more sensitive to acidic and harsh cleaning products.
Epoxy Grout Colours
Your selected grout colour can have an immense effect on the final look and feel of your tiling project. For example, a grout colour that completely contrasts your tile colour will create a strong visual affect, accentuating the laying pattern of your tiles. This technique works exceptionally well for uniquely shaped tiles such as lantern or fish scale designs as it provides definition to the style and pattern. A complimentary or matching grout colour however, will ideally blend into the tone of your tiles, creating a near seamless look in your design.
Epoxy grout is available in a vast array of colours, including special effect options that include translucent varieties, glitter and even metallic grouts for that ultimate luxury look in your design. There are many different brands available to choose from, each with their own unique collections and price points. We would advise that you visit your local tile showroom or hardware store to view samples before making a decision to see how your selections look in person.
Epoxy Grout in the Shower & Wet Areas
An excellent choice for wet areas (including within a shower or wet room), epoxy grout is a waterproof, non-porous product that stands up incredibly well to moisture, mold and mildew while also providing the additional benefit of being simple to maintain, thus assisting in eliminating the build up of grime, dirt and soap deposits that can normally damage and erode traditional cement based grouts.
Epoxy grout is priced higher than traditional grout options, often coming in at around three to five times more expensive per unit when compared to cement based solutions. Aside from the higher price tag of the product itself, epoxy grout will also attract a higher installation cost as it is extremely fast setting, meaning that your Tiler will have to work at a very fast pace while also paying much closer attention to precision as well as quickly cleaning up both during and after the installation process. A qualified and experienced Tiler that has worked with epoxy before will be the best person for the job as this isn’t the best first timer DIY solution! It should also be noted that if you are planning on using epoxy grout in your next tiling project, that you inform your Tiler of your decision so they can factor it into their quotation, ensuring there are no unexpected additional costs down the track.
Despite these initial upfront costs of using this product, you will find that there are savings to be made throughout the grout’s lifespan nonetheless. In comparison to traditional cement based grouts, epoxy does not require regular sealing nor will it require re-grouting or refreshing anywhere near as quickly as cement options would as it has a significantly longer lifespan than other choices.
Maintenance & Cleaning
In comparison to cement based grout, epoxy based products are significantly easier to keep clean and maintain. Thanks to the product’s waterproof and non-porous qualities, you will not experience staining in the grout lines, nor should you have any built up grime, mold or mildew in wet areas with proper use, ventillation and cleaning. Any spills or dirt on the surface of the grout should however be cleaned up quickly rather than left to sit for an extended period of time as they can potentially cause some discolouration to occur.
Usually, all that’s needed to keep epoxy grout lines clean is a quick wipe with a damp, soapy sponge or cloth. Steam wand cleaners are also safe to use on epoxy grouting, keeping the wand about 15 – 30cm away from the surface for a deeper clean when needed.
As with any product, there are of course certain limitations to consider when choosing an epoxy grout:
- There can be some discolouration down the track (especially with lighter coloured grouts) when the product is used in an area that is exposed to direct sunlight
- Due to the structure of epoxy grout, the product can potentially stain some natural materials (such as granite or marble) during installation. We would recommend that any natural stone tiles be sealed prior to proceeding with laying, as per the manufacturer’s guidelines; if unsure, test out the grout on a sample piece of your natural stone tiles first to see how it reacts. Sealing the tiles first will prevent the grout from penetrating these more sensitive materials during the installation process, ensuring a clean final finish.
- As discussed in the above section: ‘Price Considerations’, epoxy grouts have a higher purchase price than other options while also attracting a higher labour cost when it comes to installation due to the specialised techniques required to use the product
- It can often be quite tricky to use epoxy grouting on curved surfaces (such as curved walls or kerbs) as the grout joints will take a longer time to set up in comparison to cement based grouts; if your design includes any curved or very intricate elements, you will want to pass this information on to your Tiler so they can allow for the additional time and care in their quote.
So, is Epoxy Grout really worth it?
In my opinion, yes! I have used epoxy grout in my own kitchen and have found that it definitely stands up exceptionally well to splashing and dirt. I have found it to be very easy to keep clean – I only ever need to use a damp cloth to give it a quick wipe down and that’s pretty much it! I have not experienced any discolouration, warping or cracking of the product – it looks just like new five years on after we installed our kitchen.
In general, you will find that epoxy grout is well worth the additional price, more than making up for it in terms of saving on regular sealing as well as allowing for an extremely low maintenance option in the home that will not have you spending hours crawling around cleaning grout with a toothbrush!