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Let’s Talk About Grout!

Let’s talk about grout! While not the most exciting component of a tile installation, grout is an important piece of the big picture. Choosing the right grout for your project, budget, and performance requirements is essential. Let’s look at the different types of grout and when to use them.

Standard Cement Grout

Mia in Bone 5x5 Cross and Terracotta 6x6 Star
Mia in Bone 5×5 Cross and Terracotta 6×6 Star

Standard cement grout is the most common and most economical of all the grouts. It’s been around forever, and all installers are familiar with it. Installation is straightforward, and it’s easy to clean up after installing. The downside is this grout is porous and should be sealed with good quality sealer (which adds to the labor costs). And the sealer will likely need to be replaced every few years. Standard cement grout is a solid choice if you are on a budget, but it is best suited for areas that won’t get wet or soiled.

Within the standard cement group category, we have two types: sanded and non-sanded grout. Sanded grout is sand mixed with portland cement. The sand adds strength and helps to reduce joint shrinkage. Use sanded grout in joints 1/8” or greater. It’s appropriate for floors, unpolished porcelain tiles, and natural stone tile.  Use non-sanded grout when the joints are 1/8” or less or for tile that scratches easily, like glass, marble, metal, mosaic tile, and highly polished ceramic or porcelain.

High-Performance Cement Grout

GIO Pastel in Aqua 2.5 x10
Pastel in Aqua 2.5 x10

High-performance cent grout is what it sounds like — it’s a premium grout with higher performance because it is less porous and has more strength than standard grout. They are harder and denser, with better stain resistance, and are more consistent in color. They are more expensive than regular portland cement grouts, but with typical joint widths today between 1/8″ to 3/16″ (versus the 1/4″ average width used in the past), and with large formats more on-trend, the cost per square foot becomes less, making high-performance grouts only slightly more expensive.  Use high-performance cement grout on floors, walls, backsplashes, bar backs, countertops, shower enclosures, steam showers, and tub surrounds.

Ready-To-Use Grout

GIO Padana in Pearl 24x24
Padana in Pearl 24×24

Ready-to-use grout (RTU) from the pre-mixed grouts of yore into high-performance material that is faster to install, and in terms of stain and chemical resistance, this grout has been compared to epoxy grout. But unlike epoxy grout, RTU is much easier to install. There are different types of RTU grouts and are comprised of either a urethane, acrylic, or hybrid chemistry. RTUs are also a good choice if you want brightly colored grout.

EPOXY GROUT

Varenna in Bianca 24 x 48
Varenna in Bianca 24 x 48

Epoxy grouts meet or exceed industry standard, ANSI A118.3. Epoxy grout is considered the most durable and robust of all grouts and has superior stain and chemical resistance. Installation, however, is more challenging as epoxy grouts are generally two- or three-component mixtures that require special mixing and handling at the job site. Use epoxy grout for backsplashes, floors, high-traffic areas, and demanding commercial environments such as healthcare, commercial kitchens, restaurants, and schools.

Do you have grout questions? 

The tile pros at GIO are ready to answer all your questions about tile, grout, settings materials, and more.  Contact us anytime – we’re here to work with you!

 

Understanding Dynamic Coefficient of Friction (DCOF) – Updated

Tile Council of North America

When specifying flooring materials, slip resistance is an important safety measure that all tile specifiers must be aware of. We are concerned about slip resistance in areas where ceramic tile floors can become wet in both residential and commercial applications. The measurement related to traction and slipperiness on wet, level floors when walked upon is called the dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF). DCOF testing helps determine the likelihood of whether or not a tile surface could contribute to someone slipping or falling. When it comes to choosing the right tile for an area, DCOF is a major consideration, especially when selecting tiles for areas that may be subjected to water, oil, or grease exposure.

If you are confused about the DCOF, you’re not alone. This measurement evokes questions about the methods for measuring it, what a DCOF measurement actually means, how to compare DCOF values and what the DCOF requirements are. DCOF is now the primary product performance measure used by the North American tile industry, so it’s important to understand what it means.

A Short History of DCOF

Before 2012, slip resistance, or the coefficient of friction for ceramic tile, was tested using the method specified in ASTM C1028, which provided the Static Coefficient of Friction (SCOF). But a new and better method for determining COF emerged, allowing project specifiers to choose the right tile for the job more easily. The new measurement, developed by the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), is called Dynamic Coefficient of Friction or DCOF.

What’s the difference between SCOF and DCOF test methods?

While the old test method determined the static coefficient of friction or SCOF, the new testing standard determines the dynamic coefficient of friction. In the context of people walking on floors, static friction is the frictional resistance one pushes against when starting in motion. Dynamic friction, on the other hand, is the frictional resistance one pushes against when already in motion. With both types of friction, a slip can occur when you push with more force than the surface can resist. The DCOF test relates better to slips occurring while a person is walking. Additionally, the newer test method uses a slightly soapy solution (water with .05% Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or SLS) that is more slippery than the de-ionized water used with the old test.
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What is the required minimum DCOF value?  

The American National Standard Test Method for Measuring Dynamic Coefficient of Friction of Hard Surface Flooring Materials, ANSI A326.3, requires tile flooring products to have a DCOF of 0.42 or greater when recommended for use in a level interior space intended to be walked upon when wet. Keep in mind that not all tiles with a wet DCOF of 0.42 or greater are necessarily suitable for all projects and that this is a minimum level of slip resistance for level interior floors that are wet with water. Other situations, such as standing water, oil, grease, or other slippery substances, may require higher DCOF numbers. Specifiers must also consider the type of use, traffic, expected contaminants, expected maintenance, expected wear, and manufacturer’s guidelines.

In addition to describing DCOF test methods of hard surface flooring materials in the laboratory and in the field, the ANSI A326.3 standard includes DCOF specifications, product use classifications*, and guidance on specifying hard surface flooring materials. This standard is intended to guide the general public, manufacturers, distributors, specifiers, architects, contractors, testing laboratories, building owners, and other businesses and professionals.

*Earlier this year, the TCNA announced the addition of a five-category “product use classification system” in ANSI A326.3. For the first time in the tile industry’s history, the TNCA, in collaboration with the American National Standards Institute, now requires tile manufacturers (as well as other hard surface flooring manufacturers) to provide “product use classifications” based on the properties of slip resistance. The ANSI A326.3 standard for measuring the DCOF is now the only ANSI standard for measuring floor traction.

GIO Architectural Tile + Stone is committed to the simplification of tile and stone specifications. Our products are marked with DCOF ratings presented in a clear fashion so you can easily identify the technical characteristics you require.

GIO-Pastel,-Aqua-2.5x10-Glossy-Field-Tile

Fresh Looks for Walls – Product Recommendations from GIO Tile

For many commercial environments, from restaurants and schools to hotel and office lobbies and more, tile — ceramic, porcelain, or glass — is an excellent surfacing material for walls. The advantages of tile over paint, wallpaper, wood, brick, and many other materials are many. Wall tiles are durable, hygienic, easy to clean, stain-proof, fireproof, and are resistant to fade, odor, and moisture. Wall tile is also environmentally friendly and cost-effective.

Wall Tile is Cost-Effective

Wall tile is cost-effective when you consider the life cycle of the material and its long-term performance. While the upfront expenditures for tile, setting materials, and installation may seem higher at first glance, they soon reveal themselves as smart investments when compared to other wall covering options’ high-maintenance and early replacement costs.

Wall Tiles are Hygienic

The focus on clean indoor environments, both commercial and residential, has never been as great as it has been during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no question that tile is one of the most sanitary surfacing choices available. While tile has always enjoyed sanitary advantages, the CDC now recommends following up the “soap and water” cleaning with a disinfectant. Fortunately, tile is not easily harmed by disinfectants, but do keep in mind some disinfectants like bleach, for example, may compromise certain grouts, so be sure to test in an inconspicuous area or consult with the manufacturer before using.

Wall Tile is Environmentally Friendly

Tile is good for the environment because it emits no VOCs, doesn’t require the use of caustic cleaners, and doesn’t require the destruction of other natural resources like wood or plant material. Tile is also hypoallergenic — it has zero allergens, and allergens in the environment such as dust and pollen cannot penetrate porcelain ceramic or glass tile’s nonporous surface.

Wall Tiles are a Designer’s Dream

Tile design technology has come a long, long way from the plain and somewhat boring looks of yesteryear. Wall tiles today come in an extraordinary array of colors, patterns, and designs, allowing designers to put texture or patterns on walls that rival the detail of many traditional wallcovering materials. 

Get Inspired

Here’s a look at some of our latest and greatest wall tile styles for achieving fashion-forward looks with the performance characteristics your commercial design projects demand.

LUSTRO

With a hand-molded look, Lustro’s glossy porcelain subway tiles are richly shaded with nuanced hues, elongated dimensions (3″ x12″), and just the right luster.

LUSTRO by GIO in Taupe (left) & Light Grey (right)

MARMI_TREND

Marmi_Trend offers lush interpretations of Statuario and Calacatta marble in subways, hexes, 3D linear decos, and more.

MARMI_TREND in Statuary Hex Field Tile

PICKET

Picket is an ideal blend of modern shine and classic style. This picturesque glazed porcelain wall tile collection is offered in six pastoral hues and a picket-shaped 2.7″ x 11″ field tile.

Picket wall tile
PICKET in Light Grey

PASTEL

There’s nothing subtle about the shiny, saturated palette of this versatile subway tile line. Pastel comes in 10 glossy hues and can be used for walls as well as floors.

GIO-Pastel,-Aqua-2.5x10-Glossy-Field-Tile
PASTEL in Aqua

 

VITRO

Vitro is a sleek glass tile collection for walls offered in nine crystalline colors with bright or frosty finishes. The line comes in three modular sizes plus a mini brick mosaic.

Vitro wall tile
VITRO in Aqua Mini Brick Mosaic

 

SUBWAY

Subway tile, always the constant classic, now offered in signature sizes and five perpetually popular neutral colors. Subway is so timeless, yet modern.

Subway by GIO Wall Tile in 4x16 Architectural Grey Bright
SUBWAY in Architectural Grey

 

NEO_BRICK

Brick’s timeless appeal comes of age in a durable porcelain tile interpreted in six cool colors awash in a handcrafted, textured glaze. NEO_Brick comes in 2″ x9″ filed tiles plus bullnose trim.

NEO_Brick wall tile —image of brick-look back wall in a bar
NEO_Brick in Bianco

We hope you’ve enjoyed this look at a few of our latest and greatest commercial-grade tile products for walls! Click here to see all our collections suitable for vertical surfaces. Samples for these lines, in addition to all our tile collections, are available free to the trade. Contact us anytime – we’re here to work with you!