Hot Topics: How to Fill a Gap Between Tiles Hot Topics: How to Fill a Gap Between Tiles

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In pursuit of filling gaps between floor and wall tile, a DIYer learns the difference between caulk and grout and how best to match their coloring.

Original Post: How to fill gap between tiles?

alexwaltz Member

In my bathroom, I have some gaps that have developed. These gaps exist between tiles that are on the floor as well as between tiles where the floor and the wall touch. (I have attached a picture to give a better idea.) Could someone please tell me what the best way is to fill these gaps and what material I should use?

ray2047 Group Moderator

Grout between the tiles. Caulk between the wall and tile.

alexwaltz Member

Thank you for your response. I'm just curious, why would you suggest caulk for the gaps between the wall and the floor rather than grout? After you suggested caulk, I had a second look at the picture that I attached, and doesn't it look like there is grout instead of caulk?

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

Whenever tile has a right angle like that, grout is prone to fail so caulk is used. Tile stores generally sell caulks that match the grout.

Marq1 Member

Your walls and floors are pretty stiff, but there can be movement between the two that will crack the grout. You can try and maybe nothing will happen, but if it cracks you will have to dig it out. The only concern I have with the caulk is that it's usually a slightly different color just due to the variations you get with grout, but that is getting really nitpicky!

alexwaltz Member

Thank you all. I will pick up some caulk to complete this work.

A couple of follow-up questions:

1. More for my own knowledge, is there any risk of damage if the gap isn't filled?

2. Is there a way to get the hardware store to exactly match the color of caulk with what is between the two tiles currently? Perhaps with a picture?

3. In terms of doing the job, should I just caulk the gap, or should I go from one wall to the other, covering the old grout and the gap with new caulk?

czizzi Forum Topic Moderator

Chip out a piece of grout and take it with you to tile stores and box stores to get a color match. The hardware store will not be any help. Colored caulk is premixed in a tube and not custom blended to match. Tile stores are your best bet. Caulk everywhere there is a change in plane.

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

I've had paint stores custom mix caulk, but I doubt they'd do that just for one tube...or a non-pro customer. Plus, the caulk that matches the grout often has a bit of grain to it so it blends in better as opposed to smooth caulk. You'll find the best selection of grout-matched caulk at the tile store.

alexwaltz Member

I will caulk from one side of the wall to the other. The gap is about half the length of the wall and the other half still has grout. Should I caulk over the grout or remove the grout first?

Superdaves Member

I would remove the grout first since when you move from a non-grouted area to a grouted area, the bead of caulk that you put down could have different profiles.

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

Yeah, it's always best to remove the grout. It doesn't have to be perfect, but you want the caulk to bond to both tiles.

czizzi Forum Topic Moderator

You can use masking tape on both sides of the caulk bead to be able to pull a straight line easily without a lot of mess. It will also allow you to force caulk into the void for a good seal.

Marq1 Member

Don't waste your money. I've attempted that route several times at different stores—total failure. Just look at the different colors that all the hardware/paint/BB stores have and pick the closest. At least it will be consistent between tubes!

ray2047 Group Member

I have always wondered what would happen if you mixed un-sanded grout of the correct color with clear latex caulk. This article seems to say it would work: http://www.familyhandyman.com/tiling...olors/view-all

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

I wonder how much grout it would take to color the caulk? I'd feel better using caulk that hasn't been modified with another product—less worry about it failing. I assume when we had the paint store mix up multiple cases of custom tinted caulk that they used the same tint that is used with paint. I had forgot about the self-loading caulk guns, which is what I'd use if I had to apply a site-mixed caulk. Somewhere in my shop I have one of those types of guns hanging up, although I'm sure it's been over 20 years since it's been used.

alexwaltz Member

Just one last question, and this is more for my own knowledge than anything: Is there a risk of damage to the tile or something else happening if this gap was not filled?

ray2047 Group Member

Not filling the gap can allow water to migrate undeneath the tiles. It might loosen them and might rot the floor.

To read the rest of the thread, look here: http://www.doityourself.com/forum/wall-flooring-indoor-tiling/576158-how-fill-gap-between-tiles.html

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