- The Ceramic Tile Institute recommends the use of cheesecloth
for grouting ceramic tile. The practice of grouting with a sponge is discouraged
because it is felt it does an inferior job compared to cotton cheesecloth. Many
of the persons who work for companies
that manufacture grout also recommend the cheesecloth and no sponges
- Although the information has been given to use the cheesecloth
instead of the sponge, little has been done to give the reasons why. There is
also a lack of information on cheesecloth. This field report will supply some
- Cheesecloth comes in various weights and the thread count,
in two directions, known in the lengthwise direction as the warp and crossed in
the other direction by the woof, is one item that determines the weight.
- Industrial Textile Corporation has been furnishing cheesecloth
to the tile trade for 30 years. They have found a thread count of 28 x 24 to be
the ideal configuration for the tile trade.
- Cheesecloth is one yard wide and is available in 100 yard bolts,
100 and 500 yard rolls and will soon be available in an 18 inch wide fold dispenser
box, containing 60 square yards The dispenser box will keep the supply clean and
- Cheesecloth used for grouting must be 100% cotton and not
polyester or nylon. Cotton is absorbent while the man-made fibers are not. The
man-made fibers only smear the grout rather than to clean it off the tile.
- The most important item to control when grouting is water.
A minimum of water is recommended when the grout is mixed, which results in a
thick trowelable consistence, not a thin, runny consistency. During grouting process,
water is also kept to a minimum and this is much easier to control with cheesecloth
than it is with a sponge. The water is to be cool, clean and changed frequently.
- A pad of cheesecloth will help pack the grout into the joints,
a sponge will not.
- A pad of cheesecloth is more abrasive for removing excess grout
and less water is needed. A very wet sponge is needed for removal of excess grout.
- Ragging off the surfaces can be done with cheesecloth. TI
is the practice of spreading out the damp cheesecloth and pulling it over the
tile surface. Ragging off cannot be done with a sponge.
- To obtain an excellent grout job, consistency in doing exactly
the same thing throughout the entire area being grouted is needed. Cheesecloth
provides the clean-up material for consistency, a sponge does not.
- Cheesecloth allows the grout to be finished to a more uniform
level with the tile edges compared to a sponge.
- Cheesecloth leaves the grout joint cleanly finished so that
when the finished installation is polished, the grout joints do not have feathery
- Sponges have a tendency to remove the surface portland cement
and the color from the grout joints. Cheesecloth will not do this and leaves smooth
- It is a misuse of cheesecloth to moisten it with cedar oil
or lemon oil prior to polishing the tile. These oils will kill the curing of the
cement in the grout joints.
....Why Sponges Should Not Be Used To Grout
- To do a "passable" job, clean up material must be firm, small
celled and free of any possible contaminant. Not many sponges commonly available
fulfill these three basic requirements.
- The tendency of people to keep and re-use the sponges and use
them with different colors of grout is potential cause of color contamination.
- When poor quality sponges are purchased, they are often dyed,
which is another source of contamination.
- Overly soft sponges have a tendency to leave joints too low,
and large celled sponges often leave joints uneven and not smoothly contoured.
- Users do not thoroughly rinse soapy preservative material
out of the new sponge, which is yet another source of contamination.
- Sponges are not nearly as effective in scouring excess grout
- RUBBER TROWELS
- One of our award winning finishers expresses concern on the
use of the rubber trowel.
- The concern is on the spreading and removal of excess grout;
especially on non-porous or vitreous tile.
- He uses cheesecloth to do the grouting after spreading the
grout with the rubber trowel, but cautions that the rubber trowel can remove too
much grout, resulting in low grout joints.
- His further comment, "using the rubber trowel, as suggested
by the manufacturer, plus finishing with a wet sponge spells , disaster for most
non-porous tile jobs".
- A seemingly forgotten technique in grouting is the use of
dry paper prior to the final clean up with cheesecloth.
- The paper is used on the first-time-over-the-surface, after
the grout is spread. The object being, to remove excess moisture, compact grout
in the joints and fill the joints up full.
- The paper must be clean. Such paper as the inner layers of
cement bags can be used. The outer layers and newspaper should not be used because
of the ink. The type of paper used to wrap dishes when moving is good. Paper towels
are good, but are costly.
- The paper will start the grout to set and this technique is
especially helpful when grouting the non-porous and vitreous tile.
- The paper technique is also helpful in cold and wet inclement
- The final clean up is done using moist cheesecloth.
- Sponges not only do an inferior grout job, but can be the source
of grout contamination.
- . Overworking of grout, combined with the use of sponges and
too much water in the "tool, clean up stage" can result in the water floating
out the color, which can show as a gross distortion of the average shade of a
colored grout, encompassing either the whole or part of an application.
- Dry paper will start the grout setting and remove moisture
from the grout when non-porous and vitreous tile are being grouted. This is also
true during cold, wet, inclement weather.
- Cheesecloth should not be moistened with oils to control dust
at the polishing stage.
- Cotton Cheesecloth provides the ideal material for grouting.