If you’re laying tiles, you’re probably already aware that you need quite a few tools and materials, but you might be wondering if there’s any way to simplify and interchange some of the materials you have to buy. For example, tiles require both grout and tile adhesive, and you might be wondering if you really need both.
Do you have to have a separate adhesive and a grout, or can you simply put the adhesive between the tiles in place of the grout? After all, its job is to hold the tiles in place, so why shouldn’t it work as an alternative to grout?
Can tile adhesive be used as grout? Unfortunately, you cannot use tile adhesive in place of grout. Tile adhesive is excellent at sticking the tiles down, for a couple of different reasons. One is that the tile adhesive is intended to pull inward, since its purpose is to stick the tile down. This can lead to cracking and splitting if you put it between the tiles, because it tends to shrink.
Is it Okay to Use Tile Adhesive Instead of Grout?
You should not swap your grout for tile adhesive. These two products serve different purposes and have different properties, and they are not considered interchangeable. Grout is there to keep your tiles still, while adhesive is there to create a bond between them and the subfloor/wall.
Grout essentially serves as a cushion between the tiles and its purpose is to stop the tiles from moving around, and to fill the space between the tiles. It needs to maintain its volume, and not pull the tiles in any direction. It should not contract once it has been applied.
Tile adhesive is designed to pull the tile down against the surface beneath it, and this means that it contracts and shrinks as it hardens. If you put tile adhesive in between tiles and it starts trying to contract and pull inward, it will no longer be filling the space between the tiles. It will probably split and tear.
It may also pull the tiles out of position, because it is designed to form a strong bond with the tiles. This can cause the floor to twist and buckle, and may result in gaps between the tiles.
Even if the tile adhesive does not cause this issue, it may not provide the cushioning effect that grout offers. This means your tiles are more likely to shift and knock against each other, and this means that they are likely to chip and wear down over time.
What are the Other Problems With Using Tile Adhesive Instead of Grout?
One of the other big issues of using tile adhesive instead of grout is that most tile adhesives have a very strong, chemical smell, and this isn’t something you want to breathe in. You should always thoroughly ventilate a space before using tile adhesive.
Grout is therefore generally easier to apply. Grout also offers a better surface for cleaning, and it provides a sealing layer that will reduce the amount of moisture that gets into the floor. Although most grout is not waterproof, they are usually water-resistant, and they will help to prevent water from getting into the subfloor – which tile adhesive may not do.
Remember that grout, because it provides a firm cushion around the tiles, will help to extend the tile’s longevity. That, along with using the right tiles for walls vs floors, should ensure that your tiling lasts for as long as possible.
A further issue with using tile adhesive is that it sticks the tiles down very firmly, and this makes it hard to remove tiles if you need to later. Grout, although it will hold the tiles in place, does not create such a strong bond. This means that if you need to remove a tile, it should be easy to swap it.
Should You Remove Tile Adhesive That Has Been Used as Grout?
If you have already laid tiles using adhesive instead of grout (or if somebody else has done this in your home), you might be wondering whether you should strip it off and start again. The answer depends on quite a few factors, including how long ago it was laid and whether it’s damaging the floor.
For tile floors that were laid a long time ago, determine whether the adhesive is causing a problem or not. If the floor seems sound, there are no moisture issues present, the tiles aren’t buckling, and there’s generally no issue, it may be best to leave it alone. You might not be able to remove the tiles without breaking them anyway, so leaving them is probably preferable.
However, if you have just laid the floor yourself and there’s a chance of removing the adhesive without damaging the tiles, it’s best to take the floor up and redo it with grout. This will prevent you from running into issues later, even if it’s more work right now, so it’s generally the best option.
Can You Use Grout as Tile Adhesive?
Since you can’t use tile adhesive as grout, you might be wondering if you can do this the other way around – can you use grout as tile adhesive?
This is still not a good idea, disappointingly. Grout is not as strong as tile adhesive, so there’s a greater risk of the tiles rocking around and breaking, especially if there’s a lot of foot traffic in the area.
In some cases, you may get away with using grout as adhesive, especially in small areas. Because grout tends to be cheaper than adhesive, it may be a better option for those working on a tight budget. However, you should be aware that it’s not going to be as strong as tile adhesive, and your tiling may not last as well.
Tile adhesive isn’t a suitable alternative to grout, so if you’re tiling an area, make sure you get both of these materials, and use them in the appropriate places. Tile adhesive should be used for sticking, and grout should be used for spacing the tiles out.