Grout and Caulk – knowing the Differences Should Facilitate Proper Selection

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Often, when taking up home improvement or remodeling projects, you must have noticed that the remodeling company makes a clear choice between the use of grout and caulk. Grouting and caulking are two different techniques of filling the gaps between tiles on the floor as well as the walls, but the problem is that many times people talk about it in the same breath and even use the terms interchangeably. This results in some confusion because it appears that the two are the same, which it is not. Although grouting and caulking have close similarities, it serves different purposes, and you should never try to substitute one with another when it comes to home grout.  

As you go through this article, you will learn more about grout and caulk and its applicability that should help to make the right choice.

What is grout?

Grout is an essential construction material that prevents chipping and cracking of the edges of tiles and fills the void between joints thereby preventing accumulation of debris at those places.

Grout is a thick emulsion formed by mixing cement sand and water along with some color tint if needed. The emulsion when poured into the joints of tiles, settles down and hardens with time just like a mortar.  If you use grout for filling the pores of concrete blocks, you must add fine gravel to the mixture that forms the emulsion.

Grout is used for filling joints across the same plane and to make grout waterproof, and you must add latex to it. Unsanded grout can fill small spaces in the joints, but for filling bigger spaces, you must use sanded grout. For hardening the grout surface, add epoxy to it.

What is caulk?

Caulk is a filler material effective in closing seams and crevices by pouring the material within the spaces. It is excellent for creating watertight and airtight environments, and you can use it across any part of the structure especially at places where movements occur like corners.

Caulk consists of a base of latex, silicone or acrylic that is flexible and absorbs the shock of movement thereby preventing cracking of the surface. It is extensively used in bathrooms for creating waterproof joints around windows, bathtubs, and showers. It has the property to adhere to different materials like you can use it to join tiles and glass.

You should never replace grout with caulk or use it in large installations because it can dry out with time and even shrink. 

Caulk is good for bathrooms

Caulk has the property of absorbing the effects of movement between two materials or planes which is why it is excellent for use in bathrooms for creating watertight areas.  As bathrooms are the favorite places for mold and mildew growth, by using caulk you can seal some corners and other areas and make the place waterproof that reduces the chances of mold and mildew infestation.

While grout is applied on joints only and is most compatible with tiles, caulk is more versatile in matching with many kinds of materials.

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