Expert opinion on grouting and screeds

by Tania Wannenburg
Tylpro Jnl 7 15

Tyl-Pro will be launching new and exciting products that the South African market has never been exposed to before.

Founded by Jeffrey Africa, who has 26 years’ experience in the tile adhesive industry, Tyl-Pro came into being after Jeffrey wanted to further develop his passion for the Green Building industry.
Tyl-Pro will be launching new and exciting products that the South African market has never been exposed to before. FLOORS in Africa interviewed Jeffrey to get his input on grouting and screeds.

What cleaning programmes should be followed when it comes to ceramics, porcelain and stone?
From a technical perspective, I would say that the porosity of tiles is obviously very important, as it will determine how much cleaning you would have to do. Porcelain and ceramic tiles are very dense and you’re not going to get anything seeping through the top surface of the product. There are a lot of cleaning materials in the market that you can use but it all depends on the porosity of the tile.

How do you prevent grouting from discoloration?
You have normal grouts and you have waterproof grouts. The waterproof grouts in the market are not actually waterproof, they are water-resistant. This means that they prevent any spillage from being absorbed quickly, so you have more time to clean it up – but eventually it will penetrate the grouting. We need to look to this part of the market to ensure that your grout looks the same as when you installed it five years ago. Because grout is porous, any dirt is transferred to it from the washing fluid. When grouting, you need to add bonding liquid to the grouting mix which makes it less porous, giving you more time to clean. The water in the bonding liquid evaporates and becomes a plastic so eventually what you are left with is a product that resists water and prevents the absorption of the bonding liquid.

What maintenance schedule is ideal?
Again it has to do with the quality of the product. You get rough-textured tiles with indentations which are normally not ideal for commercial applications. Natural stone tiles need to be sealed. Grout and spillage will stain them if they’re not sealed. They will have to be resealed every year and you may have to remove the existing sealer before being able to start. This requires a very labour-intensive maintenance programme.

What technological advancements in grouting have been made?
As an industry we should strive to formulate a grout that won’t need continual cleaning. Currently, three months after putting grout in, your cleaning programme has caused the grout to go black as dirty water is transferred across the tiles when cleaning. The goal is to have grout that is completely impervious. I get a lot of queries as to whether the grout is dirt-resistant, which identifies it as a need in the market. People are asking and wondering when it will be available. The aim is to get the grout to be able to perform in the same manner as your tile. Our market as it is now is not educated enough. We have the tile adhesive options, but people still run to the cheaper options, which is why the market is actually shrinking. We are all fighting for a portion of the market. The process should actually be that the end user makes the product decision and not the contractor.

How do self-levelling screeds affect a flooring installation and what are the benefits?
Self-levelling screed is a specialised product. You have self-levelling screeds for various applications, be they laminate floors, carpets, etc. Then we have vinyl floors which are very sensitive when it comes to the surfaces they are installed on. Screeds are there to make sure you have the required level surface. Moisture is also very important. We don’t allow any floor to have more than 5% moisture. We purchased a machine to measure the levelness of the screed, its coverage and where the flaws are. You can’t measure a level floor with the naked eye. We use the machine and provide it as a service offering to the industry.

What challenges arise due to self-levelling screeds and how can these be overcome?
People tend to over-water when installing self-levelling screeds. The measuring of water is critical. A 5-litre container does not take 5 litres of water, it takes 5.7 litres. They fill the container and then they have actually over-watered the product. If you pour a self-levelling screed over a porous surface, the surface absorbs about one litre, which means you are installing 4 litres of screed and it won’t perform to expectation. People don’t seal floors and they don’t use the right water measurements.

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