By Jason Brunt, Ceramic Product Manager at Mapei UK.
As another year passes the tile industry continues to grow and evolve. Manufacturing technology for tiles continues to improve which is reflected in the countless numbers of styles, finishes and colours available to consumers. What doesn’t appear to be changing, however, is the popularity of grey.
Although shades of grey remain popular for Architects and Specifiers, flamboyant colours are seeing a resurgence as customers seek to break up the monotony: a splash of red, green, blue or purple depending on the desired mood we are wishing to create. These final touches of colour can complete an effect the designer is trying to create.
Along with colour we also look at texture. Grouts can be developed to tie in with the texture of the tile we are using to create an overall desired effect. For example, if we are installing a stone material with heavy texture, this theme can also be carried on through the grouted joint as it can appear strange to feature a heavily textured tile alongside a perfectly smooth grout finish. On the flip side, a highly textured grout finish may look disjointed next to highly polished tiles. The environment and use of the area we are grouting must also be considered; using an overly textured tile and grout finish for an area with heavy traffic would be impractical and hard to maintain as the textures would grab and hold onto any passing dirt.
The grouting environment
For years we have been happy to lay large concrete slabs onto a sand base to create an outdoor area and for years we have happily been repairing as and when they move, removing any unwanted foliage which appears to re-establish itself at a rapid rate.
With the increase in investment and popularity for installing outside living areas, we are also recognizing an increase in porcelain patio areas.
Careful consideration must be given to the installation of these materials; hardwearing porcelain is durable but suitability of the tile adhesive and grout, as well as the longevity of the product, is paramount. Grout must be considered as an integral part of the process as it is vital for a successful installation. The wider joints that are common in outside areas must, therefore, have a good size aggregate: the larger the composite aggregate the wider the joint width allowance. EN 13888 classifies grouts as Cement Grout (CG) as 1 (normal) or 2 (improved formula), as well as W (reduced water absorption) and A (abrasion resistance). It is vital to consider these specifications when specifying Mapei grout. In an external environment we would be best served with a CG2WA with a high degree of flexibility.
Another consideration to take into account, when installing in external areas, is the use of Portland cement being used as a binder within the grout. Mapei’s Ultracolor Plus is formulated using Mapei technology and manufactured with an absence of lamellar crystals of portlandite (calcium hydroxide) which is the cause of whiteish efflorescence.
We could also consider tiling the areas with grouts which are more resistant to de-icing salts, freeze thaw cycles and have harder compressive strengths: such as Mapestone PFS2.
Mapei’s range of ‘Set the Mood’ grouts
In 2017 Mapei UK launched the ‘Set the Mood’ colour collection, divided into five collections encompassing Serene, Traditional, Natural, Romance and Glamour.
These five collections makes choosing the correct colour easier according to the requirements of each tiling project.
Innovation through research and development is always at the forefront of Mapei’s philosophy, with the recent additions to the coloured grouts range developed using a sophisticated 3D imaging programme with the latest tile design trends in mind. Mapei is the first company operating in the ceramic sector using 3D imaging techniques to study and develop the coloured grouts portfolio.
Mapei UK has recently added a further seven colours to Mapei’s vast colour offering in the cementitious grout market, totaling 35 colours in the Ultracolor Plus range.
Three of these colours (River Grey 115, Musk Grey 116, and London Grey 119) are additions to the grey category, increasing Mapei’s spectrum of greys to ten popular shades. London Grey was introduced in response to demand for a lighter shade of Anthracite 114. This is particularly popular when used to install wood-effect tiles where clients do not wish to have an exactly matching or black joint, but do want the appearance to be of an open grout joint. Musk Grey has green undertones and River Grey features blue shades which again work well as popular choices for wood-effect tiles. Caribbean 137, Almond 138, Pink Powder 139, and Liquorice 152 are shades that have been added to the pastel and brown spectrum.
To add a flamboyant edge to a tile installation the use of Mapei Kerapoxy Design should be considered, available in a palette of 32 different colours. Kerapoxy Design is a highly decorative two-component acid- and stain-resistant grout which delivers a smooth and consistent finish to the grout joint.
The grout can be mixed with one or more of 23 colours of MapeGlitter to create a unique effect, offering over 600 different finish combinations when mixed with Kerapoxy Design. Kerapoxy Design is also available in a translucent option. The translucent grout can be used as an adhesive which, when using glass tiles, will take the appearance of the tile. The translucent grout can also be used with MapeGlitter which when mixed at a high ratio of two sachets per 3kg of Kerapoxy Design epoxy grout, can create a dazzling effect.
Mapei also launched a user-friendly grout during 2017 by the way of Flexcolor. Flexcolor offers eight colour options in popular shades (White 100, Silver Grey 111, Manhattan 2000 110, Medium Grey 112, Cement Grey 113, Anthracite 114, Jasmine 130, and Beige 2000 132). Mapei Flexcolor is a revolution for the grout market, offering excellent water resistance and an extremely high level of flexibility through a combination of polymer and fibre strand technology.
Flexcolor is also produced with the benefit of Mapei’s BioBlock technology, inhibiting the growth of mould within the grout joint. As a ready mixed product, it offers benefits to both the professional and the DIY sector. For the professional tile fixer the lack of cement content speeds up the application process making washing off easier, whereas for the DIY market there is no need for accurate water measuring as the ready mixed product simply requires the lid taking off before use.
With over 80 years’ experience, you can be sure that as we progress through the decades, fashions, tile styles, and requirements will evolve but Mapei will be at the forefront of technology, adapting to change in trends in colour and installation.