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Natural Stone & Porcelain Tile Help & Advice

What space should I leave between tiles?

Referred to by tilers as 'grout lines', the gap size you opt for depends on the type of tile you're using for your project, the type of substrate the tiles are being fixed to and personal preference.

Consideration should also be given to the type of grout to be used. Common practice is 2-3mm for wall tiles and 3-5mm for floor tiles.

The key difference in tile type, in relation to grout lines, is whether you tile is rectified or not. A rectified tile is one which is cut or manufactured to a precise measured size. Rectified tiles can be either porcelain such as our Calacatta Minimale, or natural stone such as our Italian Bianco Carrara marble tiles.

After firing, porcelain tiles undergo a secondary process where tiles are mechanically cut or ground on all sides to precise and consistent dimensions, ensuring uniformity across a batch of tiles. This unique feature of rectified tiles allows an installation to be fixed with narrow grout lines of 2-3mm, creating a seamless, stylish look.

The use of grout lines disguises size differences between non-rectified tiles, which helps make sure that a balanced installation is achieved. If such tiles are laid butting up to each other with no grout line in-between, the slight size variation between tiles would accumulate across the installation, resulting alignment issues. Grout lines for non-rectified tiles tends to be 3-5mm to allow for the variations in tile size.

Installing tiles with no grout line would reduce the space between tiles to the minimum but would not eliminate it. The remaining space would allow water to seep between bathroom wall tiles and for dust and dirt to accumulate in the gap between kitchen floor tiles.

Natural stone tiles, such as Stonestore’s Moleanos limestone tiles are rectified by default, as they are cut to precise measurements from large slabs. The exceptions to this are natural stone tiles which are manufactured to have a tumbled or chipped edge, which by design, leaves irregular edges leading to varying gaps between tiles. Alignment of tumbled/chipped edged tiles tends to be done by eye with gaps of 4mm-6mm.

Tilers report that some customers having bathroom tiles installed request that wall and floor grout lines are in exact alignment. This is nigh on impossible to achieve if the wall tiles and floor tile are different designs, colours, manufacture, or dimensions, as the size will vary making alignment impossible. Even if the same tile is being used on the floor and walls attempting to match grout lines is a challenging feat. Trying to achieve such perfection should only be attempted with rectified tiles and you should ensure that your tiler can achieve the results you expect, be prepared to have more wastage, for the project to take longer and for the tiler to charge more.

The floor substrate should be taken into consideration when determining grout line size. Not matter how well tiles are installed, tiles fixed to wooden substrates are prone to minute but consistent movements. In this case grout lines are essential as without them the tiles will rub against each other causing chipping, cracking, or de-bonding from the adhesive or substrate.

The size of grout line and tile type can determine the type of grout to be used. Some grouts are only suitable for up to 3mm gaps, a wide-joint grout may not be suitable for a highly polished tiles surfaces. If you have a wooden floor substrate then a flexible grout should be used to absorb any movement. Discuss grout options with your tiler prior to installation or call us for advice on 0161 277 6850.

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