Will Tiling Without Grout Lines Make Your Tile Project Easier?

Ceramic and porcelain tiling is not an easy remodeling project.  But within that subject area, are there ways to make components any easier?  Specifically, how about eliminating that last step altogether and tiling without grout lines?

Best Answer

No, tiling without grout lines will not make your job easier.  Some aspects of the installation would be harder than you might think.  If you want the no-grout look, the best you can do is to install tile with micro-thin, 1/16 inch wide seams.

Details

Grouting tile seems like an indignity.  After those previous painful steps–cement board, mortar, cutting, setting–now you have to take on yet another task:  grout.  On top of that, this is the final wet work stage that really visually matters.  If you mess this one up, your installation will look terrible.  So how about eliminating grout?

Rectified Tile Purchase Required

To start, if you were going to install tile with no grout lines, you would have to purchase rectified tile.  All major tile companies produce this, but it’s never their main product.  Instead of leaving the tile as-is after leaving the kiln, the edges are “mechanically finished” (sawed down) to create dimensions that are exactly the same from tile to tile and edges which are perfectly straight.

No Way to Seal the Seams

The main problem, though, would be that you have seams between the tiles that must be sealed in some way or another.  Even rectified tile perfectly, squared installed against each other will have seams.

No Wiggle Room

Tile installation is not a perfect thing; lines that begin straight mysteriously begin to veer off.  The solution for this is called tile grout.  Wider seams between the tiles allow you to ever-so-slightly readjust the tiles’ pathway, producing an illusion of straightness.  Tiles butted right up against each other allow you no wiggle room.  In fact, even tiles with a  1/16 inch seam are considered difficult to install because that micro-thin seam doesn’t allow for much wiggle room.

Sources / Trust Ranking

The Floor Elf:  Roger Lodwig, a Ft. Collins, CO-based tiler is one of the better voices out there about tiling because he’s a working tradesman and a good writer.  He says that “butting the tiles against one another…is not a recommended installation procedure.”

Rectifying the Misconceptions Associated With Rectified Tile and Narrow Grout Joint Installations, by Bill Griese, published in the Tile Council of North America’s TileMagOnline.com lists many problems associated with narrow grout lines–and this doesn’t even include grout-less tiles directly butted up against each other.

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