Does Grout Stick To Wood?

When you hear the word grout, your mind most likely starts thinking about tile. This makes sense because it is most commonly seen in bathrooms and other spaces with tile floors. What many first-time DIY enthusiasts don’t consider is what lies underneath grouted tile floors. 

Since most subfloors are made of wood, it is very important to know how grout will adhere or if it will stick to wood at all. Join us in taking a closer look at this subject before starting your next project.

What Is Grout?

Grout is a combination of ingredients that is used to fill gaps and voids. If you have tile floors in your home or business, then you have surely noticed the grout that fills the spaces in between the tiles. It has a consistency similar to wet concrete, and when it dries, it forms a strong water-resistant barrier. 

There are a few different types of grout with varying formulations, but they are usually cement or epoxy-based. Cement-based, or cementitious grout, consists of cement, water, and sand. There are more specific subtypes of cement-based grout that vary in consistency. They can include silica, latex, and different kinds of sand. Epoxy-based grouts mainly consist of an epoxy resin and a hardener. Depending on the exact formula, they can also contain cement and volatile chemicals.

Properly applying poly will require applying a different number of coats and some extra supplies depending on which type and finish of polyurethane you choose.

Common Types Of Grout

Cement-Based GroutsEpoxy-Based Grouts
Sanded GroutFuran Grout
Unsanded GroutEpoxy Grout

Does Grout Stick To Wood?

Yes, for better or worse, grout usually sticks to wood. You can use it to tile wood products into a beautiful pattern, but it can also damage wood that you don’t mean to get grout on. The conflict lies in the fact that grout acts as a water barrier, and wood likes to expand and contract when exposed to moisture.

This may not sound like a problem at first because the grout should prevent water from reaching the wood underneath, but this isn’t always a reality. Gaps or cracks in grouting can expose the subfloor to water which can lead to a nightmare if it isn’t remedied. If the wood expands, it will either create an uneven surface or cracks in the tile or grout. This is why it is important to be thorough and make sure you are using a suitable product.

What Should You Do?

Since we already know that wood is notorious for shrinking and expanding due to variations in temperature and moisture, we should keep this in mind because grouting usually requires water. This means that if you want to use grout around your wood, you should go with an adhesive that is more flexible. A solid grout won’t allow the wood to expand or contract and can cause the wood to crack or bubble.

Luckily, there are a couple of ways that you can prevent this from happening. First, you want to make sure that the subfloor is securely fastened. It needs to be as sturdy as possible. If it has any play in it, then it will be more likely to crack the grouting when it moves. 

Next, you should consider the type of grout you will need. Choosing the proper adhesive will depend on your project needs. 

Epoxy-based grout is great for projects like laying tile over a wooden subfloor in a bathroom where it is frequently wet. This is because epoxy grouts are best at preventing water absorption and can stand up to chemical exposure, not to mention they are extremely strong. 

Cement-based grouts are best used for filling joints in between tiles. Sanded grout is stronger than its unsanded counterpart, and the sand makes it less likely to shrink after the curing process. This makes it ideal for larger gaps and joints that are greater than ⅛”. Take care when using it around other surfaces because the sand can easily scratch or score them. Unsanded grout will shrink a bit when it cures, so it is more suited to filling gaps that are less than ⅛” or when you are worried about scratching surrounding surfaces. The lack of sand makes it less abrasive.

Final Thoughts On Using Grout Around Wood

The good news is you can absolutely grout around wood, but you will want to do your homework before diving in headfirst. Keep in mind that wood likes to move, and grout will need to do the same if you want to avoid cracking and splitting. Different projects will call for specific types of grout, especially if there is a risk of damaging other surfaces.

Meet your Flooring Expert

Travis McCullough

Travis McCullough

Travis is a lifelong jack-of-all-trades in the construction industry with 20 years of experience in a variety of fields. He’s tackled flooring, carpentry, and everything in between on residential and commercial projects of all shapes and sizes.
Working independently and as part of a crew has equipped him with the know-how to not only complete a project but also teach others the finer points within most building professions. When he isn’t out hanging off of a ladder or crawling around on a roof, Travis spends his time educating people about the construction industry.

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