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Lee Wallender

Expansion Joints: Tiling Trick That All Tilers Should Know

By April 29, 2009

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Admittedly, this isn't so much an insider secret trick as it is a necessary step when doing your own tiling work. But itís so easy to forget this step, that I will take the high-road and just call it an ďinsider secret,Ē how about that?

As you may know, when you lay down tile, you are filling the spaces between the tiles with tile grout. But there are certain places where you want to replace the grout with expansion joints. Remember, grout is a greatóand cheap--but it is not flexible.

For this reason, you need to use silicone caulk. This is difficult to match if you have a very bizarre shade of grout; it is hard to find silicone caulk that will match your grout shade. But most grout will be some basic shade of white, black, or gray, and itís no problem to match these shades with silicone caulk.

When tiling, you will want to use the silicone caulk as an expansion joint, instead of grout, in these places:

  • Where a pipe runs through a hole in the tile.
  • Where kitchen countertop tile meets the backsplash.
  • Where ceramic tile comes in contact with woodwork.
  • At any kind of inside corner (where a corner is formed with two courses of tiles).
  • And at every 24 feet of interior floors. The reason for this is that large expanses of tile tend to be subject to expansion and contraction. By using a flexible type of bonding material such as caulk, instead of inflexible grout, you help the tile expand and crackówithout cracking.

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