Grout technology has come a long way since the first specialist grout was introduced to the market by BAL in the 1960s.
The first proprietary tile grouts were similar to the traditional sand:cement pointing mortars but containing finer sands.
There were two basic colours – grey and white –based on grey and white cement.
No-one thought of pigmenting them, with colour choices being preserved purely for the tiles themselves.
However, with advances in, for example, polymer technology to cope with the advent of new tile types i.e. porcelain and more diverse backgrounds, placed greater demands on the performance of grouts.
A trend for wider tile joints and a need for grout to cope in more demanding service conditions, –for example in commercial flooring – compelled manufacturers like BAL to look at new raw materials and advanced formulations to deliver the performance required including flexibility, abrasion resistance, and fast-setting qualities.
To deliver this required performance, grout technology moved away from traditional sand:cement to new formulations including cement binders, aggregate polymers and powdered additives.
With new developments in tile size, shape and colour came new demands for a wider pallet of colours to either complement or contrast these new tile colours and patterns.
This has led to the huge variety of grout colours now available on the market, from black to brown, orange to brilliant white and even glitter grouts.
The advent of underfloor heating as a traditional heating system in residential and commercial properties in the 1990s also led to the development of grouts with increased flexural strength to cope with changes in thermal temperature.
Modern day cementitious grouts are typically classified as either CG1 or CG2 according to BS EN 13888.While CG1 grouts do offer abrasion resistance, for enhanced bond strength to tile edges, greater strength and reduced water permeability, it has been often required to enhance the grouts with a liquid polymer admixture.
Products classified as CG2 are improved cementitious grouts, typically highly polymer-modified, and are available in both standard and wide-joint options.
Some also meet the requirement with additional physical characteristics such as reduced water absorption (W) and higher abrasion resistance (A).
The pressures of modern day building projects have led to a demand for fast-setting grouts, which are able to bear traffic within a few hours of application and be versatile enough for use with differing joint widths on both walls and floors.
After years of research into cementitious grouts, carried out in collaboration with installers, BAL finally found a solution to this need with the development of BAL Micromax2.
Extremely versatile, its formulation means it can be used for both walls and floor, where previously two different formulations or grout were often needed.
Its superfine formulation, giving a finish of striking smoothness, enables use with gaps as narrow as 1mm.
However, the formulation also allows grouting of gaps as wide as 20mm, with no slumping, shrinking and cracking. Some wall grouts may shrink and crack if used in between joints of, for example, 5mm wide or more.
As for tile types and substrates, BAL Micromax2 suits any type of tile, including porcelain and natural stone, on most types of background.
It is ideal for dry and wet areas, indoors and outside, and can even be used with underfloor heating systems.
BAL Micromax2 is available in 10 striking shades to suit any installation including White, Manila, Gunmetal, Pebble, Ebony, Smoke, Chocolate, Cocoa, Jasmine, Anthracite and NEW Snow which are all available with colour-matched sealants.
BAL Micromax2 has also been developed with an efflorescence-free formulation that means that when mixed and applied correctly no shading or patchiness across large areas will occur. In addition, the incorporated Microban® anti-mould protection inhibits the growth of black mould.
Where specifiers and installers are looking for a chemical or hygienic grout a reaction resin-based grout such as BAL Easypoxy AG would be recommend as it is impervious to water, can be easily cleaned and is resistant to a range of acids (including food acids), alkalis and solvents.
At BAL our Technical Advisory Service is fully equipped to provide support to contractors, architects and tilers – including NBS M40/M10/M20 specification assistance, on-site consultancy and expert technical advice on any tiling project.
Contact BAL Technical Advisory Service on 0845 600 1 222 or our Innovation and Technology Centre for training enquiries on 01782 591120.