Decorating & Renovating

"Groutless" Tile

DH and I are looking at different flooring options to replace ~1200 sq. ft. of carpet. Our first choice would be large tiles (20x20 or 24x24) with as little grout as possible to look similar to travertine/marble flooring (we understand taht tile can't be done without any grout at all, and I really HATE grout!). Has anyone done something like this that can share their experience? I'm mostly interested in the cost compared to regular tile/grout. I'd also love to see pictures if anyone has done it or can share some inspiration pictures.

Our second choice would be a darker laminate wood, but only if it is significantly less expensive than the tile option b/c we fear that the laminate would be much more "delicate" than the tile.

Thanks for any input! 

Re: "Groutless" Tile

  • What kind of space is it?  I got darker engineered hardwood for our t.v. room (it used to be a porch, so concrete subfloor) and I like it a lot.  It has a lot of variation so it doesn't really show scratches or anything much.  I haven't found it to be delicate at all.  I would just find tile to be very cold and hard for any sort of regular living space, unless you cover it up with lots of rugs, in which case it could be anything.
    image
  • image dr.girlfriend:
    What kind of space is it?  I got darker engineered hardwood for our t.v. room (it used to be a porch, so concrete subfloor) and I like it a lot.  It has a lot of variation so it doesn't really show scratches or anything much.  I haven't found it to be delicate at all.  I would just find tile to be very cold and hard for any sort of regular living space, unless you cover it up with lots of rugs, in which case it could be anything.

    It's for our 1st floor: living, dining, and family rooms. Hardwoods are not the best option for us here is S. FL b/c of the extremely high humidity. I do plan of having a couple area rugs but DH and I really like the look of flushed tile. I guess since it's always hot down here, it never feels cold lol 

  • Ah yes I was going to ask what region you were in.  Having a tiled LR is common in your area. 

    I'm assuming you don't like grout because of the cleaning and sealing issues.  If that is the case try epoxy grout.  It is non-porous and therefore stain resistant.  It commonly used commercially in high traffic entries so it should be able to handle anything you can throw at it.  It does cost a lot more than traditional cemetious grout and it takes longer to install because it has a quick curing time so it typically is installed in small batches.  But you shouldn't use it with natural stone.  Which isn't a big deal because you can find lots of nice looking porcelain tiles that looks like travertine.  You don't want natural stone anyway because it's much higher maintance than porcelain or ceramic.  You have to seal natural stone every 6 months to help prevent it from staining or discoloring.  

    I love large format tiles too but you need to confirm that your floor does not deflect too much to handle them.  Large tiles can easily crack with even the smallest flex.  And natural stone needs an even stronger/less flexible floor because it's not as strong as man-made products.  A good tile guy should be able to tell you if your floor is sturdy enough.  You may need to add structure like sisters to the floor joists.  If you are slab on grade just ignore this whole paragraph.

  • image FoxinFiji:

    Ah yes I was going to ask what region you were in.  Having a tiled LR is common in your area. 

    I'm assuming you don't like grout because of the cleaning and sealing issues.  If that is the case try epoxy grout.  It is non-porous and therefore stain resistant.  It commonly used commercially in high traffic entries so it should be able to handle anything you can throw at it.  It does cost a lot more than traditional cemetious grout and it takes longer to install because it has a quick curing time so it typically is installed in small batches.  But you shouldn't use it with natural stone.  Which isn't a big deal because you can find lots of nice looking porcelain tiles that looks like travertine.  You don't want natural stone anyway because it's much higher maintance than porcelain or ceramic.  You have to seal natural stone every 6 months to help prevent it from staining or discoloring.  

    I love large format tiles too but you need to confirm that your floor does not deflect too much to handle them.  Large tiles can easily crack with even the smallest flex.  And natural stone needs an even stronger/less flexible floor because it's not as strong as man-made products.  A good tile guy should be able to tell you if your floor is sturdy enough.  You may need to add structure like sisters to the floor joists.  If you are slab on grade just ignore this whole paragraph.

    Thanks for your insight! I actually don't like grout mainly b/c I just don't like the way it looks. And yes, cleaning is also an issue. I think the large porcelain tiles are the direction we are looking to go in. I will look into the epoxy grout as well but we are trying to keeps costs as low as possible. 

  • image vmjp:

    Thanks for your insight! I actually don't like grout mainly b/c I just don't like the way it looks. And yes, cleaning is also an issue. I think the large porcelain tiles are the direction we are looking to go in. I will look into the epoxy grout as well but we are trying to keeps costs as low as possible. 

    LOL I need to learn to ask more questions before I go into a big speal because my assumptions aren't always right.  

    Well with that in mind I would make sure to get a higher quality porcelain tile and make sure it's rectified with square edges or a micro bevel edge.  Rectified means the tile is rough cut, fired, and then re-cut which makes the edges much straighter...allowing you to have thinner grout lines.  When you start looking at tiles the manufacturer will suggest a grout thickness to use so you'll want to pick tiles accordingly. 

    A square or micro-bevel edge will make the grout lines appear smaller than they really are.  A tile with a big bevel or curved edge will fill up with grout and look bigger compared to a square edged tile even if the same spacer size was used.  

    Higher quality porcelain has tighter tolerance ranges on how square each tile must be.  Remember rectified means the edges are straight but this means the corners are close or exactly 90 degress.

    Porcelain tile will be much cheaper than natural stone so that is a good direction to go.  

    I would look into Crossville tile.  They are a high quality tile, made in the USA, and yet readily available at any tile store.  They are used a lot commercially so they have very durable finishes and tighter tolerance range.  They also have a lot of great fake stone options. We're using their Color Blox series for our master bathroom floor tile.  That series also has an XL line which is extra large but the bigger the tile the more they cost per sf (that applies to all manufacturers).  The best price I found for the sandbox 18x18 (non XL) Color Blox tile (each color costs a different price) was $4.81/sf to give you an idea. 

  • image FoxinFiji:
    image vmjp:

    Thanks for your insight! I actually don't like grout mainly b/c I just don't like the way it looks. And yes, cleaning is also an issue. I think the large porcelain tiles are the direction we are looking to go in. I will look into the epoxy grout as well but we are trying to keeps costs as low as possible. 

    LOL I need to learn to ask more questions before I go into a big speal because my assumptions aren't always right.  

    Well with that in mind I would make sure to get a higher quality porcelain tile and make sure it's rectified with square edges or a micro bevel edge.  Rectified means the tile is rough cut, fired, and then re-cut which makes the edges much straighter...allowing you to have thinner grout lines.  When you start looking at tiles the manufacturer will suggest a grout thickness to use so you'll want to pick tiles accordingly. 

    A square or micro-bevel edge will make the grout lines appear smaller than they really are.  A tile with a big bevel or curved edge will fill up with grout and look bigger compared to a square edged tile even if the same spacer size was used.  

    Higher quality porcelain has tighter tolerance ranges on how square each tile must be.  Remember rectified means the edges are straight but this means the corners are close or exactly 90 degress.

    Porcelain tile will be much cheaper than natural stone so that is a good direction to go.  

    I would look into Crossville tile.  They are a high quality tile, made in the USA, and yet readily available at any tile store.  They are used a lot commercially so they have very durable finishes and tighter tolerance range.  They also have a lot of great fake stone options. We're using their Color Blox series for our master bathroom floor tile.  That series also has an XL line which is extra large but the bigger the tile the more they cost per sf (that applies to all manufacturers).  The best price I found for the sandbox 18x18 (non XL) Color Blox tile (each color costs a different price) was $4.81/sf to give you an idea. 

    Thanks so much!! This was very helpful :) 

  • Im a lurker here, but am in the tile business. For the least amount of grout as possible, look for a large format (as you've mentioned) "rectified tile". That means that the tile has a sharp edge (as opposed to a cushion edge) and will allow for the smallest joint possible (1/16th of an inch). Using a grout color to match the color of the tile will give you the seamless look you are going for.. it practically disappears.
  • image sserra85:
    Im a lurker here, but am in the tile business. For the least amount of grout as possible, look for a large format (as you've mentioned) "rectified tile". That means that the tile has a sharp edge (as opposed to a cushion edge) and will allow for the smallest joint possible (1/16th of an inch). Using a grout color to match the color of the tile will give you the seamless look you are going for.. it practically disappears.

    Great! Thanks so much!! 

  • image sserra85:
    Im a lurker here, but am in the tile business. For the least amount of grout as possible, look for a large format (as you've mentioned) "rectified tile". That means that the tile has a sharp edge (as opposed to a cushion edge) and will allow for the smallest joint possible (1/16th of an inch). Using a grout color to match the color of the tile will give you the seamless look you are going for.. it practically disappears.

    Any idea about how much more it would cost to install tile like this vs. standard tiling? 

  • image vmjp:

    image sserra85:
    Im a lurker here, but am in the tile business. For the least amount of grout as possible, look for a large format (as you've mentioned) "rectified tile". That means that the tile has a sharp edge (as opposed to a cushion edge) and will allow for the smallest joint possible (1/16th of an inch). Using a grout color to match the color of the tile will give you the seamless look you are going for.. it practically disappears.

    Any idea about how much more it would cost to install tile like this vs. standard tiling? 

    We just had porcelain tile that looks like wood floor laid in our bathroom and it cost more because of the 1/16th spacing.  It took longer to lay=more labor costs.  The bathroom isn't huge, but it took 2 full days to lay the tile, where we were originally planning for 1 day assuming we went with standard tile.

  • It depends a bit on your location and the experience of the installers. In more urban zones large format rectified tiles are becoming the norm and therefore there isnt that much of an upcharge. But for the most part installers are not as experienced with these tiles and because of that they will charge more. In NJ istallation can be anywhere from 3-10 dollars per sf with the average being about 5. Always ask to see a job (not just pictures) similar to what your're looking for. Installation mistakes with rectified tile are very noticable. And as with everything you often get what you pay for.
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