Choosing the right patio grouting for your exterior paving or the tiles in your bathroom and kitchen can be confusing. We talk you through the different products available and what you need to consider to make the right choice.
When it comes to pointing a patio, or tiling an indoor room, seemingly tiny elements make all the difference. Details that a layman might dismiss as of minor importance are, as every good designer knows, the key to good design.
Pointing is a case in—er—point. If you ever look at a design and feel a niggling irritation, it might well be that the wrong choice of patio grouting is distracting the eye.
The team at London Stone have spent considerable time researching and testing all the available pointing products on the market, of which there are many. We now supply a range of market-leading pointing products, each aimed at a specific look and/or application.
With so much choice, though, we know it can be confusing, and so we have taken time to write this extensive blog, detailing all of the different pointing and grouting solutions that we supply. At the bottom you'll find a comparison table detailing differences.
First, to help you navigate the information, we have…
Questions to ask yourself when choosing patio grouting
The following questions should help you to choose the pointing material for your project.
1. Are you pointing natural stone or porcelain?
If porcelain, it’s best practice to use a non-permeable pointing material. This is because there is a slim chance of porcelain paving—which has very low porosity—popping from the mortar bed. This is caused by moisture migrating between the paving and the mortar bed and then freezing and expanding in the winter. This process is called freeze/thaw. One way to avoid this is to use a non-permeable pointing material.
For the same reason, non-permeable pointing is a good choice for very dense stones such as Jura Limestone or Travertine.
Non-permeable pointing includes Norcros Grouts, Flowpoint, Larsen Gun Pointing Mortar, Fugabella and Fuga Pave.
2. Is it for interior or external use?
This is really another way of asking whether you want permeable or impermeable pointing. While non-permeable pointing is the best choice for porcelain, it’s also the number one choice for indoor areas—where you definitely don’t want water to penetrate into the substrate.
Outside, permeable pointing assists drainage. GftK and EASYjoint are permeable.
3. Do you want an exact match, a contrast, or a colour that blends with your paving?
The choice of colours varies from range to range, so if an exact match is desired, it’s worth browsing all the options. For an extremely wide range of colours, Fugabella offers fifty different shades. If necessary, it’s also possible to mix colours from within the same range to create an exact match for your choice of tile or paving.
In our experience, when clients are looking to achieve a modern, uniform look, they often opt for a jointing material that is as close as possible to the paving colour. It’s obviously down to personal taste, but we don’t see clients going for contrasting colours very often these days. If in doubt, you can’t go wrong with grey.
4. Smooth or slightly grainy finish?
This is a matter of personal preference. In our experience, because porcelain and sawn natural stone have a smooth finish, these materials look so much better when a smooth jointing compound is used. Riven stones are much less uniform, though, and in many ways a lot more forgiving. For riven stones, the grainy surface texture of a GftK or EASYjoint doesn’t look out of place at all.
5. Will you be using a jetwash?
Misused, a jetwash can apply a great amount of pressure to pointing—pressure that quickly wears it away and will break it up. Used properly, jetwashing will still, over time, take its toll on most pointing. However, when installed correctly, the majority of pointing products should last a number of years.
The exception to this is GftK. This features a 2-part epoxy resin that offers a completely bomb-proof finish. This product can be jetwashed regularly and is one of the main reasons that it's commonly used on commercial paving schemes.
6. What application method do you prefer?
Time was, when the only option for pointing was to get down on hands and knees and trowel it in. Nowadays, there’s a wide choice of sweep-in mortars, applied with gallons of water and a rubber squeegee, from a standing position. We can’t over-state what a game-changer these sweep-in products have been for the well-being of paving contractors. Spending all day on your knees can be crippling over a long period of time. Thank goodness pavers are not forced to do this anymore.
Trowelling is very hard work. Some people still prefer to do this, but usually for smaller jobs. Brush-in options tend to cost a little more, but save time in the speed of application.
While everyone has their own preference, and we carry different options to reflect that, we would recommend brush-in every time. Your body will thank you for it.
7. Have you access to copious amounts of water?
For sweep-in resin compounds, such as GftK, to avoid staining the paving you must saturate the area before and throughout the whole installation process. Don’t worry about oversoaking the paving, it’s impossible to use too much water. So, if the paving area is unreachable with a hose, choose a different pointing option.
8. How experienced are you?
Some of the pointing options, such as Flowpoint, have to be applied very quickly and deftly before they start to “cure”, or set. Grouts with a longer working time are more forgiving to the amateur and less experienced contractor.
Don’t forget that a bad job on the pointing makes a bad job of the entire project, so only use jointing materials that you are comfortable with. London Stone provide full training in the use of all our pointing products. If you, or a member of your team, would be interested in having pointing training, speak to a member of our team.
Patio grouting recommended for external paving
Norcross Flexible Wide Joint Tile Grout
Value-for-money, with a good range of colours to choose from, Norcros Flexible Wide Joint Tile Grout is our recommendation for pointing outdoor porcelain, and the one we provide free with our porcelain paving. Cement-based and impermeable, it’s versatile enough for use in joints from a narrow 2mm up to 20mm.
Application is with a rubber float and, once mixed, it has a good pot life of 2 hours, which makes application less stressful. It may be used internally but for interior tiling projects we always recommend its sister product, Norcros Tile Grout, for its ability to create finer joints.
Flowpoint Rapid Setting Grout
Flowpoint Rapid-Set Grout is, like Norcros, a cement-based, non-permeable sweep-in grout. However, unusually for sweep-in pointing, it has a finer-grained finish. Its other advantage, although this can be a hindrance too, is that it sets rapidly.
Flowpoint can take foot-traffic after an hour, and vehicle traffic after just four hours. It's suitable for joints from 5mm to a very wide 50mm and up to 200mm deep.
Applied with a rubber float, it’s not recommended for the amateur. It needs to be used quickly and moved constantly over the surface of the paving to ensure joints are fully topped up before it begins to harden, as the initial set occurs after 15 minutes at 20 C.
More expensive than Norcros, it can prove cost-effective with its exceptional bond strength and is suitable for large-scale commercial schemes as well as domestic situations.
You might like to watch this comprehensive video on using Flowpoint.
GftK Joint Mortars
GftK, a two-part epoxy resin-based, brush-in pointing, offers an altogether more traditional look with a slightly grainy appearance that’s ideal for riven sandstone and slate, tumbled sandstone, and stone that offers a more rustic feel. It is possible to achieve a smoother finish by trowelling it in, but this negates its sweep-in advantages! It’s also permeable.
Available in three colours to blend with natural stone colours, it can nevertheless be used with any stone, and might surprise you with its versatility. Our Sales Director, Chris Durnford, said, “Not all people like the slightly grainy aspect, but I saw it in combination with sawn Yorkstone recently and it looks really good.”
Added advantages are that it works well with wider joints and can be used in virtually all weathers—quite handy for the UK. The area worked must be kept wet—the wetter, the better, say the folks at GftK.
For more information see The Advantages of GftK Joint Mortars.
Larsen Gun Pointing Mortar
For sawn paving, Larsen Gun Pointing Mortar, supplied in four colours, offers a very smooth finish that acts as an ideal foil to defined edges. Its gun application, where you squeeze the grout into the joints, is preferred by some for the control it gives in applying the pointing. It requires a bit more time but gives a very precise edge.
Beware of picture framing with this product. This occurs when the thirsty stone sucks moisture out of the pointing, causing a picture-framing effect around the edge of the stone. The best way to avoid this is by soaking the stone first. Soaking ensures that the pores of the stone are already full of water and so cannot absorb any additional moisture from the Larsen.
Fugabella Outdoor Grout
Fugabella Outdoor Grout has a very fine-grained finish that works well with porcelain tiles and paving and DesignClad, as well as dense, smooth natural stone like sawn limestone and Brazilian slate.
Technically advanced, it offers a superior depth of colour and is very easy to clean off, which reduces the chance of grout haze. We supply Fugabella in the four colours that we feel are most suitable to our porcelain paving range. However, there are up to 50 colours available, so designers and contractors can be very creative with this product.
It can also be used for internal tiles, but may create difficulties because its lengthy curing time means that floors cannot be walked on 24 hours.
Very similar to Fugabella, with a very fine-grained finish, easy to apply and clean off, Fuga-Pave Flex CH is available in slightly different colours.
EasyJoint Patio Pointing Mortar
EASYJoint is a long-established and popular sweep-in resin product suitable for natural stone. Because it’s a one-part epoxy-resin compound, it’s much cheaper than GftK; it's also more user-friendly, as it doesn’t require mechanical mixing. This make it a popular product for DIY use.
However, there are a couple of considerations. The site it’s intended for must be free-draining and the bedding material permeable. This is to ensure water drains away as, if water remains in the joint, it will cause it to deteriorate quickly.
You should also consider where you want to use it. As a 1-part pointing product, it doesn’t have the same durability as 2-part epoxy-resin products. It depends on usage, but it may need attention after two or three years—and extra care should be taken when jetwashing. We would recommend EASYjoint as a very good, budget-conscious choice for small DIY projects and low-use areas that won’t demand a lot of cleaning.
When installing, it’s impossible to use too much water, and easier if you have someone to help. See this installation video for more information.
Grout recommended for Internal Tiling
Norcross Tile Grout
For exact colour matches, the Norcros Tile Grout is your first port of call, with colours chosen to match our Porcelain range.
Cement-based and flexible, Norcros is a particularly good choice where a fine-textured joint is desired. It also allows for joints from 12mm down to an exceptionally tight 1mm, giving the option of the very fine lines which can enhance a modern Porcelain layout. It has anti-bacterial properties which are useful for bathroom and kitchen installations. We choose it for its flexural strength, making it suitable for areas such as heated floors and plywood overlaid timber floors, where limited movement and vibration can often occur.
Cost-effective and available in small bags, this product is available free of charge with all orders of our internal tiles. It can be used externally, but, given its need for fast application, we feel other products are a better choice for outdoor paving.
Ask us for samples
If you’d like to see more, our London Stone Welcome Pack includes samples of all Pointing Products, alongside all our Natural Stone, Porcelain and Millboard. We send it out to everyone who signs up to our Landscape Specialist Scheme—so click through to sign up!
Meanwhile, if you have any questions about any of our patio grouting—or any other—products, we’re more than happy to talk them through with you. Just pick up the phone, drop into one of our showrooms, or send us an email.