Counter grout cracks found during home inspectionUsing ceramic or stone tiles in a home is a great way to create an aesthetically pleasing space. Tiles can provide a durable water resistant barrier on floors, walls, and in shower or bath enclosures. With so many color and textured options, tiles surfaces can allow a home to be unique and beautiful.

Grout is a material made from sand, water and cement, and is installed between tiles where tiles meet other surfaces. Grout helps to fill gaps and create a water resistant seal. It is common to find cracked grout at locations where the tiled surfaces meet other surfaces, such as at floors or countertops. Grout is not an elastic material, and will not stretch when building materials expand and contract, or when building structures settle. Therefore, when movement occurs grout can crack.

Since grout cracks are very common, building material manufactures have created elastic sealants than can match the surrounding grout, and actually look almost identical to a grout surface. Many of these sealants have sand added to them to match the sometimes coarse surface texture of grout, so when the sealant is installed, there is hardly a noticeable difference between the grout and sealant.

Grout cracks in showers found during home inspections.Most building professionals agree that using sealant that mimics grout at high stress areas, or in areas where cracking is likely to happen is the best way to avoid or repair grout cracks. Although you can replace cracked grout with newer grout, some areas will continue to crack. These joints are referred to as “maintenance joints” and require regular repair unless an elastic sealant is used in place of the grout. Some builders or contractors will use sealant at high stress areas during the initial install, whereas others use grout to save money. In some cases, re-application of grout can resolve any further cracking, but using the sealant is almost always a better option.

Cracked grout lines at countertops and floors are a common defect in newly built homes, and cracked grout repairs is one of the most common warranty claims for new construction homes. It is also common to find grout cracks inside tiled shower enclosures. These cracks when exposed to excess moisture can allow water to leak into walls and floor, and could cause substantial damage over time if not addressed. Best building practices calls for sealant to be installed at shower enclosure corners and transitions to prevent cracking and water intrusion issues.

Check out the video below on more information on how to repair grout cracks.