For many home users, unsanded and furan grout was the sealant of choice for things such as bathroom floors and walls. Thanks to its low price and chemical resistance, they made a solid and relatively safe material choice.
But the problem is it’s not that resistant and shrinks too much. So instead, many people have swapped over to using epoxy grout which is much more durable and won’t shrink.
But unfortunately, epoxy grout does have its share of drawbacks that you should be aware of if you’re thinking of using this stuff in your bathroom or kitchen.
So in this article, we’ll cover all the main problems that can occur from using epoxy resin and discuss whether we think it’s worth it.
The most common problems with epoxy grout
Epoxy grout is essentially just the same epoxy resin you all know and love, but it’s combined with a different filler powder to make it stain-proof, crack-proof, and shrink-proof.
It’s also super easy to clean and doesn’t require any additional sealing after application. So you’ll see it used everywhere, from bathrooms to commercial applications such as restaurants, thanks to its extra resistance.
But there are also numerous downsides to using epoxy grout, ranging from its challenging application, additional expense over others, alternative grout types, and potential to discolor (depending on what brand you buy).
So let’s go through all the problems in detail so you can decide whether this kind of grout is right for you.
1. Difficult application
You might think that if epoxy grout has all these benefits and is so resilient, why bother using conventional grout types? Well, one of the main reasons why epoxy grout is often avoided is due to how difficult it is to apply to the grout lines.
It has what you would consider being a high barrier to entry compared to other grout products. For the home user, it can often make it unappealing, as they don’t have the experience to do a good job when working with epoxy grout.
And the risk here is not just that it might look a bit ugly; if the gaps are not adequately sealed it will let in moisture, sag, or even flake off as it can move between the tiles.
The main reason it’s so difficult to apply to grout joints is its high viscosity, which can make it challenging to fill tight spaces and smooth out, so it looks nice. It dries much faster than conventional grout types meaning you’re also on the clock as you apply it. Few people want to work under that additional pressure.
You can do a few things to make your life a little easier should you choose epoxy grout for your application.
One of the best things you can do here is only to activate it in small chunks and tackle small areas at a time, this will make the total job time longer as you will constantly need to be reactivating small portions of the epoxy grout, but it’s a small price to pay for a good finished job.
You can also find a partner to work with, as cleaning up is vital when using epoxy grout due to its fast drying time. Having one person applying the tile grout while a second person follows behind on cleanup duty means you’re going to be ahead of the working time curve.
But don’t let this put you off too much. You can still do an excellent job with epoxy tile grout; you just need to be aware of its shorter working time.
2. It’s expensive!
Another major drawback to epoxy grout is that it’s so much more expensive than other grout products.
For large format industrial applications, it’s not such a big problem. But when you are trying to budget a kitchen, shower floor, or bathroom remodel with stricter finances, that higher price tag might make it quite unappealing.
One of the significant deciding factors here will be what size room you need to grout and if you just need to do a floor or the entire walls too.
So how expensive is it? Of course, it varies from brand to brand, but a general rule of thumb is that epoxy grout will be about four times more expensive than regular cement grout.
Now, if you are not going to be installing the grout yourself but instead have a professional come and do it for you, it’s worth remembering that the working/labor time for installing epoxy grout can often be higher than usual due to the problematic installing and high demand of clean up.
So you may need to factor in additional labor costs too!
3. Risk of discoloration
As resilient as epoxy grout is, one of the problems you as a user might face is that any stains or spillages on the grout should be cleaned off as soon as possible, or it runs the risk of discoloration.
Particularly prevalent on white epoxy grout as stains or discoloration shows up exceptionally quickly. But pretty much anywhere you install this grout runs the risk of discoloration.
For example, suppose you install this on the bathroom shower floor. In that case, many chemicals that you might find in various soaps, shampoos, nail polish removers, and even things like hair dyes can all contribute to grout discoloration.
It’s especially troublesome to think about cleaning it constantly while you’re in the middle of another task.
And again, for kitchen applications, many harsher cleaners or dirty water will, over time, contribute to discoloration.
Now, this isn’t to be misinterpreted as a lack of chemical resistance. Epoxy resin is one of the most resistant grouts to any chemical. But even though functionally it’s resistant, the aesthetics and visual look end up suffering.
But all is not lost! There are quite a few methods people like to use to keep their epoxy grout clean, providing you’re willing to put some time into their maintenance.
You can purchase a vinegar grout cleaner specifically designed for the task, or things like clean or even steam cleaning can work well to restore the color of the grout to normal.
One final thing to mention is that in response to this common criticism of epoxy grout discoloring, some manufacturers have developed new formulas more resistant to things like sagging and discoloring. So, research the brand you are considering thoroughly and check user feedback to see how it holds up!
4. Uneven ‘pinhole’ texture once dry
Usually, when people work with epoxy in an application where bubbles are not acceptable, you have to remove the air using a vacuum chamber, which uses negative air pressure to suck all the air from the epoxy essentially.
However, most home users will not have access to a piece of specialized equipment like this. As such, the natural process of preparing, mixing the two substances, and applying the epoxy grout means there will be bubbles in the mixture.
They may not be too visible at first, but as the grout settles, some bubbles may rise to the top and harden.
While there are some methods people suggest to counter this, such as popping the bubbles using a lighter, it’s an uphill battle, and there’s no chance you can remove them all.
This is not something that will affect the actual functionality of the grout, but if the aesthetic is important to you, this is something to keep in mind.
5. Not ideal for porous tiles
For those traditional smooth white tiles we commonly use in bathrooms and kitchens, epoxy grout works just fine because it’s easy enough to wipe the excess off and keep clean as you apply it.
However, many people like to use textured or porous tiles (like natural stone). While these look great, the epoxy resin can easily fall into the tiles’ cracks, crevices, and pores and harden. And once it’s dried in there, it’s not coming out again!
Keeping those tiles clean can be extremely challenging as the high viscosity of the epoxy grout can often mean you need to be quite aggressive with your application, repeatedly smearing it around the line to ensure it’s adequately filled in.
So if you plan on using a porous or textured tile, it might be worth considering something else that has a more straightforward application.
6. Specific mixing instructions
While we’re not saying that following the instructions to mix the two epoxy parts will be too difficult for anyone, it presents an additional step and potential for accidental error.
Anyone who’s used an epoxy-based product before probably already knows that you need to correct those ratios, or the viscosity and strength of the finished product will be compromised.
Compared to other grout types, such as acrylic grout or traditional grout that you can grab out of the container and apply instantly, epoxy grout takes considerably more work and effort.
Also, as epoxy grout already has a pretty narrow working window anyway, if you find yourself in a situation where you haven’t mixed quite enough and need to prepare some more in a pinch, it can present a real problem.
So you will need to plan ahead of time and make sure you’re mixing enough so that you won’t need to remix a second batch immediately, but also not integrating so much to where you run out of working time and end up having to discard some.
Epoxy grout problems: Are they a deal-breaker?
So after listing all these problems and troubles that come with using epoxy grout, we’ve presented a fairly compelling case of why you may not want to consider using it. After all, most other grout types, such as premixed grout, are easier to apply and work with.
But the benefits of epoxy grout cannot be denied; it’s incredibly durable, chemical resistant, and, if applied well, will last a very long time.
In this case, we think the benefits of using epoxy grout outweigh its complex application and must be cleaned to prevent discoloration. You just can’t beat its longevity and durability.
Just be sure to plan ahead and perhaps even test a little out before applying to the entire room.