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Old 02-19-2014, 02:42 PM   #1
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Are tight grout lines okay with radiant heat under tile?


I have installed electric radiant heat wires under 1/4" of self-leveling cement.

I'm having 13"x13" tile installed over that (can't remember if it's ceramic or porcelain but its one of those)

The installers said that a lot of people nowadays are doing 1/8" grout lines instead of 3/16" lines for a "classier, tighter look."

I've asked him to use a latex/acrylic/epoxy-based grout according to the radiant heat wire install instructions - he said he'd use an acrylic interior/exterior grout. He'll be using a latex or acrylic thin-set as well for laying the tile.

My question to the group:

Is there a greater danger of grout cracking or separation with tighter grout lines with the radiant heat under the floor? Should I stick with 3/16" or would 1/8" be just fine?

Thanks!
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Old 02-19-2014, 07:03 PM   #2
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I don't think I know what a 'latex/acrylic/epoxy-based grout' is. Is that what the tile warming company says? Grout is cementitious, epoxy and there's a bunch of newer pre-mixed grouts that are urethane based.

He's using the regular cementitious based grout that is fortified with latex/acrylic. If you want something else, be prepared to pay more for labor and for the grout.

If the tiles are high quality, you can easily go 1/8". Otherwise 3/16 or wider might be best. Measure some first by standing 3 tiles vertically turned in opposite directions, then flat next to each other.

The slight increase in temp should have no affect on the tiles as long as everything was done right.

What type of substrate do you have? Sounds like concrete, but you didn't say. How large an area? Direct sun light on the floor? Wet area?

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Old 02-19-2014, 11:38 PM   #3
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Thanks for your help.

I should have been more clear that the recommendation is that the grout was latex/acrylic/epoxy fortified - that was in the tile warming company literature.

The tile installer said that if the tile profiles were flat enough and consistent enough that 1/8" would look nice. If they aren't, I'll go 3/16" anyway but mostly I was concerned with the expansion/contraction of heating cycles on narrow grout lines since there is less grout to absorb expansion/contraction. Or it might not matter at all and the grout doesn't really absorb the expansion/contraction cycles any more than the tile itself.

The room is a full bath in my basement, tiled area will be 6' x 8' (48 sq ft). Using 13x13 Capistrano Classico porcelain tile by Anatolia Tile & Stone. No windows.

Concrete slab in my basement is at 53-58 degrees year round, and that's the temp at which I laid the SLC and the tile. When I energize the radiant heat wire, I plan to keep the floor between 65 and 80 degrees F. Thermostat uses 15 minute heating cycles.

The substrate is 4" slab concrete floor in my basement. Under one side is the footing which is much thicker than 4" and extends about 1 foot into the room. The concrete was smooth with 12 year old sealant that I spent some time sanding to roughen up. Then I laid my radiant heat mats, hot glued them down, and poured 1/4" of RapidQuik RS SLC over them. I've checked around the floor with the butt of a screwdriver and it doesn't sound hollow anywhere so I think that's good.

If the tiles have quality straight edges and sufficiently flat profile it sounds from what you've said the 1/8" would likely be fine.

Of course I know all advice here is just advice - no warranty!
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