Tile/Stone/Grout Care and Maintenance Problem Solver #2: What is the purpose of a Grout Release?


Nick Valenti

 October 7, 2016. 3:39 PM

What is a Grout Release?
Grout releases are removable, water soluble, pre-grout surface treatments that are applied to difficult to grout floor and wall tiles before grouting to help protect against potential staining and cleaning issues caused by sticking grout during the grouting process. Grout releases help release grout from the surface of the tile during the cleanup stage and are effective for use with cement based grouts, ready to use grouts and epoxy grouts. Grout releases can be used on ceramic, porcelain and porous, natural stone tiles.  Most grout release products available in today’s marketplace are surfactant technology that work by changing the surface tension, allowing for removal of grout during cleanup.  MAPEI Ultracare Grout Release forms an actual film that acts as a barrier on the surface of the tile, preventing the grout from adhering to the tile surface.  Instead, the grout sticks to the film and is rinsed away during the water rinsing process.

When should a Grout Release be used?
Tile manufacturing techniques today can produce tiles that look and feel like a natural stone or wood product. Heavy and dramatic textures add another level of frustration to the installer, as grout can adhere and embedded into the texture and ridges of the tile, making cleanup difficult. The following examples are typical scenarios when a grout release would be beneficial:
-Tiles with a textured surface
-When a dark colored grout is used with a light colored tile
-Crackled finished tiles-Porous natural stone tiles
-Anti-slip or abrasive tiles with heavy surface texture or a high Coefficient of Friction
-Recommended by the tile manufacturer

Don’t sealers act as a Grout Release?
Simply put, yes.  All sealers act as a grout release, as this is one of their main functions.  It is typical to seal a porous stone, prior to grouting, to eliminate staining caused by the absorption and penetration of grout and pigments during the grouting and cleanup process. The purpose of a 'sealer' is to offer long-term protection after the grout cleanup process has been completed.

Why use a grout release and not a sealer?
Although sealers can minimize the absorption of the slurry that is produced during the grouting and cleaning process, sealers can be virtually ineffective when grouting a heavily textured tile. Grout can attach to a textured tile easier than a smooth tile, even if the tile is sealed. Grout releases typically leave a temporary coating on the surface of the tile that is effectively rinsed away with water during the cleaning process.

How to apply a grout release
Make sure surface is clean and dry. Use a lamb’s wool applicator, short nap roller or sponge and apply a uniform and even coat to a manageable area, approximately 15-20 sf.  Avoid excessive runoff into the grout joints.

Allow the product to dry to the touch, approximately 30 minutes, before attempting to grout.  This will permit the 'grout release' to form a barrier on the surface of the tile.

The cleanup should begin after the grout has reached the manufacturer’s initial set time. Consult with grout manufacturer for set times.  Begin scrubbing the area using clean water (change water in bucket frequently) using a white, non-woven scrub pad. Wipe area using a clean, damp sponge and rinsing with clean water.  Always follow product label instructions for proper use.

Since there are so many tiles available from around the world with varying degrees of texture and surface porosity, keeping a ‘grout release’ handy, can be the difference between a job well done and a cleaning nightmare.
Like any investment, it takes time and effort to ensure that your tile, stone or grout looks like the day it was installed.  Stay tuned for Problem Solver #3…. 


Nick Valenti

Nick Valenti

Nick joined MAPEI in 2012 as the technical expert for the UltraCare line. He has more than 25 years of experience in the sealers and cleaners product line. While his experience includes an in-depth knowledge of products, Nick also understands the major issues and problems that can arise with the surfaces to be protected and has solutions for these challenges. In charge of training MAPEI’s Sales and Technical Service teams, Nick is even more importantly the in-the-field resource for MAPEI’s customers and end users.


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