Difference Between Grout And Mortar

Knowledgebase

Last Updated on January 27, 2023 by mdmtool

Mortar and grout are both used for construction purposes, but they are two distinct materials with different properties and uses. Mortar is a mixture of cement, water, sand, and other additives that makes it sticky and ideal for bonding masonry units together. Grout is a type of mortar that has a higher water content, making it thinner and more fluid than traditional mortar.

The main difference between mortar and grout lies in their composition and purpose. Mortar is primarily used for laying and binding masonry units, such as blocks and bricks. It also bonds concrete and stone together, making it a great choice for laying patios or repairing existing concrete structures. Grout, on the other hand, is mainly used to fill in the spaces between tiles or stones. It is designed to seal joints and provide waterproofing and extra stability for a structure.

Mortar Vs. Grout

What Are Mortar And Grout?

  • Mortar: Mortar is a mixture of cement, water, sand, and additives that are used to bind masonry units together. It is ideal for laying and bonding blocks, bricks, and stones.
  • Grout: Grout is a type of mortar with higher water content, so it’s thinner than traditional mortar. It is mainly used to fill in the spaces between tiles or stones and to seal joints, providing waterproofing and extra stability for a structure.

When Should You Use It?

  • Mortar should be used when laying and bonding masonry units, such as blocks, bricks, and stone. It is also great for repairing existing concrete structures.
  • Grout should be used when you need to fill in the spaces between tiles or stones, as well as seal joints. It is also useful for providing extra stability and waterproofing to a structure.

Types

Grout;

  1. Epoxy grout: An advanced type of grout made with two-part epoxy resin and a filler, such as sand or quartz. It is much stronger than other types of grout and provides greater protection against moisture and chemicals.
  2. Sanded grout: A coarse-grained mixture of Portland cement, sand, and water that is ideal for filling in large gaps between tiles or stones.
  3. Unsanded Grout: A finer-grained mixture of Portland cement, water, and other additives that are used for narrow joints. It does not contain sand and is less likely to crack or shrink over time than sanded grout.
  4. Quarry TypeGrout: A cement-based mixture of Portland cement, sand, and water that is ideal for heavy-duty applications. It is highly resistant to abrasion, stains, and moisture, making it an excellent choice for wet areas such as bathrooms and showers.

Mortar:

  1. Thinset Mortar: A blend of Portland cement, sand, and other additives that are used to adhere to masonry materials such as tile or brick.
  2. Type-S Mortar: A blend of Portland cement, lime, and sand that is used for setting stone and brick walls.
  3. Masonry Mortar: A mix of Portland cement, masonry sand, and water that can be used for laying brick, block or stone.
  4. Type N Mortar:  A blend of Portland cement, lime, and sand that is used for interior and exterior applications such as walls, fireplaces, foundations, and patios.
  5. Type O Mortar: A blend of Portland cement, sand, and water that can be used for interior masonry projects, such as a fireplace or chimney.
  6. Type M Mortar: A blend of Portland cement, lime, and sand that is used for laying bricks on walls or columns. It has a higher compressive strength than other types of mortar.
  7. Type K Mortar: A blend of Portland cement, lime, and sand that is used for laying brick walls and columns. It has a higher compressive strength than other types of mortar.

Can You Use Grout And Mortar Interchangeably?

No, you should not use grout and mortar interchangeably, as they have different compositions and serve different purposes. Mortar is best used for laying blocks, bricks, and stones, while grout is mainly used to fill in the spaces between tiles or stones. It is important to choose the right type of material for your project to ensure a successful build.

Benefits Of Grout:

  • Set Retarders: Grout can be used with set retarders to slow down the curing process and give the installer more time to work.
  • Water Reducers: Grout can be used with water reducers to reduce the amount of water needed for mixing and increase strength.
  • Set Accelerators: Grout can be used with set accelerators to speed up the curing process and reduce wait time.
  • Shrinkage Reducers: Grout can use a shrinkage reducer to help reduce shrinkage and keep tiles tightly together.
  • Air Entrainers: Grout can use an air entrainer to allow trapped air in the mix and limit shrinkage.
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Benefits Of Mortar:

  • Water Retention: Mortar has better water retention than grout and can be used in damp locations without worry of mildew or mold.
  • Color Stability: Mortar is less likely to fade or discolor over time, making it a great choice for outdoor applications.
  • Crack Resistance: Mortar is stronger and more crack resistant than grout, which makes it an ideal choice for long-term use.
  • Conformability: Mortar conforms to the shape of the material it’s bonding to better than grout, making it a good choice for irregular shapes and surfaces.
  • Stain Resistance: Mortar is more resistant to stains and discolorations, making it a great choice for areas with high foot traffic.

Why Do We Use It?

  • Grout: Grout is typically used to fill the gaps between tiles and provide a finished look.
  • Mortar: Mortar is usually used as an adhesive to bond tiles or masonry units to a substrate. It can also be used in thin layers to level uneven surfaces before tile installation.

Application:

Grout:

  1. Clean the area of all dust and debris.
  2. Prepare the grout according to the instructions on the package.
  3. Apply the grout with a rubber trowel, pushing it into the joints between tiles.
  4. Allow the grout to set for 10-15 minutes before wiping off any excess with a damp sponge.
  5. Allow the grout to dry for 24-48 hours before walking on it, and clean any excess off with a damp cloth.

Mortar:

  1. Clean the area of all dust and debris.
  2. Prepare the mortar according to the instructions on the package.
  3. Apply the mortar with a trowel, pushing it into the joints between masonry units.
  4. Allow the mortar to set for 24-48 hours before walking on it.
  5. Clean off any excess mortar with a wire brush as soon as possible.

Difference Between Grout And Mortar

PROPERTY Grout: Mortar:
Material: Grout is a mixture of cement and water, with or without sand. Mortar is a mixture of cement, lime, and sand.
Functionality: Grout is used for filling spaces between tiles and solidifying them in place. Mortar is used to bond masonry units such as bricks and stones together.
Appearance: Grout is usually a gray or white color and can be made in a variety of hues to match the tile. Mortar is most commonly a gray, off-white, or brownish color. It can also come in other colors to match the masonry units it is bonding.
Durability: Grout is a cement-based material, so it is not as durable as mortar and can be susceptible to cracking over time. Mortar is more durable than grout and holds up better to wear and tear.
Cost: Grout is usually less expensive than mortar and can be found in most home improvement stores. Mortar is typically more costly than grout and may need to be specially ordered from a masonry supply store.
Water-Cement Ratio: Grout typically has a higher water-cement ratio, which makes it easier to work with.  Mortar usually has a lower water-cement ratio, making it much more difficult to work with and requires more skill from the mason.
Workability Grout is relatively easy to work with and can be mixed by hand or with a cement mixer. Mortar is more difficult to work with and must be mixed by machine.
Stiffness Grout is a more flexible material that can accommodate movement in the substrate. Mortar is a stiffer material and does not provide as much flexibility.
Thickness Grout is typically used in very thin layers between tiles. Mortar is used in thicker layers, usually between one-quarter and three-quarters of an inch.
Viscosity Grout is a relatively thin material that flows easily. Mortar is thicker than grout and not as easy to spread or trowel.
Curing Time Grout usually cures in 24-48 hours, depending on the temperature and humidity of the environment. Mortar takes longer to cure and can take up to a week, depending on the temperature and humidity of the environment.
Cleanup Grout is relatively easy to clean up with water as long as it hasn’t been completely cured yet. Mortar is much more difficult to clean up and must be done with a wire brush.
Color Retention Grout is more likely to fade or discolor over time.  Mortar is much less likely to fade or discolor and will retain its hue for a longer period of time.
Porosity Grout is generally less porous than mortar and can be used to create a watertight seal. Mortar is often more porous, allowing water to penetrate and leading to problems such as mildew or mold.
Shrinkage Grout can shrink slightly when it dries, leaving gaps between tiles. Mortar does not shrink, so it is less likely to cause gaps between masonry units.
composition Grout is typically made of Portland cement, water, and sometimes sand. Mortar is usually made of Portland cement, lime, and sand.
Setting Time Grout sets quickly and can be walked on within a few hours. Mortar takes longer to set and should not be walked on until it has completely cured.
Strength Grout is not as strong as mortar and may need to be replaced more often. Mortar is stronger than grout and will last longer.
Water amounts: Grout typically requires much more water to mix than mortar. Mortar usually requires less water to mix than grout.
Flexibility Grout is a relatively flexible material that can be used in areas where movement is expected. Mortar is not as flexible and may crack if there is too much movement.
Adhesion Grout has less of an adhesive quality than mortar, so it does not bond to the substrate, well. Mortar has better adhesive quality and will generally form a stronger bond with the substrate.
Compatibility Grout is typically compatible with most tile types and can be used to fill voids between tiles. Mortar may not always be compatible with some tile types, so it should be tested first before use.
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FAQs

Can I Use Mortar Instead Of Grout?

Yes, you can use mortar instead of grout in areas where flexibility is not important and the substrate needs a strong adhesive bond. However, it is not recommended to use mortar in areas that are subject to movement or vibration.

Is Mortar Waterproof?

Mortar is not waterproof, but it does provide good water resistance when properly applied. However, it should be sealed with a water-repellent sealer for additional protection against moisture and mildew.

Is Grout Waterproof?

Yes, grout is waterproof and provides a durable seal between tiles. It should always be sealed with a water-repellent sealer for added protection against moisture and mildew.

What Happens If Mortar Gets Wet?

If mortar is allowed to get wet before it has fully cured, the strength and bond of the mortar may be compromised. Proper curing time should always be followed when working with mortar. the area should be sealed with a water-repellent sealer for added protection against moisture and mildew.

Should Mortar Be Sealed?

Yes, mortar should always be sealed with a water-repellent sealer for added protection against moisture and mildew. This will help to ensure the longevity of the surface and protect it from stains and discoloration. Sealing mortar helps to create a strong bond between the substrate and the masonry units.

Why Does My Mortar Keep Cracking?

Mortar can crack for a variety of reasons, including improper mixing, inadequate curing time, temperature fluctuations, or applying the mortar too thick. To prevent cracking, make sure to mix the mortar according to instructions and allow it to cure fully before walking on it. Additionally, you may want to reduce the thickness of your layers and use a rubber trowel to ensure an even surface.

How Long Does It Take For Mortar To Fully Cure?

Mortar usually takes 24-48 hours to fully cure. It is important to follow the recommended curing time in order to ensure a strong bond between the substrate and masonry units. it is also important to protect the area from external elements during this time with a water-repellent sealer.

How Often Does Mortar Need To Be Replaced?

Mortar can last for many years if applied correctly and well-maintained. However, if the mortar begins to crack or deteriorate, it should be replaced as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Additionally, you may want to re-seal the area with a water-repellent sealer every few years to ensure maximum protection against moisture and mildew.

Can Grout Be Used As Cement, Why Or Why Not?

No, grout cannot be used as cement because it does not have the same properties or strength as cement. Grout is designed to fill and seal the gaps between tiles, whereas cement is used to create strong and durable bonds between masonry units. Grout can also shrink over time if not correctly applied and sealed with a water-repellent sealer. Grout does not provide the same level of protection against water and moisture as cement does. For these reasons, it is not recommended to use grout as a substitute for cement.

Is Grout Considered Lean Concrete?

No, grout is not considered lean concrete. Lean concrete is a mix of cement and sand that creates a thick paste or mortar with a low water-to-cement ratio. This type of concrete is often used as an adhesive or sealant in structural applications where strength is required.

Are Stucco And Mortar The Same?

No, mortar and stucco are not the same. Mortar is a mixture of cement, sand, and water used for bonding masonry units together. Stucco is an exterior coating made from Portland cement, lime, and sand which is applied to walls or other surfaces to provide a durable finish.

Conclusion

Grout and mortar are two very different materials that serve different purposes. Grout is ideal for filling in the spaces between tiles or stones, while the mortar is best for laying and bonding blocks, bricks, and stones. It’s important to choose the right type of material for your project to ensure a successful build.

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