Steel Door Inc.

The Risks of Grouting Frames

Design professionals often wonder when a frame should be grouted. In fact, the most common word entered in the search bar on the Steel Door Institute website is "grout". It's understandable. There are a lot of conflicting opinions in cyberspace about the topic. We would like to take this opportunity to share with you SDI's professional opinion on grouting.

Grouting should never be specified for drywall construction. When the grout is drying, the moisture only has two places to go. The first is into the drywall, which weakens it. This could hinder the frame's integrity or ability to retain anchors. The other place the moisture could go is into the hardware or the bottom of the frame. And we all know what happens when metal is in a moist environment—rust.

A properly anchored frame will not be any sturdier if it is grouted. After all, drywall slip-on frames have passed fire and hose stream tests, cycle tests, and even impact tests with only anchoring.

Grouting is usually not necessary for masonry construction either. To be clear, if the grouting is done properly it will not cause any issues with the frame. Unfortunately, thin pumpable slurry is often used and its excess water causes rust. There was one project where 300 doors were pumped with slurry and all of them had rusted hinges after just two months (see image). Holes were then drilled in the bottom of the frames and moisture started to seep out. So remember: Grout should always be hand troweled, never pumped.

There are a lot more risks than rewards when grouting frames. However, a properly grouted frame in masonry construction will improve the sound deadening qualities of the opening. For fire rated openings, you should verify that the grout or bituminous coating used to protect the steel frame from the corrosive effects of the grout will not negate the rating.

Not sure what's right for your project? Check out SDI's resources below. You are also welcome to Contact Us and we'll be happy to advise you.

Resources
SDI 127-I Grouting Frames in Drywall
ANSI/SDI A250.8 (Section 4.2 - Frame Installation) Grouting Frames in Masonry
SDI 128-09 Acoustical Performance