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Review of Berta Sponge Machine (Everything You Need to Know!)

What’s so good about a Berta? Aside from being one of the best time-saving devices for slurry grouting, this ergonomic electric grout machine virtually stops efflorescence and staining in their tracks. Read the full review of the Berta Sponge Machine, aftercare advice and FAQs.

Berta ADV Sponge Machine
The Berta ADV saves up to 50% in time and labour

Benefits of a Berta Sponge Machine

There are five main benefits to investing in a Berta Sponge Machine.

Read on to find out why landscapers rate the Berta grout machine and how quickly it is to achieve a return on investment.

#1 Save time and money

If you want to save labour – and therefore money – on each paving job, then it’s time to invest in an electric grout machine such as the Berta ADV Sponge Machine by Raimondi.

One of the major benefits of a Berta is that it can clean-off grout in just one pass, and from all types of tile and stone surfaces. Clean-off can be at a rate of 100m2 per hour!

With the help of the Berta, landscapers are reporting they can lay, grout and finish large areas of paving in a single day.

Jon Gerrish of Paved in Stone (an award-winning landscaping business covering Somerset and Wiltshire) is one of those landscapers.

“I recently did a job that was 130m2,” says Jon. “The Berta was ideal as we had all of the paving laid and cleaned in a day!”

Lightweight, compact and easily transportable (it fits neatly into the boot of a car!), the Berta Sponge Machine is well-regarded by landscapers, tilers and builders as the most efficient way of cleaning off cement-based grouts and epoxy resin.

Jon says that after purchasing the Berta from The Paving Experts last year, it has ‘definitely paid for itself’.

“I guess after using [the Berta] for paving around 300m2 it’s well worth the money and gives a return on investment.”

#2 Avoid staining, efflorescence and low spots

Many landscapers are concerned about their hardscape projects developing staining, efflorescence and/or low spots over time. 

But the Berta Sponge Machine virtually stops these types of staining problems in their tracks. Which is a big plus for those using slurry grouts such as Flowpoint, Larsen FJM or Fuga-Pave. 

So how does the Berta stop stains from developing? 

The main reason why efflorescence and other stains develop is not the use of slurry grouts themselves, but the act of overwatering. 

Efflorescence is often caused by too much water being used during the clean-up operations (though another reason is cleaning off the grout residue too soon when the joints haven’t properly ‘gone off’). 

But by using a Berta, the right amount of water is added during the clean-up stage as the moisture level of the sponge is controlled by a pressure lever. 

You also don’t need to add more water to the area to stop the grout curing on the surface of the slabs. All the water that’s needed for clean-off is supplied through the sponge machine itself. 

What’s more, when using an electric grout machine like the Berta, you don’t have to wait until the grout has fully gone off. As long as the initial set has happened, you can start clean-up operations almost immediately. 

Read our latest guide on how to avoid efflorescence for more details about this pesky issue that can sometimes develop. 

Please note: another reason why efflorescence and staining can develop is if you haven’t allowed adequate time for the bedding mortar to ‘go off’. Even if you’re using a Berta, always make sure the bed has set properly before commencing grouting work. 

Cleaning-up Flowpoint with Berta sponge machine
Alfie's Landscapes used the Berta on this 550m2 driveway

#3 Use considerably less water during clean-up

Fed up of carting fresh, clean water onto site to finish a paving job? 

Another benefit of the Berta Sponge Machine is that you’ll use considerably less water during clean-off than with other methods of slurry grouting. 

In fact, one third less water! 

#4 No pump to clog up 

One of the downsides to many other sponge machines on the market is when the pump clogs up. 

Another big bonus of the Berta is there is no pump to clog up! 

The sponge itself sits on a drum and is fed from an impact-resistant water tank by a foam-reducing belt. 

Read on to discover our expert handling tips on cleaning and maintaining the Berta to extend its life. 

I recently did a job that was 130m2. The Berta was ideal as we had all of the paving laid and cleaned in a day!

#5 Easy storage and handling   

The final top benefit for when you invest in a Berta is how easy it is to handle and transport.

The handle of the electric sponge machine folds down for easy storage and transportation. Simply adjust the handle to the right height and angle for each user.

“Even if you’re without a van, the Berta is compact enough so it fits neatly in the boot of a car!”, explains Cleo Canning of The Paving Experts.

The Berta Sponge Machine is a lightweight machine made of die-cast iron. It weighs in at 29kg and its dimensions are 660 x 550 x 500mm. 

But don’t be fooled by its slight demeanour. The Berta is still a strong and resilient machine for grouting.

Berta maintenance and cleaning advice

Extend the life of a Berta sponge roller

If you’d like to reuse the Berta Sponge on other jobs – let’s face it, it’s worth it to save on expenses – follow these steps to extend the life of the sponge roller: 

  1. After every use, remove the sponge roller
  2. Rinse with clean water until the water runs clear
  3. Stand the sponge on its end to drain and dry
How to remove Berta sponge roller
Removing the sponge roller is simple and easy

How to clean a Berta Sponge Machine

As with most equipment, just a little care and maintenance will help prolong the life of your Berta Sponge Machine. 

We recommend following this procedure after every job to keep your machine in excellent shape: 

  1. Clean the Berta Sponge, as explained above
  2. Wipe over the entire machine with a damp cloth
  3. Concentrate on removing any dust, dirt or spots of stubborn grout
  4. Check and clean the part of the machine where the sponge sits

Grout often collects and hardens in the area where the sponge sits. It’s particularly important to clean this part of the machine when the sponge is removed. Any unremoved hardened grout will stop the sponge roller moving freely during use, and can potentially rip the sponge. 

Rich Buchanan of The Paving Experts offers some extra advice for keeping the Berta in excellent shape and reducing the risk of the drive motor overheating.

“Grout can also build-up beneath the drive chain cover on the side of the machine.

“This can easily be cleaned by undoing the three screws, removing the cover and cleaning off any grout residue from around the drive chain and cogs.”

An impact-resistant water tank sits adjacent to the sponge. This can easily be removed and filled, as can the roller through a magnetic ‘quick clutch’ system.

Removing bucket on Berta Sponge Machine
The water tank can be easily removed and filled with clean water

Grout Sponge Machine Hire

At The Paving Experts, we offer an excellent deal where you can hire a grout sponge machine for a week so you can decide for yourself whether it’s a worthwhile investment for your landscaping business. 

For just £150 (excluding VAT) you can hire this outstanding electric sponge machine for seven days. 

Additional sponge and delivery costs for shipping apply. See the full T&Cs through the link below. 

Frequently asked questions

What can a Berta Sponge Machine be used for?

Whether you’re working on indoor tiles or outdoor pavers, the Berta Sponge Machine is the perfect piece of kit – and can even be used in the smallest of areas. 

Use the Berta on all types of natural and manmade stone, including: 

  • Sandstone
  • Indian stone
  • Limestone
  • Granite and granite setts
  • Terracotta
  • Porcelain pavers and tiles
  • Double and single-fired tiles
  • Marble
  • Clinker
  • Porphyry
  • Quarry stone
  • Concrete

Do grout sponge machines pull grout from joints?

A common concern about sponge machines is whether the sponge pulls grout out of the floor joints.

The 100V Berta ADV Sponge Machine has been designed especially so it does not pull grout from the floor joints.

When using the Berta to clean-off grouts you’ll find the joints are left full and even.

How often do I need to change the sponge roller?

The Berta comes with a free, reusable sponge.

Jon, an experienced landscaper, says he manages to reuse each replacement sponge for a few jobs, and especially when cleaning smoother paving materials.

“I find that the Berta sponges are great for porcelain and other smooth stone, and can be reused a few times.”

Replacement sponge rollers are available in three specs:

Berta sponge rollerUsage
Avana (brown)Cement-based grouts
Sweepex (soft yellow)Cement-based grouts (higher absorption)
Cellulosa (dense yellow)Epoxy resin-based grouts

Each sponge can last from 150m2 to 2,000m2 depending on the tile grout and paving materials.

Berta replacement sponge rollers
Choose the correct sponge for your grouting operations

Do I need to use an anti-foaming grout cleaner?

As with most paving grout machines, adding an anti-foaming formula to the water will reduce the amount of foam being produced during operation.

Although using an anti-foamer such as Raimondi Anti-Foaming Grout Cleaner is not essential, it is wise to use one.

A 400ml bottle of the Raimondi anti-foamer can be used in conjunction with approximately eight water tanks. That’s roughly between 200m2 and 400m2 paving area, depending on the grout and size of the joints.

What’s the best paving grout machine for larger commercial projects?

The Berta is a robust and reliable external paving grout machine for landscapers to use on paving projects large and small. 

If you’re a streetscape specialist or a contractor regularly working on larger commercial jobs, the Berta may just be a tad too small for your type of operations. 

Alternatively, try the petrol-motored SWM680 External Paving Grout Machine which leaves strong, uniform joints and saves up to 70% on time and labour.  

The SWM680 is designed specially for external pavements and pedestrian areas. Weighing in at 80kg and measuring 600mm x 1100mm x 960mm, it has a prep rate of 200 metres per hour.

SWM680 Power Grout Sponge Machine
Streetscape contractor? Use the SWM680 Power Grout Sponge Machine

Share your feedback on the Berta

If you’ve tried the Berta Sponge Machine before, we’d love to hear your comments and feedback. Please share them below. 

If you have any questions about choosing the best grout machine or other grouting equipment to use, get in touch with our family-run team of paving experts. 

Call 0330 122 1025 or if you prefer to call us on a landline, ring 01827 794 350. We’re available weekdays from 8.30am to 5.30pm.

Visit Jon’s website Paved in Stone if you want some help with a bespoke landscaping project in & around Melksham.

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