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Grout 101: Everything you Need to Know About Making the Right Grout Choice

Grout 101: Everything you Need to Know About Making the Right Grout Choice

This kitchen installation features our 2x6 and 2x8 tile with a neutral cream grout

Grout often becomes an afterthought in the world of tile, but don't worry, we are here to remind you how important it is to give grout the love it deserves during the tile selection process.  Not only will grout affect the overall look and feel of your design, but it also plays a major role in maintenance and the longevity of your tile, and you want your beautiful new handmade tile to last forever–Right? Whether you're choosing between grout types, sealer, or color, we are here to cover all the bases and help you make the right grout choice for your tile installation.

This kitchen installation features our Glazed Thin Brick in Cotton and Snow with a neutral grey grout

What type of grout should you use?

Grout type will play a huge role in your tile's lifespan, and different grout types will be appropriate for different applications, so let's take a look at your options:

Epoxy:  Epoxy grouts are the most durable of all grout choices because they are resistant to stains and water damage, and will hold up against harsh cleaners.  Epoxy grout is a great choice where moisture and food will be present, such as in bathroom installations and kitchen backsplashes.  Epoxy grout has two parts, the base and the activator, when combined a chemical reaction begins which means you have limited time to finish grouting before it sets and becomes too hard to work with.  This is why we recommend hiring a professional tile installer when working with epoxy grout. Epoxy grout is also the most expensive grout choice, however it doesn't need a sealer, which will save time and money in the long run.

Sanded: Sanded grout is a cement-based grout where sand is literally added to the mix.  The sand creates a bond within the grout making it resistant to cracking and shrinking, and will also help with slip resistance in wet areas.  Sanded grout is most suitable in installations with grout lines wider than 1/8th of an inch, like our Glass tile, to help prevent shrinkage and cracking.

Non-Sanded: Non-sanded grout is a cement-based grout used for smaller grout joints with spacing between 1/16th and 1/8th of an inch.   If used in larger grout joints a non-sanded grout may crack because of too much shrinkage and because of the lack of sand which creates a bonding effect.  Non-sanded grout is easier to work with on vertical walls because of it's "sticky" property, and will stay put during application.

This kitchen installation features our 2x8 tile in Cyclone with a contrasting grey grout

When and why should you seal your grout?

Sealing your grout is a must, especially in moisture prone areas and when working with a light-colored grout.  The only type of grout that doesn't need sealer is epoxy grout, which is inherently pre-sealed.  Grout sealers typically come in two forms, spray on sealers, and applicator sealers.  Applicator sealers are applied directly to the grout with a roller ball or a brush.  Not as much and precision is necessary with spray on sealers, however they require more clean up time later on.  

You will likely want to choose a penetrating grout sealer, which soaks through your materials creating an impenetrable barrier.  There are also Membrane sealers, which form a layer on top of the tile and grout, however these can become penetrable with age, and moisture can get trapped underneath, creating major problems down the line.  No matter which type of sealer you choose, alway re-apply every 10-15 years to keep your tile looking it's best.

This shower installation features our 4x4 and 2x2 tile in Toulumne Meadows and Huckleberry with 

Which grout color should you choose?

Selecting a grout color is stressful, there are a ton of options, and the color of your grout will significantly impact your overall design.  Grout color also has a huge impact on tile maintenance, for example, a darker grout will hide stains but can be prone to fading, and can stain lighter colored tiles (we suggest testing a small area first if you go this route), while a lighter grout will show stains and will be hard to keep clean.  Color is everything, so be sure to take your time and consider all your options.

There are three main directions you can take with color:

You can match your grout color to your tile: If you want your tile to be the center of attention, we suggest matching your grout color.  This will prevent the eye from being distracted from the pattern found within the grout line.

You can select a contrasting grout color: A contrasting grout joint will highlight the pattern found in the layout.  We talk more about this type of grout joint here.

You can go neutral:  A neutral grout is always a pretty safe bet, neutrals go with everything and it is hard to go wrong. Pattern will be more noticable than a matching grout but not a main feature as seen with contrasting grout installations.

Need more help choosing grout for your new tile installation?  Give us a call at 800-773-2226, chat us, or fill out a Design Assistance Form and one of our experienced design consultants will get back to you shortly.