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Design Trends

How to Choose the Right Grout Size For Your Tile

By Lindsey |

The size of grout lines for tile is something that comes up with just about every tile installation, and is a question we are asked almost every day. While we definitely have recommendations for grout size for each Fireclay product line, there really is no set width requirement. Instead, the thickness of your grout joint should be based on a number of factors including everything to tile size and amount of variation to your desired style or aesthetic. To help you out, we've put together a list of considerations and an overview of options to help you choose the right grout size for your project

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Tile shown: French Linen 3x6 // Design: Karen Tsay // Photos: David Tsay

Things to Consider When Choosing a Grout Size

The amount a variation in size from tile to tile: Because everything Fireclay is made by hand there can be a considerable amount of variation in size and thickness from tile to tile. With handmade tile we always recommend larger grout joints to account for these irregularities (the tile can fluctuate by ~1/8" in size and thickness, in any direction). When it comes to thickness, our ceramic tiles are ~5/16" thick; our brick is ~1/2" thick, and our glass tile is ~1/4" thick. 

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Tile shown: 3x9 in Daisy and Sea Glass // Design: Claire Thomas // Photo: Stephanie Todaro Photography

The closer you install handmade tile together, the more apparent the size variation will become as shown below:

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Brick shown: White Mountains// Design + Photo: K Interiors

Versus a tighter brick install:

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Brick Shown: Lewis Range // Design: Amanda Jane Jones // Photos: Stoffer Photography

Tile size:  The size of your tile should be considered when choosing a grout size. In general there is more size variation in larger-sized handmade tiles so they need a bigger grout joint for that to become less noticeable and for a more even installation.

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Tile shown: Crater Lake 3x12// Design: The Perennial

Where the tile is being installed:  Where you are installing your tile should also be considered when choosing your grout size. For example, floor installations should consider using larger grout lines for more traction. Also, grout size should be considered when there is a difference in the angle of a surface. If your surface is not level, the grout will slope from one tile to another.  You should also keep in mind that when tiling over a corner, your grout grout joint will open up and when tiling into a recess, the top of the grout joint will narrow in.

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Tile shown: Hexite in Dusty Blue, Nautical, Slate Blue // Design: Young America Creative // Photo: Roger Casas

Let's talk about grout size options

Actual finished grout spaces will vary from 1/8" to 1/4" if 3/16" spacers are used. If smaller spacers like 1/8" are used, it will accentuate the size difference of handmade tile. Finished grout lines will vary from 1/16" to 3/16". Note that using the smallest grout possible will increase installation time.

3/16":  We recommend a 3/16" grout size for our Ceramic Tile line. This thickness leaves room for the natural variation in size, and the perfectly imperfect edges of handmade tile.

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Tile shown: Diamond Escher in Adriatic Sea // Design: The Inside Story Design // Photos: Jennifer Siu-Rivera

3/8": 3/8" grout space is the industry standard for glazed thin brick. With brick, you will need to know ahead of time what grout space you intend on installing at as that will affect how much overage you should order to complete your project. Learn more about brick spacing here!

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Brick Shown: Glazed Thin Brick in a custom color for Barebottle Brewing

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Brick Shown: Front Range // Design: Jon De La Cruz // Photo: House Beautiful

1/8": a 1/8" size is used for our product lines that feature a rectified, clean cut edge. All of our Handpainted collections feature this type of edge. A rectified edge allows for smaller grout lines because the tile has been more precisely cut (unlike our other handmade tiles). There is less irregularity with rectified tiles, so less spacing is needed between each piece. A tight, 1/8" grout space will allow the pattern to flow nicely from one tile to the next. 

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Tile shown: Kasbah Trellis in Neutral Motif// Design: Patti Wagner // Photo: Meg Cooper Photography

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Tile shown: Old Cairo in Warm Motif// Design: Cattaneo Studios // Photo: Jacqueline Marque

1/16": We recommend a 1/16" grout size for our Glass Tile Line. Glass has clean edges allowing for a tight install. We do not recommend installing any of our products tighter than 1/16," but you can always go larger. 

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Glass Tile shown: Falcon Matte and Gloss 2x12

Again, when it comes to size you should keep in mind that the tighter the grout joint, the more variation from tile to tile will show, which can cause an installation to look sloppy. This is why your tile installer may suggest a larger grout line for a straighter, more professional looking installation. It is an aesthetic decision whether to go slightly larger or tighter. Today it's very trendy to have minimal grout space-- but that isn't always the best option when it comes to handmade tile. 

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Tile shown: Padma Black and White Motif // Design: Karen Tsay // Photos: David Tsay

Keep in mind that grout serves a purpose-- to fill in voids, make things straight, and also relieve stress. If the grout line is too tight the tile could chip at stress points once the grout dries. Stress from home settling may also be an issue with little grout space. This is especially important for Glass tile installations as glass is more sensitive to stress cracking than ceramic tile.

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Glass Tile shown: Egret Matte 4x12

Need some more advice on choosing your grout size?  Simply call, chat, or fill out our Design Assistance Form and one of our talented Design Consultants will get back to you shortly.

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