Grout plays a huge role in the look and feel of a tile installation, however it's often an afterthought in our projects. So, what is grout? To start with a simple definition, grout is the material used to fill the space between each tile after the installation process.
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The tile chosen determine the type of grout needed, but the color decisions you gives you the opportunity to transform your design! Whether it’s the tile for our floors or walls, bathrooms or kitchens, decks or pools, here are some basic tips we gathered to help your grout selection process.
#1) What type of grout do I need?
Do I need sanded or unsanded grout? This should be the first question to answer before choosing the right grout for your tile. Cement-based grout comes in two categories; sanded or unsanded. We’ll dive into the differences so you can make an educated decision for your project.
Sanded grout is used for grout joints that are wider than 1/8 inches. It creates an extra bond with fine sand in order to allow more resistance to cracking and slipping. Sanded grout should be your primary choice for tiles with larger grout joints, especially for floor tiles to provide slip resistance.
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Unsanded grout is used for thinner joints that are less than 1/8 inches wide and it has a much smoother texture. It is easier to use on vertical wall applications, and is recommended for highly polished, easily scratched tiles because the sand can possibly cause damage. This includes marble tiles, unglazed ceramics, metal, and glass.
Unsanded grout should be avoided in wider grout joints or it can cause cracks and damage to your tiles.
Our Unsanded Grout Recommendation is Laticrete Permacolor Select Non-Sanded Grout Base. It's an unsanded Portland cement base grout designed for delicate surfaces such as high-polish marble and glass tiles, as well as metal finish tiles.
Epoxy grout is a non-cement based material that is made by mixing epoxy resin and hardener. It's highly resistant to stains and chemicals, and is extremely durable. It's one of the least porous grout options, making it the least susceptible to staining, water damage, or mildew.
However, the compound is extremely hard to work with, even for experienced tile professionals! The mixture must be exact, while improperly mixed epoxy grout can cause installation issues later. It also sets extremely fast, making it necessary to mix and install in small batches. The durability makes it difficult to remove from the surface of tiles, making it hard for first time tilers or DIY home improvers to get the look they want without lots of practice.
Polyblend grout might be easier to work with than epoxy grout because you only need to add water to the dry mix. Epoxy grout requires additional additives when mixing your grout, however epoxy is quite durable. There are pros and cons to premixed grout, so make sure you do your homework!
#2) Should I blend or contrast grout lines with my design?
Color plays a significant role in design and choosing the grout color might make or break the beauty of your décor. To make the color selection process easier, start with asking yourself this question: "Do I want my tiles to be the center of attention, or do I want to create a pattern with grout lines?"
If you want your tiles to be the eye-catching part of your design and stand out on its own, you should think about matching your grout color. Blending is the most common approach if you do not want to be distracted by the pattern in your grout lines, but rather focus on the beauty of your tiles. This way the grout lines visually disappear and become less visible from a distance.
On the other hand, contrasting your grout color can make a really bold and beautiful statement. Whether you are going lighter or darker, contrasting grouts will always highlight the pattern found in the tiles’ layout and emphasize the overall pattern. Tiles become the focal point in any room when adding a pop of contrasting grout - even the most classic subway tile pattern can become fresh and new with a dramatic grout choice. Whatever color you choose while going with a high contrast, you'll see how grout makes your tiles suddenly pop!
Just how big of a difference can grout color make in your installation? Our Mixed Color Bubble Mosaic Tile is the perfect example! You can see the exact same tile in both examples below - the only difference is the grout that fills in around the bubbles of glass and resin.
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#3) Grout Colors for White Tiles
White Tile & White Grout:
This ever-popular combo gives any room a clean updated look that never goes out of style. While the blended surface may not draw much attention, the combination is always safe especially in small spaces. Just keep in mind that lighter color grout has the potential to show more stains, so be prepared to show a little extra care.
White Tile & Grey Grout:
Grey grout is a popular choice if you’re looking for a slight contrast with white tiles without shouting for attention. Also, light greys might be a good idea if you don’t want to deal with cleaning the white grout as it gets dirty. Grey lines between the tiles will highlight interesting patterns such as herringbone or chevron as well as the veins in beautiful natural stones.
White Tile & Black or Dark Grout:
When you use darker colors, grout starts to create bolder aesthetics which in turn creates more dramatic spaces. Usually this scheme is well suited to spaces where black and white is the dominant style. You can also try dark color grouts if you're going for a more industrial design look, but it is advised to avoid accent colors since they make the space overloaded. If you're on the fence about a darker color choice, try something like saddle brown grout that isn't a stark black, yet boasts a unique richness.
#4) Surrounding Materials
Besides your tile's color and shade, one other factor that affects your grout is your surrounding materials. You may also try picking up a color in your countertop or cabinetry as well as other nearby finishes in the space. For instance, a bit of brown or red tone might be good in your grout color to coordinate with the nearby materials such as wood or brick. Glitter grout options are also available for a more special look where gold or silver finish is desired in the overall design.
With so many grout colors to choose from, you can tailor to your personal design taste depending on how much you want to show off your design. There are tons of premixed grout options out there, so here is your inspiration to try something new!
Although there is no right or wrong, talking to a designer in the tile selection process can help you consider the right factors for the right visual impact.