All About Grout: Types, Color, and More

All About Grout: Types, Color, and More

When considering which tile to install in your project location, the very last thing you might think about would probably be what grout color to select. Where do you even start?

This is probably my most popular customer question once the tile selection has been made, and often times installed. EEK! What is grout?

Grout comes in different styles

1.  Sanded grout:  This is used on walls and floors and in wet or dry areas.  Sanded grout is your texture of choice. It will not scratch glass tile. Earlier grout compositions did actually use beach sand as filler and this scratched everything. Sanded grout today uses an emulsified filler, offering thickness and body to the grout without the roughness of beach sand. 

2.  Unsanded grout:  This is used on walls and in wet or dry areas. Unsanded grout is best used on soft materials, as example: mirror and metal tile. This is used as an extra precaution protecting the surface of these tiles.  It can be used in place of sanded grout as a personal choice. One of the downsides to using unsanded grout is that it does not fill the grout joint line to the top and a sag can then form inside that space. It can also create tiny pin holes in the grout as it settles and trapped air is released. Unsanded grout looks better if it is grouted twice as it can fill in the grout joint to the top.

3.  Epoxy grout:  This can be used on walls and floors, wet or dry areas. This grout has many benefits: Your installation will remain stain and mold free. It is a great choice for a bathroom, shower, pool or spa installation. The downside is that you need to have experience working with epoxy grout as it cures quickly and can easily dry before you have properly cleaned it up. Epoxy grout is more expensive and it cannot be shipped in the winter months due to possible freezing.

 4.  Caulk:  Caulk goes hand in hand with your grout purchase. Caulk is made of silicone and is used when flexibility is required. You need flexibility when your installation plane changes. An example of this is where your wall meets your floor, where two walls meet, where your cabinet meets the wall, etc.You use your caulk in these joints and you will not see cracking down the road when your house settles a bit. You can also use caulk to finish off an edge where your tile ends. Caulk is the perfect professional finish to a glass tile edge.

If you purchase sanded Baked Terra Cotta grout, you will also purchase sanded Baked Terra Cotta caulk. When caulk is installed and then dried, it looks exactly like the grout looks once installed and dried.

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What color grout should I use? 

Many people think grout only comes in one color: white. This was once probably true. Today grout comes in many neutral tones from white to black. Making a good grout color selection is important. There are a few ground rules to apply to get you started:

1.  What is the neutral in your space? 

Typically it is either in the white, grey or almond family. That neutral that you can point to in your space gives you the "here's where I can start "clue.
Is your neutral white?  Is that white a bright white, an antique white, an off white? This whittles down the selection even more.  Selecting from a color already existing in your space ties in your installation to the room nicely.

2.  Do I want the grout to stand out or do I want it to blend into my installation? 

Often if you are using smaller tiles, mosaic size 1" or 2" square there are too many grout lines to want to draw attention to. It is best to bring in a neutral color that sits visually behind the tile, a color that blends well. Larger tiles in a rectangular shape often benefit from a contrasting grout color, accentuating the shape of the tile with the grout color.  

3.  What if you don't want a neutral earth toned grout color? 

What if you want lime green or bright orange or purple to accent your fun, colorful mosaic? Today, this can be done.  There is one company doing an excellent job of making or matching any color grout you want . They even offer small samples.  I work with Grout 360 to achieve this fun vibrancy of grout selection. I refer my customers there often.

4.  You've chosen your grout color and have it in hand.  How do you know this is the right one?

There is a great hack to discern this. Take your sample of tile or a square foot of tile uninstalled. Take a spoonful of your grout and sprinkle it into a small section of the tile.  Brush this dry grout into the grout lines.  This is how the grout will look when it is installed and allowed to dry. How do you like it? This is what you will get, 99.9%. If you don't like it, start anew. If you do like it, proceed. This saves heartache, I promise you. Nothing worse than the grout color being wrong.

Have any grout questions? Post them below to get help from Susan Jablon.

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