What to Know About Grout Before You Settle on a Tile
Choosing flooring can be more complex than you first think.
Take tile, for example. If you start shopping around for tile, you’ll quickly realize there are unlimited possibilities. There are so many choices to be made, including:
- What size tile to install
- Ceramic or porcelain
- Or maybe you prefer natural stone
- Should you lay it over radiant heating
- What color should you choose
- Should you mix the tile sizes
- Should you create intricate patterns
And just when you settle in on which tile to install, another choice is thrust upon you. Now it’s time to settle on what grout to use between the tiles.
What is grout?
Grout is one of those items you see, but never spend much time thinking about. If you walk into a room and fall in love with the tile, it’s because of its size, color, and pattern of the tile.
Think of grout as a complement to the tile. It adds to the overall look without taking anything away. Unless you don’t use grout in the right way.
Imagine dingy, moldy grout that screams anything but clean. Yep, you’d notice the grout then.
Or imagine grout completely off in color, almost obnoxiously standing away from the tile design. Yep, you’d notice the grout then too.
That makes grout choice almost as crucial as tile choice – just in a different way.
Grout is the stuff between the tiles. It’s made from cement, limestone, color pigment, and sometimes sand or other fillers, depending on the composition and color of the final product. Once mixed with water, it’s applied between the tiles and left to harden and dry.
Grout plays an important role. Aesthetically, grout is added to complement the tile and provide a pleasing appearance. Functionally, grout helps seal the tile to the floor, creating a smooth surface that’s easy to clean and maintain. Overall, it adds strength to the material to give your flooring a long lifespan.
What type of grout should you use?
In most cases, you’ll rely on the installer you choose to use the best grout for the job. But it might be worth a few minutes to understand the differences to help you be more educated about what works best for you.
Grout type plays a huge role in how well your tile will function in the long term. Different grouts are created for different uses, so it’s wise to use the one best suited for your situation.
Epoxy grout is one of the most durable products available. It’s resistant to stains, water damage, and will hold up well against harsh cleaners. Epoxy grout is a great choice where water, food, and messes are in abundance. This is commonly used on kitchen countertops and backsplashes because of its endurance. It is one of the most expensive grouts. However, it doesn’t need to be followed with a sealer.
Cement-based grout comes in two types: sanded and non-sanded. These grouts are easier to use and are the top choice for DIYers.
Sanded grout has sand added to the mix. It creates a bond that makes it more resistant to cracking and shrinking. Sand also makes it more slip-resistant in areas where moisture is an issue. Sanded grout also takes longer to dry than epoxy grout, meaning you’ll have more wiggle room for adjusting the tile as it’s being laid into place.
Non-sanded grout is used on smaller grout joints because it’s more prone to crack under pressure. It’s easier to work with on vertical walls, and is stickier to allow it to be placed into position without moving out of place.
What about sealing?
People love tile because of its strength and endurance. Tile is naturally water-resistant, making it a good choice for installing in difficult areas like bathrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens.
Grout adds to longevity; but can also be a place of weakness if not installed correctly. Use the wrong grout or misapply it, and you’ll be faced with ongoing problems.
Unless you use epoxy grout, you’ll have to seal it. Grout sealers are designed to add extra protection to the overall design of the tile. It typically comes in two forms: spray-on or applicator. Spray-on is easy to use – just spray it on. You may have more clean-up work after as you remove it from the tiles. Applicator sealants are applied with a roller directly over the grout. Once dried, it’s easier to remove residue from the tile. Overall, both will protect if they penetrate the grout for full coverage. Tip: If you use a sealer designed by the same company as the grout, they will work together to create the toughest surface possible. They may also offer you better protection to ensure warranties last.
What about color?
This is probably one of the most stressful parts of picking out grout. Should you match? Should you contrast? Should you compliment? It can be tricky picking when you can’t see it in place for the overall design.
Let’s start with matching. If you want your tile to be the center of attention, matching grout color may be your best action. Get the tone as close as possible to the tile you’ve chosen. This will stop the eye from moving and getting distracted by the pattern the grout creates.
Or maybe you prefer contrasting grout. This is used to highlight the layout and shape of the tile being laid into place. Think light tile and dark grout. Together they will create complimentary designs that play up the best features of both.
Neutral grout is always a safe bet. The pattern will be more noticeable than if you match the grout, but not as severe as contrasting grout. Have more questions? Let one of our flooring experts help you out.
Your next tile project
Tile is a great addition to any room in your home. With almost unlimited possibilities, you’re sure to find a design that works with your room.
Got questions? We’ve got answers. Stop by today and see our full line of tiles.
The possibilities are endless …