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up close view of grout

What You Need to Know About Tile Grout

You know you want to add tile in your home, but do you know what kind of grout to use? What about the color of grout or how to seal it? There is much more to grout than meets the eye. We have everything you need to know to make informed decisions before installing tiles in your home.

person tiling a backsplash

What Does Grout Do?

Grout holds tiles together, keeps water out, and gives your tiles a finished look. Whether you are installing kitchen backsplash tile, bath tiles, or ceramic pool tiles, you will need to use grout to keep everything tight. It also protects the edges of the tile to keep them from cracking, which helps them last longer.

Over time, grout can fail. You will notice when it fails because it falls apart, becomes stained, or cracked.

Types of Grout

There are a few different types of grout, and the kind you use depends on your project. If you are installing tiles in your home, it is important to know the differences between the types of grout so your tiles last for many years.

Sanded

Sanded is a cement-based grout that includes sand in the mix (hence the name). The sand bonds with the grout, so it is more resistant to cracking. It also is slip-resistant, which makes it ideal for wet areas.

If you have grout lines wider than 1/8th of an inch, then sanded grout is a good option. It sets slower than epoxy, so you have more room for error when installing the tile.

Non-sanded

The non-sanded ground is also cement-based. It is best for smaller grout joints, such as those between 1/16th and 1/8th of an inch. Don’t use it on grout joints that are bigger because there will be too much shrinkage. 

A non-sanded grout is ideal for walls because it is sticky. After you put the grout on the walls, it will stay there a while you put your tiles in place.

Epoxy

Epoxy grout is resistant to water damage, stains, and can handle harsh cleaners. If you are installing a kitchen backsplash or bath tiles then epoxy grout is a good idea. Don’t use epoxy grout outside because it will fade or become yellow over time.

There are two parts to epoxy grout, the base and activator. Once you combine the two, a chemical reaction happens. After this reaction occurs, you only have a limited time to finish grouting before it sets.

Epoxy grout sets fast, which doesn’t give you much room to make errors. If you have never installed tile before or are unsure how to do it, you should hire a professional. Otherwise, you could end up with a lot of mistakes or a bunch of useless grout.

Sealing Your Grout

You have to seal your grout no matter where you install tiles, but it is essential in moisture-rich areas or with light-colored grout. Epoxy is the only grout that doesn’t need sealing because it comes pre-sealed.

Grout sealer typically comes in spray or applicator sealers. Spray-on sealer is pretty easy to use, but you need to clean the excess off the tile once you are done. Applicator sealers are applied to the grout with a brush so you need to be more precise than with spray sealers.

Penetrating grout sealers are the best option because they make a barrier. Membrane sealers are also available. They create a layer on top of the grout and tile. However, with membrane sealers, they can break down over time and moisture gets trapped underneath.

To keep your tile looking new, seal your grout every few years. It will keep the tile in good condition, stop it from cracking, and keep your grout fresh as well.

Grout Color

Grout comes in so many colors it can be overwhelming. However, choosing the color of grout should be included in your design. You can get pretty much any color you are looking for, but there are downfalls to certain colors. For example, while dark grout hides stains, it can fade over time. Light grout shows stains and is harder to clean. Take your time and think about what the color of grout will look like with the tile.

Contrasting

Are you looking to make a statement with your design? Contrasting grout highlights the pattern of your tiles. If you are doing an all-white kitchen backsplash, a navy grout color will make the design stand out.

Matching

If you want your tile to stand out, choose a grout that matches the color of your tile. When people look at the tile, all they will notice is the tile pattern because the grout line fades into the background.

Neutral

If you are stuck and don’t know what to do, neutral is always an option. It goes with everything and still sits in the background so your tile is highlighted.

Grout Release

Grout release is a water-soluble surface coating, which is removable, that protects the tile from staining when you use pigmented grout. It also makes cleaning up after your tiling project easy. If you are applying contrasting color grout to lighter color tiles, you will need grout release. If your tiles have any crackle or glazing on them, you will also want to use grout release.

Grout Joints

When your grout joints are tighter, your tile size variations are more noticeable. Think about the size of your tile when choosing a grout size. For example, there is more size variation in 6”x12” tiles, so they should have a larger grout joint.

up close view of grout

Choose the Best Grout for Your Project

Whether you decide to hire a professional tire installer or try it yourself, grout is an essential part of your project. It adds to the overall aesthetic of the tile but also keeps it safe and looking new throughout the years.

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