Adding beautiful tile or natural stone to your home can elevate a space’s appearance. Installing this tile or stone seamlessly so it stands the test of time does require one key element: grout.
When installing tile or stone, it’s essential to use the right grout. This installation must-do will keep your tile or stone looking good throughout its life cycle and use.
To help you choose the right grout for your design project, NewHomeSource has put together the ultimate guide on everything you need to know about grout — whether you’re installing tile in a bathroom or cooking space or adding stone to a backyard cabana.
What Is Grout?
Grout is a blend of sand, cement, and water that forms a mixture to fill in and seal gaps between the tile or stone. This material can also be infused with pigment to create a specific color.
What Are the Benefits of Grout?
Grout ensures that stones or tiles are properly joined together, resulting in a sealed finish and lending further support to the tile or stone.
What Types of Grout Are on the Market?
Epoxy grout is made of epoxy resin and hardener, making it a hugely popular choice since it’s highly durable across the board. It doesn’t need to be sealed, which is a major attraction as well. This material is resistant to many stains, making it a good choice for countertops, and can hold up against various cleaners as well. However, this type of grout can be prone to fading and discoloration, especially when used outdoors. Note: This grout type can cure very quickly, so it’s recommended to have tiles with epoxy grout installed professionally.
This material is a sand- and cement-based grout. When sand is mixed with cement, the fused bond makes this material resistant to cracks and damage. Because of this, sanded grout is a popular option to consider for certain floor tiles. This grout style is slower to set, making it an easier choice for home DIYers.
Unsanded grout is cement-based, making it rather sticky, so it won’t move extensively during installation. But it is prone to cracking due to shrinkage.
Acrylic Latex Grout
This is an unsanded grout that consists of a mix of latex and an acrylic additive. It results in a grout with some flexibility.
Which Grout Should I Use?
The right type of grout is going to play a pivotal part in the overall durability of the tile or stone, so it’s important to make sure you or your contractor selects grout based on the stone or tile size in order to ensure the material’s lifespan:
- If the space between tiles is an eighth of an inch or less, go for acrylic latex, epoxy grout or unsanded grout.
- If the space between tiles is larger than an eighth of an inch, choose sanded grout (unsanded grout shrinks as it dries).
Does Grout Come in Different Colors?
Yes, there are loads of hues to explore on the market, ranging from bright white to darker tones, and even some custom colors too. Vivid white tones can look fresh and crisp but can be prone to staining. Darker grout will expertly hide stains but might fade over time. Consider these details when browsing grout color styles.
Pro tip: Here are two grout color options that can really make a room pop: Match your stones or tiles to the grout for a seamless, pulled-together look. Or go for a contrasting color scheme and use a grout that is the opposite hue of the tile for an added design element.
If you’re unsure of color choices, go monochromatic and neutral. A classic neutral is stylish and stands the of time no matter what’s trending.
Does Grout Need Sealer?
In most cases, yes, you’ll need to seal the grout after the application process. Odds are, you’ll be installing tiles and stones in spaces that are prone to dampness or moisture, such as bathrooms and kitchens. But outdoor spaces like pools, outdoor showers, and cabanas can see a fair amount of condensation and dampness, too.
The exception is if you’re using epoxy grout. Its formulation already includes a sealer.
How do you seal grout? Sealer is available in two forms: spray-on and applicator. Spray-on sealer comes in an aerosol can and is sprayed over the grout. An applicator sealer is applied with a brush or roll-on top directly to the grout. Depending on your personal preference, either sealant gets the job done. However, brushes and roll-on applicators can provide better accuracy in terms of grout coverage. Pro tip: To keep your grout looking good and to prevent mold, it’s best to reapply grout sealer annually (or more often for high-moisture areas).
Stephanie Valente is a Content Director and Editor in Brooklyn, NY. She’s previously held writing and social media positions at Barkbox, Men’s Journal, and currently works at a full-service advertising agency. She’s a self-confessed home and design enthusiast. Stephanie is an award-winning poet and fiction writer. When she’s offline, you can find her taking a yoga class, running, hanging out with her rescue dog Pepper. Find her on stephanievalente.com.