Most folks have heard of grout, but do you really know what it does and how to select one?
Grout is a cement-based mixture that is used to fill the space between ceramic, stone and glass tiles. It comes in two different basic formulas: sanded and unsanded. Just as you would imagine, sanded grout contains sand, which creates a more stable mix. It is used in wider grout joints, since unsanded grout will not stay in place if used in joints wider than 1/8″. Unsanded grout is typically used in very narrow grout joints, and with delicate tiles that may scratch if grouted with the sanded variety. Glass and stone tiles fall into this category, as do some metal tiles.
Contrary to what you may believe, most grout is not waterproof. It is not meant to keep water out of your tile installation; in fact, grout is quite porous. Because of this fact, grout absorbs liquids readily, making it prone to staining.
Newer grout formulas, including epoxy grouts, are more resistant to staining. In addition, applying a grout sealer after installation can help prevent stains, but it is not foolproof. For best results, wipe up spills immediately to prevent stains.
While grout helps to keep tiles in place, grout is not an adhesive. The mortar behind the tiles is what adheres them to the wall or floor surface.
When selecting a grout color, you have two different options. Option #1 is to select a color that will contrast with your tile. Using a beige grout with a dark green tile, as in the first photo above, will accentuate the shape of the tile and the pattern in which they have been installed. Option #2 is to select a color that will blend with your tile. This creates a monolithic installation, de-emphasizing the grout joints, tile shape and installation pattern, and drawing attention to the tile surface. Either option can be gorgeous; the choice is yours!
Before tackling any tile installation project, be sure to talk with the experts at your local tile shop so you buy the correct grout and adhesive products for your application. A solid, beautiful tile surface is the goal, and the right grout will help you make it a reality.