Once you have had your beautiful new tile installed you will need to fill in the joints with a grout. You might ask yourself and your builder, why do I have to use grout? “Grout is a powdered mix of cement, lime, color pigment, and sometimes sand that hardens with water and left to cure.” Grout absorbs movement from the natural contraction and expansion your tiles experience from temperature and humidity changes. Grout also offers multiple other benefits including, keeping dirt from finding it’s way between and under tile, supports the tile and prevents the tiles from moving or cracking and chipping along the edges, and creates a safer surface for walking by creating traction between tiles.
Prior to the advancements in tile productions, tiles used to be highly irregular in size and therefore a wider grout was needed to help camouflage the irregularities. Recently the industry standard for tile size can range between 1/8” – 3/16”. Large format tiles, like a 24”x48” tile, will require a thicker grout line to allow more room for contraction and expansion. Smaller tiles, like a 3”x6” subway tile, can be set with a thinner grout line, however, if a smaller tile has undulation or is handmade a thicker grout may be used during installation. Some homeowners want the thinnest grout possible in order to give seamless illusion, however it is best to install tile and grout per the tile manufacture’s grout specifications in order to avoid failure.
Sanded vs. Unsanded Grout
The biggest difference as to why you would want to use sanded or unsanded grout is dependent on the size of the grout thickness needed. Thicker grout joints will require sanded grout, anything larger than 1/8”. The reason sanded grout is needed is because the sand helps add support to the grout in the joints. However, it shouldn’t be used on delicate tiles such as marble or natural stone because the sand can scratch the tile. Unsanded grout is used for smaller grout joints and is cement based. Unsanded grout does not have the rigidity of sanded grout and will require more pressure when working with and it is important to fill the joints completely to avoid grout collapse.
Monochromatic vs. Dichromatic
Grout color is the fun part of having to use grout. Many homeowners and designers choose to use a monochromatic grout color in order to help the tile stand out. A prime example of monochromic grout would be a white subway tile with white grout. If homeowner want to achieve the no grout look then a monochromatic choice will achieve the seamless sleek look. The dichromatic grout choice would accentuate the grout and can help homeowners and designers bring a higher contrast between tiles or execute a creative pattern. An example of a dichromatic choice would be using the same white subway tile but using a black grout color. Grout color is entirely up to the homeowner or designer and does not affect the stability of the grout.
Grout is an essential step to installing tile in your home. Choosing the proper grout size, grout type, and grout color will help highlight the beauty of your tile and guarantee that life of your tile.