Grout is an essential part of tile installations on floors, backsplashes, and bathroom surfaces. Apply these tips for choosing and using grout to give your tile job a finished, professional look.

By Jessica Bennett
Updated January 15, 2021
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Grout fills the gaps between tiles to give your backsplash, floor, or shower more durability and a polished appearance. Made of a mixture of cement, water, color pigments, and sometimes sand, this filler keeps moisture or debris from getting beneath tiles and guards tile edges against damage. Grout joints can also help increase the slip-resistance of a surface, which is especially important for tiled showers and bathroom floors, which can become slick. In short, grout protects the safety and appearance of your tiled area over time, so it's an essential component in any installation.

When choosing tile grout, it's important to determine the right type for your project and select a shade that will complement your chosen tile. Use our guide below to learn more about tile grout colors and types, along with tips on how to determine how much grout you'll need for a specific project.

white subway tile backsplash and pot filler
Credit: Kritsada Panichgul

Types of Tile Grout

Grout comes in two basic types: sanded and unsanded. Sand gives grout extra stability, but it can scratch the surface of more delicate tiles. Grout that does not contain sand should be used for stone tiles such as marble. Unsanded grout is also best for narrow joints measuring 1/8 inch wide or less. Grout made with sand is used for most other tile installations with joints wider than 1/8 inch. You can also boost the flexibility of your tile grout by including polymer additives, which are necessary for creating joints as wide as 1-1/4 inches. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on the package for your tile type. Both sanded and unsanded grout needs to be sealed to protect against dirt, stains, and fading.

grey stone tile bathroom sink
Credit: Werner Straube

Tile Grout Colors

Neutrals and earthy tones are some of the most popular tile grout colors, but you can also find more vibrant hues including blues, greens, and even pinks. In general, a grout color that contrasts with your tile will make the individual tiles pop, while a similar shade will create a smoother overall look. For example, lining white subway tile with black grout adds crisp definition around each piece, bringing texture and dimension to a backsplash. On the other hand, using cream-colored grout against neutral floor tiles offers a subtler, unified appearance. For a happy medium, a light gray grout works well with white tile, and a sandy-color grout pairs nicely with brown or neutral tiles. Keep in mind that dark tile grout colors will hide dirt and stains more effectively than lighter colors.

bathroom with white subway tile
Credit: Werner Straube

Tips on Regrouting Tiles

If you want to freshen up grout between existing tiles, it's important to know that new grout does not adhere well to old grout. If you want to do the job right, you'll need to remove the old grout. It's best to hire a professional for this part of the project because you need to use a high-speed angle grinder to carefully saw out the old grout. Warning: It's easy to cut the tile in the process. If you're not handy with this dangerous gadget, removing grout is best left in the hands of a professional.

Determining How Much Tile Grout You Need

The amount of tile grout needed depends on the type and brand of the grout. First, choose the grout you want to use (color and type), and consult the packaging. Proper mixing instructions are typically printed on the box or bag, along with how many square feet it should cover. In general, small tiles need more grout than larger ones because there are more joints to fill. When mixing the grout, it should be the consistency of soft butter, maybe a bit stiffer. Next, let the grout and color product sit, as recommended, to chemically bond. Before installation, be certain the surface and materials being grouted are properly cleaned.

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