When remodeling, many people devote a great amount of time to selecting materials, including tile, for their home. While pouring over tile samples be sure to consider an often overlooked detail that can have a huge aesthetic impact on the final outcome: The grout. We will be breaking down your grout selection into three categories: grout joints, grout type, and grout color.
In general, your local environment and local climate may play a role in the upkeep of tile and grout. Some grout line sizes, types, and colors can be harder to upkeep and clean. For instance more woodsy and rich vegetative areas like Los Gatos, Ca or Los Altos, Ca require some considerations of light damage and / or foot debris from outdoors. Below is an overview of the details to consider:
Grout Joint Specification
The size of your grout joints will vary depending on the size of your tile, thickness of your tile, tile material and personal preference. Typically there is a recommended grout joint size provided by the tile manufacturer. If you want to deviate from this recommendation consult your installer to determine if this is feasible. Be aware that a tighter grout joint will highlight any irregularities in the tiles, which is especially noticeable if you are using a handmade tile. The size of the grout joint is also affected by the type of grout used. Sanded grout is often recommended for grout joints larger than ⅛” while unsanded grout is effective in joints ⅛” and smaller.
You should rely on your tile installer and tile manufacturer to help select the appropriate grout type for your project. The two main types of grout are cement based and epoxy based. Cement based is typically used in residential applications as it is cheaper, easier to work with, and has the traditional grout appearance that most homeowners want. Epoxy grout is more likely to be specified in commercial applications due to its durability, stain resistance, and ability to hold up to chemicals and acids. Epoxy grout often has a more “plastic” appearance. Both cement based and epoxy grout can be specified as “sanded” or “unsanded.” As the name implies, this indicates where or not there is sand mixed into the grout. Typically the joint size determines whether or not you want sanded or unsanded grout, however, in some occasions the tile material itself will dictate the type of grout needed. For instance, a polished marble tile could be etched by sanded grout so you always want to specify an unsanded grout for this application. There are also some specialty grouts on the market such as urethane products embedded with glass beads that work well with translucent glass tiles.
When it comes to grout color we recommend that you make this decision ahead of time with your trusted designer. Grout color can have a huge impact on the final look of your tile project so don’t make a snap decision. If you want a monochromatic look and desire for your tiles to read as a mass versus as individual pieces, then you will want to match the grout color to the tile color. If you want your grout to stand out you may pick a color the compliments the tile while still offering plenty of contrast. Consider the surface the your are tiling. A very light grout color may stain over time, so this may not be a good selection for high traffic floor surfaces.
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