Choosing your Grout


A man with a sponge cleaning grout joints
Freshly installed urethane grout is cleaned up and looks great.

Save for a few unique exceptions, you'll need grout for your tile installation!

There are several different types of grout, each with their own unique benefits and drawbacks. See our comparison lists below to help select the right grout for your installation.

Frequently Asked Questions about Grout


WHY do I need grout? Can't I set my tiles tightly together and not grout?

If there's any risk of spills or messes on a tile surface, you need to have grout. Grout fills the seams between the tiles to create a barrier that helps keep dirt and moisture out. Specifically, any kitchen, bathroom, shower, backsplash, or floor tiles need grout between them.

 

Tightly set tiles do not protect against water damage; liquids will use any crack to wick behind your tiles and can cause mold and mildew, which pose a health hazard and can lead to serious structural damage.

 

Grout helps your tile installation adjust to the natural movement and settling of your house.

 

Grout joints also allow for contraction and expansion of the tiles; outside installations exposed to hot summers and cold winters will fail if they are not set correctly and properly grouted. Inside, tiles can buckle and come loose if not properly set with adequate grout and the occasional expansion joint.

 

The only times when you can forgo grout are when tiling on a fireplace face (where there's no water, foot traffic, or spill risks) or when using a splitface mosaic or slate ledgerstone (the pieces are tightly set and heavily textured, with no room for grout).

How can I minimize the amount of grout I have and need to clean?

To make grout as low-maintenance as possible, consider these options:

  • Have smaller grout joints: make them as thin as 1/16" if the tile allows.
  • Use larger tiles for fewer grout joints.
  • Use a non-porous grout such as QuartzLock2 or Fusion Pro for stain-resistance.
  • Choose a grout that never needs to be sealed (QuartzLock2, Fusion Pro, or epoxy).
  • Install a good quality, high-flexibility grout to reduce cracking and long-term damage (urethane grout).

My grout is dirty. How can I clean it?

Visit our Cleaning and Maintaining Grout page for all of the tips, tricks, products, and recommendations on keeping grout clean.

The Different Types of Grout


We deal with 3 major types of grout: pre-mixed, epoxy, and cement-based. Below are listed the pros and cons of each. For more information on each of the different types, please visit their individual pages.

Pre-Mixed Grouts: Urethane, Polymer, & Acrylic


Include QuartzLock Urethane Grout, Dimensions Urethane GroutFusion Pro, Flexcolor by Mapei, Plasma by Laticrete, and more.

PROS

+ Color Consistency: From one bucket to the next, your color will be exactly the same!

 

+ Unique Options: QuartzLock Urethane Grout has a line of sparkly and metallic grout called Dimensions Star Quartz that looks beautiful in glass and mosaic installations.

 

Stain Resistance: You will never need to seal these grouts!


+ Crack-Resistant Flexibility: With the exception of expansion joints on floors, you don't need to use caulking and can put pre-mixed grouts in grout joints up to 1/2" wide.


+ Quick Install: Save for clean up, this is a one step installation process. No need to come back and seal later.

 

+ Work in Increments: Unlike epoxy, where everything has to be installed at once, you can work in small sections and revisit the grout later.


+ Long Life In-Bucket: You can open a bucket, use some grout, re-seal the bucket, and then use your grout again up to two years later!


No Dust: Unlike cement grout, no powders to mix, meaning cleaner air.

 

+ Low VOCs: Epoxy is known for its hazardous fumes. Urethane grout has no BPA or NMP

CONS

- Price: Pre-mixed grouts range from $50-$100 per 1 gallon unit, depending upon color, brand, and availability. 

 

- Work in small sections: Pre-mixed grouts dry by evaporation. If you try to grout an area larger than 4-6 sqft before grabbing a sponge to clean up, you'll find that the grout has already started to stiffen.

 

- Haze: Even if you do a very thorough cleaning, there may be some grout residue on the surface of your tiles. Fortunately, fine residue can usually be buffed off with a paper towel, and we have cleaners for more stubborn residue.

 

- Texture: The pre-mixed grouts have a sandy texture, and can scratch certain materials such as stainless steel during the installation process.


Learn more about QuartzLock2 Urethane Grout.

Learn about the sparkling, decorative Dimensions Urethane Grout.

Learn more about Fusion Pro.

Epoxy Grout


PROS

+ Stain Resistance: You will never need to seal epoxy!


+ Color Options: A wide selection and fun, unique options, including glow-in-the-dark.

 

+ Best for Specialty Wet Areas: Most other grouts are not recommended for submerged or steamy areas (pools, steam rooms, etc.) or water installations with high chemical content (chlorine, salt water spas, etc.)

CONS

- Tricky Application: If you aren't careful, epoxy will set up before you can clean up. You're limited by how much time you have to work after mixing the components together. Work fast.


- Tough Clean-Up: This rubbery grout is stubborn when dry and requires specialty cleaners to dissolve epoxy residue.


- Fumes: Make sure you have good ventilation when using epoxy grout; some of the chemicals in this grout are harsh and strong. Banned in France.


- Mixing: You have to mix two or three separate components together before application.


Learn more about Epoxy Grout.

Cement-Based Grout


PROS

+ Color Selection: Cement-based grouts are the most common type of grout, and as such have the widest color selection.


+ Easy to Install, Easy to Clean Up: After installation, all you need is a wet cloth or, at worst, some light scrubbing to remove grout residue from your tiles.


+ Inexpensive: Per unit, cement-based grout is the cheapest grout available.

CONS

- Poor Color Consistency: Many factors (including minerals in your water, how you mix the grout, humidity, etc.) can affect the look of your grout, causing inconsistencies and hazy efflorescence.


- Porosity: Of the four major grout types, this is the only one with pores, which can allow staining and bacterial growth.

 

- Needs to be Sealed: A penetrating sealer is recommended to protect this grout from staining and mildew.


- Brittleness: Caulking is needed for corners and edges. Cementitious grout in corners will crack and flake out over time, and can crumble if not installed properly

 

- Breathing Hazard: The powder in the grout can get in your air and into your lungs; wear a mask when mixing


Learn more about Cement-Based Grout.


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