Bet you never thought you'd be reading a blog post about tile grout did you? Grout is a small detail that most people overlook or don't think much about. However, it’s a crucial part of both the aesthetic and performance of your bathroom remodel project. You'll be glad you read this blog when your project is finished and you’re not battling cracked and stained grout issues in your brand new bathroom. So keep reading, we don’t think you’re geek.
Make sure to also check out our video Grout: An Important Detail Not to Overlook.
While there are countless options on the market, there are four main grout types that are used most often. They are Cementitious sanded and un-sanded, epoxy, and urethane. Let’s take a look the pros and cons of each so you can make an informed choice for your home.
Cementitious Sanded Grout
Cementitious grouts are the most common types used today. They’ve been around the longest and are the least expensive of the four options. Sanded grout is used for tile installations with wider grout lines. The sand provides reinforcement and body and keeps the grout from shrinking or cracking. The sand makes it more durable than un-sanded grout and it’s a little less expensive. It's used more often in homes than any other type of grout because of these factors. If your design includes glass tile or softer materials such as natural stone, sanded grout should not be used because the sand particles will scratch the surface of the glass or stone. Cementitious sanded grout also requires sealer to protect it from staining and water damage, so it’s not a maintenance free option.
Cementitious Un-sanded Grout
As the name indicates, un-sanded grout is very similar to it’s cementitious cousin, but without the sand. It’s a little more expensive than sanded grout because more polymers must be used to strengthen the grout without the sand. The absence of sand also means that this grout is less durable than the sanded version, so it’s best for use on walls rather than floors. This is especially true if wheelchairs and toddler step-stools are being used in the bathroom. Un-sanded grout is very sticky when mixed for application and does well on vertical surfaces such as shower walls. It’s also great for glass and softer stone tiles since there’s no sand in it to scratch the surface, and it's an ideal option for grout lines smaller than 1/8th of an inch. Without the sand, it can get into those small spaces without leaving air holes and gaps. Just like sanded cementitious grout, un-sanded grout is not maintenance free and requires sealers to remain free of stains and to keep it from absorbing water.
Next in our lineup is epoxy grout, which is newer to the market than cementitious grouts and is very different in application and cost. Because of its durability, it has proven itself to be a worthy product over the years and an excellent option for bathroom grout. Its durability has made it a common product in commercial applications as well. It can used for any size grout joint, and since it has no abrasive sand, it’s safe for use with glass and softer tiles. When cured, it has a plastic-like appearance and is extremely durable and nearly stain proof without the need for sealer. So with all these great attributes, why not just use it for all applications? Great question, and there are two answers, price, and installation method. Epoxy is considerably more expensive than cementitious grouts, and because of its consistency and installation method, you can expect to pay more for labor than you would with the other grout types. With great durability and zero maintenance, it could be a great option for your Universal Design bathroom project.
The newest member of the grout family in our group is polyurethane grout. Often referred to as urethane grout, it’s the most flexible and the most expensive of the four options. Just like with epoxy grout, urethane does not need to be sealed and is virtually stain proof. One of the big aesthetic wins for this grout type is its ability to maintain a consistent color throughout the product during installation, ensuring your grout joints are extremely uniform when completed. One color downside is the number of colors available because of its newness in the marketplace. For comparison, there are currently about forty colors to choose in urethane compared to over one hundred with cementitious grouts.
While it shares some performance traits of epoxy, it’s not as tedious to install and therefore will not impact installation cost significantly. It’s a perfect fit for a Universal Design project with its flexibility and durability.
When it comes to choosing a grout color from a Universal Design standpoint there are a couple of things to consider. First, and probably the most obvious, is choosing something that looks great in your space. With the mind-boggling number of colors to choose from this can get overwhelming in a hurry. This is definitely a time when having an experienced designer in your corner will help.
To make the process easier, choose your tile first. The color and pattern of your tile will eliminate a lot of the color options right away. Next, decide if you want the grout to blend with the tile and disappear, or to stand out and make a statement of its own. This should narrow the choices down even further. Keep in mind that a contrasting grout color can be a great way to add visual texture to a floor or wall, reducing the chance of a misstep that could cause a fall.
Wrapping it All Up
Durability, cost, aesthetics, safety, and maintenance. Balancing these five items will help you make the right choice for your home, budget, and long-term use of your space. There’s no perfect solution for every project, so be sure to get the help of a qualified professional to get the best results for your project.
Smart People Make Smart Choices
Our goal with these pieces is to help you get the information you need to make educated choices for your home and family. If you’ve found this helpful, or have questions or requests for other topics, please let us know below, and we’ll make sure you get the answers you need.
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