With today’s new materials and colors, choosing grout for your tile project can be overwhelming. Here’s a breakdown showing the choices available to new homeowners and remodelers.
Types of grout
From powder to pre-mixed, and even epoxy, grout comes in many types. Powder grout, a cement-based product, contains pores – meaning it can hold stains, water and dirt. It requires sealing immediately after installation and a re-sealing from time to time. A bit more expensive, epoxy grout requires less maintenance. For porous, stone tiles, use a cement-based product; use epoxy with non-porous materials.
Sanded versus un-sanded grout
Grout comes in sanded and un-sanded varieties. Sand acts to keep the joints from shrinking or cracking over time. For smaller grout lines and tile that will show scratches (glass or metallic finishes), use un-sanded. On your floors, choose a sanded grout for better wear.
Choosing a color
Gone are the days of exclusively using white grout. These days, tile designers recommend taking cues from your tile design and the colors in your tile. The grout should coordinate, and if done correctly, should unify the project. Some people prefer darker colors because they show less dirt. To bring out tile color, shape, and design, go for a high-contrast color. For a more neutral look, choose one that closely matches the tones in your tile.
How to DIY
Remove old product using an oscillating or rotary multi-tool. Always where safety glasses and ear protection. Use a flat-head screwdriver, and finally a dull utility blade to scrape out any remaining grout, then clean up debris with a shop vacuum. Wipe down the tile and let it dry. If necessary, mix your grout to the correct consistency, and apply with a trowel, cleaning off excess as you go. Note that installing epoxy grout takes more time and attention to ensure removing all excess from the tile. After allowing the tile to dry, seal if required.
When to call a pro
Sometimes it’s faster and less expensive to have a professional do the job. Purchasing all the proper tools and materials only makes sense if you need them for other jobs. If you’re overwhelmed, or feel you’re in over your head, contact a tile installer. Large jobs, or those jobs that require lots of tile-cutting may be better done by a pro.
Synthetic materials like epoxy or urethane do not require sealing. But to keep your cement grout looking newer longer, and to prevent water absorption, use a sealer. Reseal after cleaning with powerful acidic materials. Sealants should be reapplied about every three years.
How to clean grout
If properly sealed, your grout should not promote mildew or mold growth or show stains. Read manufacturer recommendations on how to clean to clean the various products to avoid damaging the protective covering.