What Is Grout? Why You Need Grout When You Install Tile and Stone

Helen Skeates
Helen Skeates
23 min read

Grout is a type of masonry material. Now, this is a thought-provoking issue. The most intriguing component of the issue is the vast amount of diverse impressions we have received from homeowners when they describe it. For instance,

  • It’s the “dirty shower wall”
  • “the substance that is evaporating off our tiles”
  • “what we always have to clean”
  • Between the tiles, there’s a layer of cement.
  • Gnaw-grabbery things on the floor

What is Grout?

We’re sure you’ve got the gist of it. When it comes to grout, you can rest easy knowing that it’s actually a good thing. What you are most likely to see is “commercially prepared grout consisting of carefully graded aggregate, Portland cement, water dispersion agents, plasticizers, and colorfast pigments,” according to the Ceramic Tile Institute of America. For the average person, the most crucial part of the definition is the combination of cement, water, and colorant.

Wikipedia provides a more formal definition here:

“Grout is a thick fluid that can be used to fill gaps or reinforce existing constructions. A mixture of water, cement, and sand, grout is used in a variety of ways, such as for pressure grouting, embedding rebar in masonry walls, connecting pre-cast concrete sections and filling voids. Shower floors and kitchen tiles are among the most common places to utilize grout. When we’re trying to make it stand out, we’ll typically use a color tint. Fine gravel can also be used to fill big areas, as well as larger gravel. Plaster and joint compound do not establish a water-resistant seal like well-prepared grout does.

Why You Need Grout When You Install Tile and Stone - Tile Outlets of America

What are the basic types?

  • When the grout joints are 1/8″ or smaller, we utilize unsanded grout.
  • Using sanded grout when the grout joint is wider than 1/8″ is the standard practice.
  • It’s common to see epoxy grouts in more demanding applications, such as when acids or oils are expected.

The space between the tiles or stones is referred to as the joint. Remember that these are only the most common varieties of grout..

Why do we use grout?

Some additional information is necessary. Why do we use it is a frequently asked question. Behind the most part, there are three main reasons for this

  • Kiln-fired tiles include ceramics such as terra-cotta and ceramic tiles such as porcelain. An industrial oven is what you’d think of when you think of the term “kiln”. Consider the tiles as if they were cookies baking in your oven, to carry on the metaphor. What goes in isn’t necessarily what comes out. In order to align irregularly shaped tiles, open spaces, or joints, must be filled with grout. Check out this picture from our Reclaimed Terracotta Collection above for more information.
  • In addition to providing a stronger bond between the tiles and the subfloor or wall, grout also acts as an adhesive. Your tile is put in a mortar or mastic on the backside. It strengthens the connection by extending it from side to side.
  • There are some scenarios where the grout and its junction contribute to a more slippery surface. Mosaic tile shower floors are a famous example of this, with the cementitious material running every inch or two inches, resulting in a lot of “grip”.

Why You Need Grout When You Install Tile and Stone

Grout is a necessity when installing tile or stone, but not just any grout will do. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar.

When it comes to tile installation, grout is a critical component, and making the wrong choice can mean the difference between a long-lasting installation that looks great and one that quickly turns into a dangerous eyesore.

For tile and stone installations, we’d like to teach you about three of the most common varieties of grout on the market today.

We’ll also take a look at grout colors.

Four Different Types of Grout

Three types of grout are available:

1. Sanded Grout

Grout that has been sanded is used in big grout joints, which are those that are at least 1/8 inch wide. Helps keep the grout in place by incorporating sand into the mix. After curing, sanded grout will have a sand-like texture and should be combined to a consistency similar to peanut butter. Before allowing your grout to cure, it is vital to remove any excess grout from your tile.

The most popular type of grout is sanded Portland cement grout, which is best suited for joints bigger than 1/8 inch. Dry or pre-mixed forms are available, and should only be applied after the floor has had time to dry.

This grout can be used on floors, walls, and ceilings both indoors and outside. Sealing it is necessary in order to protect it from dirt, spills, as well as discolouration from wear and UV rays.

Marble tiles should never have sanded grout applied to them. The stone will be scratched by the sand. It is recommended that you use an unsanded grout instead. Grouting does more than only fill in gaps, as this explanation demonstrates.

“Walls, tub enclosures, and countertops are the most common applications for unsanded grout. unsanded grout should be used where sanded grout could damage sensitive tile surfaces, such as marble or natural stone.”

2. Unsanded Grout

For grout joints smaller than 1/8″ of an inch, use unsanded grout. You’ll end up with an excess of sand in your grout joints if you try to fill them with sanded grout. A little more pressure may be needed to get the un-sanded grout into the tiny joints. In order to prevent your grout from collapsing, you must fill all of the joints. For the same reason, it is not recommended that un-sanded grout be allowed to dry on the tile’s top surface.

Unlike sanded grout, unsanded grout is a cement-based product that lacks sand for strength and filling purposes. Because of its stickier nature, unsanded grout is typically utilized for joints less than 1/8″ in diameter on walls, floors, and counter tops.

Unsanded grout must be protected in the same way as sanded grout to protect it from UV light, spills, stains, and discolouration.

3. Epoxy Grout

When compared to the cement-based grout we’ve been discussing, epoxy grout is a very different animal. Epoxy grout does not need to be sealed, and it is impermeable. The germs cannot grow on it, and it is less likely to break down over time.

Countertops, outdoor patios, pool decks, and water lines in pools all benefit from epoxy grout. In addition to being substantially more expensive than regular grout, it has a relatively short “open time” period (i.e., the time you have to work with the material before it becomes to hard to use). Before you mix your epoxy grout, find out how long it has an open time from the manufacturer.

4. TEC Power Grout

Incorporating innovative grout technology, TEC Power Grout can be used to fill grout joints up to 12″ wide.

To use, all you need to do is combine the powder with a little bit of water. You must ensure that the water is clean and at the correct temperature.

Fast-setting grout like Power Grout has many advantages. Grout joints, for example, will be devoid of efflorescence and have a constant hue. Mold and mildew can’t grow on it, and it may be utilized in both damp and dry environments.

The TEC Specialty Products website, where you may learn more about Power Grout, has further information.

Non-Toxic Grout and Thin-Set Mortar - My Chemical-Free House

Choosing a Grout Color

Grout is available in a variety of hues. Monochromatic and dichromatic are two distinct approaches to picking grout color.

  • With monochromatic grout, the tile stands out and is not overshadowed by the grout color. A monochromatic grout color is a popular choice for many individuals. White tile with white grout is an excellent illustration of this.
  • In contrast to the tile, dichromatic grout stands out from the crowd. It can be lighter or darker, but it always draws attention to the grid work of the tile pattern, rather than the actual pattern of the tiles themselves. White tile with black grout is an excellent example.

Both personal taste and aesthetics play a role in selecting the shade of grout used on a project. Correct or incorrect answers are irrelevant. If you’re having trouble deciding on a grout color, ask your local flooring or hardware store for a grout color chart or grout samples. Make sure to bring two tiles with you when you go to choose the grout color so that you can see how different grout samples look on the two tiles. This will give you a better idea of how the finished product will look.

All About Tile Grout and How to Clean It

The Purpose of Grout

Nobody notices grout when it does its job, which is to hold tiles in place, keep water out, and give floors and walls a finished look. People only pay attention when the grout becomes discoloured, broken, or completely missing.

Grout, on the other hand, is deserving of more regard. Tile contractor David Goodman of This Old House’s Nantucket project adds that grout not only fills in the spaces between the tiles, but it also strengthens them, keeping the edges of the tiles from chipping and splitting.

Grout kinds, sealants, colors, and repair methods are all covered in this comprehensive guide.

Cement-based Grout

The breadth of the joints between the tiles determines which of two main types of grout should be used. Unsanded grout, a pudding-smooth mixture of Portland cement and powdered colors combined with water, should be used for joints less than 1/8 inch. Sanded grout is used for joints that are wider than 1/8 of an inch. In order to keep the grout from shrinking, sand is added to the mix.

Three decades ago, “we’d just pour powdered grout to a pail of water, and away we’d go,” Goodman recalls. In the past, the older cement-based grouts were more fragile and more likely to crumble. It also dried unevenly, resulting in a mismatch of colors. Because of the polymer additives used in today’s grouts, color consistency and flexibility have been improved, enabling joints as wide as 1 1/4 inches. To hide imperfections in handcrafted tiles and to bridge the different thicknesses of tile in particular patterns, the wide joints of the tiles are a useful tool.

All cementitious grouts, however, are porous and susceptible to stains, despite their enhanced performance. Because of this, manufacturers and installers advise sealing grout only after it has dried completely and been allowed to cure for a few days.

Grout Sealers

Both membrane-forming and penetrating grout sealers are available. Remaining moisture from the mastic or underlayment might cause the first type of tile to peel or become hazy. It is best to use sealers that penetrate into the tile and grout, allowing it to breathe.

In other cases, Goodman encourages consumers to save money on labor costs by sealing their own grout. In exchange for a pledge that they will finish the task, I give them cotton swabs or a disposable brush, as well as a can of sealant.

Epoxy Grout

When exposed to acids and grease, even a sealed additive-enhanced grout falls short in some situations. Epoxy grout is the best choice for these kinds of circumstances. Epoxy grout, which is comprised of resin and hardener, can be found in both sanded and unsanded forms and is resistant to a wide range of substances. Epoxies of the past were harsh, difficult to use, and had a short pot life of 45 minutes. As a result, they were easy to cure but difficult for many tile setters to adopt, and anathema to new tile setters.

It is easier to clean up and work with the new generation of epoxies because the hardeners contain detergents. To prevent discoloration from epoxy, permeable surfaces like quarry tiles or limestone should be sealed first. But epoxy grout’s stain resistance, hardness, and longevity make it the finest choice for showers, kitchen counters, backsplashes, floors, and other high-traffic areas.

Is Epoxy Grout More Expensive?

It’s true that epoxy grout is more expensive than cement-based grout, costing as much as $8 per pound compared to $1 to $2 per pound. However, there is a benefit to the cost difference: epoxy grout is more durable. While two-part liquid epoxies, if not exposed to freezing temperatures, have an indefinite shelf life, powdered Portland cement grouts have a shelf life of only one year.

Grout Colors

You can go for contrasting (like white grout with black tile) or harmonizing (like green grout with green tile) when choosing the color of the grout (a shade of gray or white). However, David Goodman encourages his clients to choose a more neutral alternative when faced with the temptation of a striking combination. As he puts it, “You may not fall head over heels in love with gray, but odds are you won’t detest it, either.”

It’s always best to try out new colors on a small part of tile first, and then see how you feel about them over time. As Goodman advises, “I recommend folks to look at the color in lots of different lights – natural, incandescent, fluorescent” Cementitious grout that has not been sealed might be dyed or painted after it has dried if you make a mistake (sealed or epoxy grouts will have to be removed). As Goodman points out, the process is “quite time-consuming,” so why not just go with your gut?

Grout Cleaning Solutions

Grease and food stains can seep into the grout over time, leaving it black and discolored. It is possible to regrout or retile in extreme circumstances, but most of the time, old grout can be revived. In order to remove grease from a surface, all you need is a degreasing chemical and an old-fashioned stiff-bristled brush or a steam cleaner. In most cases, a little amount of spot regrouting is required, which entails excavating and rebuilding cracked or crumbled sections.

The Tile Lady, aka Debby Parker, has been in the business for more than two decades. In just a few hours, she and her husband, Roger Thorp, were able to restore the grout in this kitchen in Sacramento, California.

Grout vs. Concrete Explained

Grout and concrete are familiar terms, but unless you’re a skilled mason, you may not be familiar with all the subtle variations between the two. Cement, mortar, concrete and grout are often used interchangeably, despite the fact that these materials have very different properties.

Cement-based materials, such as grout and concrete, are prevalent in home improvement and building tasks. Both products are sold as powders that must be mixed with water to form a paste before use. The end result of drying and curing both ingredients is an extremely durable material.

In this article, we’ll compare and contrast grout and concrete as building materials.


Despite the fact that grout and mortar are sometimes confused, there are some important differences between the two. The glue-like substance that holds bricks, stone, and other construction materials together is referred to as “mortar.” There are three main ingredients in it: cement, lime, and fine sand.

Grindstone is a type of mortar that does not contain lime. There is a shortage of lime in grout, which makes it more of a gap filler and sealant rather than the primary glue for linking stone components. To fill in the spaces between ceramic tiles and to link parts of precast concrete in heavy construction, it is often utilized.

Grouted tiles fill in the gaps between the tiles, unlike mortar which is thick and hard. As a result, it’s perfect for caulking around shower and bathroom floor tiles. One of the few structural pastes that is meant to establish a watertight seal once cured, grout is employed in bathroom and kitchen construction as a result of these reasons.

As a powder or pre-mixed product, grout is available in a wide range of colors and applicators. Many different types of grout are available, each with a slightly different purpose.

Types of Grout

  • Tiles with gaps smaller than 1/8″ should use unsanded grout. It’s easier to deal with this type of grout because it’s thinner than ordinary grout. To make it stickier, it is devoid of sand, making it ideal for use on vertical surfaces such as shower walls.
  • Joints between 1/8″ and 3/8″ thick can be filled using finely sanded grout. It has fine sand and may be used for a wide range of tiling tasks, making it an excellent all-purpose grout. It’s affordable, strong, and easy to work with, making it a good option for beginners.
  • More suitable for bigger joints up to 12″ in width, the quarry-type grout has a coarser sand content than the prior variety.
  • Resin and hardener combine to form epoxy grout, a specialized type of mortar. An excellent bonding agent, it is very resistant to moisture and stains. It’s utilized for tile in regions that are prone to stains, such as those with very large gaps.


Using cement, sand, and coarse aggregate like gravel, concrete is a very adaptable building material. Uses range from foundations to sidewalks to fence posts; it can be used in any situation.

It’s a semi-liquid paste that’s made by dissolving the dry powder form in water and blending the two together. The malleable substance can be molded into practically any shape with the aid of molds and forms before drying to become the brittle substance we are all familiar with. Metal reinforcement, such as rebar, is frequently used in conjunction with it to increase the finished product’s longevity and strength.

How to Fix Grouting Mishaps

Types of Concrete

Fast-setting concrete, high-strength concrete, and all-purpose concrete are just a few of the dry mix options available for concrete. Pre-mixed concrete can be purchased in bags and mixed in a wheelbarrow for smaller DIY tasks around the house.

You can order concrete from a supplier and have it delivered to your job site in a barrel truck for huge jobs like laying a slab or constructing a foundation for a structure. Ready-mix concrete is the name given to this form of concrete.

You can also mix your own concrete to save money or learn how to do it yourself. Sand, Portland cement, and gravel are all you need for this project. Many forms of grout employ Portland cement, which is the most widely used type of cement.

Cement is a major component of both grout and concrete, so avoid getting it on your skin if possible. You may get burned or irritated if you come into contact with cement, which is a caustic substance.

Grout vs Concrete Comparison


Grout and concrete are both construction materials, although their roles are very different..

When building bathrooms and kitchens, grout is commonly used to fill up gaps between ceramic tiles. Because it must fill in spaces as narrow as 1/8″ wide between tiles, it is more workable and violent than concrete.

Concrete is a versatile and cost-effective building material with a wide range of applications. Setting fenceposts and mailboxes, pouring slabs for garages or sheds, and pouring sidewalks or curbs are some of the most common DIY concrete projects.


There is a lot to consider when it comes to the strength of construction materials. Compressive strength is a measure of a material’s ability to endure a given amount of stress. Tensile strength refers to a material’s capacity to resist breaking when pulled apart under strain. As a final consideration, we have flexural strength, which is the resistance of the material when bent.

Compressive Strength

Compressive strength is the most essential strength metric for concrete and grout. Compressive strength is used to describe a material’s strength because tensile and flexural strength are difficult to measure accurately.

pound-per-square-inch is the unit of compression measurement (PSI). In general, the more PSI a product has, the more expensive it is.

While concrete’s PSI ranges from 3,500 to 8,000 based on its intended usage, this is often the case. When fully cured, general-purpose concrete typically reaches a PSI of 4000, which can take up to 28 days. Projects with strong impact and wear and tear require high strength concrete that can resist 6000 PSI curing.

According on its intended use, the strength of a grout might vary greatly. Tile grout is typically between 2,500 and 5,000 PSI, although high-strength grout for pre-cast concrete and steel columns can reach 12500 PSI.


Is grout same as cement?

Cement, mortar, concrete and grout are often used interchangeably, despite the fact that these materials have very different properties. Cement-based materials, such as grout and concrete, are prevalent in home improvement and building tasks.

What is grout in bathroom?

The filler used to fill and seal the crevices between the tiles is called grout. There’s a mortar or grout product for every type of tile and every tile installation location. ‘

What is difference between grout and mortar?

The lime isn’t present in grout, so it’s not considered a true substitute for it. The increasing water content in mortar makes it easier to spread and fill cracks in ceramic and stone tile. However, due to its high water content, grout can only be used to fill in spaces.

Can tile be installed without grout?

As a result, the issue arises, “Can you tile without grout?” In order to provide an answer to this question, we’ve conducted research. To put it succinctly, the answer is no. You should not try to tile without using grout. Your tile and the wall behind it need to be protected by grout.

Can I use concrete as grout?

Neither concrete nor grout should be used as a substitute for each other. Concrete’s coarse aggregate is typically too large to fit in the cavities of most masonry grouts. Low water-cement ratios are also critical for strength in cast-in-place concrete.

Can I mix grout with cement?

Grout should not be used as a substitute for cement. It is made of cement, sand, pigments and/or additives, and is used to grout tiles. Waterproofing components can be included in some tile grouts as well.

Can tile cement be used as grout?

The glue used to adhere tiles to subfloors and walls is called “tile adhesive.” Filling in the gaps between tiles and sealing the areas from water, bacteria, and dust is the primary purpose of grout, which is used in bathrooms. Despite the fact that some of the components in both compounds are similar, they are not interchangeable.

Is grout waterproof in showers?

Assuming a Waterproof Shower is Just a Matter of Grout, Tile, and Sealants. Tile and grout are water-resistant, but if they aren’t installed correctly, water will find a way in.

Helen Skeates

Helen Skeates

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