So many home renovation projects include the installation of tile. Figuring out which grout is needed, sanded or unsanded, can prove to be a bit of a challenge. We’ll tell you which type of grout is needed for which project you’re working on.
Sanded vs Unsanded Grout? There are many different home projects to tackle and many of them need tile. When working with wider-set tiles, such as bathroom or kitchen tile, sanded grout is recommended. It is grittier, holds its shape better, and will withstand hard use. For fine detail, such as corners, or if you’re placing the tile on the wall, then unsanded grout is recommended. While sanded grout is less expensive, because the sand works as a cheaper filler, it will need to be sealed which costs a bit more, plus adds to your time involved.
What is tile grout?
When you lay tile, you need to fill the space between tiles. As such, tile grout is used. There are different types of tile grout, namely sanded and unsanded grout. Which one you will use will depend on the distance between the tiles as well as the type of tiles you’ve installed.
Difference of Sanded vs Unsanded Grout
There are some differences you need to know when it comes to tiles. One of which could vary between choosing between sanded vs unsanded grout. Below are some of the differences you need to consider.
When you have tiles that are placed at least 1/8 of an inch apart, then sanded grout is recommended. Not only is it inexpensive, but the fine sand particles in this grout help to keep everything locked in tightly.
As the grout dries, the sand becomes suspended in the mixture, creating a sturdy combination. Sanded grout is recommended for bathroom floors, kitchen floors, and shower pans.
Sanded grout should be used in any tile project where the thickness between tiles is 1/8 of an inch or wider. Without sand, the grout can crack in wider spaces, which is why such a mixture is needed.
After you apply your sanded grout and it cures, it will need a layer of sealant to resist cracking. When you seal grout, it also helps it maintain its color.
While you will need to seal your sanded grout after you install your tile, it is also recommended to re-seal it once or twice a year. It may seem like a lot of work, but you just need a bit of sealant and a brush and you’ll be able to finish quite quickly.
The really nice benefit of sanded grout is that it comes in many color choices. You may not think that the color of your grout will make a big difference, but it actually does.
After spending a lot of time and effort picking out your tile, it’s important to also think about the color of your grout. You may want to pick a color that blends in with the tile or be a bit bold and go with a contrasting color.
The nice thing about sanded grout is that whatever you decide, there will most likely be the color available.
For projects where tiles are on a vertical surface, unsanded grout is recommended. This includes shower and bathroom walls.
Vertical tiles are usually closer together, with the width apart measuring less than 1/8 of an inch. Because there is less space between the tiles, a filler isn’t needed to keep the grout and the tiles in place.
Narrow Joints and Areas
Tile in narrow areas will have thinner widths, and therefore unsanded grout is recommended. The grout is better able to reach narrow joints with an even distribution.
Sand particles, even small amounts, can scratch surfaces. If you have tile that is made from natural stone, glass, or ceramic, and is especially delicate, then unsanded grout is recommended.
All types of grout are spread over top of tile and in this process, the tile can become scratched.
One of the benefits of using unsanded grout is that you don’t have to seal it afterwards. Because there is no sand, it is less porous, and therefore doesn’t need an extra layer to protect it.
However, if you are hesitant about leaving your grout unprotected, you can definitely decide to seal it, just in case. If you do, it’s recommended to re-seal the grout once or twice a year.
Mixture or Ingredients
Included in sanded grout are a cement base and finely ground silica sand. It can feel a bit gritty but loses a bit of that texture once it has dried.
Sanded grout comes in a wider color palette. It needs to be sealed once it has been applied and dried.
Unsanded grout has a cement base. It can also have polymer or latex included in it to enhance its texture.
Unsanded grout comes in different colors but not as many as sanded grout. It usually does not need to be sealed afterwards, which is a nice time saver.
Sanded vs Unsanded Grout Pros and Cons
- Costs less thanks to the added filler
- More color choices
- Might scratch delicate surfaces
- Hard to place in thinner seams
- Always needs to be sealed afterwards
- Better adherence to vertical tiles
- Rarely needs to be sealed
- Fewer color choices
- Doesn’t hold up with wider seams
Which is better, sanded or unsanded grout?
Neither sanded nor unsanded grout is necessarily better. Rather, they are best suited for different tiling projects.
If you have wider seams and are tiling areas like a bathroom or kitchen floor, then sanded grout does a better job of keeping everything together.
If you have thinner seams, such as vertical tile or narrow joints, then unsanded grout is better because it is easier to get into the seams.
Sanded grout is cheaper because of the filler but it will require a layer of sealant.
For common tiling jobs, such as bathroom and kitchen floors, sanded grout works best. It helps create a strong bond between tiles and it also comes in more color choices.
For vertical tiling jobs and tiling with fine lines, sanded grout is better. It doesn’t have all the color choices available, but it also won’t scratch any softer surfaces.