You have a lot of choices when it comes to tile and grout these days. The variety of colors and materials are incredible these days and it may be hard to decide which you should use.
We’ve come a long way since the very first types of grout were used, so naturally, you’re going to have more choices the old timers did. In post I’ll give you the details about sanded vs unsanded grout and when you should choose each.
Sanded vs Unsanded Grout: What’s the Difference?
The main difference in sanded vs unsanded grout is the consistency of the filling. The basic recipe for grout is a mixture of water and cement, but sometimes sand is added to the mixture to provide a bulkier and clingier fill. Sanded grout uses a very fine-grain sand compared to products like lime mortar to give the grout a grittier and rougher consistency, while unsanded grout is smoother and thinner.
The type of grout you use for each project really does matter a good deal. In particular, you’ll want to be sure that you’re using the right grout to bond the right materials. You can generally determine the type of grout used based on the spaces between tiles and the material of the tiles.
Unsanded grout is the smoother of the two options since it has no sand added to the mix, and it also the more expensive of the two since it has special polymers added to the mix to help with adhesion. This design makes unsanded grout especially effective in a few scenarios.
designed for tiles with grout joints less than 1/8th inches wide and is generally best for vertical projects.
- Vertical Surfaces – The excellent adhesion of unsanded grout makes it well equipped for installation on vertical surface like shower walls and backsplashes.
- Small Joints – Small tiles usually come with small grout joints (1/8″ or smaller) and these are best suited to unsanded grout. Sanded grout is bulkier and can be difficult to fully press into these small joints.
- Delicate Tile – Some tile has a very delicate surface that can easily scratch and these tile require unsanded grout to avoid marring their surface. Certain historic glazed ceramics, glass, marble or other soft stone tiles should always be set with unsanded grout.
Sanded grout, on the other hand, is slightly cheaper than unsanded grout and has its place in the tile world in more ways than unsanded grout does. Use sanded grout for these types of installations.
- Horizontal Surfaces – For those high traffic areas sanded grout is stronger thank to the addition of sand to the mix and can standa up to heavier traffic without shrinking like unsanded grout has a tendency to do.
- Large Joints – The addition of sand to the grout acts as a filler to bulk up the grout and provide more strength to bridge those larger spaces necessary for large format tiles. For grout joints larger than 1/8″ sanded grout is almost always the best choice. For joints 1/2″ or larger you may need a speciality grout that has even more sand and additives to help it bridge those extra larger gaps.
Now other than picking the right color you should be equipped to choose the right type of grout for your project. Sanded vs unsanded grout is not as complicated as a lot people make it. Just follow the guidelines above and your project will turn out spectacular.
Founder & Senior Editor
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.