Can I Use Sanded Grout on Backsplash?

Sanded grout is often recommended for tile installations with joints 1/8 inch or wider, while unsanded grout is typically used for narrower joints. With the relatively small tile sizes and narrow grout lines commonly used in backsplash installations, unsanded grout may seem like the obvious choice. However, using sanded grout on a backsplash can offer some advantages.

Pros of Using Sanded Grout on Backsplash

Better Adhesion and Less Shrinkage

The sand particles in sanded grout provide better binding between the grout and the edges of the tile. This allows the grout to adhere tightly in the joint, reducing the chance of cracking or pulling away from the tile edges. The sand also minimizes shrinkage as the grout dries. Less shrinkage means fewer voids for dirt and moisture to collect.

Prevents Staining and Discoloration

Unsanded grout is more porous than sanded mixes. This means it can absorb liquids, grease and dirt more readily, leading to staining and discoloration over time. The sand in sanded grout makes it less porous and more stain-resistant.

Handles High-Traffic Areas

Backsplashes often see a lot of traffic, bumps and cleaning. Sanded grout is harder and more durable than unsanded. So it better handles routine wear and tear without crumbling or eroding.

Matches Tile Texture

Sanded grout contains fine silica sand similar to the natural sand used to create many ceramic and porcelain tiles. This allows the texture and appearance of sanded grout to closely match that of the tiles themselves.

Potential Drawbacks of Sanded Grout

Difficult Clean-Up Between Tiles

The sand particles make sanded grout harder to fully clean off tile surfaces. Extra care must be taken to remove all grout residue before it dries.

Not for Polished Surfaces

The fine sand can scratch and dull the surface of polished marble, travertine, glass and other smooth tiles. Consider unsanded grout for these materials.

Requires More Mixing

It takes additional mixing and stirring to fully integrate the sand particles into the grout mix. But most sanded grout requires only 5-10 minutes of active mixing.

Joint Size Matters

Don’t use sanded grout for joints smaller than 1/8 inch. The sand grains can clog the joints and cause cracking or weak spots.

Tips for Applying Sanded Grout on Backsplashes

  • Only mix as much grout as you can apply and clean within the product’s stated open time.
  • Hold the grout float at a 45° angle to the surface to force grout into joints. Avoid just spreading across tiles.
  • Let the grout firm up slightly before cleaning. This allows better adhesion and less residue.
  • Change rinse water frequently to limit haze and residue. A grout sponge makes rinsing easier.
  • Consider sealing sanded grout to limit absorption and staining, especially in heavy use areas.
  • Match your grout color to the tile. Contrasting grout shows more dirt and imperfections over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use sanded grout on small tile joints?

No, sanded grout should only be used for joints 1/8 inch and larger. The sand particles can get trapped in narrow joints. Stick with unsanded grout for small tiles and mosaics.

Is sanded or unsanded grout better for backsplash?

Sanded grout is generally the better choice for backsplashes due to its durability, stain resistance and texture. But unsanded works well for polished stone tiles and glass mosaics.

Does sanded grout need to be sealed on backsplash?

Sealing sanded grout is a good idea for heavy use backsplash areas near stoves and sinks. Sealing minimizes moisture absorption and staining. But it’s not mandatory for all backsplash applications.

What color grout is best for backsplash?

Off-white and light grey grouts effectively minimize visible dirt and stains. White can also work well with dark grout lines between white subway tiles. Match or complement the tile color.

Should I grout bottom edge of backsplash?

Yes, fully grouting the bottom edge creates a neater finish and seals the tile edge. Just leave a slight gap between the backsplash and countertop for expansion.

Can I apply sanded grout if some of the joints are too small?

It’s best to use unsanded grout if any joints are less than 1/8 inch. But you can tape off and fill the small joints with unsanded grout first, then use sanded for the wider gaps.


While unsanded grout is often the norm for backsplashes, there are many advantages to using sanded grout instead. The durability and stain resistance of sanded grout make it a practical option for busy kitchen backsplashes. Just be sure to use care when cleaning to avoid grout haze, only apply it in joints larger than 1/8 inch, and consider sealing it after installation. With some thoughtful technique, sanded grout can be an ideal choice to create a long-lasting and low-maintenance backsplash.