Choosing the right grout for your backsplash can make all the difference in the final look and durability of your design. With so many options on the market, it can be tricky to decide which grout is best for your needs. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the key factors to consider when selecting grout for a backsplash installation or repair.
A backsplash serves both decorative and functional purposes in a kitchen or bathroom. Mounted on the wall behind a countertop, sink or range, it protects the walls from moisture, stains and scratches. It also adds visual interest and ties together the whole design of the space.
With the wide variety of backsplash tiles available today, from ceramic, porcelain and glass to natural stone, the grout plays a critical role. Grout fills the joints between tiles, sealing the installation and giving it a finished look. While a properly grouted backsplash blends into the background, poorly chosen or applied grout will stick out like a sore thumb.
Choosing the right grout requires considering factors like the type of tile, the setting (wet or dry), desired appearance and maintenance. Getting the grout right ensures your backsplash stays beautiful and functions properly for years to come.
Types of Grout
Grout comes in several types, each with pros and cons for backsplash use. Let’s look at the most common options:
Cement grout is a mixture of Portland cement, sand and water. It provides a durable, long-lasting waterproof joint between tiles. Cement grout comes in different grades, with polymer-modified blends offering increased flexibility, adhesion and resistance to shrinking and cracking compared to plain cement mixes.
Pros: Excellent durability, stain resistance and affordability
Cons: More prone to cracking and discoloration than epoxy or urethane grouts
Epoxy grouts contain epoxy resins that create permanent, stain-proof seals between tiles. Epoxy grout won’t shrink or crack and provides excellent adhesion. It’s more chemically resistant than cement grout.
Pros: Extremely durable, stain-proof and waterproof
Cons: More expensive than cement; requires careful mixing and application
Urethane grout contains waterproof urethane binders. It has similar performance to epoxy grout but remains flexible over a wider temperature range.
Pros: Extremely waterproof and stain-resistant; flexible; resists cracking
Cons: Higher cost; requires meticulous application
Grout Considerations by Tile Type
Certain grout types work better with specific kinds of tiles:
Ceramic and Porcelain
Cement or epoxy grout are good options for ceramic and porcelain backsplashes. Avoid urethane with porcelain; it can stain the tile.
Use only epoxy or urethane grout with glass tiles. Cement grout can scratch the surface. Epoxy offers the best stain protection.
Use cement or epoxy grout for natural stone. Epoxy provides better stain resistance. Avoid urethane with porous, absorptive stones.
Large Format Tiles
On large format tiles, epoxy and urethane grouts resist cracking better than cement.
Small Mosaic Tiles
For small mosaics, cement grout tends to be easier to work with than epoxy or urethane.
Choosing Grout Color
Grout comes in a rainbow of colors, so you can match or contrast with your tiles. Some guidelines for choosing grout color:
- Matching the grout to similar colored tiles creates a monochromatic look.
- Contrasting the grout against the tile color makes it stand out.
- Neutral grout like white or gray blends in for a minimalist style.
- Dark grout highlights light colored tiles; light grout makes dark tiles pop.
- Stick with gray, white or beige grout for cleanability with light tiles.
Grout Considerations by Setting
Kitchens demand grout that can stand up to moisture, grease, food and frequent cleaning. Epoxy or urethane grouts are best for resisting stains. White or light cement grout will show dirt over time.
Bathrooms also require maximum stain and water resistance. Epoxy and urethane grouts are ideal. Stay away from dark grout that will highlight soap scum and hard water deposits.
In dry indoor settings like fireplace surrounds, cement grout offers an affordable option. Epoxy and urethane provide extra insurance for stain resistance.
Outdoors, epoxy or urethane grout is essential for waterproofing and longevity. Avoid cement grout outdoors due to cracking and discoloration from moisture.
How to Apply Grout
Once you’ve selected the right grout, proper application is key:
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing, application and curing times.
- Apply grout using a rubber grout float or squeegee, pressing into joints.
- Clean excess grout off the tiles with a damp sponge before it dries.
- After initial cleaning, smooth and shape joints with a dampened grout sponge.
- Once the grout has cured, buff the tiles with a soft cloth to polish to a sheen.
With the right grout choice and careful application, you can achieve a backsplash that stays beautiful for many years of daily use. Paying attention to grout means you’ll never have to tear out your backsplash due to crumbling, stained or discolored joints.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most stain resistant grout for backsplashes?
Epoxy grout offers the best stain resistance. It creates an impervious seal between tiles that prevents absorption of liquids and soils.
Can I use sanded grout for backsplashes?
Sanded grout contains fine silica sand for filling wider joints. It’s typically used for floors or wall tiles with joints wider than 1/8 inch. For most backsplash applications, unsanded grout is recommended.
How do I clean grout haze off my tiles?
Use a grout haze remover product or mix equal parts white vinegar and water. Gently scrub with a soft brush or sponge and rinse thoroughly. Repeat as needed until tiles are clear.
My tile contractor used bad grout – can I regrout my backsplash myself?
With proper preparation, you can regrout a backsplash yourself. Remove old grout completely, clean tiles and re-grout with a high quality grout. Make sure tiles are firmly adhered before regrouting.
What’s the best grout for swimming pool backsplashes?
In swimming pools, epoxy grout is required to withstand constant moisture. Make sure the epoxy grout product is specifically designed for submerged applications.
Choosing and applying the optimal grout transforms a simple tile backsplash into a finished masterpiece. With the right grout, your backsplash installation will last for decades and enhance the style of your kitchen or bath. Consider tile material, setting, color scheme and maintenance needs when selecting quality grout. With proper installation and care, your backsplash grout will deliver lasting performance and beauty.