Choosing the right type of grout for your backsplash is an important decision that can dramatically affect the final look and durability of your backsplash installation. The grout fills the joints between the backsplash tiles and is a key component in creating a cohesive, polished look.
When selecting grout, you need to consider factors like the type of tile you’re using, the location of the backsplash, how much resistance you need to stains and moisture, and the desired final appearance. With many grout types available, from cement-based to epoxy, it can be difficult to decide what grout is best for your particular backsplash.
In this comprehensive guide, we will walk through the pros and cons of various grout types to help you determine what type of grout for backsplash works best for your needs. We’ll cover popular options like sanded vs. unsanded cement grout, epoxy grout, and urethane grout, explaining where each excels and their limitations. With the right information, you can choose the ideal grout for your backsplash installation that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Grout
There are several important factors to weigh when deciding what type of grout to use for your backsplash:
Location of the Backsplash
- The amount of moisture the area will be exposed to should impact your grout selection. For example, backsplashes behind sinks or stoves require more water-resistant grout than a backsplash on a less damp wall.
Type of Tile
- The tile material influences grout suitability. Natural stone warrants a grout with elasticity, while porous tiles need a grout with more water-resistance. The tile size also matters, with wider grout lines requiring a thicker, more durable grout.
- Grout comes in different colors and textures, so select a grout type and color that provides your preferred visual appeal. Some grouts can be tinted to match the tiles.
Stain and Moisture Resistance Needs
- Areas prone to grease, dirt, and moisture call for highly stain-resistant epoxy or urethane grout, while lower-risk backsplashes can use traditional cement grout.
By weighing all these factors, you can zero in on the right grout solution for your particular backsplash tiles, location, and design goals.
Types of Grout for Backsplashes
With the key considerations in mind, let’s examine the popular grout types suitable for backsplashes and the pros and cons of each:
Sanded Cement Grout
Sanded cement grout contains fine sand particles that allow it to be used in grout lines 1/8″ and wider. The sand provides strength and durability to support the tile.
- Excellent for relatively smooth, non-porous surfaces like ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone tiles with low absorption rates
- Provides a strong, durable fill for wider grout lines
- Cost-effective grout option
- Can be colored via cement-based grout colorants
- Not ideal for translucent glass tiles or polished marble, as it can cause scratching
- The sand content can wear down polished or soft surfaces over time
- Porous tiles require sealing before applying sanded grout
- Not highly stain or water-resistant
Best For: Low-moisture backsplashes on non-polished tiles with grout lines 1/8″ or wider.
Unsanded Cement Grout
Without sand, this smoother cement grout is suited for narrow grout lines 1/8″ or less. The lack of sand allows use on polished, delicate surfaces.
- Good option for glass, marble, or polished stone with tight grout lines
- Smoother texture with flexible consistency for smaller grout joints
- Does not scratch soft or polished surfaces
- Cost-effective grout choice
- Can be colored
- Not as durable or strong as sanded grout
- Only suitable for narrow grout lines less than 1/8″
- Provides less stain and moisture resistance
Best For: Backsplashes with polished, delicate tiles and narrow grout lines.
Epoxy grouts contain epoxy resins that provide an extremely durable, waterproof fill ideal for wet areas. They come in a wide array of colors.
- Excellent stain, chemical, and water resistance
- Durable, long-lasting grout
- Resists mold and mildew growth
- Can be used for grout lines of any width
- Available in many colors; does not require sealing
- Difficult to work with and install
- Requires precision mixing of resin and hardener
- Can be damaged by some acidic cleaners once cured
- More expensive than traditional cement grout
Best For: Backsplashes in kitchens and baths prone to moisture, grease, and stains.
Urethane grouts contain tough, rubber-like urethane binders mixed with fine aggregates. They provide flexibility and water-resistance.
- Extremely flexible and waterproof
- Excellent stain and chemical resistance
- Withstands cracking and shrinkage on flexible surfaces like wood or metal
- Good abrasion resistance for heavy use areas
- Available in various colors
- Harder to use than cement grouts
- Precision mixing required
- More expensive than traditional grout
- Can be damaged by some acids or solvents
Best for: Backsplashes on flexible surfaces or in high-moisture areas that see heavy use.
Grout caulk is a silicone-based grout alternative that adheres strongly while providing flexibility for joints.
- Allow for expansion and contraction, preventing cracks
- High moisture and mold resistance
- Easier installation than traditional grout
- Good for change of plane joints
- Limited in grout line width, best for 1/4″ or less
- Minimal color selection available
- Prone to staining from oils and dyes
- Does not last as long as epoxy or urethane grouts
Best For: Backsplashes near sinks/stoves where flexibility and water-resistance are key.
Now that you know the advantages and limitations of each grout type, you can determine the best choice for your particular backsplash and tiles. Consult with a tile professional if unsure about compatibility. Proper grout selection will help ensure your backsplash stays beautiful and functional for years to come.
How to Choose Grout Color for Backsplash
Choosing a grout color may seem strictly about aesthetics, but it can impact the overall look, feel, and practicality of your backsplash. Follow these tips on selecting the right grout color:
Match the grout color to your tiles
- For a seamless look, use a grout close to the tile color. White grout suits white subway tiles, while gray grout matches gray stone.
Use contrasting grout to accent the tiles
- Go bold with black, tan, or other darker grout to make lighter tiles pop. Contrast adds visual interest.
Consider practical factors
- Stick with a lighter grout if the backsplash is behind a heavy-use area. Dark grout will show dirt and stains more readily.
- In the kitchen, use an epoxy or urethane grout in a neutral color to hide grease and food stains.
Check the grout colors available in your chosen grout type
- Epoxy grouts come in countless colors, while traditional cement grout has more limited options unless tinted.
Ask the tile retailer for design advice
- Bring in your tile sample and ask for guidance on the best coordinating grout colors. Their experience can point you in the right direction.
Trust your instincts, factor in practicalities, and ask for guidance to end up with the ideal backsplash grout color for both form and function.
How to Apply Grout for Backsplash
Applying grout is a crucial step in achieving a finished backsplash with clean, attractive grout lines. Follow these tips for flawless grout application:
Prepare the Surface
Ensure tiles are firmly set and spacing is consistent. Remove any spacers or debris between tiles. The tiles should be clean and dry before grouting.
Mix the Grout
For traditional cement grout, mix powdered grout with latex additive and water to a thick, peanut butter-like consistency. For epoxy and urethane, precisely combine components as instructed.
Use a grout float or squeegee to fully press grout into the joints. Spread at a 45° angle to avoid pulling out grout. Completely fill joints.
Clean Excess Grout
Wipe the tile surface diagonally across joints with a damp sponge to remove excess grout. Rinse sponge frequently. Avoid pulling grout out of filled joints.
Let the Grout Cure
Follow manufacturer instructions on cure time. Some cement grouts cure in 24-72 hours. Epoxy cures in about 7 days. Avoid heavy cleaning during curing.
Seal and Polish
Once cured, clean the backsplash with a damp microfiber cloth. Apply a penetrating sealant to cement grout to protect from stains. Buff epoxy or urethane grout with a polishing pad.
Patience and care with each step will ensure professional looking grouted joints on your backsplash.
Grout Maintenance Tips
Proper grout maintenance preserves the look of your backsplash and prevents costly repairs down the road:
- Seal cement grout annually to protect from stains
- Re-seal epoxy or urethane grout if wearing unevenly
- Use neutral pH cleaners – acidic cleaners damage grout over time
- Rinse grout after cleaning to prevent soap film buildup
- Fix cracks immediately to prevent moisture damage
- Re-apply grout occasionally as it settles over years of use
- Consider grout color sealant on lighter grout to keep it looking new
With the right grout choice for your backsplash and proper care, your grout lines will stay looking great year after year.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most waterproof grout for backsplash?
Epoxy grout is the most waterproof and stain-resistant choice for backsplashes, especially behind sinks and stoves. Urethane grout also provides excellent water-resistance.
Can I use sanded grout for small tile joints?
It’s not recommended. The sand in sanded grout can scratch and damage small tile joints. Use unsanded grout for grout lines 1/8″ or less.
How do I get a smooth grout finish?
Carefully apply grout with a rubber grout float or squeegee, pressing firmly into joints. Any excess must be cleaned off before curing. Avoid porous grout sponges that leave ridges.
Should backsplash grout match the tile?
Not always – it’s an aesthetic choice. Matching grout creates a seamless look, while contrasting grout can beautifully accent the tiles. Factor in practicalities like soil-hiding ability too.
How long does backsplash grout take to dry?
Cement grout dries in 24-72 hours. Epoxy and urethane grouts take 5-7 days to fully cure. Time drying accordingly before exposing grout to moisture or heavy use.
The grout used in your backsplash significantly influences its final appearance and durability. With many types available from cement to epoxy, it is essential to select the right formulation based on your tile material, sizing, location, and desired finish. Consulting this guide on the leading grout options provides the details you need to make an informed choice on what type of grout for backsplash works best. Taking care through proper grout installation and maintenance will then provide you with a flawless, cohesive backsplash surface that will keep looking great for many years of use. With the right grout knowledge, you can install your backsplash with total confidence.