Choosing the right grout for your kitchen backsplash is one of the most important decisions you’ll make during your renovation or remodel. The grout acts as the mortar between the tiles, sealing them together while also adding visual interest that can make or break the look of your backsplash. With so many grout types, colors, textures, and performance characteristics to consider, it can be an overwhelming decision. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know to select the best grout for your kitchen backsplash.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Grout
There are several key factors to take into account when deciding on the right grout for your particular kitchen backsplash:
Consider the location of the backsplash and how much it will be exposed to moisture, splashes, and spills. The area around a sink or stove will need more water-resistant grout than a protected backsplash area further from heat and water.
The grout formula must be compatible with the tile material. Natural stone, ceramic, glass, and porcelain tiles have different porosity levels that work better with certain grout types.
Grout adds visual interest and dimension to the backsplash. Contrasting or complementary grout colors can make the tile colors pop or seamlessly blend. White grout stays cleanest.
Smooth or sanded grout creates different finished looks. Sanded grout works well for wider grout lines in natural stone tiles. Smooth grout is best for narrow grout lines with ceramic or porcelain.
Durability and Maintenance
Consider foot traffic, exposure to grease, frequency of cleaning, and other factors that affect wear. Some grout types are more stain resistant and durable than others.
Grout ranges in price from approximately $0.50 per pound for basic mixes up to $5.00+ per pound for epoxy or specialty grouts. Cost will depend on the brand, quality, and type of grout used.
By weighing all of these factors, you can zero in on the ideal grout choice for your unique kitchen backsplash needs.
Types of Grout for Kitchen Backsplashes
There are five main types of grout to choose from, each with their own pros, cons, best uses, and appearance.
Cement-based grout is one of the most widely used options for kitchen backsplashes. It is a mixture of Portland cement, aggregates, and color pigments.
- Economical cost
- Wide range of colors
- Works with all tile types
- Not as water or stain resistant as other grouts
- Can crack or crumble over time
Best Uses: General purpose for low-moisture areas
Look: Matte texture and finish
Epoxy grouts are made from epoxy resins and a filler powder. They offer superior durability and stain resistance.
- Extremely durable and stain resistant
- Resists water and heat very well
- Long lifespan with minimal maintenance
- More difficult to work with
- Higher cost than cement grout
- Can discolor over time from UV light
Best Uses: Kitchen backsplashes, showers, and high-moisture areas
Look: Glossy, smooth finish
This type combines Portland cement with latex polymers and additives for enhanced durability.
- Improved stain resistance
- Greater flexibility and adhesion
- Resists cracking and crumbling
- Costs more than standard cement grout
- Less durable than epoxy
- Still absorbent if not sealed
Best Uses: Showers, countertops, and backsplashes with moderate moisture
Look: Matte texture
Water-repellant grouts use wax additives to repel water and provide stain protection.
- Good water and stain resistance
- Low maintenance for some formulations
- Often lower cost than epoxy or latex grouts
- Sealers eventually wear off over time
- Less durable and flexible than other options
Best Uses: Low to moderate traffic backsplashes not exposed to excessive moisture
Look: Matte texture
Sanded vs. Unsanded Grout
Sanded grout contains fine silica sand particles that allow it to be used in wider grout lines typically 1/8″ or larger. The sand helps it bond and fill the wider spaces. Unsanded grout has a smoother consistency for narrow grout lines less than 1/8″.
Pros of Sanded Grout:
- Works well in wider grout lines
- Provides a gritty texture with more friction
Pros of Unsanded Grout:
- Smooth finish for narrow grout lines
- Less likely to scratch soft glazed tiles
- Easier clean up during application
Best Uses for Sanded Grout: Natural stone tiles with wide grout lines
Best Uses for Unsanded Grout: Ceramic, porcelain, glass with narrow grout lines
In summary, epoxy and polymer modified grouts offer the greatest durability and stain resistance for kitchen backsplash applications involving moisture and heavy usage. Standard cement grout works well for backsplashes further from water with lighter use. And unsanded grout is preferable fornarrow grout lines under 1/8″ with ceramic, glass, or porcelain tiles.
How to Choose Grout Color
Choosing a grout color may seem strictly aesthetic, but it can actively contribute to the look, feel, and maintenance of your backsplash. Here are some tips on selecting a grout color:
- White or light grout helps tiles pop and keeps the backsplash looking clean. It does require more frequent cleaning.
- Matching or complementary grout colors blend with the tiles for a unified look. Contrasting grout colors make the tiles stand out more.
- Darker grout hides dirt well but can look dated if overused.
- Stick with gray, taupe, or neutral grout colors for a modern look.
- Consider a specialty color like cobalt blue or mint green grout for a fun pop of color.
- View grout color options next to tile samples under natural light to visualize the finished look.
- For an antique look, choose a darker grout color with irregularly spaced handmade tiles.
- If opting for an expensive tile, select a neutral grout color that highlights the tile rather than competes with it.
Take the time to experiment with grout color options before settling on the perfect fit for both form and function.
Criteria for Choosing the Best Grout
To determine the best grout for your particular kitchen backsplash, keep these criteria in mind:
- Moisture Resistance – Backsplashes around a sink need maximum resistance to water and spills from a durable epoxy or polymer grout.
- Stain Protection – Consider potential staining from grease splatter, cooking oils, tomatoes, and other foods. Epoxy grouts offer the greatest stain protection.
- Heat Tolerance – Around stoves and ovens, heat resistant epoxy or cement grout is a must.
- Grout Line Width – Choose sanded grout for lines over 1/8” or unsanded for less than 1/8”.
- Tile Material – Select grout suited for the tile porosity – cement for porous natural stone, epoxy for lower-porosity porcelain or ceramic.
- Foot Traffic – High traffic areas benefit from more durable epoxy or polymer grout.
- Color – Factor in how light, white or colored grout impacts the overall look and feel of the backsplash.
- Budget – Cement grouts offer an economical option. Epoxy has a higher upfront cost but lasts longer.
Selecting grout that meets your criteria for performance, durability, and appearance will help ensure it holds up well and enhances your backsplash.
For exceptional quality grout, consider using a leading brand:
- UltraCare Epoxy Grout – Offers excellent stain, chemical, and water resistance. Available in several colors.
- Keracolor S Sanded Grout – Bright consistent colors and water/mold resistant polymer formula.
- Ultracolor Plus FA – All-in-one low VOC formula for enhanced flexibility.
- PermaColor Grout – Provides stain and mold resistance with color uniformity. For narrow or wide joints.
- SpectraLOCK PRO Premium Grout – 100% epoxy grout with superb durability, stain protection, and color options.
- Hydro Ban – Low permeability waterproofing and crack isolation for greater water resistance before grouting.
Custom Building Products
- Polyblend Sanded Grout – Polymer-modified for increased stain resistance and performance.
- Fusion Pro Single Component Grout – Epoxy grout with strong adhesion properties and durability.
- Prism SureColor Grout – Precision color consistency and anti-microbial product protection.
- TruColor RapidCure Grout – Fast setting pre-mixed grout with stainguard protection.
- Dimension RapidCure Glass-Filled Urethane Grout – Extreme temperature and chemical resistance.
- EzPoxy EZ Clean Epoxy Grout – Easy clean-up formula with stain, chemical, and crack resistance.
Choosing a leading grout brand you can trust ensures optimal performance and longevity in your backsplash installation.
Cost of Grout
Grout costs range from approximately $0.50 per pound on the low end for basic cement grout up to over $5.00 per pound for high-performance epoxy grout. With such a wide range, the type and brand of grout selected will largely determine the total installed cost. Here are some average grout costs to expect:
- Basic Cement Grout – $0.50 to $1.25 per pound
- Polymer Modified Grout – $1.50 to $3.50 per pound
- Epoxy Grout – $3.50 to $5.50+ per pound
- Specialty Grouts – $2.50 to $7.50+ per pound
To estimate the total cost of grout for your project, calculate the square footage of your backsplash area and grout line width to determine how many pounds of grout will be required. Multiply by the cost per pound for your specific grout type. Kits for some premium grouts also provide the exact amount needed for a given project.
Keep in mind that quality epoxy and polymer grouts have a higher initial cost but last longer and offer better performance per dollar over their lifespan. The small upfront investment in a high grade grout can really pay dividends in increased durability and easier maintenance down the road.
How Much Grout is Needed?
To determine how much grout you will need, estimate the total square footage of your backsplash area then calculate linear feet of all grout lines based on tile size and grout line width.
As an example:
- Backsplash Area = 30 sq ft
- Tile size = 4″ x 4″
- Grout line width = 1/8″
Total linear feet of grout lines = 300 inches
Grout coverage per pound at 1/8” line is approx 25 linear feet
300 inches / 25 ft per pound = 12 pounds of grout needed
You can then add approx. 15% more grout for waste and touch-ups for a total of 14 pounds.
Always start with more grout than you think you’ll need. Unused grout can be returned or used for future repairs, while running short during application can lead to problems blending new grout.
Preparing for Grout Application
Once you have selected the ideal grout for your backsplash, proper preparation is key to achieving a successful finished result:
- Allow tile mastic or mortar to fully cure for 24-48 hours before grouting if possible.
- Remove all spacers between tiles and ensure joints are clean and even at proper depth.
- Lightly dampen porous natural stone tiles with water before grouting to prevent absorption and staining.
- Read and follow all grout manufacturer instructions for best results.
- Only mix enough grout that can be applied within the working time for that grout formula.
- Have all necessary grouting tools and materials staged and ready for use.
With thoughtful planning and preparation, your grout application process will go smoothly from start to finish.
Tools and Materials Needed
Grouting requires some specialized tools along with safety gear and cleaning supplies:
- Grout float for spreading
- Rubber grout float for smoothing
- Grout spatula for tight corners
- Grout rake or scraper
- Grout sponge
- Grout sealing sponge
- Mixing paddle and drill
- Grout sealer
- Dust mask
- Rubber gloves
- Knee pads
- Grout haze remover
- pH neutral cleaner
- Clean water and rags
- Tile sealant (optional)
Having all required grouting tools and accessories on hand will allow you to work efficiently through the entire process.
Step-by-Step Grout Application
Once prepared, follow these best practices for grouting:
- Mix the Grout – Slowly add powder to liquid in bucket and mix to consistency per manufacturer. Do not overwater!
- Apply Grout – Use the grout float at a 45° angle to completely pack joints full without dragging through tiles.
- Work in Small Sections – Grout only 4-6 tiles at a time before moving on. This prevents grout from drying too quickly.
- Compact the Grout – Use the rubber grout float to gently compress grout into joints and smooth. Hold float at 90° angle and move diagonally across tiles.
- Clean Excess Grout – Use a lightly dampened sponge in a circular motion to remove any grout on tile surfaces. Rinse sponge frequently.
- Final Polish – Once grout in joints becomes firm, use a dry cloth to polish off any remaining haze on tiles.
- Cure Time – Allow grout to fully cure for 72 hours before excessive water exposure. Avoid surface contact for 24 hours.
- Seal Grout – After proper curing time, seal with a penetrating sealer to protect from stains.
Stay patient through the process and do not rush critical steps for best results.
Curing and Maintenance
Freshly grouted backsplashes require proper curing and ongoing maintenance:
- Allow 72 hours for grout to fully cure before heavy use or cleaning.
- Avoid steam, heat, or liquid contact on the backsplash surface for at least 24 hours.
- Gently wipe any residual grout haze with a damp microfiber cloth within 24 hours if needed.
- Most manufacturers recommend sealing the grout multiple times per year to protect from staining and moisture.
- For routine cleaning use only pH neutral cleaners designed for natural stone and tile surfaces.
- Re-seal grout if staining or moisture absorption begins to occur over time.
- Check for any cracked or damaged grout and repair as needed to prevent water getting under tiles.
Following the grout manufacturer’s recommendations for curing, sealing, and maintenance will keep your backsplash looking pristine.
Grout Color Restoration
Over years of use, even epoxy grout colors may start to fade or discolor. If a color refresh is needed, grout color restoration provides an easy fix:
- First deep clean the grout lines with an oxygen bleach cleaner and rinse thoroughly.
- Next apply a grout colorant in the exact matching shade with an applicator bottle for full coverage.
- Wipe off excess colorant from tile surfaces with a damp sponge.
- Allow 1 hour for colorant to cure and become water-resistant.
Grout color restoration kits allow you to refurbish the original look without the cost or mess of regrouting. Some epoxy grout brands also sell compatible coloring kits.
Troubleshooting Grout Issues
Some common grouting problems and their solutions include:
Crumbling, Cracking, or Powdery Grout – Age, moisture, or improper curing likely causes. Remove and regrout affected areas. Ensure proper curing time.
Efflorescence – White powdery deposits on grout surface. Mix up weak acid solution and scrub with stiff brush to remove salts.
Grout Haze – A film left on tile surface after grouting. Use grout haze remover or mix baking soda + vinegar. Scrub and rinse thoroughly.
Staining – Reseal grout and use oxygen bleach cleaner for organic stains. For minerals/metals try a poultice puller system.
Grout Drying Too Fast – Only mix small batches and keep grout float wet. Mist water on edges if needed to slow drying.
Addressing any grout issues promptly helps prevent more costly repairs down the road.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most durable grout?
Epoxy grout is the most durable and stain resistant grout for heavy usage areas like kitchens. It stands up to heat, grease, and moisture.
How long does grout last?
With proper installation and sealing, grout should last 5-10 years on average before needing repair. Quality epoxy grout can last even longer with maintenance.
Can I use sanded grout for 1/8 inch joints?
It’s recommended to use uns