You face a lot of decisions when installing new bathroom ceramic tile. Even after you've chosen the perfect ceramic tiles for the job, you'll still need to take care of the pesky little matter of what will hold them together. The color, texture, and composition of the grout you choose is important to both the appearance and function of the finished job. The right grout looks attractive with your chosen tiles and also provides an effective seal against dirt and mildew.
What Is Grout?
Grout is a mixture of sand, cement, lime, and color pigment that fills in the gaps between ceramic tiling in kitchen or bathrooms.
Types of Grouting: Sanded vs. Unsanded
The best type of grout for your ceramic bathroom tiles depends largely on the size and design of the tiles in question. Lay out your tiles first to determine how much space needs to be sealed between each row. If the space is less than 1/8 inch, you should use unsanded grout. Spaces larger than 1/8 inch need sanded grout. The sand in the composition of this type of grout helps to keep larger spaced areas from cracking.
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Cement-Based vs Epoxy Grout
When comparing types of grouting, you'll find that cement-based grout is quite popular. Cement-based grout is a standard, affordable choice that works well with ceramic bathroom tile. It can be purchased in both sanded and unsanded options to accommodate any tile gap size. To protect this type of grout from mildew and stains, you'll need to seal it after it dries for about two days. This may mean setting your bathroom as off-limits in the meantime.
Epoxy grout, on the other hand, is the most durable choice for ceramic tile. As with cement-based grout, it comes in both sanded and unsanded forms. This type of grout doesn't need to be sealed and can withstand any kind of spill your bathroom could dish up. If you're installing floor tiles in a bathroom that sees lots of traffic — such as one used by several members of a large family — epoxy grout may be the best choice. However, if you're working in a primary bath that sees less wear and tear, you may not want to shell out the extra cash required for the best epoxy grout.
Choosing Grout Colors
Both cement-based and epoxy grout are available in a wide range of colors. The ultimate color choice depends on your own aesthetic tastes and what goes best with the tile you have chosen. Keep in mind that white grout can be challenging to keep clean in a busy, messy bathroom, especially if you're choosing grout for tiles on the bathroom floor. If you're installing all new tile, you may be able to spare a few extra tiles and test out various colors with two tiles mounted to a piece of plywood. Keep in mind that sealer can change the color of cement-based grout slightly. Powdered grouts are truest to their color in the powdered form. Although they darken when wet, they dry to a lighter shade.
What Type of Grout Should I Choose for the Bathroom?
You have plenty of grout choices that work well in bathroom spaces. So, which should you choose? Here's a breakdown of what to consider:
- If the space between tiles is less than 1/8 inch, you should use unsanded grout. Spaces larger than 1/8 inch need sanded grout.
- Cement-based tile grout is more affordable but epoxy-based tile grout is more durable.
- The color of your grout depends on the aesthetics of your bathroom, but powdered grouts are truest in color.