Grout 101

All things related to grout, design, and more

Why Grout?

Looks can be deceiving. Tile samples, photography, or renderings may not show grout, but this doesn't mean you can skip it on the job site. In fact, sanded grout actually helps with slip resistance, which comes in handy on shower floors.

While there are specialty mosaic products on the market that don't require grout, such as split-face stone mosaics or our Baywood Collection, these are rare exceptions to the rule. Grout is required for most tile installations, and for a good reason:

- Grout helps protect the longevity of your installation by preventing dirt and debris from getting in between or under your tiles, which could potentially cause the tiles to come loose over time.

- Grout assists in minor amounts of movement, which can otherwise lead to breakage. All tile, including porcelain, expands and contracts based on moisture and temperatures. In fact, all building materials experience a coefficient of thermal expansion based on exposures to moisture and heat. Interior areas with direct sunlight, exteriors, and materials in wet areas will see the most movement. Grout accounts for the minor amounts of compression and contraction experienced during these natural or created events.

- Grout allows tile installers to adjust the tile pattern, layout, and grout joint size to accommodate tile size variations, as well as warpage to a given degree. This also includes reducing lippage between tile courses when tile warpage is on the high end of the allowable range. All tiles have an acceptable degree of variation, as defined by the American National Standards Institute's (ANSI) Specification for Ceramic Tile.


  • Regardless of what type of grout you project requires, always check the manufacturer specifications to ensure proper cure time is established. Specialized grouts, material, project & preparation requirements, and the physical environment all play a role in grout & thin-set curing.
  • Specific types of grout are available to meet the needs of the tile, grout joint, and environmental exposures. Using the wrong grout in specific applications may lead to job site failure. For example, concave joints can occur using an unsanded grout with joints larger than the manufacturer's recommended threshold. 
  • Soft joints are required on all projects, so don't forget the matching caulk.
  • Talk to your installer when Grout dictates the design.Any installation considered trendy, unusual, or outside the box warrants a discussion with your tile installer, as the skills and time necessary to execute these designs may require more budget.  Not all grouts are created equal or can be used to achieve the desired aesthetic. Ensure the type of grout you desire is compatible by reading the rest of this blog & checking with a salesperson or installer. 

Special & Unique Grout

Tile Buying Checklist

Projects have many facets and fine details. Use our Tile Buying Checklist to help guide your project.

Grout Design Considerations

Kalip - Architessa

Chiseled & Imperfect Edges

Chiseled, antique, incongruent, & handmade tile edges often rely on grout to create the intended look. The tile's imperfect edges, large gaps, and even chips are completely defined and highlighted by the choice of grout that fills them. KALIP, LAUREN LIESS HABITAT TERRA, and VERANDA Collections all have imperfect edges to feature.

Pattern Dynamics

Tile Shapes require a careful grout color decision in order to exist visually. Our FANFARE scallop would disappear into the deep sea without a light grout color. Conversely, tile patterns may need to blend or stand out depending on pattern dynamics and larger design schemes.

Custom Grouted

Custom murals, ombre mosaic walls and really any tile project can show blended grout. This means careful planning, extra time/grout and budget, and a skilled installer. Our gallery shows an example of grout blending into the background in the Grateful Dead Rockin' Custom Mosaic.

Slimwood - Architessa

Location; Blend or Pop

An area with high visibility, such as a fireplace or backsplash, will stand out with contrasting grout colors. On the other hand, you might find your decision more flexible in a space less visible, such as a powder room or guest bath. Wood Slat Tiles are appealing with blended grout.

Grout Trends & Inspiration


  • Grout (& thinset) expires. Always check the date before using the setting materials. Do not expect the material to perform up to its claims when expired. 
  • Grout Caulk - Caulk is required for all tiles and should be applied anywhere a change in plane or material occurs, and when the TCNA (Tile Council of North America) manual specifies, a soft joint must be present. Grout has matching caulk in both unsanded and sanded options, so this is easy to purchase or specify. 
  • Spacers - Not all tile setters will use spacers, but they are available to help guide the spacing you want in between your tiles or mosaics. Grout
  • Timing - The best time of day to grout is the morning or early afternoon. Avoid grouting at the end of the day when you may be tired. 
  • Never leave excess grout (or thinset) to dry where it does not belong. Dried-setting materials are stubborn and will require special cleaners to remove. 
  • Follow the TCNA manual & be careful of what you read online. There is lots of free bad advice available on the internet & social media.



Allow us to help guide your next project.