Tile Grout: Sanded vs Unsanded

In the intricate world of construction, where every detail matters, one often-overlooked yet critical element is the choice of grout for tile installations. Grout serves as the unsung hero, filling the gaps between tiles, offering structural support, and lending a polished finish to your construction projects. This blog post delves deep into the nuances of tile grout, focusing on the distinctions between sanded and unsanded varieties. By the time you finish reading, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions about which type of grout best suits your construction needs. Whether you’re embarking on a floor tiling project or adorning the walls with intricate tile designs, understanding the differences between sanded and unsanded grout is the first step toward ensuring the longevity and visual appeal of your endeavors. So, let’s dive into the world of grout, explore its various facets, and discover how the right choice can elevate your construction work to new heights of quality and aesthetics.

Types of Tile Grout

Sanded Tile Grout

Sanded tile grout is a blend of Portland cement, silica sand, inorganic aggregates, and chemicals. Here are the key characteristics of sanded grout:

  1. Grout Line Width: Sanded grout is ideal for wider grout lines, typically greater than ⅛ of an inch. This is because the presence of fine sand provides additional support and stability to the grout.
  2. Suitable Surfaces: It is not recommended for scratchable surfaces like ceramic, glass, metals, and natural stones, as it contains fine sand as an aggregate filler. The abrasive nature of sand can potentially scratch these delicate surfaces during the application process.
  3. Porosity: Due to the presence of fine sand, sanded grout can be porous, which means it should be sealed with a pH-neutral and water-based penetrating sealer. This sealing process helps prevent moisture absorption and staining.
  4. Application: Sanded grout excels in horizontal surfaces, such as floors. Its durability and resistance to cracking make it an excellent choice for high-traffic areas.
  5. Cost-Effective: It is generally less expensive compared to unsanded tile grout because the sand used in this mixture is affordable and readily available.
  6. Color Options: Sanded grout offers a wide range of color options, allowing you to match or contrast with your tiles to achieve your desired aesthetic.
  7. Durability: Thanks to the sand content, sanded grout is known for its durability and ability to withstand the stresses of daily use. It is less prone to cracking and provides long-lasting support.
  8. Ease of Installation: Sanded grout is relatively easy to DIY, making it suitable for projects where surface scratches are not a concern. The added sand helps hold the grout together during application, reducing the likelihood of mistakes.

Unsanded Tile Grout

Unsanded tile grout, on the other hand, is a smooth blend of Portland cement, powdered pigments, and water. Here are the distinctive features of unsanded grout:

  1. Grout Line Width: Unsanded grout is best suited for thin grout lines, typically less than ⅛ of an inch. Its smooth texture allows for a clean and seamless finish in narrow spaces.
  2. Suitable Surfaces: It is the choice for scratchable surfaces like ceramic, glass, metals, and natural stones, as it lacks fine sand as an aggregate filler. The absence of sand ensures that the grout won’t damage delicate surfaces during application.
  3. Porosity: Unsanded grout is less porous compared to sanded grout, reducing the need for grout sealing in many applications. This can save you time and effort during the installation process.
  4. Application: Unsanded grout is perfect for vertical surfaces like walls. Its smooth consistency makes it easier to work with in tight spaces and ensures a neat appearance.
  5. Cost: It tends to be more expensive than sanded grout due to the use of costly polymers in place of sand. However, the investment can be worthwhile for certain applications.
  6. Color Options: Unsanded grout offers fewer color options compared to sanded grout. While you may have fewer choices, you can still find a variety of colors to suit your project.
  7. Shrinkage: Unsanded grout may experience shrinkage once cured, especially when used in wider gaps. Proper installation techniques and curing methods can help mitigate this issue.
  8. Cracking: It is more prone to cracking when used for flooring options subjected to heavy pressure. For flooring applications, it’s essential to ensure a solid subfloor and proper installation to minimize the risk of cracks.
  9. Professional Installation: Due to its use on easily scratchable surfaces, unsanded grout installations often require professional expertise to ensure a flawless finish without damaging the tiles.

Making the Right Choice

By understanding the differences between these two types of tile grout, you can confidently select the most suitable option for your construction projects, ensuring a lasting and visually pleasing result. Whether it’s sanded or unsanded, the choice of grout can significantly impact the overall quality of your tile work.

Ultimately, the decision between sanded and unsanded grout depends on your specific project requirements, surface materials, and personal preferences. When chosen correctly, grout enhances the beauty and durability of your tile installations, making them stand the test of time.

Scroll to Top