You spent weeks searching online and in tile stores for that perfect tile for your kitchen project. You take it home and your tile installer lays out the tiles. You look and confirm you’ve made the right decision. Your tile installer returns the next day to grout the tile. It’s 5:00 and you’re leaving work. You can’t wait to get home and see your new kitchen floor. You walk in the door, look at the completed project and begin to cry as it looks nothing like what you saw in the showroom.
Grout is more than just the glue that fills the space between tiles and holds them together– it is a vital part of the design and the key to loving the end result. Grout color selections have grown over the years; today you can find grout in virtually every shade of the rainbow to blend or contrast with your tiles. By simply selecting a different color, the look of the tiles can shift from traditional and classic to modern and sleek.
Generally speaking, a grout that blends with the base color of the tile allows the detail of the tile to shine through; the tile itself becomes the focus. The color, pattern, and veining of marble, travertine or porcelain tiles come forward when the grout is matched to the tile.
This works well in small spaces when you want to visually expand the room; instead of the installation pattern of the tile being the focal point, the graphic nature fades into the background, and the beauty of the tile itself shines through.
With marble or other natural stone tiles, sometimes the default choice is a grout color that matches the base color of the tile. This can be a great option when you want a simple and classic look that draws the eye into the marble’s natural color variation and veins.
Contrasting grout, on the other hand, highlights the graphic nature of the installation. But, using contrasting grout doesn’t have to be visually jarring. When paired with a darker tile, light grout picks up the colors of the natural stone countertops and backsplashes, creating a cohesive and beautiful look.
If you want a more contemporary take, using classic white subway tiles, grey grout is the answer. In fact, this is one of today’s hottest trends. White subway tiles are clean, simple, and classic; but this design twist, using dark gray grout, transforms the look and feel of the space highlighting the tile layout.
Since the contrasting grout, whether darker or lighter, is going to bring the design pattern more into focus, consider a chevron, herringbone, or vertical offset pattern for additional visual interest.
Choosing the right grout is more than just about color and whether to contrast, or not. Make sure to pay attention to the type of grout you choose. The two most common are “sanded” and “non-sanded”. Sanded grouts are less expensive, but can scratch certain tiles, including glass and marble, so be cautious. They are, however, generally safe for porcelain. Non-sanded grouts tend to cost a bit more, but don’t let price be the sole determining factor.
Many look at grout as a commodity item but nothing can be further from the truth. The more expensive grouts like MAPEI Flexcolor CQ have properties you won’t find in ordinary grouts such as not needing to be sealed, color consistency and will not crack. If you’re using glass tile in your installation, you want a specialty grout like Bostik’s Dimension grout. Designed for use with glass tile, it will allow light to reflect and refract, bringing out the beauty of the glass that ordinary grout can’t as it blocks light.
When designing your project, grout selection is a vital step. As you start to narrow down your tile choices, start looking at the myriad of grout colors available. Ask yourself these key questions: “Do I want the tile itself to stand out, or let the graphic pattern take center stage?” “Do I want a more seamless appearance, or a more linear one?” For more ideas and inspiration on how to create your perfectly tiled space, visit our new online Inspiration Gallery!
The expert Tile Consultants at Tiles Unlimited stand ready to assist you in designing your dream project as well as making the grout you select will achieve the final look you desire.