Design Dilemma: Choosing A Grout Color | Home Design Find

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Design Dilemma: Choosing A Grout Color

grout2white subway backsplash how to tips advice

Okay, so you’ve decided on a white subway tile backsplash for your kitchen. Now comes the hard part: what color should you choose for a grout? White? Black? Grey? Lime Green?

It’s not a choice to make lightly. Grout color can profoundly affect the look of your tile project. Depending on the color you choose, the exact same white subway tile can look classic and elegant or modern and graphic. Just look at the difference between the first subway tile backsplash above, and the second, below. Same tile but totally different effect.

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So the big question is… how do you choose, with a vast array of grout choices? First, think about other aspects of your home, and the look you’re going for. Grout colors that closely match the color of the tile will blend, lending to a seamless and timeless effect. Hence, the white grout used with the white tile above seems classic and doesn’t make waves. On the other hand, going with a contrasting grout color (like the black grout used in the first photo) automatically feels edgier and punches up the graphic feeling. That’s even more evident in the photo below:

grout1 how to tips advice

Many people choose darker grouts, like grey or black, because they are less likely to show dirt and mold with time.  Others, however, feel that dark grout looks dirty to begin with. Confused about your own feelings?  Try placing several pieces of your tile on a piece of construction paper in the color of your choice. It’s an easy way to get something of the effect of your color choice BEFORE you make the commitment.

Below are two different colored grouts used with the same grey tile. In the first, photo (Exhibit A) a blue grout creates a subtle contrast for a clean cut nautical look. It’s the kind of thing that fits perfectly into the kitchen or bathroom of a Cape Cod beach house. But look what a difference a contrasting color can make!  In Exhibit B, the same grey tile goes Scandinavian mod when used with a bright yellow grout. It’s the kind of thing you expect to see in a New York loft.

Exhibit A:

grout4 how to tips advice

Exhibit B:

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And if you want to go really mod, consider taking the leap into something like the bright red grout used with white tile trim below:

grout6 how to tips advice

As you can see, the possibilities are endless. A grout color can suggest rustic country or sophisticated city. It can suggest timelessness, or trendiness. It can, indeed, make a statement. Here are a few other tips to keep in mind:

  • White grout usually looks best with pure white tiles.
  • If you’re going to use a white or cream grout in any high-traffic area you should seal it, which will protect the color, discourage mold and mildew, and make for easier clean-up.
  • Darker colored grout hides more dirt, though some people find the look itself dirty-looking.
  • Dark grout isn’t completely failsafe — it can fade from sunlight and harsh cleaners.
  • Epoxy grout works better than sealer from keeping stains from penetrating  grout. It works especially well on countertops, where there is a high-risk of stains.
  • Use different grouts for different jobs. Unsanded grout is used for smaller grout joints such as natural stone joints. Sanded grout is used for normal and larger grout joints. Mexican tile or Saltillo has special grout for it’s larger than normal grout joints.
  • Areas where a tiled surface meets a perpendicular surface should be caulked and not grouted. You’ll need to recaulk annually where the countertop meets the backsplash, for instance.
  • Keep grout from the original installation in case of repair. Grout from a later batch might not match exactly.
  • If you choose the wrong color, you’re not necessarily out of luck. Grout can be restained, bleached and colored even after it has been applied.

Images: via casamacho,

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2 Comments so far to “Design Dilemma: Choosing A Grout Color”
  1. Linda Paul Says:

    I like to use a grout color that is the least contrasting to the tile, white grout with white tile etc.

  2. Kathy Says:

    Hi there,
    I have a dilemma. We will be remodeling our bathroom. We selected the same tile for the walls (12″ square) and floor (18″ square) and an accent glass tile mosaic for a 3-row strip around the shower walls and a 3-row strip in the backsplash. What are the rules for picking out the grout color for both the tile and glass accent tile? We wanted to blend in the floor and walls tiles but the glass mosaic tile looks great with a white grout (but we were not planning to put white grout on the rest of the regular tile). What do you suggest?

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