Sanded Vs. Unsanded Grout
There are two main types of grout, sanded and unsanded. These two materials are utilized in significantly different applications, and it is important to know which grout to use and when. The choice of your accompanying grout is almost as important as the tile selection itself and can help to enhance the look of the tile it is applied to.
When to use sanded grout
Just as it sounds, sanded grout does indeed contain sand. This is the standard choice for most tile applications since the sand particles bind together to create an extra strong joint. Because it is porous, sanded grout should be sealed after installation, unless it is a modified formula, to prevent water damage. Generally, sanded grout is the best choice for wall and floor applications and can sustain grout widths between 1/8” and ½”. For projects requiring a wider tile joint, you will need to use a “wide-joint mixture”.
Sanded grout is also far less expensive than unsanded grout. This is due to sand being a naturally created component, so polymers and other materials do not need to be added to create a strong bond. This also makes it resistant to cracks. Do not use sanded grout on any tile where scratches will mar the finish since it is abrasive and will ruin surfaces with relative ease. This is crucial when using any soft stone, such as granite, marble, or limestone.
When to use unsanded grout
In direct opposition to the natural composition of sanded grout, unsanded grout contains polymers that are chemically designed to create a tight bond. It is best to use unsanded grout when dealing with narrow grout joints from 1/16” to 1/8”. This material is also the definite choice for any tile that can be easily scratched, like natural stone and glass since it is not comprised of abrasive sand.
Unsanded grout should also be used in any vertical installation. Due to the lack of foot traffic and weight overall, the decreased durability of unsanded grout is not a factor when installing on a wall or shower wall.