Two things bind the tile to its substrate. Firstly, it is the Mortar, and then it is grout. While Mortar forms the lower bed for the tile, grout is forced between the tiles to fill the spaces between tiles. It not only fills gaps so that debris doesn’t enter but also imparts further structural integrity to the tilework. Grout is visible, and you can choose the color according to your wish. Hence, it imparts an extra element of decor to your tiles. You may use a rubber float drawn diagonally across the tile faces to fill the grout in between the tiles. Also, an extra amount of grout can be wiped clean with the edge of the float. However, you have a choice while purchasing grout. A selection of Sanded vs Unsanded Grout!
Are you wondering what you should choose between Sanded vs. Unsanded Grout? Here is a read for you! I am sure that you will gain from the guide.
Sanded vs. Unsanded Grout
Even if both types of grout have overlapping uses, your tile project will look better if you choose the one that suits your tile best. You can also delineate the differences between the two on the basis of the following read.
- Sanded grout contains fine sand. In comparison, unsanded grout has no sand.
- While sanded grout is cheap and provides a tight lock, it proves to be your choice for most tiling projects. Unsanded is best for thin grout lines and for delicate tile surfaces. You can use unsanded grout for most glass tiles.
- You need to seal sanded grout after installation. In comparison, you don’t need to fill with unsanded grout in some of the applications.
To have a more precise idea and choose the type that suits best to your work style, let us dig deep into the difference between sanded and unsanded grout.
What’s the Difference Between Sanded and Unsanded Grout?
You can use grout both on the shower tiles and the floor tiles. However, the joints on the floors require a different level of strength compared to those of vertical wall tiles. Depending upon the power needed, you have to choose sanded versus unsanded grout. Here are both types described individually.
Sanded grout contains silica sand. If you are looking forward to filling tile joints that are wider than 1/8 inches, choose sanded grout. It is because sand particles lock together to form a strong joint and hence will prove beneficial for wider gaps. It is also used to bond tiles to their substrate and works best for the tiles that are huge. Furthermore, it works best for the tiles that are used on floors.
In comparison to sanded ones, unsanded grout has no sand. It is thin and sticky. This property makes it more suitable for tile joints less than 1/8-inch-wide. It works best for tiles that you use in places such as backsplash and vertical shower walls.
Pros and Cons- Sanded Grout vs. Unsanded Grout
You can learn about the ideal applications for both sanded and unsanded grout by knowing their pros and cons. Have a quick sneak peek at the pros and cons of the two so that you can judge better when to use sanded vs. unsanded grout.
Pros of Sanded Grout
- Sanded grout is a standard grouting material with aggregate sand material to add to the thickness and hence durability. In terms of durability, sanded grout always wins in the comparison of sanded versus unsanded grout.
- It is resistant to shrinkage because the ratio of aggregate material to cement is much higher.
- Sanded grout offers excellent adhesion and works really well for the tiles that are going to have heavy foot traffic on them, such as on the bathroom floor.
- It also resists cracking.
- If you are a bright color lover, sanded grout is your pick.
Cons of Sanded Grout
- Sanded grout is less thick than unsanded one. Hence, it is not easy to work with, and you need unsanded grout on the vertical walls to work for you quickly.
- The aggregate material present in sanded grout is harsh to delicate materials. For example, it doesn’t suit granite, marble, limestone, and other soft stones. The aggregate material of the sanded grout is more complex than these smooth stones and can work a lot like sandpaper.
- Silica present in the sanded grout can scratch and ruin the soft and delicate tile surfaces.
- It requires sealing to improve water permeability.
Pros of Unsanded Grout
- Wall tiles that are typically fairly close together (usually between 1/8 of an inch and 1/16 of an inch) work best with unsanded grout. Shrinkage has no effect on wall tiles. After the grout dries and cures, it won’t have an impact on the durability of the tile.
- With a great hold on vertical surfaces, unsanded grout won’t crack. It is because there is little-to-no pressure applied to it.
- It is easier to work with than unsanded grout as all you need to do is to focus on placing your tiles in the right spot, and you are good at delivering a great project.
- For soft stones, always pick unsanded grout to achieve flawless finishings.
- It is smoother than sanded grout.
Cons of Unsanded Grout
- Unsanded grout dries (when cement-based); it shrinks! Hence, it can pull away from tiles. You need sand-added grout to avoid shrinkage.
- Unsanded grout is prone to severe cracking when it has pressure applied to it, and this makes it unsuitable for most flooring applications. However, you can use it for the wall tiles as hardly any force is applied to them.
- You have fewer choices in colors.
If you are working on projects with a 3/8 of an inch or more giant tile joint, choose “wide-joint mixture” grout. It has a higher volume of extensive aggregate material to further reduce shrinkage issues and hence is perfect for tile projects with large grout joints. It is readily available at most flooring and hardware stores.
Sanded vs. Unsanded Grout for Shower
If you are working on the shower area of the bathroom, don’t hesitate to use unsanded grout on the shower wall tiles. Choosing unsanded grout works better in shower walls, bathroom walls. Furthermore, you must use the unsanded ground to work with rectified, polished and honed stone tiles. However, choose Sanded grout for the floors of the shower cabinets. No doubt! The floors also need more sand particles that have the ability to lock with each other to form a sturdy joint.
You can also play the trick of mixing the two types of grout when you think your unsanded grout is too thin, choose to mix it with sanded grout to make it a little thicker. It helps you to achieve a mixture of the two that is more pasty and easy to apply when creating tile joints.
Cost- Sanded Grout vs. Unsanded Grout
Sanded grout is cheaper than non-sanded grout. Sand costs lower than cement. In comparison, unsanded grout requires polymers that are relatively expensive. These polymers must be added to get the final unsanded tile grout. Unsanded grout is almost or over twice as expensive as the cement grout counterpart-sanded grout.
Think of mixing sanded and unsanded grout to make your grouting job. It not only becomes more budget-friendly but also improves strength and durability. Unsanded grout is thin. Also, it shrinks when it starts to dry, but with a better ratio of aggregate material, the mixture grout won’t shrink as much when it cures.
However, mixing different colors of unsanded and sanded grout is not recommended as you will mess up the color texture of your shower walls and floor. It is best to incorporate similar colors of unsanded and sanded grout.
Areas of Application- When to Use Sanded vs. Unsanded Grout
Although both grout types can be used in the kitchen, bathroom, and shower pan, the joint space or gap determines the kind of grout to use. Furthermore, the tile type may also influence the decision.
If you are confused about when to use sanded vs. unsanded grout, I have made up a table about their applications. Go through the table and take your pick.
|Areas of Application||Sanded Grout||Unsanded Grout|
|For highly polished, easily scratched tiles such as marble||No||Yes|
|Ceramic wall tiles||No||Yes|
|Walls and vertical gaps.||No||Yes|
|Shower walls, bathroom walls||No||Yes|
Only flooring specialists have a piece of intimate knowledge about the difference between sanded and unsanded grout and when to use sanded vs. unsanded grout. I am sure after reading this guide; you must now have been able to differentiate between the two types of grout. If your next project is any of a residential shower installation, an outdoor patio, bathroom, or a kitchen redesign; you’re sure to benefit from the article and choose your best.
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