Sanded vs Unsanded Grout – Which is Best for Tiling?

What is the difference between sanded vs unsanded grout? Find out which is best for your tiles.

If you are planning to start a DIY tiling project, you need grout. This is the mixture that occupies the space between the tiles to secure them in position. However, there are key differences between sanded vs unsanded grout that you must know about. 

Grout is a crucial element that is often utilized for home improvement. This gritty mixture comes in two different forms, namely sanded and unsanded grout. Understanding how these forms differ can help you pick the right one based on your application. Today, compare sanded vs unsanded grout and find out which most suitable for your DIY tiling project.

What are the key differences between sanded and unsanded grout?

FormGround widthsStability and durabilityShrinkageUseCheck on Amazon
Sanded grout1/8-1/2 inchMoreIt does not shrink easilyFloor tilesCheck price here
Unsanded grout1/8-1/16 inchLessMore prone to shrinkingEasily scratched tiles like marbleCheck price here

Sanded vs unsanded grout – How do they compare?

Use

Before choosing either of these types of grout, you have to assess your needs. Sanded grout is designed for general use, like flooring. Unsanded grout should only be used in specific instances, such as when working on a vertical surface. You can also utilize this form of grout on tiles that can easily be scratched, like ceramics, glass, or natural stone. When it comes to applications, sanded grout is better since it holds up better than unsanded grout.

Ground widths

If you are working with joints ranging between 1/8 and 1/2 inches, you should choose sanded grout. The sand is great for wider joints since it can resist cracking and shrinkage. On the other hand, Unsanded grout should be used on ground widths of between 1/8 and 1/16 inches. This grout has a very smooth texture due to the absence of sand and clings well on walls. While sanded grout is ideal for wider joints, unsanded grout is more suitable for narrow joints.

Cost

As you shop for the correct type of grout for your DIY project, you will also notice a difference in their cost. If you have a low budget, you can stick to sanded grout since it comes at a reasonable cost. The cost of unsanded grout is often twice the cost that of sanded grout. Sanded grout is, therefore, cheaper compared to unsanded grout.

Sanded grout vs unsanded grout – An overview

Sanded grout

If you specialize in interior flooring, you should consider getting sanded grout. It is ideal for such applications since it can withstand foot traffic. This mixture is reasonably priced, and you can get it in different colors. Sanded grout is held together with fine sand particles. This form of grout is stable and resistant to cracking. Many contractors also like it since it is less prone to shrinking.

This type of grout is suitable for tiles that have joints ranging between 1/8 and 1/2 inches thick. You should avoid fitting this bulky material into very thin joints since it can result in an imprecise finish, which can end up cracking easily. If you are working on joints that are about 3/8 inches thick, you should go for a wide joint mixture of grout that contains a lot of sand.

Some contractors that choose sanded grout tend to dilute it with a high amount of water to try and achieve better consistency for small joints. Do not try to do this since it can negatively affect the structure you are working on when the excess water evaporates. Once you install sanded grout, ensure that you seal it properly. The porous nature of sanded grout makes sealing compulsory to prevent any water from getting to the back part of the tiles.

Pros

  • It offers a tight lock
  • Cheap
  • Ideal for denser joints
  • The grout comes in different color options

Cons

  • Forcing it into thin seams can be challenging
  • It can easily scratch surfaces
  • You have to seal it

 

View price on Amazon

 

Unsanded grout

If you have narrow joints, you should choose unsanded grout. This is ideal for joints that are about 1/8 inch wide. Since this form of grout does not have sand grains, it comes in a smooth texture. You can also use unsanded grout when you want to work on polished tiles such as marble or limestone.

Since unsanded grout does not have silica aggregate filler, it is easy to work with on such surfaces. This type of grout is less stable and sticky. If you want to install tiles on a vertical surface, you should consider getting unsanded grout. It can stay put as you tile a surface such as a shower wall.

A vertical installation does not have to withstand the pressure of any foot traffic. Due to this, the decreased durability of this type of grout will not be an issue on such a surface. Unsanded grout is also ideal for delicate tile surfaces such as glass tiles or natural stone tiles. Unlike sanded grout, you don’t have to seal unsanded grout in certain applications.

Pros

  • It works great on walls
  • You don’t have to seal in precise applications
  • This grout does not scratch sensitive tile surfaces

Cons

  • It slumps when you apply it on wider seams
  • High cost
  • Limited color options

 

View price on Amazon

 

Conclusion

Grout enhances the structural integrity of tile work. It also prevents debris and moisture from finding their way into tiles and ensures that tiles stay a safe distance apart. If you are torn between which grout to choose from, you need to consider the size of the joint you are working on and the tile type. You can either go for sanded or unsanded grout.

Verdict: So, which is better, Sanded grout or unsanded grout?

After comparing these two types of grout, we found sanded grout to be better than unsanded grout. This is because it is more stable, durable, and does not shrink easily. You can use it on a lot of surfaces and even save some cash during purchase. Though unsanded grout is great for vertical surfaces, this type tends to shrink easily and is not very durable. That is why we choose sanded grout as the clear winner.

FAQs

Can I use sanded grout on a shower wall?

No. This type of grout is not the best for such a vertical surface. Choose unsanded grout instead.

Why is unsanded grout so expensive?

This is because the content is added costly polymers that lead to the overall high cost of this type of grout.

Written by Jason Beischel

Jason Beischel is a Remodeler by profession and is always ready for the challenge and surprise that the next remodeling job throws at him. And given his extensive knowledge in real estate, contracting, and interior design, he provides actionable DIY tips online and has consolidated extensive excerpts with details on how to go about the various home repair activities. Enthusiasts will also access information on the best products that they can use in the process. Jason leads a team of renovators, he loves traveling and does not shy away from challenging opportunities that present away from familiar ground. According to Jason, every human deserves a comfortable home from where they can build their future.

May 20, 2021

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