Sanded vs Unsanded Grout – 6 Best Reasons For Your Tiling Concerns

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 non-sanded 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.

The gap between your tiles will also indicate the sort of grout you’ll use. In the next part, you may learn about tile spacing width and grout by comparing sanded vs unsanded grout and find out which is most suitable for your DIY tiling project.

What is tile grouting?

Grout is a composite substance made up of cement, lime, and sand. Grouting is used to cover the spaces between your tiles, giving them a clean, completed look.

Furthermore, grout keeps dirt, water, and debris from seeping beneath the tiles, which may cause them to lift. The grout holds the tiles to the floor and prevents them from coming loose. To avoid floor deterioration, it is essential that you use the proper grout for installing tiles in any parts of your home.

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?


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 surfaces such as vertical tiles. 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.

Grout widths and thickness

If you are working with joints ranging between 1/8 and 1/2 inches, you should choose sanded grout. Sanded grout is great for wider joints because it is thicker and coarser since it can resist cracking and shrinkage. On the other hand, unsanded grout should be used for grout lines that have ground widths of between 1/8 and 1/16 inches since it is much thinner and smoother in texture. 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.

Ease of Installation

Both sanded grout and unsanded grout can be handled in a DIY manner. But in terms of the ease of installation, sanded grouts are much easier to do compared to unsanded grouts. If we are talking about sanded grouts, the main concern is not the tile surface which is far more convenient than unsanded grouts. Comparing further, unsanded grouts need more experience and mastery because it is mostly applied to easily-scratched tiles which should be carefully done.


As previously said, sanded grout is much thicker and coarser than cement-based unsanded grout which means that it is more durable to any stress and pressure. Also, it is better suited to stick on thicker joints and bonds more easily with lesser pressure compared to unsanded grout. Sanded grout is also crack-resistant which is better suited for flooring applications than unsanded grout because the latter is more prone to breakage.


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 of sanded grout. Sanded grout is, therefore, cheaper compared to unsanded grout.

Drying Time

Because sanded grout, when applied, is much thicker than unsanded grout, it takes longer for it to cure and dry out. Sanded grouts will take longer than a day or two to completely cure while unsanded grout will take only four hours. Because of the lengthy drying period, sanded grout might be inconvenient for contractors who need to get the work done quickly, but it also means that sanded grout is exceptionally durable. As a result, sanded grout is more often employed in commercial and industrial applications where durability is essential.

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.


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


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

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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 scratchable 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.


  • It works great on walls
  • You don’t have to seal in precise applications
  • This grout does not scratch sensitive tile surfaces
  • Suits well with vertical installations
  • Best to be used in small spaces


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

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Is it better to mix sanded and unsanded grout?

Mixing sanded and unsanded grout can result in a more durable grout mix. As mentioned earlier, unsanded grout is thinner compared to sanded grout and therefore starts to dry immediately and shrinks. If you add an adequate amount of sand to the unsanded grout, it will enhance its strength and durability as well. Better find the best aggregate mix ratio so that the grout will hold much longer and won’t easily shrink when it is finally cured.

Mixing both grouts and allowable but don’t ever think to mix different grout colors because it may ruin the colors that you want to use. It is recommended to use similar or related colors for remodeling and enhancement purposes.

Is there an epoxy-based form of sanded and unsanded grout?

Yes! You can purchase sand and unsanded grout in an epoxy-based form. These forms of grouts are similar to portland-cement products. However, its application is different from the conventional version since it uses advanced chemical compounds that use an activator and a base. Upon the addition of the activator to the base, it begins to cure the grout in an irreversible manner that will result in a stronger bond.

The disadvantage of procuring epoxy-based grout is that it is costly. Also, it is complicated to install because it has shorter curing times which means you should install it in a timely manner. This means, that if you don’t properly coat it before it cures, it will become messy and complicated to work after.


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.


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.

Which is better, epoxy-based grout or traditional grout?

In places that are constantly exposed to water, epoxy grout is employed. Traditional grout is stainable, however, epoxy grouts have a non-porous surface.

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