General Ceramic Tiles Radiance Blanco Deco 12x36

How to Choose Grout Color

You’ve spent weeks laboring over tile selections. But you’re work’s not over yet. A simple grout goof at this juncture could ruin everything. Not to worry. Read on and we’ll show you the nitty gritty of “how to choose grout color.”

This post will illustrate when to use:

  1. White Subway Tile With Dark Grout
  2. Dark Tile With White Grout
  3. Light Tile With Dark Grout
  4. Neutral Grout 
  5. Matching Grout

    In addition, we’ll take a look at:

    1. Different types of grout
    2. Why we need grout
    3. How to Clean Grout

      What's my objective?

      That is a great first question to ask. Personally, I usually want the grout to disappear as much as possible. Turns out, I’m not alone. Most clients are looking to keep grout joints as small as possible. It seems, no one wants to see the grout. But there are other things to consider, such as how to pick grout for a tile that is not one specific color. Or how to make a pattern more visible. Well get to some of those considerations a little later. First, let’s look at “disappearing” the grout. Industry tip: just because it’s white grout, does not mean it will match your white tile. If you’ve ever looked at paint colors, then you probably know that white comes in a variety of hues and tones. Some grouts look white, until you hold the color chip next to another white grout. Then it could look grey or beige. That is why grout manufacturers make a variety of “white” grouts. When picking white grout to go with a white tile, hold the color chip next to your particular “white” tile to get an idea which grout works best.
      General Ceramic Tiles Radiance Blanco Deco 12x36
      Radiance 12×36. This tile is a rectified tile, which means you can get a tighter joint. The pattern is consistent. White grout was used with the white tile. This tile is only available in white and only comes in one size. It is a wall tile, therefore it is not suitable for floors.     
      IWT Tesoro Acadia White Wood look Plank Tile

      Acadia White 9×30 Porcelain Wood Plank Tile by Tesoro. Notice the modern décor. The tile has a modern wood look appearance, as opposed to a rustic flair. Matching grout is perfect for this application. This porcelain comes in four colors: White, Oak, Maple and Grey. The tile is fairly consistent yet comes with 20 different faces, or images, which gives it a very realistic wood look.

      Albatross Cream 3x12 ceramic wall tile by Tesoro
      Albatross Cream 3×12 ceramic wall tile by Tesoro. Notice the grout selected practically disappears. If you happen to fall in love with a tile and just can’t find a matching grout what do you do? Well talk about that a little later. The Albatross is available in 8 colors with a smooth glossy face. It has a matching 3×12 bullnose. All 8 colors also comes in a deco finish.

      Disappearing The Grout …

      Is not always the main objective. There are other valid design determinations. For example…

      1. Create Contrast
      2. Pop Patterns 
      3. Tie in other design elements

      White Subway Tile With Dark Grout

      The bathroom below illustrates objectives 1 and 3 listed above. The dark grout in the shower creates a contrast with the white tile. Plus the dark grout ties in with the color of the dark bathroom floor. By contrast, the grout on the bathroom floor ties in with the white subway tile on the walls.

      MS International 3x6 White Subway Tile
      Shower walls are clad with 3x6 white subway tile by MS International. The dry floor is clad with Montauk Blue Slate by MS International. 

      White Tile With Dark Grout

      As mentioned earlier, not everyone wants the grout to disappear. Sometimes, it’s fun to use the grout to add a splash of drama to a white tile. Especially if the tile has a pattern and you really want that pattern to sing. Look at the photo below. Notice the subtle message the restaurant owner used here.  The crisp, clean white tile speaks of a sterile and safe eating environment. Yet the white fish scales, outlined by a contrasting grout, practically beckon the clients to come in and have some fun.
      Mercury Mosaics White Large Moroccan Fish Scales
      These fancy tiles by Mercury Mosaics come in a variety of colors and sizes.

      see more from Mercury Mosaics here

      Light Tile With Dark Grout

      Sometimes, people aren’t trying to show off patterns, they just like darker grout. It does makes a high-contrast statement. It is also a more industrial look. Some like using a darker grout because they see it as being easier to keep clean. This is not as important as it once was because manufacturers have developed more stain resistant grouts. 

      IWT Tesoro Borgia Calcutta Gold 30x30
      Borgia Calcutta Gold by Tesoro. This rectified 30x30 tile comes in one color. It has multiple faces, or images, which gives it a more realistic appearance. It also has a 30x30 bullnose.

       Subway Tile With Dark Grout

      Subway tile doesn’t have to be white to benefit from having a dark grout. 
      Happy Floors French Quarter 3x10 brick Tile
      French Quarter Bienville 3×10 brick tile. Available in 4 colors. Also comes in a 12×24, a 2×2 mosaic and a 3×12 bullnose. 
      MS International 4x12 Urbano Ink subway

      Urbano Ink 4×12 glossy wall tile with a 3-dimensional pattern by MS International. This collection makes a style statement. It comes in both the 3-dimensional pattern and a smooth glossy finish. In addition to the black, it is available in 6 other colors.

      IWT Tesoro Havana Mojito 2x12 subway

      Havana 2×11 by Tesoro. This colorful tile, inspired by Cuba, comes in various colors, patterns and sizes including a 16×16 tile. It can be used on floors and walls and even comes with a stair tread.

      Can't Find A Matching Grout

      What do you do if you can’t find a grout that matches your tile. Or what if your tile isn’t a single color? In that case, there are several options. You could use a white grout. But that is not always the best choice.

      Another option would be to use a neutral grout. If the tile is grey. Then a grout with a grey hue would create a neutral effect. If the tile is brown, a grout with a brown hue would work well. 

      If the tile has multiple colors, I usually like to focus on one color within the tile and get a grout that matches that color.

      Happy Floors 15x30 Jaipur
      This tile, Jaipur 15×30, is on both the floor and the walls. A contemporary flare makes this tile perfect for many applications. It is available in 3 different colors and also comes in a hexagon pattern and a mosaic. The grout selected blends nicely with the tile.   
      Happy Floors 15x30 Contempo White

      With a contemporary design, the grout should practically disappear. This series, Contempo, has subtle variations in shade and a hint of texture which lend well to the design. A grout was selected that blended well with some of the background colors. Contempo comes in three colors and various sizes.  

       Dark Tile With Light Grout

      At times, it’s nice to use a dark tile with light grout to get some contrast. The dark tile can add depth to a room. While the lighter grout introduces some light into the color pallet.  

      Sanded vs Unsanded Grout

       Grout color is not the only consideration. There are two basic types of grout. Sanded and unsanded. As the name implies, sanded grout contains granuals of sand and unsanded grout does not.

      Typically, sanded grout it not used on marble or glass tiles. The sand could scratch the surface. However, when using a shellstone floor I do like to use a sanded grout because the texture of the grout matches the shellstone better. 

      The width of the grout joint also determines what type of grout to use.

      According to the Tile Council of North America:  

      Cementitious grout, joints smaller than 1/8″ generally should only be grouted with unsanded grout, and joints of 1/8″ and larger should only be grouted with sanded grout. Joints larger that 3/8″ usually need a more heavily sanded grout to accommodate the large joint.

      For more on the tile council’s guidelines. Go here:,to%20accommodate%20the%20large%20joint.  

      Common Grout Questions:

      Do I Need Grout?

      Not always. While some will give you a lengthy list of reasons why you need grout, I speak from experience.

      We have an upstairs landing and hallway that we clad in unfilled travertine years ago. We never grouted the floor or filled the holes.  I love the rustic feel and character of the unfilled stone.

      The floor still looks great. This is an area that is not subject to a lot of dirt accumulation or spills.

      Downstairs, we did grout our natural stone tile just to keep the joints clean.   

      Does Grout Help Secure The Tiles?

      Again, I speak from experience. We did not grout our floor and our tile is not popping up. So I would have to say:

       Myth Busted!

      Can You Walk On Tile Without Grout?

      Some caution that you will feel all the ungrouted edges. Perhaps injuring a foot. Or damaging a tile.

      Again, we have not found this to be the case. 

      Perhaps, you say, I’m not having any problems because my feet are so large.

      I won’t get into that, but I will say that my adorable 3-year-old grandson walks barefoot on our ungrouted floor all the time.

      No injuries.

      So, I’d have to declare another

      Myth Busted!

      Should I seal My Grout?

      Yes. We recommend either sealing the grout or using a grout that does not need to be sealed.

      There are many grouts on the market today that are designed to resist stains. They are a little more expensive, but worth the extra expense.

      How Should I Clean My Grout?

      We recommend using a PH-Balanced cleaner, such as Miracle Sealants brand Tile and Stone Cleaner.

      I love this products and so do my clients. For most of my clients, a bottle of cleaner lasts between 12 and 15 months. 

      This cleaner is safe to use on polished marble and porcelain tile surfaces. It can be diluted with water or used straight out of the bottle with no ill effects.

      How Often Should I Mop?

      We recommend mopping at least once a week to avoid dirt buildup.

      Sweep before cleaning to eliminate as much dirt as possible.

      What Type of Mop?

      I love micro-fiber mops. Tip: clean the mop head in the washing machine after using so it’s ready for the next time you want to use it.

      Can I use Dish Soap?

      We do not recommend using dish liquid. The soap used to wash dishes contains surfactants, which are designed to attract dirt. Great when you are washing dishes that can be held under running water to get them rinsed well.

      It is not possible to rinse a floor well enough to get up all the surfactants. Therefore you are left with a floor that has a thin film of soap designed to attract dirt.

      Rather than cleaning the floor, it turns it into a dirt magnet.

      Also, be sure to change your mop bucket when the water begins to get dirty. Otherwise you are just swishing dirty water around. 

      How to Pick Grout Color

      We hope this article has given you all the nitty gritty of how to choose grout color. And some added bonus materials. If you have questions regarding how to choose grout color, we are here to help. 

      Mercury Mosaics hexagon tile
      Hexagon Tiles by Mercury Mosaics add depth to this shower wall.

      Click here to learn more about Mosaic Tiles