Sanded vs Unsanded Grout

Sanded vs Unsanded Grout – A Complete Comparison

By Fortino Rosas / April 14, 2021 / 0 Comments

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    Did you know that grout was first used in the 18th century to repair sluice at Dieppe, France? Now grout is used to fill the spaces in between your tiles. There are two types: sanded and unsanded. To compare the two, I’ve provided a complete sanded vs unsanded grout overview.

    The two types of grout may serve the same purpose, but they have many differences that homeowners should be aware of if they’re installing tiles without professional assistance. In today’s guide, I’ll be giving you a full overview of the differences between the two products in terms of consistency and application.

    Additionally, I will discuss costs and the best brands to choose from for sanded or unsanded grout. For more information about grouting, refer to the FAQs section below.

    Let’s start with what grouting is and why it’s important to use it when installing tiles.

    What Is Tile Grouting?

    Grout is a composition material and it’s generally a mixture of lime, powdered cement, and sometimes sand. The purpose of grouting is to fill the gaps in between your tiles to give them a clean, finished appearance.

    What’s more, grout prevents water, dirt, and debris from getting under the tiles, because these components may lift them. The grout bonds the tiles to the floor so that they don’t come loose. It’s important that you select the correct grout for your tile installation to prevent wear on your floors.

    The space between your tiles will also give you an indication of the type of grout you’ll need. You can find out about tile space width and grout in our comparison between sanded and unsanded grout in this next section.

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    Everything About Sanded Grout

    Sanded grout has fine sand in the mixture and is used for most tiling applications. It contains inorganic aggregates, silica, and chemicals. Sanded grout is affordable and provides a secure bond when installing tiles.

    When you use sanded grout, you must always use a sealant after application, especially if you’re tiling your outside floors or bathroom. This is because sanded grout is porous, and if you don’t use a sealant, water can get into the grout and damage its structure.

    Where Can It Be Used?

    You should use sanded grout for most tiling tasks for floors. You can use sanded grout for bathroom or kitchen floors or your shower pan. It’s not recommended to use sanded grout for wall tiles because it doesn’t stick as well as unsanded products.

    On the other hand, you’ll appreciate that sanded grout comes in a variety of colors to add a unique aesthetic to your kitchen or bathroom. There’s also a reduction of grout shrinkage with this type of product, so you won’t get spaces in between your tiles over time.

    Grout Widths

    You should use sanded grout for spaces between tiles that are between ½ inch and ⅛ inch wide. Using sanded products on grout lines that are thicker than ½ inch won’t add stability for long because it will crack over time.

    Tile Surface

    You can use sanded grout if you’re not worried about the tiled surfaces getting scratched by the substance. If you’re installing rustic tiles with a matt finish, then using sanded grout will be the ideal choice. This type of grouting is also suitable for homeowners who are installing tile for the first time.

    What Is The Cost Of Sanded Grout?

    If you’re a homeowner on a budget, then you should consider buying sanded grout because it’s much more affordable than unsanded grouting. You can expect to pay between $10 and $65 for a 25lb bag of sanded grout. The 25 pounds can cover at least 200 square feet of floor.


    • Affordable
    • More color choices
    • Easy to mix and apply
    • Suitable for DIY homeowners
    • Used for most tiling applications
    • Suitable for thicker grout lines


    • Can scratch tile surface
    • Not suitable for vertical tile applications

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    Everything You Need To Know About Unsanded Grout

    Although it’s recommended to use sanded grout, some tile installations will require unsanded grout for the project. Unsanded grout has a smoother texture because it doesn’t contain any sand grains. This type of grout is suitable for delicate tiles that have glossy finishes.

    This type of grout is easier to work with and sometimes may come premixed. When you do mix your own unsanded grout, the color may look darker. But as the product dries it will become lighter and leave clean lines between your tiles.

    Where Can It Be Used?

    Unsanded grout is best for vertical tile installation because it has a stronger hold. The absence of stand makes unsanded grout extra sticky, so the tiles won’t fall off the walls when installing them.

    This type of grout is versatile, as you can use it to install tiles on walls and floors, and you can use it to install polished or honed stone. What’s more, you can use unsanded grout to tile your shower walls or for rectified tiles, which is fired manufactured tile in porcelain or ceramic.

    Grout Widths

    For thinner grout lines between ⅛ inch and 1/16 inch, you should use unsanded grout. This is because the consistency of unsanded grout is thinner than sanded products, which makes it easier to fill the narrower gaps between tiles.

    Tile Surface Recommendations

    If you’re installing tile with a glossy surface such as ceramic or porcelain, then you may want to use unsanded grout. This is because unsanded grout doesn’t have any abrasive properties,  so it won’t scratch the surface of your tile.

    You’ll also appreciate that you don’t have to use a sealant on this type of grout after installing your tiles, because it’s nonporous. This makes unsanded grout suitable to use in environments with high moisture and humidity such as bathrooms and kitchens.

    What Is The Cost Of Unsanded Grout?

    Since unsanded grout contains polymer components, it may be more expensive than sanded grout products. For powdered unsanded grout, you can expect to pay $10 for a 25lb bag. But for premixed products, you can pay as much as $160 per gallon.


    • Easy to mix
    • Smooth consistency
    • Suitable for glossy tiles
    • Used for thinner grout lines
    • Works for vertical tile installation


    • Expensive
    • Fewer color options

    To help you find the best sanded and unsanded grout, I’ve included the top brands that sell these two types of products. These brands provide quality grouting that will last. Take a look at these brands in this next section .

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    Top Sanded Grout Brands


    SimpleGrout makes pre-mixed sanded grouting so you don’t have to spend time getting the ratios of cement and water correct. The brand makes grouting that is crack and shrink-resistant, and it holds up against most household stains, from cooking oils or food.


    You’ll love that SimpleGrout is suitable for grout restoration. So if your grouting is looking old or cracked, use this product to put a new coat of grout between your tiles. Since this is a sanded grouting product, you may have to use a sealant after applying it.

    It’s recommended by the SimpleGrout manufacturers that you use a TileLab or AquaMix sealer to preserve your grouting and to make it more stain-resistant.

    Jennifer’s Mosaic

    Jennifer’s Mosaic grouting comes in a variety of colors because it’s specifically designed for mosaic tiling. This brand makes grouting that provides hard, wear-resistant joints with a more stable bond.

    Jennifer's Mosaic

    The product comes in a 2lb container and, since it’s a powdered product, you’ll have to mix it with water to make your grouting. Instructions for mixing are on the back of the container, so make sure you have a measuring jug to mix the correct ratios.

    With Jennifer’s Mosaic grouting, you can use it for indoor and outdoor tiling tasks because it’s extremely durable. It won’t wear over time, even under UV rays. Since this is sanded grout, you can space your mosaic tiles out further because it’s suitable for thicker grout lines.

    The grout comes in a reusable container, so if you mix the grout in the container simply close the lid to prevent the substance from drying out.

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    Top Unsanded Grout Brands

    SpectraLock Pro

    SpectraLock Pro grout is a versatile product because it can be used to tile walls, floors, and any type of tiles such as glass, porcelain, and natural stone. This grouting is extremely durable so it can be used inside and outside of commercial and residential buildings.

    SpectraLock Pro

    The grouting is premixed, so you don’t have to spend time perfecting water and powder ratios. You can use this grouting in any temperature range, and it outperforms cement products. It’s a non-sagging grout, so you can use it to apply tiles to your walls with ease.

    This grouting is stain-resistant, so it’s perfect to use in high-traffic areas. It’s also crack-resistant, so it can withstand the elements if you apply the product between outdoor tiles.


    Savogran makes premixed, unsanded grout that’s easy to apply, so it’s perfect for homeowners who want to install tiles the DIY way. It comes in a bright white color to give you clean grouting lines. Since this is an unsanded product, you can use it to install glass tile as well as porcelain or slate.


    The product is also 100% waterproof, so you don’t need to put sealant on the grouting after application. Additionally, the acrylic latex formula ensures that the grout stays white between your tiles, so it’s stain-resistant.

    This grouting has a powerful grip, so you can use it to install tiles on your shower wall or your kitchen walls.

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    The Winner Of This Round-Up

    The clear winner of this roundup is unsanded grout. It’s durable and doesn’t require a sealant, and it can be used on walls and floors. Although unsanded grouting is more expensive than sanded grout, it’s a better choice if you want your grouting to last longer.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    What Is The Difference Between Sanded And Unsanded Grout?

    Sanded grout is abrasive, whereas unsanded products are smooth. Additionally, unsanded products are thinner, so they’re ideal for filling in narrow lines. Sanded grouting has a thicker consistency, so it’s best to use it to fill wider grouting lines.

    Unsanded grouting is best for applying tile to your walls, because it’s stickier and holds tiles to surfaces better. Sanded products are best to use when tiling your floors.

    Lastly, you have to use a sealant when using sanded grouting because it’s porous. Most people choose to use unsanded grouting even though it’s pricier, because it doesn’t require sealant. However, if you want more color varieties, then you should consider sanded grouting.

    How Long Do You Have To Stay Off Of Grout?

    You should stay off grouting for at least 24 hours after applying it between your tiles. It’s important to give the grouting time to dry before walking on your floors. If you walk on your tiles before the grouting dries, it can shift the tiles and you’ll have uneven tile placement.

    Some products will list the time you have to wait before walking over your tiles after grouting. If it doesn’t stipulate a time frame, then stick to the 24-hour rule.

    How Long Does Unsanded Grout Last?

    Since unsanded grout contains polymer or epoxy, it can last indefinitely. If you do notice cracks or wear between your tiles, you can restore your grouting by applying a new coat.

    How Long Does Sanded Grout Last?

    Sanded grouts can last up to a year. It may have a shorter lifespan if you don’t put a sealant over the grouting after application. The sealant will prolong the life of the grouting and create a stain-resistant coating over your grout lines.

    Does Grout Need To Be Sealed?

    If you’re using sanded grouting, you’ll need to seal the grout lines, especially if you’re installing tile in an environment with high moisture. Sanded grouting is porous and can crack or wear over time when exposed to liquids.

    For unsanded products, you don’t need to use a sealant because it’s not porous. This makes unsanded grouting suitable for high-moisture areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.

    What Is The Best Grout Sealer On The Market?

    The best grout sealer on the market according to experts is Tuff Duck. It comes in a large 1-gallon jug and covers 800 square feet of tiled flooring. It’s a sealant that can be used on stone tiles such as slate, granite, and limestone, but it’s also excellent for grouting.

    This sealant comes in liquid form so that it’s easy to apply. Since it’s a see-through sealant, it won’t affect the color of your tiles or the grout lines. The sealant provides five years of protection for interior grout lines and three years of protection for outdoor grout lines.

    It’s a non-acidic formula that works well on all types of flooring to protect them from scratches, dents, and even discoloration. After grouting your tiles with a sanded product, it’s recommended that you use Tuff Duck to prolong the life of your grout and to add a stain-resistant layer between your tiles.

    How Do You Restore Grouting?

    After some time, your grout can get dirty from mopping your tiled floors with brown water or from walking on your floors with dirty feet. To brighten up your grout lines, you may want to get a cleaner that’s specifically formulated for grouting.

    I recommend using Grout-Eez because it’s a heavy-duty grout cleaner that comes with the tools you need to scrub between your tiles. The product lifts tough dirt and stains from your grout lines easily.

    To start, simply spray the product directly onto your grout lines. Avoid applying the cleaner to your tiles because you don’t want to waste the product. Let the solution sit between five to 10 minutes and then start scrubbing the lines with your brush. Rinse your floors with water and mop up any residue that’s left behind.

    The Grout-Eez has a low odor, so your kitchen won’t smell like chemicals. It’s also safe to use on any color grout, whether it’s white or black. This brand also makes a heavy-duty floor cleaner and natural stone sealant.

    Can Grout Be Used For Any Type Of Tile?

    It’s best to use unsanded grout if you’re installing glass or glossy tiles. If you’re not worried about scratching the tiles you’re installing, then you can use sanded grout for any type of tile.

    Final Thoughts

    We hope you found the information you needed in my sanded grout vs unsanded grout comparison article.

    To give you a quick recap, you can use sanded grouting for thicker lines and for floor applications. Use unsanded grout for wall applications and for thinner grout lines. And remember to apply a sealant if you’re using a sanded grout.

    If you have any comments or firsthand experiences with unsanded and sanded grout, please post them below or share your pictures via our social media.

    About Fortino Rosas

    Chief Floor Critic, 32 years of experience in flooring installation and sales

    Fortino Rosas is an independent flooring contractor with 32 years of experience in residential and commercial flooring installation and sales. He joined the Floor Critics team to share his expertise with our readers. Fortino has acquired vast knowledge and skills in the areas of product selection, space planning, and installation. He has installed flooring in residential, government, and commercial office projects in the Midwest. Visit Website.

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