Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference between Sanded Grout and Unsanded Grout

Grout plays a pivotal role in sealing the joints between the tiles in commercial and residential areas. If you plan on some DIY projects that involve an installation of tiles, chances are you will need grout one way or the other. This material can add both functional and aesthetic visual contrast to your home décor. For a record, there are numerous colors and types of tile grouts. However, they are classified into sanded and unsanded tile grouts.

The key difference between sanded and unsanded grout is a hot topic among homeowners. Not everyone is well versed with the difference. We have demystified the difference below.


What is Sanded grout? 

As reflected in the name, a sanded grout contains fine particles of silica sand that are added to reinforce the structure of grout thus enhancing durability. As a result, it looks coarser with a rough texture whenever you feel it with fingers. Even by looking at the mixture, you will see the grains of sand in it. A mixture of powdered pigments, water, cement and sand make this sanded grout.

Difference between Sanded Grout and Unsanded Grout

There is cement-based and epoxy-based sanded grout. In the epoxy sanded grout, there is a mixture of the resin, hardener and sand. Usually, epoxy grouts are applicable for areas that are exposed to harsh chemicals because the grouts are tougher.

Sanded grout is available in many colors. This can help in creating a great visual contrast or matching the color of your tiles. The addition of sand in the grout binds the grout and creates a strong bond. As thus, a sanded grout seldom cracks or shrinks. It is ideal for areas where foot traffic is an order of the day because it can withstand the pressure subjected to it.

Moreover, sanded grout is applicable on tile joints that are 1/8-inch to ½-inch wide. The sand particles will help to keep the tiles together without any breakage or shrinkage. It is easy to apply the grout in large joints. But, for gaps that are 3/8-inch or more, you need the wide-joint mixture grout that is stronger and heavily sanded.

In terms of durability, sanded grout tops over unsanded grout. It also helps in slip resistance in wet floors. However, for smaller joints less than 1/8-inch it is a bad choice because it will be hard to push the abrasive mixture. Contractors might promptly use more water to strive for a precise finish, which might turn out bad when the water evaporates thus creating the pinholes in the joints.


What is Unsanded grout? 

A simple mixture of powdered pigments, cement and water makes this grout. By comparison, unsanded grout is almost twice expensive as the sanded grout because of the pricey polymers often used as binders. Just like the sanded grout, there is epoxy-based and cement-based unsanded grout. The epoxy-based unsanded grout contains resins and the hardener as it is more suited for joints wider than 1/8-inch on softer tiles that could be scratched by the sanded grout.

Difference between Sanded Grout and Unsanded Grout-1

Unsanded grout has a smooth texture because of the absence of sand grains in it. As a result, it is suitable for scratchable and soft tiles such as limestones and marbles. It will not scratch the tiles as much as the abrasive sanded grout can. Unsanded grout is, however, not hard enough to withstand the foot traffic. As thus, it is seldom used in areas frequented by foot as it can shrink easily. For larger joints above 1/8-inch, it is not strong enough to hold the tiles together for a long time. The usual application of unsanded grouts is on the vertical walls such as showers or passages. Because it contains no sand particles, unsanded grout is sticky. It performs well in holding ceramic tiles installed on vertical surfaces.

Unsanded grout is thinner. After it dries, it shrinks. That’s why it is unsuitable for heavy foot traffic. If durability is not of a concern to you, you can opt for the unsanded grout. But, installing it in heavy foot traffic may cost you a re-grouting whereas the unsanded grout is expensive.

 Differences between Unsanded and Sanded Grout

Application of Sanded Grout vs. Unsanded Grout

Sanded grout is applied on larger tile joints that range in width from 1/8” to ½”, whereas the unsanded grout is applicable on smaller joints with width less than 1/8”. Again, unsanded grout is applicable on softer tiles such as limestones and marbles. If the joints exceed 1/8-inch, then consider the epoxy-unsanded grout which is more durable. With regard to the sanded grout, it the gaps are too large, then consider the wide-joint mixture which is heavily sanded.

Appearance of Sanded Grout and Unsanded Grout 

Unsanded grout has a smooth texture with no grains of sand in it. Meanwhile the sanded grout is characterized by silica sand particles. A sanded grout is available in numerous colors than the unsanded grout.

Price of Sanded Grout and Unsanded Grout 

Because of the costly polymers, an unsanded grout is more priced than the sanded grout since sand is a cheap material. Epoxy-based sanded and unsanded grouts are relatively expensive than the cement-based counterparts.

Composition of Sanded Grout and Unsanded Grout 

Unsanded grout has the powdered pigments, cement and water whereas the sanded grout contains the sand on top of these ingredients of unsanded grout.

Sanded Grout vs.  Unsanded Grout: Comparison Chart

Sanded Grout

Unsanded Grout

Contains sand in addition to cement, water and powdered pigments. There is also epoxy sanded grout that contains resins and hardener Contains no sand grains except the water, cement and powdered pigments. Polymers are used as binders
Has a coarser texture Has a smooth texture
Applicable to tough tiles such as matte finish Applicable on soft and scratchable tiles such as limestones and marbles
Applied on joins that are 1/8-inch wide Applied on joints that are less than 1/8-inch wide
It is less expensive It is expensive
Withstands foot traffic on horizontal surfaces Applied on vertical surfaces
It does not shrink or crack Can shrink or crack if exposed to pressure

Summary of Sanded Grout and Unsanded Grout

  • Unsanded grout contains no sand so it has a smooth texture that is applied on soft and scratchable tiles
  • Sanded grout has a coarser texture. It is not applied on scratchable as it can scratch them with the abrasive particles
  • Unsanded grout for tile joints that are less than 1/8” while sanded grout is for joints over 1/8”.
  • Unsanded grout can shrink or crack
  • Sanded grout can withstand foot traffic. The sand particles reinforce the strength and resist shrinkage and prevent slippage on wet surfaces
  • Unsanded grout is expensive while the sanded grout is less expensive

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References :

[0]Editors of Fine Homebuilding (2005). Tiling: Planning, Layout and Installation. House & Home. Taunton Press, 2005. Page 91.

[1]Editors of Fine Homebuilding (2005). Tiling: Planning, Layout and Installation. House & Home. Taunton Press, 2005. Page 91.

[2]Hunter, SW (2005). Creative Concrete Ornaments for the Garden: Making Pots, Planters, Birdbaths, Sculpture & More. Gardening. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. 2005.

[3]"Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Worek_z_cementem.jpg"

[4]"Image Credit: http://onblissstreet.com/2015/03/beginners-tips-to-tile-a-backsplash.html"

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