1/8-inch backsplash tile joints: Sanded or unsanded grout?

LinelleMarch 5, 2012

I'm totally confused. My backsplash will be 3x6 subways (ceramic crackle), running bond, with 1/8" joints. I have been telling the tile store and tile setter that I wanted unsanded grout. It has dawned on me that I don't know what the hell I'm talking about. I find that on GW some say sanded, others say unsanded for 1/8". Someone had their glass tile scratched because sanded grout was used, but I'm not using glass.

Do I want sanded or unsanded grout? Pros/cons?

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I've heard that 1/8" can go either sanded or unsanded. Any larger spacing needs sanded and any smaller needs unsanded. The scratching would be an issue with glass I am told. I used sanded on my marble that is polished and I don't think it scratched. I will be using unsanded on my ceramic tile that I am using in my BR in the near future because the joint is very tiny. I think with sanded grout there is less shrinkage on those larger joints.

I hope that has helped because I just realized that I prefaced every item above with an "I think" or "I've heard".

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 7:28PM
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I would use unsanded. Sanded grout is used on larger gaps because the sand acts as an aggregate holding the large gap together. It is not as clean looking as unsanded though. You do see the sand in it where unsanded is very smooth.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 7:33PM
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Never sanded. That's the yucky stuff that catches on your sponge. You only need sanded for wider joints. Some glass tile calls for sanded, but that's when it's bevelled and there's a wider gap on the underside.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 7:36PM
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Never sanded.

Thanks everyone. I like definitive answers.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 7:42PM
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The above is all true. 1/8" is the break point between sanded and unsanded. The issue is that grout shrinks (while sand does not); if you bridge too large a gap with unsanded, the shrinkage results in cracking. You are fine with 1/8", however.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 8:01PM
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sand can be coarse or fine-grained.

Sand can be sharp edged or round particles.

When grouting, you may smooth out the surface and ensure that sand particles are not protruding.

Additionally, ....

Sand may be good, in grout.


    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 12:12PM
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I will continue this discussion with my tile setters. Plus my quest for a better gray.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 2:43PM
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