Samples of grouted herringbone backsplash, please give feedback

enduringAugust 25, 2011

Here are 2 samples that I made up today.

#1 Left is a white grout.

#2 Right is a med dark gray, like cement.

#3 The surrounding area is the ungrouted tile, which I am considering as a lighter gray color. I would like to sample a lighter gray but don't have one.

Question One, which grout do you think is best with the kitchen elements.

Question Two, can I mix a big batch of white and my gray grout powders successfully to make up a lighter color?


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I love the light grout...but that's just me! I'm glad to see wood cabinets here as I see so much white (which is also beautiful) but I have chosen cherry.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 4:41PM
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Can you sample the medium gray before deciding? I think the white grout makes the entire thing disappear, but the dark may be too patterny if your backsplash is large (we need pics of the whole kitchen to see in context).

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 4:44PM
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I agree with Marcolo-I think I would like the medium gray best, but I would like to see it first (sorry-not much help). Are the grout lines the same-that is, are the spaces in the ungrouted tile the same as the dark gray grouted?
I do think you lose something with all white.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 4:47PM
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I like the ungrouted "light gray" look the best. The dark gray is very bold and I don't think it looks bad next to the dark counters and cabinets, but I think I'd like a bit lighter better. The white is my least favorite - I feel like you really lose the pattern at a distance with that. But maybe you want the pattern to be subtle... really depends on kind of look are you going for.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 4:48PM
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I agree that the white grout makes it just muddled. The dark is a bit dramatic, but of the two shown, I like it better.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 4:48PM
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Marcolo, I agree about a med gray needing testing. The dark is a bit harsh. The amount of grout to light tile is very strong. The kitchen is small at 7x12 with 4 doorways. The space on this wall is about what you see, doubled, in the last picture. The stove wall is a bit shorter but goes a bit higher at the 30" stove. There is about 23sqft of tile total.

I just got off the line with my tile shop sales person and I'm driving into town with my sample board and we are going to problem solve color. I am thinking of mixing the white and gray to create a lighter gray. I should have no problems with the testing of different ratios.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 4:53PM
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I see others agree too with the lighter gray option. I will have to get crack'in.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 4:55PM
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Oh Enduring, it is all beautiful. You are so creative.

Here is an odd question, why does the dark grout look
like it has a sharp edge? Is it just the darker color
or was the grout done differently. Or maybe it is a
different grout product. For some reason the white grout
looks crumbly or with more texture.

I think the light gray grout would be perfect.
I am loving the herringbone pattern.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 5:18PM
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Based on the amount of feedback you've gotten for a medium gray, it's a good idea to try it out. Here's one more vote, though, for the dark gray. I love it -- I think it looks fabulous with your countertop and hardware. I'm imagining the currently ungrouted areas to look sort of like a medium gray, and I am totally in the dark gray camp, love it.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 5:19PM
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I don't know whether or not one can successfully blend two grouts to make a combination of the colors. But I do agree that a light gray grout might be nice. Can you buy some pre-mixed light gray grout? Of the two you have sampled, I prefer the light over the dark quite a bit.

That was really smart of you to sample the grouts first. On the two floors I've tiled, I just went for it! Thankfully I've been happy with the outcome, but if I'm doing something more interesting like a backsplash, I think I'm going to follow your example and do a grout sample board.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 5:26PM
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I love the look of the dark grout, especially with the countertops, but I have the same concern as marcolo about the lines being too patterny/busy in a large expanse. So, I guess I'm thinking that a light-medium gray grout, so that it basically looks like it does without the grout, would be perfect! And I agree with boxerpups -- for some reason the white grout lines don't look as crisp as the dark ones (maybe it wasn't wiped clean enough?!?). It is looking great so far!!!!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 5:49PM
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To clarify, I also prefer the dark to the light, but think the medium is worth a serious look. I like the way the dark carries the countertop color up--it's just that with a herringbone, it might get a bit too crazy over a large field.

Or it might not.

I am trying to be as clear and definitive as your weather person's Irene predictions.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 5:51PM
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I prefer the dark to the light, but I think medium is the way to go...assuming testing goes well and looks good. The white doesn't do your backsplash any favors and I don't think it really matches.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 6:02PM
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Another vote for how the tile looks ungrouted. I would try small batches of different colors of gray (with the proportions of black to white recorded), try them out, let them dry, and pick the most "invisible."

BTW, yours would be an astonishingly handsome kitchen even with no backsplash. It's just smashing.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 6:07PM
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A vote for the ungrouted look. Just dark enough to define and promote the herringbone pattern without stealing the show from the pattern.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 6:51PM
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I agree with aiming for a grout color that mimics the appearance of the ungrouted tiles. The herringbone pattern is fabulous. I wouldn't use white since it makes the pattern disappear.

As long as your grouts are similar types you can custom mix them to achieve the right gray. Just be sure to write down the proportions so you can match it if you need to make repairs in the future.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 8:12PM
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My vote is for the darker grout....It just seems to "pop"!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 8:33PM
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No to the white! NO!!! Well, unless YOU really like it. LOL! Can you tell us what color the gray is that you sampled? Many people here are as familiar with grout colors as they are their cousins. I used a grout on stark white subway tiles in my bathroom that is gray but has a TINY hint of brown to it. I will find the name of it...I think it would look nice with your tile.

Your backsplash looks sooooooooooooo great. You should be patting yourself on the back big time. Oh, and the reason I don't like the white is because all the beauty of the pattern you have worked so hard on is totally my mind, anyway.


    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 9:17PM
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Well, the reason that the white looks weird is because it isn't really grout, it's mastic mimicking grout & apparently doing a poor job. The sharp edges are because there are no bevels to this tile its just sharp cut.

I have mixed a 2:1 ratio of my "Natural" with a just purchased "Standard White". I am getting these at The Tile Shop. The people have been so nice to me I am trying to use their grout if I can make the color work. I was at HD yesterday and was a little envyous when I saw about 6 varying shades of gray. But the color of the "Natural" is a good fit for my colors in the room. When I was buying the new grout powder this afternoon I was almost lead astray to getting an "Ivory" to use as the light diluent. Then I saw pink and I switched it back to white. I am real happy with the shade I have but may want to try just a touch lighter. I am making up micro batches. 2tsp:1tsp for starters.

So here in each picture on the left, is my 2:1 grout 2parts white:1part gray. On the right the original "Natural":

Here are my two walls that will be tiled. Not too much area really. But as I've said before this tiling has taken me verrrrry long just to get to this point.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 9:23PM
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I love the light gray on the left. I agree with some that the dark gray is a little too dramatic looking and the white makes everything disappear. I think what you came up with, 2 parts white and 1 part gray, is perfect.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 9:32PM
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In the photo at a distance, I think both the light and dark gray look good, and I have just a slight preference for the darker. In the close-up, though, there's something off to me about the light gray. I think it doesn't work with the yellow tones in the tile as well as the darker gray. I'm no color expert, that's just my impression looking at it on my monitor.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 9:37PM
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Uh oh...I hope this is just a monitor issue. I have pretty good eyes, I'll take a look at the color again in the morning to see if it looks like a problem with the yellow. I might have to get a warmer light grout to mix with the dark; I might have to go with that "Ivory" after all.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 9:51PM
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You are on the right path but need to go a little darker. Now, wave your wand, and just make it what I am picturing, lol...

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 10:33PM
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So do I try 1:1? or 1.5:1? Got the measuring spoons in the DW & a glass of wine in hand. So this will have to wait until tomorrow evening. But, I might start messing around in the morning before work, making me late!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 10:38PM
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I much prefer the medium grout to the darker. It shows the definition of the pattern without letting the pattern overtake the beautiful tile. But a warmer shade of gray might work even better. Looking at the Tile Shop web site, sand beige (not mixed) might be one to try. I have desert sand grout with my stone tile and it looks great, but it's probably too light for you. Of course you don't want to keep buying grout. If you ever want to try the desert sand (maybe mixed with natural) I'll send you some!

We're all in love with the ungrouted look, and I'm sure you'll be able to find the right mix to achieve it. It's going to be amazing!!!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 11:21PM
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the one on the right looks best IMO. That grey will make your counters stand out even more.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 12:22AM
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Darker. I don't think you need to get all OCD about being busy with such a small backsplash. The dark looks crisp, the gray looks muddy.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 1:43AM
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I don't like the darkest grout. It screams at me from across the room. I think you're on the right track with lighting the gray. Your custom mix is better, but you may be right about it not being warm enough. I know you're just itching to buy more grout ;), but I think you should try a warmer white.

Btw, I love watching you go through this process. I'm not sure why. Maybe because you're as OCD about the tiny nuances as I am. Aaahhhhhhh...obsessiveness at work. Like a cozy blanket.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 1:55AM
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Boy I love your beautiful backsplash. I thought I'd like the medium gray but I'm not sure the tones are right. The more I look at it, the more I like the definition of your original dark gray. It really highlights the herringbone pattern. With your black countertop, the dark gray isn't overwhelming. So I'm switching from the medium gray to the dark camp.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 1:57AM
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I'm SUPPOSED to be in bed! Coffee later in the day can do this to me. I think I will try another mixture tomorrow that is between these two last samples...just curious, and its fun. Doing this doesn't make me nervous. I might buy the "Ivory" just to try mixing with this gray. My walls are a grayish green, very pale. The dark grout has an ever so so slight green to it. The soapstone of course has green in it. When my DH & I put the soapstone in, and I was filing away at the edge to "perfect it", the soapstone dust was almost an exact match to my wall paint BM Titanium. How crazy is that.

Thanks all for giving me your votes and comments. Its been very helpful.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 2:29AM
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"A vote for the ungrouted look."

yep. I'd go with whatever makes it look like that.

like the 3 bears... too much, not enough - you need it 'just right'!

you can better see the tint it is leaning toward there IRL tho.

breezy - is it because of the image of a 'mad scientist' mixing up a potion?

the lengths we go to in order to get things just the way we want 'em.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 2:48AM
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Steph, I think that has something to do with it! Or maybe I'm too far down in my spiral of choosing paint for the whole house that I sit at 1a.m. and organize my 742,293 paint chips from every single paint store in town first by undertone, then by brand, then by size, hoping that the right one will jump up and do a happy dance that it makes me feel better to think of Enduring getting her little teaspoon out of the baking drawer and a dropper full of water mixing and stirring and measuring.

That's it. I'm too tired. Off to bed. G'luck tomorrow Enduring!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 3:43AM
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I vote for one of the darker ones, especially having seen photos of your space. Good luck choosing; I don't think you can make a mistake with all of these lovely options. The herringbone is delicious.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 5:08AM
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I am wondering a few things. First, when we picked out grout, actually the tile person chose it, we looked at grout sticks and matched up the one that looked best. Why are you doing all your own mixing? The other thing is that my grout is a sand grout. So it gives a softer appearance.
Also, your grout line looks flush with the tile. When looking at mine it is a bit lower than the tile. (It is not a beveled tile)
I know we have all been voting for a grey, but I am wondering about Ivory?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 7:02AM
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I am loving both. Seriously looking good!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 7:48AM
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Good morning! I had a short shift in bed. Our DD called and woke us up. She's in Senegal, Africa helping with primate research for 6 months. It's broad daylight there!

In my little microcosm of tile life, I've got my next test underway. This time with a 1:2 ratio, 1white:2gray. Hoping for a slight tone down from the dark. And, I'll have to remember to start getting the soft trowel out to smush the grout into place, instead of the putty knife I used to stir it up with. That explains the multitude of scratches on my samples, if anyone has noticed. Now there's and analogy I can use in the macrocosm of my life, always use a soft trowel so I don't leave scratches.

Ellendi, The grouts at the tile store are all their standard colors. They didn't offer to mix up custom grout. I'm a DIY'er and never thought to ask for them to do it. Of course I ask them to give me all sorts of advise on what I come up with! I guess they are providing me with therapy. I thought about Ivory too yesterday, but as a blending color. I think I might pick some up for blending today and see if it warms the dark up a bit. Having an ever so slight peach, to the Ivory grout, it might mix with the dark gray and move it to a warmer tone. I'll reevaluate, it may be something I'd like straight and on the rocks, :) couldn't help it. BTW, my grout is sanded.

This morning the dark gray looks a teeeny bit lighter, and the center has receded a bit so may not look as flush as it did yesterday. Yesterday was a rush job, using a hairdryer to dry the grouts. It must have dried even some more overnight. Don't strangle me if after all this I go with the dark gray.

Getting the hairdryer out and another cup of coffee before I get ready for work...

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 8:07AM
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I vote for the dark grout. The tile is beautiful and the pattern is out of the ordinary. I think the dark grout emphasizes both. You worked so hard on your tiling why not make it really " pop"!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 8:20AM
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Enduring, would you mind telling what kind of tile you are working with? It's lovely!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 9:12AM
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Caiquemom, tile is from "The Tile Shop" and is called "Lansdale Carrara". It is really variable in color. More tans than grays, but both are in the mixup. Hardly any veining. It was a mosaic that was a running bond pattern, 2x4" tiles. I thought it was a nice scale for my pettite kitchen backsplash areas. After several months of waiting to get it up on the walls, I sort of impulsively started cutting them up so I could put it up as a herringbone (but I had been thinking of the option). You know how it is, if you never try you'll never know, and may live to rue the day you didn't follow that sudden desire to install herringbone!

BTW, I'm at work and the new grout sample I applied this early AM is in the car cooking, so I can stop by the Tile Shop on my way home if I need more grout or more therapy.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 11:33AM
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Love the herringbone...the medium gray is by far the best choice! IMHO!!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 1:38PM
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I can't wait to see which one you end up with. In theory a medium toned grey sounds perfect; but I kind of prefer the darker one to the medium tone you showed in the pictures. I agree that you're smart to test it out first. It will make a big difference in the overall look of your kitchen. Your cabinets and counters look terrific, by the way. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 4:51PM
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Hey, it's now 1/2/12 and you can't leave me hanging! What grout did you choose? Pics please!!!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 1:38PM
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See the (done( thread linked below

Here is a link that might be useful: thread on completion of BS

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 6:38PM
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