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What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

Posted by nomorebluekitchen (My Page) on
Tue, Jun 24, 08 at 23:57

I still need to grout the white subway tile I put in my laundry and noticed some threads discussing white v grey. I never considered anything other than white, but should I?

Anita


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

Two reasons I know of, first is that the grey grout gives the tile the classic "subway" look from years gone by. Secondly, in time it will turn gray anyway. This way it will be a consistent gray and not a white you are fighting to keep white.

Others may have another take on this. Have you posed this question on the bathroom forum? A lot of the professionals hang out over there.


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

I asked a very similar question a few weeks ago. The response was about 60% grey, 35% white, and 5% other. I went with grey and I'm glad I did. The grey defines the white without being too obtrusive. Here's a pic:
P6240308


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

The primary one I know about is aesthetics. Basically, it makes the form of the subway tile pop out a lot more. It looks more dimensional with the darker grout. I've had several friends choose a darker grout after they lived with the tile up and ungrouted for a couple of days. They found that they liked the lines that the shadows in the spaces created.

As for whether you should consider it, I personally, really like it for an "old school" look. I don't know if that is what you are going for. I don't know that I would do it if you had tile on the counters, though. It would probably compete a lot more.


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

My 2 cents dealing with "grey" grout: sometimes, it tends take on a purple hue in time. I prefer a bone/linen, almond, or sand color with white tiles. I've had other colors, but white tends to turn a splotchy bone anyway in the shower even if sealed. I think maybe the shower cleansing chemicals do something to white grout. I say, why not have some kind of say and go with a color that is more stable than 'white'? Plus, the tone on tone look is classic. Contrasting colored grout can be wonderful in the right setting.

Personally, I would stain white or light grout a new tint/color I could live with. Make a 'sample' board to see what works for you.


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

The trick is to us a very LIGHT grey, so it doesn't overpower the tile.


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

I LOVE the traditional dark gray. Like graphite/concrete gray. For me things have to be decisive. You're in with the gray or you're not.

I'm doing square, very flat squares (which I'm having a lot of trouble finding in this country) not subway, but all the old subway has gray. I can't imagine for myself anything other than gray.

But the grout line has to be THIN, or it doesn't look good. It's my understanding that the kind of tile you use has to allow for that close setting. So if that's what you want, ask when you order it. And don't be out running an errand the day they lay it until everyone is clear about what you're looking for. Everyone is happier that way.

Any historic house tours in your area where you might study some in the wild?


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

Anita, when we were renovating our bathroom this year, we chose the light gray grout to go with our subway tiles that surrounds our bath. We think it looks great. Go on the bathroom forum and search for some photos there! good luck,


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

I have Subway Ceramics white tile. I went with the lightest grey grout my tile guy had and spaced them 1/16th apart. Turned out beautiful. We chose light grey for a couple of reasons. First, we wanted the tile pattern to be emphasized. Second, it wouldn't show dirt like white or linen would. Didn't go with a darker grey grout because we wanted the tile to stand out, not the grout line.

Photobucket


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

For me it would be all about grime. No matter how well I seal or how much I clean, I still get stains on grout. As a result, white grout just wouldn't work.


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

This is why I say to use a light gray, and what I mean by overpowering:

Photobucket

Now for some, this might be just the ticket, and for those people, PLEASE don't let me talk you out of it!! But for most, a soft colored grout, whether it be gray, tan, or a pastel-- something that gives just enough contrast to bring out the pattern, but not enough to drown out the rest of the kitchen-- is just what the doctor ordered.


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

A good illustration, Bill!

Am I mistaken in thinking the grout line is a little thicker (the tiles set a little further apart) than Mary's example?

I'm trying to translate my likes into a number that I can tell my contractor.

(I personally like the color in the bottom part, just maybe a little less of it. But as you say, it's all about people knowing what they're asking for and getting.)

Thanks!


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

Am I mistaken in thinking the grout line is a little thicker (the tiles set a little further apart) than Mary's example?

no, you're not mistaken. According to the person who installed this (this is not my work-- it's from another pro over at John Bridge's) it was 1/8" joints.

I personally like the color in the bottom part, just maybe a little less of it

In this case, the extreme contrast was for a reason-- to show off the different patterns and borders, and the transition from one to the next. But in most cases, this extreme a contrast would ruin the look of the installation, IMO.


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

Hi,
This is a light gray; Delorean Gray to be exact.
It just highlights the lines a bit. I never considered white.
Shower valve

Casey


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

i too went with a light gray grout (name was Birch). it is very subtle but give just a little bit of contract to the tile. also, i felt it tied in just a little bit with the stainless steel appliances.

the tile installer left me his swatch kit of grout samples and I played with them a while before selecting Birch (and was in a toss up of going with this (fairly subtle) vs. something with slightly more contrast).

Photobucket

not sure the picture really shows off the contrast too much.


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

I used Spectralock epoxy grout in Silver Shadow in my DIY bath, gave me the perfect subtle contrast:


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Doh!!

Well I can share with you why white grout is a bad idea! I came home last night to see my white tile grouted with "Bright white" grout. I'm here to tell you, it was not good-- the tile suddenly looks old and dingy and the grout super clean and new-- yeah, for now! I called the GC and said something like "It looks like the tile was grouted already. i hope that isn't true and that there will be some grey grout going over this stuff because this is not what I wanted." GC returned the message this morning to let me know it was a miscommunication and the white grout will be taken out and grey grout put in.

What a depressing task that will be! I asked if maybe the white grout couldn't just be stained grey but he said that could be more trouble that it is worth. aNyone ever stain grout grey with good results? I really don't want to cause additional, unnecessary work to people.

Ya know, if the grout were just the same color as the tile, I think I'd tell him it's fine, not what i wanted, but it's OK, don't trouble yourself. But I am happy that the "bright white" is going away. I wonder if "bright white" is the industry standard color to use rather than just a nice neutral white? Like unless you tell the tilers I want "X" they will assume that you want "bright white"?


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Doh -- part 2

One other thing about the white grout-- I know this is going to sound nutty, but, from a distance, the white subway with white grout looks like this monolithic plane of white-- and the shelves above it seem like they are floating and there is this sickening feeling that the shelves lack support. (Crazy because, as we all know upper cabs and shelves have plent of support, but the support is behind the wall, out of sight-- but that is our modern brain thinking-- prehistoric parts of our brain worry a bit about shelves and cabs that don't have an obvious means of staying up in the air!)

Before the white grout was there, the spaces between the tile were like dark gray shadows and they added a certain substance to the wall-- as if-- and I know this is weird-- the grout was providing support to the shelving above.

if the allusion of floating shelves or upper cabinents appeals to you (great in a modernist home?) then I would advise against any color grout that is a contrast to the tile. I'm not comfortable with the look of floating shelves so the white on white look is . . . unsettling. But perhaps my brain is not as advanced about these things as others!


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

I know everybody used grey and I was going to also, but for my kitchen, the white looked better. It's not bright white and you can still see the pattern. For bathroooms or laundry rooms I wouldn't even consider white.


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

I wonder if "bright white" is the industry standard color to use rather than just a nice neutral white? Like unless you tell the tilers I want "X" they will assume that you want "bright white"?

It is. Up until the mid 80's there were only three grouts-- white unsanded for wall tile, and grey sanded or white sanded for floors. End of story. Then a company called L&M came out with their line of "Acid-R" (resistant) grouts, and included black and an umber brown grout to their line. Soon after that American Olean literally exploded with a whole rainbow of colors, and that was the beginning of what we have today.

aNyone ever stain grout grey with good results?

Too bad you weren't in here about a year ago or so. There were several people who'd stained white grout in white 1" hex floors with a grey Aquamix grout colorant, and the results were dramatic. Link's below for the colorant.

At this point, though, it shouldn't be too difficult to carve out the grout. It's not even fully dried yet, much less cured.

Here is a link that might be useful: Aquamix Grout Colorants on line


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

Bill that is so interesting! Bright white is the industry standard-- now i feel like a bit of an ass for putting it down as a choice. Probably used in 90% of homes, right?

thanks for passing on about the colorant-- and for letting me know that it really shouldn't be too much trouble to have the grout totally redone. I'll see if I can find
the old threads in the wonky search function!


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

Bright white is the industry standard-- now i feel like a bit of an ass for putting it down as a choice. Probably used in 90% of homes, right?

Why do you feel like an ass? If you like the white, go with it!! As for industry standard, that usually refers to what's used in commercial work. In residential work, there IS no such thing as an "industry standard".


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

Remember the Ford motto "You can get the Model A in any color you like-- as long as it is black." Makes me wonder what our kids will be like -- "Dove gray grout? Are you kidding me? smoky cloud is obviously the only choice for this application!"

Maybe the tiler was old school and doesn't even know there are other color potions besides bright white-- so when the GC told him he had a tiling job of white subway tile in a kitchen, the tiler didn't even think to ask what color grout. I think that scenario pretty much sums up why i feel like a bit of an ass to pitch a fit about the grout being bright white-- the color that, as you say, was the only option until fairly recently.


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

My subway tiles were installed on Thursday. White grout, at my request. Looks wonderful.
We discussed grey grout, and the tiler agreed it was good in a period style kitchen, and he'd even matched existing tile and grout from 1880 in a house (stained the tile with a grey wash too, to match the aged colour). But we both agreed that grey would be quite wrong in my modern white kitchen.

For me, the key decorative element is the counter (and the food!) - I wanted the backsplash to look good, but not be a distraction, to form a background.


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clear up misunderstanding

I just realized Bill that you though I was feeling like an ass because I WANT bright white-- after all I said I "putting it down as a choice." What I meant was that I felt bad about critiqing the color-- i.e., "putting it down as a choice." Two totally different meaning for the same phrase. I "put it down" (i.e. criticized it as a choice) by pointing out that it is difficult to keep clean and it makes my "normal" white tile look dingy and old in comparision. I NEVER wanted white grout, never "put it down"-- i.e., indicated it is what I wanted. Sor yI used such an ambiguous phrase!


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

Thanks for the calculation Bill. It helps a lot.

I think for me there's a graph with a couple of lines that intersect at some point: The color gets darker, the line gets thinner. They intersect at an optimum point that's dark but thin.

There's an example that looks nice in a book I like (don't have a scanner) Easy Cottage Style, Bauwens and Campbell, around Page 110. I think it's still in bookstores. Slip it in a pile of NASCAR and hunting and fishing magazines, sneak into a corner chair and have a look in the store sometime.

The guy bought a huge wooden Gothic style redundant flatpack church, painted it white and pale green, decorated it with salvage and tiled vast areas with randomly cut plain flat white tile with darkish grout. It's an interesting project.


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

growlery-- sounds like it! That's one I'd like to see pics of!


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pupwhipped trying to distract Bill again

Oh Bill, Bill.....trying to distract you again here. The grout colorant you mentioned says it can be used inside or outside...I think? Does that mean it would work for a problem with a "mortar" color on an exterior entryway? A portion of our flagstone topped landing coming in the front door of our house had to be torn out as it was not square. The mortar color of the part that was redone does not match the other part. We had a brown colorant mixed into the mortar for the entire project, but the redo came from a different bag and is darker. I don't know if there is a difference between "inside grout" and "outside mortar" as far as this colorant goes. Do you know? Thank you, Mr. Bill, for any help.


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

Remember, white is technically not a color (nor is black).


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

I know-- one is all colors while the other is LACK of color. But for purposes of this discussion they are. :-)

pupwhipped-- i think I'd recoil if someone asked me to use colornat not only outside, but on mortar joints between a surface as coarse as flagstone. you could try it, but whereas with tile, you can just slop it on the joints, I think I'd be extremely careful and make sure I don't hit anything with the colorant I don't want to "color".


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

I have white tile with white grout countertops in my kitchen. Standard when we bought the home. I don't know about grey but bleach works wonder on white grout. 14 years later and they still look great.

We will be replacing the counters with quartz to go with our new cabinets but I'm planning to have white subway tile backsplash with white grout.


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RE: where to purchase light grey grout, what kind?

Friends, where can I purchase a light grey sanded grout, and what is the color called? My local box stores only have a very dark grey.

I want to use it on my kitchen subway tile backsplash, and also the 1" white hex tile on the shower floor. Thanks so much!


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RE: What is the rationale for grey grout with white subway tile?

Any tile store should have it.


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