What is the Best Grout to use in a Shower?

Written by David Lewis
6 Min read
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Best grout to use in a bathroom

Bathrooms, along with kitchens, are the most enjoyable rooms to design. They are rooms in which a multitude of styles and aesthetics can be employed, and the results almost always look incredible. One of the centrepieces of a beautiful bathroom can be an elegant-tiled shower.

Picking the perfect tile for your shower is a really exciting task, and the wide range of styles means that there is something for everyone to get excited about. However, when it comes to deciding what type of grout you should use with these tiles, the task becomes a little less exciting and a little more overwhelming.

That’s why, in this article, we will help you to decide what you will use for your lovely new tiled shower by detailing all of your options. By the end, you will understand the strengths and weaknesses of the different options and should have a good idea of which is the one for you. You never know, the topic of grouts may even become exciting to you!

What actually is grout?

Now some of you may already know what grout is and what it does, however, others will not. So in this next section, we will just run through the basic information about it and what function it serves.

Grout is a material that is formed primarily of cement, water, and sand (not all contain sand, but we will get onto that later). It is a filler material that is lined in the gaps between tiles. It effectively sticks the tiles together and holds them in place, whilst also sealing them up and ensuring that nothing else gets stuck in between the tiles.

A key property you will want to use for your shower is that it is waterproof. This is because a shower is obviously a very wet environment, and you really don’t want any of that water getting in between and behind the tiles, weakening the structure and potentially causing water to leak out of the shower. A badly waterproofed shower would leave you having to spend lots of money on lots of repairs.

Now you know what it is and what you need it to do, we will talk to you more about the key decisions you need to make when deciding what type you want to buy to use in your shower.

Epoxy or cement grout?

The first decision you will need to make is whether you want epoxy or cement. We’ve been nice to you with this first question because there really is only one answer here, and that is the epoxy variety.

Remember what we said was the most important property when used in a shower needed to have? Yes, that’s right, it needs to be waterproof. Epoxy is extremely water-resistant, much more so than cement. Due to the cement variety’s porous nature, water gets inside them very easily. This can cause major problems, for example, the influx of moisture into the cement grout will mean that it can become a breeding ground for all sorts of nasty moulds and fungi.

In addition to this, the fact that it is not waterproof means that it is nowhere near as durable as epoxy. After a short period of time, it will begin to shrink, meaning cracks will form and your tiles will become unstable.

The only thing that the cement variety has over epoxy when it comes to its use in showers, is that it is cheaper… at first. When you first grout your shower, you will find that it is cheaper to so do with cement rather than it is with epoxy. However, due to the cement’s lack of durability, the costs will rack up as you will be having to make much more regular repairs than you would with epoxy.

Sanded or unsanded?

As we mentioned earlier, it can either contain sand or not (sanded or unsanded). And whether it contains sand or not makes a big difference to its strengths and weaknesses. So, another question you need to ask yourself is, do I want my grout to be sanded or unsanded? Don’t worry, we know you aren’t ready to answer that yet, so we will now explain the differences between the two for you so that you are ready to make that decision.

Sanded grout

One of the benefits of sanded grout is that it is very durable and resistant to cracks. This is because the larger sand particles give the grout much more strength. The other major benefit of sanded grout is that it does not shrink whilst it is left to set (or cure). The larger, heavier sand particles cannot be moved as easily and therefore hold the grout in place rather than it shrinking.

Having said this, the larger sand particles also mean that sanded grout is maybe not the best option to go for when picking a type of grout for your shower. Firstly, the large number of sand particles in the grout can lead to your tiles becoming scratched, especially if they are a softer material like granite. Secondly, and more importantly, you should not use sanded grout in any gap smaller than 1/8 of an inch wide as the sand particles and therefore do not provide the level of precision needed.

Unsanded grout

Due to the lack of sand particles and higher concentration of cement, unsanded tile-grout does not have the same issues as were mentioned at the end of the section on sanded grout. In addition to this, the higher concentration of cement actually makes it more adhesive than the sanded grout, meaning it sticks to the tiles better.

Although the unsanded grout does shrink more while setting this is less of a problem due to the gaps in between the tiles already being very small.

The general consensus among people that know what they are talking about is that unsanded grout is the best option for showers, due to the thin gaps between tiles requiring an option more precise than sanded grout.

How to apply the grout

Before you even try to put any of it in the tiles, first you need to thoroughly clean the tiles, you will also want to clean a trowel and a grout float as you will be using these later. The reason you want everything to be so clean is because any bits of dirt that get stuck in your grout will be very difficult to remove, especially after it has set.

Now that you have cleaned the area, you can start to actually apply the grout. Different brands will have slightly different instructions, but the main idea is the same. What you want to do is put it on the surface of the float, you can do so using the trowel. Then you want to run the float over the tiles at a 45-degree angle so that it completely fills the gaps between tiles. Use the side of the float to clean the surface of the tiles.

Continue with this process until all of the gaps between the tiles have been filled. Then leave it to set before using the shower. Refer to the individual product for how long it needs to be left to set. It is important to note that in the gaps between a tile and shower floor, you need to use a waterproof caulk rather than grout.

For a more visual demonstration of how to apply it, you can watch the video below.

How to tile a shower part 3: grouting & sealing

What colour should I use?

This section will focus less on the practicality of the grout you are using and more on the aesthetic side of things, arguably the more exciting side. When it comes to deciding what colour you want to use, the key is to consider the colour of your tiles. You have three routes you could go down:

  • Match colours – if you want to highlight your beautiful new tiles rather than taking attention away from them, or any of the other centrepeices of your bathroom, then the best thing to do is find a grout that matches the colour of your tiles.
  • Contrast colours – this a much more bold and daring option. Contasting the grouts and tiles will make the tiles seem smaller, which can be nice if you have a particularly large shower area. It will potentially take attention away from the rest of the bathroom, but if you’ve found a colour combination you just love, then why not!
  • Complement colours – this is the middle ground between the two options, and it involves picking a grout colour that is a similar shade. This will create a subtle contrast without drawing attention away from anything else.

Rounding up

When considering all factors, we would say, and the majority of people will agree, that unsanded epoxy is the best to go for use in showers. This is because you need the grout you are using to be both precise (due to the small gaps) and waterproof, and that is what unsanded epoxy will give you.

Phew! Now that you’ve got that complicated bit out of the way, you can go back to planning your dream bathroom! Just remember that the colour is not something that you should overlook because the colour you chose can really determine what stands out and what doesn’t in your bathroom.

Appliances made simple. 

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