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What is the difference between unsanded and sanded grout?

cagan semiz
Tuesday, January 10, 2023
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What is the difference between unsanded and sanded grout?

How should you lay marble floors and choose the grout?


Tile makers will use grout, a pastelike substance that fills the gaps between tiles and keeps them secure. While grout is frequently used for home improvement, many DIYers are unaware that it is available in two varieties: sanded and unsanded.

If you're installing a kitchen backsplash or tiling an entry floor, you're torn between these two options when you visit a home improvement store and want to make the right decision about grout.

Sanded grout is more resilient to cracking and shrinkage than unsanded.


Sanded grout is held together by fine particles of sand, just like its name suggests. As the grout cures, the sand is suspended, and the grout remains stable, more resistant to cracking, and with less shrinkage. Sanded grout such as PentaUsa White Tile Grout, is quite easy to find online and in home improvement stores. Sanded grout comes in various colors and is preferred since sand is a cheap filler.

You can view our sanded grouts with a wide variety of colors in this catalog.

Surfaces with sanded grout are preferred.

Sanded grout is more durable than unsanded, making it perfect for floor tiles. Sand filler creates a harder bond than the other and shrinks less than unsanded grout when dry. Sanded grout is more potent than unsanded, so it's better suited for the broader joints between floor tiles. While Unsanded grout is just suitable for joints up to 1/8 inch thick, sanded grout is strong enough to fill joints up to 1/2 inch for tiles.

Sanded grout is more beneficial to use for tile projects with large joint sizes.


The sanded grout bonds better and shrinks less than the unsanded slant grout, making it an ideal mix for tiles with 1/8- to 1/2-inch thick joints. When trying to squish bulky, sanded grout into thinner joints, it often results in a messy, imprecise finish.

If you want, you can add water to the sanded joints to get a thinner consistency, but we do not recommend this. Because when the excess water in the thinly sanded mortar evaporates and destroys the mortar structure, it can cause small holes to form. If the joints are already 3/8 inch or larger, a heavily sanded larger grout is required. So no need to add extra water.

The surface of unsanded grout is smooth and flexible, held together by polymers.

While sanded grout is stronger, unsanded grout can sometimes be better suited for other jobs. With its soft texture, unsanded grout is a better choice for tile projects with thin grout lines or situations where sanding may scratch the tile's surface.

When it comes to choosing unsanded grout, its price and limitations of it are vital. Unsanded grout is not as durable as its sand counterpart. Non-Sanded Grout products, such as Custom Building Products, also use cheap polymers as bonding agents, making renovations more expensive.

Unsanded grout is best for joints that are less than 1/8 inches wide.

Unsanded grout is thinner than sanded grout because it does not contain the silica that bulks up sanded grout, making it easier to work into narrow joints. With this thinner consistency, unsanded grout will be ideal for joints wider than 1/8 inch. On the other hand, sanded grout won't compact down to correctly fill these narrower grout lines, making it more likely to slump, crack, or leave gaps.

It would be best to use unsanded grout when using soft, polished tile such as limestone and marble.


Grout should always be cleaned and laid with a soft, smooth, polished tile like limestone or marble; abrasive sanding will scratch the surface of the grout. Sanded grout does not contain silica aggregate filler, which means it won't affect surfaces such as ceramic, glass, metal, marble, or natural stone during the application process.

You can use an epoxy-based unsanded grout, which is highly durable and is more suitable for larger joints if the joints between the tiles are 1/8 inch or larger. However, epoxy-based options are less stable than cement cementitious varieties and will generally cost more.

Leaving unsanded grout on vertical surfaces will provide better durability.


Unlike sand, the product has very low porosity and is high in polymers, so it doesn't stick when tiling walls, backsplashes, or other vertical surfaces where gravity can impact grout. In comparison, sanded grout is likely to collapse on a vertical surface.

Grout sealing is recommended for all grout types except those that rely on epoxy.

Sanded grout should permanently be sealed, but is it necessary to fill unsanded? Yes. When grouts are dry, use a good grout sealer for the filed or unsanded type.

Sealing the grout so that moisture does not soak into the grout and underneath the tiles would be best. In addition to absorbing sealing materials, the grout dries, preventing the grout from absorbing others. All sanded and unsanded, except for epoxy-based grout, which is a waterproof grout, should be sealed.

However, if you don't want to use sealant, you can take a look at PentaUsa Tile Grout Gray or its other varieties, which are specially formulated and also serve as sealant. If you use this sanded grout, you do not need to pay extra for the sealant.

Sanded grout is typically less expensive than unsanded.


The price difference between unsanded and sanded grout is significant. Unsanded grout generally is twice as expensive as sanded. The cost difference between the two types is that sanded grout uses inexpensive sludge as a filler, whereas unsanded grout uses more expensive polymers.

Therefore, sanded grout is better than the other, as long as the budget constraints are met and the specifics of the project allow it.

The degreaser and stiff brush can be used to clean both sanded and unsanded grouts.


Sanded grout, or unsanded, is the same procedure. If you're using a grout cleaner or want to make your own grout cleaning paste, mix 3/4 cup baking soda with 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide and one tablespoon of mild dish soap. Using a stiff grout brush, apply the paste to the grout, scrub and then rinse with water.
Cagan Semiz
Civil Engineer
Category Manager
 

He graduated from Istanbul Technical University/Turkey in 2021 as a Civil Engineer. He writes a blog to talk about his experiences. Currently working as category manager at vanitysale.com. 

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