When installing tiles, whether, on the wall or the floor, several rules usually dictate how thick the grout lines have to be.
In most cases, it can be more of a design choice than a requirement. However, there are several important facts and guidelines you should keep in mind when trying to determine how thick your grout lines should be.
The grout line size for tiles is something that comes up with virtually every tile installation. It is a common question and although there are various recommendations for grout size, there’s actually no set width requirement.
In fact, the thickness of the grout joint should be based on several factors including the tile size and amount of variation to your preferred style or aesthetic.
To help make a more informed decision, we’ve developed a list of considerations alongside an overview of options to help you choose the right grout size for your project.
1/8 Vs 1/16 Grout Size Options
Actual finished grout lines tend to vary from 1/8” to 1/4” where 3/6” spacers are used. If smaller spaces like 1/16” are used it will accentuate the size variation of handmade tile.
Finished grout lines, meanwhile, tend to vary from 1/6” to 3/16”. It’s important to state that using the smallest grout possible will increase the overall installation time.
A 1/8” size is usually used for product/tiles designed with a clean-cut edge. This rectified edge allows for smaller grout lines, especially where tiles have been more precisely cut.
Note that rectified tiles are associated with less irregularity; meaning only less spacing will be needed between each piece. A tight 1/8” grout space may allow the pattern to fit nicely from one tile to the next.
On the other hand, a 1/6” grout size is recommended for tiles with clean edges. Such tiles are often referred to as rectified tiles.
They allow for a tight install. Most brands in this field don’t recommend installing any of their products tighter than 1/16”.
Options like a 3/16” grout size are considered great for ceramic tiles thickness that leaves room for natural variation in size and agreeable imperfect edges of handmade tile.
In other words when it comes to size, keep in mind that the tighter the grout joint, the more variation from tile to tile there will be.
This can cause the installation to appear sloppy. In such cases, your tile installer may suggest a larger grout line for a decent, more professional-looking installation.
Although it’s an aesthetic decision whether to go slightly tighter or larger, it’s very trendy to have minimal grout size nowadays.
Nonetheless, that’s not always the best option, especially when dealing with handmade tiles.
Note that grout is meant to serve the purpose of filling in voids, making things straight, and also relieving stress.
Where the grout line is too tight, the tile could chip at stress points after the grout has dried out. Stress from home settling can also be a concern with a little grout space.
This is particularly important for Glass tile installation, given that glass is more sensitive to stress cracking as opposed to ceramic tile.
Small Grout Joints
You’ve probably seen floors or walls where the tiles are installed so close to each other that it almost looks like there is no grout at all.
Rectified tiles are often considered the only way to achieve this look. Average tiles are basically natural products that are rarely exactly the same size and shape, thus the need for a grout line.
Rectified tiles feature clean, cut edges and are uniform on all sides.
Little grout line width (like the 1/6 inch discussed above) can be achieved with rectified tiles.
One impressive thing about installing rectified tile flooring with small grout lines is that it decreases maintenance requirements and looks great.
On the flip side, it may be more time-consuming and hard to achieve considering that there’s little wiggle room during installation. Grout that’s not sanded is recommended for small joints up to 1/8”.
Medium Grout Joints
Medium grout joints range from 1/8” to 1/4″. These require the use of sanded grout and are usually featured when moderate size variation exists among the tiles or when the tiles being installed have been lugged.
Since medium size grout line is easier to work with, it is usually easy to hide imperfections. Perhaps that’s why they’re the choice of both experts and average DIY homeowners.
Large Grout Joints
Tiles that vary in shape and size require large grout joint widths- from 3/8” to 1/2″. Large grout lines will require the use of sanded grout.
For instance, marble flooring installed in different-sized, repeating patterns, such as the Versailles pattern necessitates large grout line widths.
Overall, provided you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, your grout line can be both functional and a statement of style.
What to Consider When Choosing Grout Size
Variation in size from tile to tile
When doing the installation, there can be a significant amount of variation in size and thickness from tile to tile.
With handmade tiles, it’s recommended that you use larger grout joints to accommodate these irregularities.
Tiles may fluctuate by minus 1/8” in size and thickness and in any direction. Thus, the amount of variation in size from tile to tile is a factor to consider.
Size of the Tile
The size of your tile is another factor to consider when deciding on a grout size. In most cases, there’s more size variation in larger-sized handmade tiles so they require a bigger grout joint to make them less noticeable and achieve a more even installation.
The place where you’re doing the installation should also be considered when choosing your grout size. For instance, floor installations should involve using greater grout lines for more traction.
The grout size should also be considered when there’s a variation in the angle of a surface. If the floor isn’t level, the grout will slope from one tile to another. Keep in mind that when tiling over a corner, the grout joint will open up and narrow in when tiling into a recess.