Sanded vs. Unsanded Grout: What’s the Difference?

Sanded ground has a thicker consistency than unsanded. Here’s how to decide which one will help you achieve the look you want.
Written by Payton Ternus
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Sanded grout contains sand particles and has a thicker consistency, while unsanded grout is thin and has a smooth finish. Each grout is used for different tiling projects, so make sure you know which you need before heading to the home improvement store.
If you’re laying tile in your home, you’ll need to choose the right grout to complete the project. The grout you need will depend on project specifics, like the location of the tiling.
Grout helps your home’s tiling stay strong for years to come—just as the right homeowners policy will protect your home against unforeseen perils in the future. Here, the home and
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What is grout?

Grout is a material used to caulk, or fill gaps, between individual tiles to strengthen the entire tiled surface. It looks like concrete or dried paint between the tiles.
Beyond enhancing the integrity of the tiled surface structure, grout keeps any debris out of the tile gaps to preserve tile quality. 
For your home projects, you’ll need to choose which kind of grout will complete your DIY: sanded or unsanded.

Similarities of sanded and unsanded grout

If you’re doing home improvements on your own, you’re in luck! Both kinds of grout can be installed carefully by DIYers. The two types can even be mixed together for a more durable tiling job, as long as your situation allows for it. 
Sanded and unsanded grout can each be used in bathroom sections, shower pans, and kitchens. The kind you’ll need to use will depend on a few factors, like the specific location of the tile and the material of the tiles themselves.

Differences between sanded and unsanded grout

Retiling your whole bathroom? The floor tiles require a different strength level than the tiles going in the shower walls, and maybe you’re using tiles made of different materials. In this case, it’s important to choose the right type of grout. 


Sanded grout gets its name from the silica sand found in its mixture. It is a thick, coarse mixture containing silica sand particles that help form strong bonds. The particles are suspended in the grout while it cures, which increases stability, strengthens resistance to cracking, and reduces the chance of shrinkage. 
Unlike its counterpart, unsanded grout does not contain any silica sand. Instead, it has a higher amount of cement in its mix. It has a thinner, stickier texture before it cures. When it dries, it has a smoother finish than sanded grout. 


For areas with higher foot traffic, sanded grout is often the better choice. It is durable and has the stability to bear heavy and frequent weight. Sanded grout forms better thick bonds and joints, and is more resistant to both shrinkage and cracks.
Since it has a higher cement content, unsanded grout shrinks more than sanded grout. Unsanded grout is also prone to cracking when too much pressure is applied to it, so it is usually not used for flooring jobs.


DIYers who aren’t fully confident with their skills will have an easier time with sanded grout. You can use sanded grout with sturdy, scratch-resistant tiles if you think you might accidentally scrape the tiles during installation. 
Installing tiles with unsanded grout is usually more challenging. You’ll need an experienced, steady hand, as unsanded grout works best with tiles that are easily scratched, including ceramics, certain porcelains, glass, natural stone, and travertine.

Areas of application

Larger joints measuring over ⅛ of an inch will need sanded grout. There’s even a special sanded grout mixture for grouts over ⅜ of an inch. Sanded grout is more resistant to cracking and shrinking, making it great for flooring
For smaller joints measuring under ⅛ of an inch, unsanded grout is the better option. It has a smoother texture that won’t scratch more delicate tiles and likes to cling to vertical surfaces. Unsanded grout will work best for projects like a shower wall or backsplash or if you’re using honed, polished, and rectified stone tiles. 


Silica sand is less expensive than cement, making sanded grout the more affordable option
The larger amount of cement in unsanded grout makes it almost or more than twice as expensive as sanded grout. Unsanded grout also contains more expensive polymers required to get the final product.

Pros and cons

Now that you’re familiar with the two types of grout and getting an idea of which one is best for your project, let’s review the pros and cons of each.

Sanded grout

Sanded grout is a great choice for larger gaps and joints because of its durability. It also resists cracks and shrinkage over time. It’s cheaper than unsanded grout and is available in a multitude of colors.
There are a few downsides to using sanded grout, however. The silica sand particles can scratch more delicate tiles, and the grout needs to be sealed after it cures. It can be harder to work with small lines using sanded grout, and it may leave pinholes. 

Unsanded grout

The smoother texture of unsanded grout makes it the ideal choice if you’re working with easily scratched tiles. It is the best option for filling smaller spaces and likes to cling to vertical surfaces like backsplashes. 
On the flip side, unsanded grout does not work well with larger spaces and doesn’t bond as well as sanded grout. It’s also pricier and not available in as many colors.

Does home insurance cover grout replacement?

Home insurance will only cover anything, including a grout replacement, if the damage was caused by a
named in the policy, like fire, hail, or vandalism.
However, grout replacement is typically part of home maintenance or renovations to spruce up a space rather than a necessary repair.
So if the grout in your shower cracks over time due to normal wear and tear, your home insurance policy will not cover it. And if you accidentally damage your wall or floor while doing a DIY project, you’ll have to foot the repair bills yourself.

How to save on your home insurance

Installing grout can be a lengthy DIY process, but saving on your home insurance has never been faster, thanks to
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Sanded grout is best used for tile spaces over ⅛ of an inch, areas with heavy foot traffic, and horizontal surfaces like floors. 
Unsanded grout is better for tile spaces under ⅛ of an inch and vertical surfaces like shower walls and backsplashes.
The average grout replacement can cost between $250 and $1,000.
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