Should I Go for Colored Grout?

Meta Description: An in-depth look at the pros and cons of colored grout to help you decide if it’s the right choice for your tile installation. Covers application, maintenance, and design considerations.

Grout serves an important functional purpose in tile installations by filling the joints between tiles to prevent moisture penetration. But grout also has aesthetic appeal and can be used to add color and visual interest to a tiled surface. Unlike neutral white or gray grout, colored grout makes a bold statement. But is colored grout the best choice for your project? There are several factors to consider when deciding whether or not to use colored grout.

What is Grout?

Before weighing the pros and cons of colored grout, it helps to understand what grout is and why it’s used.

Grout is a cement-based material used to fill the joints between tiles. It creates a water-resistant barrier to prevent moisture from seeping underneath tiles and causing damage to the substrate. Grout also “locks” tiles together for a stable installation.

There are two main types of grout:

  • Cement grout – a mixture of Portland cement, sand, and water. It provides a durable, rigid joint.
  • Epoxy grout – a two-part resin-based grout that is more resistant to stains and damage. It has a smoother, plastic-like finish.

Grout provides both functional and aesthetic benefits in tile installations. It not only seals the joints, but also adds visual appeal by accentuating the pattern created by the tiles and joints.

The Appeal of Colored Grout

Standard grout is available in white or gray, which blends in subtlely with most tiles. Colored grout provides a striking visual contrast and allows you to accessorize your tiles with a bold, complementary color.

Some popular color choices for grout include:

  • Black – creates a modern, sleek look
  • Dark brown – warm and natural for wood-look plank tiles
  • Light blue – cool and fresh accent color
  • Neutral beige or tan – for a subtle contrast
  • Bold red or orange – makes a vibrant statement

The color you choose can complement the tile color or provide contrast:

  • Matching or tonally similar grout enhances uniformity for a seamless look.
  • Contrasting grout makes the individual tiles stand out more.
  • Vivid grout colors punctuate a neutral tile palette.
  • Muted grout adds subtle interest to bold or busy patterns.

The possibilities are endless for using colored grout creatively to add interest to your tilework. It allows you to add your own unique touch.

Pros of Colored Grout

There are many potential benefits to choosing colored grout:

1. Aesthetic Appeal

The main advantage of colored grout lies in its aesthetic versatility. It provides a way to accessorize the tile, introduce contrast, or pull together a color scheme. Colored grout allows you to get creative with your design vision.

2. Easier Cleaning

Lighter grout colors like white or ivory can show every bit of dirt, grime, and discoloration. The dark pigments in colored grout help conceal common stains from dirt, oils, and everyday use. As a result, bold grout doesn’t need cleaning as frequently to maintain its appearance.

3. Durability

Pigments added to colored grout help make it more durable and resistant to common staining or discoloration in kitchens and bathrooms from mold, mildew, and dirt. It better maintains its original color over time.

4. Value Added Design Element

Unique colored grout can elevate a basic tile installation and give it a custom, upscale look. Contrasting grout draws attention to the tile design and adds another layer of visual interest.

5. Versatility

Colored grout opens up many options for coordinating with tile colors or patterns. You can match, contrast, or choose something entirely different.

6. Budget Friendly

Using colored grout is an inexpensive way to enhance basic, affordable tiles. The colored grout essentially becomes an accent feature.

7. Low Maintenance

Quality colored grout requires little ongoing maintenance. Unlike other accent materials like tile inserts or decals, colored grout doesn’t peel or deteriorate over time.

Cons of Colored Grout

Although the pros generally outweigh the cons, there are some potential downsides to weigh:

1. Showing Dirt

Darker colors like black, brown, or gray grout have the advantage of hiding dirt. But light colored grout like white, ivory, or yellow will show every bit of grime and staining. The contrast of light grout against the tile causes it to stand out more.

2. Fading Over Time

All grout is subject to some fading with ongoing exposure to sunlight and cleaning products. But colored grout has more pigment vulnerable to fading. Red and orange grout is especially prone to fading over time.

3. Discoloration

Certain tile types like natural stone, saltillo, or certain porcelain tiles are prone to color transfer or bleeding. Prolonged exposure to the color pigments in grout can cause staining or discoloration on the edges of the tiles, especially with porous, absorbent tiles.

4. Limited Color Options

Although more color choices are becoming available, colored grout selections tend to be limited compared to neutral grout. You may have trouble finding a colored grout that perfectly matches or coordinates with your tiles. Custom color matching can be expensive.

5. Application Challenges

Applying colored grout evenly without staining the tiles takes skill and precision. Any overlapping or uneven application gets magnified by the color contrast. Similarly, any cracking or crumbling over time will be more visible.

6. Risk of Staining Tiles

If colored grout is not fully cleaned from the tile surface during application, the pigment can penetrate and permanently stain absorptive tiles like natural stone or unglazed ceramic. Extra care is required with cleanup.

7. Can Dating a Design

Bold colored grout risks looking dated or trendy rather than providing a classic, timeless look. The popular grout colors of today may not be appealing years down the road. Neutral grout has more long-lasting appeal.

8. Limits Future Changeability

Colored grout has a more permanent look than neutral shades. If you later want to change the color scheme or update the tiles, the bold grout lines will limit how much you can modify the overall look.

Application Tips for Colored Grout

Proper application is crucial for achieving clean finished results with colored grout. Here are some top tips:

  • Test first – Apply colored grout to a few tiles and let it set completely before doing the entire installation. Check for any unwanted staining or color transfer issues.
  • Apply in small sections – Don’t grout large areas all at once. Work in smaller 3-4 foot sections for easier cleanup and to prevent drying on the tiles.
  • Gently spread into joints – Use a rubber grout float or squeegee, holding it at a 90° angle to the joints, applying even pressure. This minimizes mess and staining.
  • Keep it off tile surfaces – Avoid spreading or smearing colored grout onto the face of the tiles. Wipe any excess off the tiles with a damp sponge during application.
  • Clean thoroughly – Immediately and aggressively clean all colored grout residue from the tile surface before it dries and causes staining. Use a grout haze remover.
  • Check for missed spots – Scan tiles meticulously after initial cleaning for any remaining grout color and reclean as needed to remove. Missed grout will stain tiles once dried.
  • Seal after curing – Apply a penetrating grout sealer 1-2 weeks after installation to protect colored grout from fading or discoloration from moisture.

Colored Grout Maintenance

Colored grout needs ongoing sealing and cleaning to maintain its color integrity and keep joints looking vibrant over time.

Regular sealing

  • Seal colored grout every 1-2 years with a penetrating sealant formulated for grout. This waterproofs joints and keeps color pigment locked in.

Gentle daily cleaning

  • Use mild pH neutral cleaners and avoid harsh chemicals or scrubbing. This slowly erodes grout and fades color.

Spot clean stains

  • Clean spills and stains promptly with diluted cleaner and a soft brush. Don’t let buildup occur.

Check for wear

  • Inspect for cracks or crumbling annually. Re-grout any problem joints to prevent staining or moisture issues.

With proper installation and maintenance, colored grout can retain its color and sealing capacity for years before needing refreshment or replacement.

Design Considerations for Colored Grout

Choosing the right color grout involves carefully weighing design factors like tile type, format, color, and overall vision.

Tile format

  • Small mosaic tiles involve more linear feet of grout lines, making the color effect more pronounced.
  • With larger tiles or plank formats, grout lines are minimal, so a subtle neutral color may be best.

Tile colors

  • Match grout to tile color for a cohesive mono-chromatic look.
  • Contrast tile and grout colors for definition and delineation of tile shapes.
  • Coordinate grout and tile in harmonious tones. Avoid clashing.

Application area

  • In wet areas like showers, opt for dark grout that resists mold and mildew growth.
  • For low traffic areas like walls, light grout shows less dirt and wear issues over time.

Overall vision

  • Modern sleek designs suit bold black or gray grout.
  • Traditional looks may call for classic white grout lines.
  • Warm palettes can be complemented by brown, beige or tan grout.

Test different colored grouts

  • View large grout samples or test boards to make final color selections. Photos don’t always convey true colors accurately.

Your tile supplier can guide you in selecting the best coordinating colored grout for the tiles you’ve chosen and the overall design theme. Don’t rush this important finishing step.

Should I Go for Colored Grout?

Colored grout can provide the perfect stylish finishing touch for your tiles – if chosen with care.

The pros of colored grout lie primarily in its decorative versatility and ability to complement or accent tiles. It allows for creativity and customization in design. Colored grout also offers durability and easier cleaning and maintenance compared to lighter grout hues.

However, colored grout requires careful application to avoid tile staining. Fading and discoloration over time are also potential drawbacks. Limitations in color selection, changeability, and trendiness are other considerations.

Here are some good candidates for colored grout:

  • Feature walls or backsplashes with simple subway tile patterns
  • Neutral stone or porcelain tiles that benefit from contrasting grout
  • High traffic kitchens or bathrooms where durability and stain resistance matter
  • Creative applications where colors and textures are mixed, like mosaics
  • Contemporary sleek environments suited to bold grout colors

In the end, choose the grout color that best brings your design vision to life while evaluating practical factors. Colored grout can upgrade tilework from basic to beautiful when done right. With so many colors and options now available, you’re limited only by your creativity.

Frequently Asked Questions About Colored Grout

What color grout is best?

The best grout color depends on factors like tile color and format, room purpose, overall design style, and personal preference. No color is inherently better. Neutrals like gray blend in, while bold colors accentuate.

Does all grout come in colors?

Traditional cement grout comes in limited colors like white, gray, almond and black. Epoxy grout offers the most color options, including custom mixing. Single component grouts also offer some colored choices.

Can you change grout color?

It is possible to recolor existing grout with a topical grout colorant. This provides inexpensive color change without having to regrout. Grout paint kits come in many colors.

How do you clean colored grout?

Clean colored grout gently with pH-neutral cleaners versus harsh chemicals or scrubbing. Use soft brushes and promptly clean any spills or stains to prevent discoloration over time. Avoid abrasion.

Does sealing grout change the color?

Clear penetrating grout sealers are formulated not to alter grout color. Test sealer first. Topical sealers or wax coatings can slightly alter color or finish.

Can you use dark grout with light tile?

Yes, a dark grout color like black, gray, brown, etc. can be used to accent light-colored tiles for contrast. But extra care must be taken during grouting and cleanup to avoid staining the surrounding tiles.

Should floor and wall grout match?

Consistency in matching grout color on floors and walls provides a unified finished look. But it’s not mandatory to match grout in different areas. Feel free to use lighter grout on walls and darker on floors.


The choice of using colored or neutral grout depends on the needs of your specific tile installation, your overall design vision, and personal style preferences. Evaluate the pros and cons carefully. Colored grout adds beauty, interest and character when done properly, but also requires extra care in application and maintenance. With the right tile color and format, accessorizing with colored grout can take your tilework from basic to bold.