Grout Lines: How to Determine What Size Grout Line To Use

When laying tile, whether on a floor or on the wall, there are no set rules for how thick the grout lines has to be.  In most cases it is more of a design choice than a requirement.  That being said, there are a few important facts and some guidelines you should know when trying to decide how thick your grout lines should be.

In some cases you may have seen floors or walls where the tiles are laid so close to each other that it almost looks like there are no grout lines.  The only way to achieve this look is to use what they call rectified tiles.  Rectified tiles are evenly cut and uniform on all sides.  The average tile make look the same in terms of color, but are almost never exactly the same shape and size throughout (hence the need for grout lines).  Rectified tiles have been put through the extra step in the process to ensure they are even, but they also will cost more.

Grout Lines for Floor Tiles

As a general rule, floor tiles should have grout lines of 1/8 inch or larger, depending on the type and size of tile; most floor tiles are 8 inches by 8 inches, but larger versions are available. Special types, such as slate or quarry tiles, often do not have edges uniform enough to look good with tight spacing. These tiles usually are spaced with grout lines 3/16 inch or wider. Plastic spacers are usually used at tile corners to form even grout spaces.   Some really large-format tiles, 18 by 18 inches square or larger, look good with very narrow grout lines that are filled with a grout colored to match the tile. This technique produces a floor that looks like a single slab.

Grout Line Spacers

Use tile spacers for uniform grout lines

Grout Lines for Wall Tiles

Small tiles, such as the 4-inch by 4-inch style commonly used on bathroom and kitchen walls, often are self-spacing. They have small protrusions called lugs that fit against adjoining tiles and create an automatic space for grout, normally 1/32 to 1/16 inch wide. Grout lines on walls usually do not exceed 1/16 inch because the tiles need to be stacked to help support them during installation.

Self-Spacing Tile Lugs

Some tiles feature lugs which help with spacing

Choosing a Grout Width

Small Grout Joints

A small grout line width, about 1/16 inch, is possible if the flooring tile is consistent in size (also called a rectified tile as mentioned above).  Installing rectified tile flooring with small grout lines decreases maintenance requirements and looks great; however, it may be more difficult to achieve as there is little “wiggle room” during installation. Unsanded grout is recommended for small joints up to 1/8 inch wide

Medium Grout Joints

Medium-sized grout line widths — 1/8 to 1/4 inch — require the use of sanded grout and are typically featured when moderate size variation occurs among the tiles  or when tiles with lugs are used.  Because a medium size grout line is easier to work with, and in most cases can hide some slight imperfections, it is often the choice of both experts and the average DIY homeowner.

Large Grout Joints

Tiles that vary in size and shape need large grout joint widths — 3/8 to 1/2 inch. Large grout joints will require the use of sanded grout. Marble flooring installed in different-sized, repeating patterns, such as the Versailles pattern, require large grout line widths

So when it comes to choosing grout lines, there are a few guidelines, but it really comes down to what you like from a design perspective.    If you found this post to be informative, please share it with anyone that might find it useful.   For more home improvement tips and tricks, follow us on Facebook  or Twitter.

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Posted in DIY Tips, Grout Lines, home improvement, home remodeling, Installing Tile, Tile Installation