The first step to picking out new tile is choosing a tile you like. This can be a somewhat lengthy process on its own, made infinitely easier by the fact that you can just search Merola Tile on homedepot.com.
Step two is less obvious than it might seem, and that is picking a grout. It’s a step that can occur as an afterthought, but the grout is crucial. It’s the finishing touch in your beautifully decorated space, provides extra waterproofing, and helps lock the tiles in place. One thing that is definitely understated when making this choice is the color. This is of massive importance- the color can totally alter the look of the tile you choose. To give an idea of exactly how big an impact it really has, we picked a range of our products and grouted them with four different grout colors. The results are pretty astonishing. All grout is from Custom Building Products.
Let’s start with a beloved classic: the hexagon tile. This is our Metro Hex Glossy White tile. This look has been hugely popular in the United States for the last century. It’s great for a home or business- simultaneously inviting and professional, you can use it in a modern application or to give a historical look to any setting. Look at how it’s impacted by grout color:
Grout colors clockwise from upper left: #381 Bright White, #390 Rose Beige, #10 Antique White, #60 Charcoal
As you can see, the darker grout really makes the hexagon pattern pop, but the lighter selection gives it a more subtle look for applications that don’t need all the attention usually garnered by mosaics. If you love the geometric pattern, a dark grout is best and also keeps the grout lines looking a little bit cleaner, as it does a better job of concealing dirt in areas with higher foot traffic. We don’t generally recommend a bright white grout for a floor installation with heavy traffic, as the pure hue requires more fastidious cleaning to keep it looking bright. The bright white is used more frequently for backsplashes or very light-traffic floors, but don’t let that deter you if that’s the look you want on your floor! You can always seal the grout to help keep the color bright.
If you choose a tile with a mixed palette, there may be colors in it that coordinate better with your existing décor. A meticulously chosen grout does wonders for bringing out the color you enjoy the most. Just see how the four different grout colors work on our Tessera Piano Tundra, which is a mix of glass and natural stone pieces:
Grout colors clockwise from upper left: #115 Platinum, #180 Sandstone, #11 Snow White, #381 Bright White
As you can see, the tan grout emphasizes the warm shades of the natural stone, and the other grout colors seem to bring out the cooler tones in the glass pieces. Especially take note of the two different whites- the slight difference in shade has a large impact on the tile! Grout color increases the versatility of the mosaic and your range of choices- rather than sticking to a single color that matches your décor, you can now choose something with a mixed palette and pick the most suitable grout color that will bring out the colors in the tile that you prefer. For glass tiles (and all tiles with grout joints of 1/8” or less), we recommend unsanded grout.
Our Crag Subway Sunset tile, made from natural slate, is a complex piece; in addition to its many colors, it also has a natural texture that varies from tile to tile.
Grout colors clockwise from upper left: #381 Bright White, #165 Delorean Gray, #335 Winter Gray, #60 Charcoal
The different grout colors change the look considerably. Brighter colors add definition and give it a more industrial look, but the neutral colors blend in better with the slate to lend a more free-flowing, natural aesthetic. Personally, we think that neutrals may be the best selection for a unique tile like this one- the grout doesn’t upstage the complexity of the tile, which is always something to consider with a more pronounced color. Obviously this is just our office consensus- do with your tile what you will!
We finish with our crystalline Tessera Subway Ice White tile. One thing that people admire about this tile is the breathtaking clarity of the glass and the pure white color that catches light in such a prismatic fashion. Those same qualities make working with it so engaging. When it’s installed with a brighter white grout, the look is sleek and pure. Take a look, though, at the radical change that occurs when it’s installed with a darker grout:
Grout color clockwise from upper left: #381 Bright White, #60 Charcoal, #180 Sandstone, #11 Snow White
The look changes so much that it appears that the photos were taken in varying lighting conditions, but they weren’t. The ambiance changes when the color does; the difference between sterile and glittery and a little more moody rests almost entirely on the grout. Something to keep in mind is that these tiles are back-painted, which is where they get the white color. The grout actually winds up being reflected through the side of the glass, which is why darker grout looks more like a shadow and less like a definite line. The photograph isn’t out of focus- that’s just how the tile plays with the light.
Hopefully this post will be helpful when you’re working on your renovation and ensures that you won’t overlook the very important grout color choice. For some help with selection, here’s a handy guide for some of the things that may factor into your decision. Also check the post sources for some more helpful links and information. Good luck!
Sources: Here, here, and our resident experts.
UPDATE: we set up a Pinterest board for this post. Compare the images side-by-side, take a look at the tiles on Home Depot’s website, and follow us on Pinterest, Instagram, Houzz and Facebook!