Choosing The Best Grout For Backsplash Tile Installations

February 08, 2017


Don’t start your mosaic wall tile installation without knowing the proper grout type for your project. 

Installing mosaic wall tile is a great do-it-yourself project; smaller installations like backsplash tile can easily be completed in a weekend. When planning your project you’ve got a lot of decisions to make – choosing the tile, choosing to use matching or contrasting grout color. But you have one more decision, and it’s one that is vital to your tile installation’s success: sanded or unsanded grout?

Sanded grout is – you guessed it – grout that has fine sand added to the mixture. The sand makes the grout stronger, reinforcing its bond and helping it resist cracking over time. Another reason to choose sanded grout is color. If you are using grout that is colored to match or contrast with your tile, sanded grout usually offers a richer, truer color instead of drying to a lighter shade. 

So why choose unsanded grout? If your tiles have joints of 1/8” or less between them, you will need unsanded grout. It’s also the best choice if your tiles are soft stone, because the sand in the grout may scratch them. And finally, sanded grout has a grainy finish, which may not suit your preferences.

Here is a selection of MSI’s mosaic tile, and our tips for which type of grout works best with each mosaic.

Akoya Pearl

msi-akoya-pearl-3-inch-hexagon-mosaic-tile-backsplash-minAkoya Pearl Hexagon Mosaic Tile

The unusual hexagon tiles in this elegant Akoya Pearl Hexagon feature shades of creamy white, mottled blue, and grey. Crafted of glass, with colors arranged in a random pattern, they catch the light in this contemporary bathroom with a 3-D shimmer. The installation of this glass mosaic tile would require unsanded grout for best results.

Arctic Ice 4x12

msi-arctic-ice-glass-subway-tile-4x12-backsplash-minArctic Ice Subway Tile 4x12

Subway tile is always a popular, classic choice for wall coverings, and Arctic Ice Subway tiles are no exception. These crystalline glass tiles in frosty white offer a reflective surface that is polished and clean, perfect for glass backsplash tile or accent walls. They are ideal for any room, any style, from shabby chic to contemporary. Due to the wider joints between subway tile mosaics, sanded grout is a good choice here.

Champagne Toast Glass & Metal Tile

msi-champagne-toast-glass-metal-tile-bathroom-backsplash-minChampagne Toast Glass & Metal Tile

The linear pattern of Champagne Toast features randomly arranged beige and mocha tiles. This mosaic is a mixture of glass, metal, and stone. It makes for a stunning backsplash tile installation, or as shown here, and can be an elegant way to cover a lower section of the wall as well. This delicate mosaic calls for unsanded grout.

Montage Blue Oak Pattern

msi-montague-blue-oak-pattern-tile-kitchen-backsplash-minMontage Blue Oak Pattern

With boldly patterned tiles in shades of dove gray and blue, Montage Blue Oak adds drama to every room. The X and star shape of this kitchen backsplash creates superb visual interest without overwhelming the space. The joints between these tumbled marble tiles are narrow and should be filled with unsanded grout.

Tundra Gray Marble

msi-tundra-gray-marble-minTundra Gray Marble

The dappled coffee-brown and cream-colored marble brick tiles of Tundra Gray are beautifully neutral but rich in depth and drama. Shown here as a wall accent, you can also coordinate with large-format beige tile on the floor --it’s a great team player. The joints between these tiles are stunning, with contrasting-colored sanded grout.

Your choice of grout will be driven mainly by the width of the spacing between the mosaic tiles in your wall installation – it’s a simple rule to follow. Keep the other points in mind as well, though: color and texture. Why not visit our gallery to see these, and other tile mosaic options for backsplash tile or the other projects you have in mind? You’ll be inspired to get started on that DIY project right away.

Ready to explore the options of our wall tile collections? Chat with us online, visit one of our nationwide MSI showrooms, or contact a local authorized MSI retailer for more information.


Backsplash Series Part Four: About Grout
Choosing the Perfect Grout Color For Your Backsplash
Modern Grout Color Options for Metal Tile Backsplashes