When designing a tile floor, backsplash or shower, it’s understandable why the grout color often gets overlooked. Let’s face it, grout is cement and not visually the most exciting part of the design. Often, people will either invest little thought into the color, or they’ll leave it up to the installer. But, the grout color can influence the tile in many ways and can be an important part of the overall design.
Because our eyes interpret color based on the surroundings, the color of the tile will be influenced by the grout color selected. Of course, the tile color doesn’t change, but our perception of the color appears different. Just like the internet voting that took place on buzzfeed.com in 2015. Is the dress below “white and gold” or “black and blue”? Millions of people voted and the results showed that 60% saw the dress as “white and gold” and 40% saw the dress as “black and blue”. In person, the dress is “black and blue”. But our different interpretation has to do with rods and cones in our retinas and the influence of the colors on one another.
Grout color influences the overall tile design and the tile color itself. The grout color choices are to 1) coordinate
the grout color with the tile, 2) select a neutral grout, or 3) select a contrasting grout color. In the image below, the hexagon white tile is the same product in all four photos with differences only in the grout color.
A – Coordinating grout B – Neutral grout
C – Contrasting grout D – Neutral grout
By closely coordinating the grout color to the tile color as in image “A”, the overall design will be a clean, uniform, more monochromatic look, because you’re minimizing the visual impact of the tile joints. This choice will create the illusion of a semi-solid surface. Do remember that grout is permeable and will get dirty so a light grout color with a light-colored tile will require more maintenance.
Neutral grout can create a pattern but more subdued than a contrasting grout. A current trend is to add a neutral gray grout to a white subway tile. This highlights the pattern but in a softer look.
Below are two plank tile products that have neutral grout that coordinates with the tile.
Compare the neutral grout with the more contrasting light and darker grout selections below on two plank tile
The tile will be highlighted by the contrast that is created between the tile and the grout when selecting a contrasting grout color. It creates a bold style that highlights the tile pattern and joints. Sometimes this can cause a busier, less calming look so take care when selecting a small tile in a large area.
In addition to selecting a coordinating, neutral or contrasting grout, the color undertone of the grout will also effect the overall appearance of the tile color. Warm toned grout colors will accent the warm tones in a tile and cool toned grout colors will emphasize the cooler tones. This will especially be noticed in natural stone, and in glass tile due to the reflective nature of glass.
So, how do you feel about tile and grout matchmaking? Do you prefer the classic look of a monochromatic of white tile with white grout, or do you prefer a bolder statement with a contrasting grout and tile? Regardless of your personal preference and style, don’t overlook the importance of your grout color selection.
The grout color and tile combinations are endless. When your designing your tile area, consider the options for grout colors, the tile size, and consider the overall look you desire.