Tips & Guidelines
What’s the Best Grout Choice for Saltillo Tile?
Since authentic saltillo tile is handmade, there are variations in size and thickness from tile to tile. They’re like snowflakes – every tile is unique. So, when saltillo tile is installed, your installer needs to pay careful attention to the grout spacing. Traditionally, saltillo floors have wide grout lines. The average grout line is 1/2 – 3/4-inch. This wide grout line accommodates the size variations from tile to tile.
And since you’ll have these glorious grout lines – they play a big impact into the overall look of your floor. Here are some things to consider.
Most importantly, there are 2 types of grout recommended for clay tile floors.
Regular Mortar mix (or Masonry Mix) is most traditional and is the least costly option. About 95% of our customers use regular mortar mix. You can find several different brands of this masonry mix and they all do just about the same thing. So if you’re looking to save on cost, here’s where you do it. Just make sure your installer uses plenty of the mix smushed into the grout lines and joints. (Yes, I used the word “smushed”. It’s very technical.) The finished color of mortar mix is light cement gray. It can be stained with concrete stain, however.
Sanded Grout is your other option. This is a mixture of sand and cement. The only reason that we recommend sanded grout is for the purpose of color selection. There is some shrinkage with sanded grout so the same advice goes for using ample grout – smush it into the joints really well. Sanded grout is a more expensive option than regular mortar mix.
Now let’s talk about colors.
If you choose to stain mortar mix, it’s very important to precisely measure the amount of stain into a bag of mix. You need to do it exactly the same – every single time. If more stain is mixed into one batch compared to other batches, there will be variation in the finished grout color. Just stay precise and consistent. And remember – as grout dries, the color will lighten.
So which grout color should you choose?
Tried and True – Gray. Like we said, mortar mix is most traditional as seen above. Saltillo tile grout can be found in this light cement gray color around the world. Veer off the beaten path and we might call you a fellow hippy. Maybe.
Contrasting color. Consider a contrasting color if you’re installing a fun saltillo tile pattern like hexagon, herringbone or our Riviera pattern. The contrasting color of saltillo tile grout helps to accentuate your chosen pattern. Patterns are “in” so get crazy!
Neutral color. Did you select Manganese or Antique Saltillo? These have some neutral earth tones in the clay that can be matched up in grout color. Neutral colors tend to blend the floor and de-emphasizes the saltillo tile grout joints.
Lastly, let’s take a look at cleaning and maintenance suggestions.
Your saltillo tile grout needs to be sealed. Most of our customers buy presealed saltillo and apply topcoat saltillo tile sealer to the tile after it’s installed. This topcoat sealer seals the grout too so – easy peasy. If you’re not topcoat sealing your saltillo floor, then you need to seal the grout lines separately. By sealing your saltillo tile grout, you’re preventing stains from happening over time.
What most people forget is that this grout needs to be resealed every several years (this depends on the lifespan of the saltillo sealer you used). Dark grout colors show less dirt and muck than light colors show. As you apply sealer to the grout lines, it will absorb deeply into the joints. You may need to apply several coats of sealer to fully protect the grout lines. As a tip – pour a little water into your grout joints when you think you’re done sealing the floor. If it soaks right in, you need more sealer.
Saltillo Tile Grout is an important decision when it comes to these Mexican clay floors. On the bright side – grout is an inexpensive part of your project. Consider function and beauty to make the best decision for your flooring. Make Every Space Count!
What is your favorite grout color strategy? Comment below!
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