Tips & Guidelines
What’s the Best Grout Choice for Saltillo Tile?
If you’ve made it here, you’ve probably completed the laying of your Saltillo tile and it’s time to grout. If you’re just beginning your research, check out this article on laying 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 must pay careful attention to the grout spacing. Traditionally, Saltillo floors have wide grout lines. The average grout line is 1/2 – 3/4 inches. This wide grout line accommodates the size variations from tile to tile.
And since you’ll have these glorious grout lines, they significantly impact the overall look of your floor. Here are some things to consider.
Most importantly, two types of grout are recommended for clay tile floors.
Regular Mortar mix (or Masonry Mix) is the most traditional and 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 terra cotta tile grout lines and joints. (Yes, I used the word “smushed”. It’s very technical.) The finished color of the 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. This is common for Mexican tile grout. 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 more expensive than regular mortar mix for terracotta tile floors.
Now let’s talk about colors.
If you choose to stain mortar mix, it’s very important to precisely measure the amount of stain in a bag. You need to do it precisely 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 the grout dries, the color will lighten.
So which grout color should you choose?
Tried and True – Gray. As we said, mortar mix is the most traditional, as seen above. Saltillo tile grout can be found in this light cement gray color worldwide. Veer off the beaten path, and we might call you a fellow hippy. Maybe.
Contrasting color. Consider a contrasting color if you’re installing fun Saltillo tile patterns like hexagons, herringbone, or our Riviera pattern. The contrasting color of Saltillo tile grout helps to accentuate your chosen pattern. Patterns are “in”, so get with it!
Neutral color. Did you select Manganese or Antique Saltillo? These have some neutral earth tones in the clay that can be matched up with grout color. Neutral colors tend to blend the floor and de-emphasize 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 after installation. This topcoat sealer seals the grout, too, so – easy peasy. If you’re not topcoat sealing your Saltillo floor, you need to seal the grout lines separately. By sealing your Saltillo tile grout, you’re preventing stains from happening over time.
Most people forget that this grout needs to be resealed every several years (this depends on the lifespan of the saltillo sealer you use). Dark grout colors show less dirt and muck than light colors show. As you apply the sealer to the grout lines, it will absorb deeply into the joints. You may need to apply several coats of sealer to protect the grout lines fully. 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. Check out our advice for How to Clean Mexican Tile Grout for help keeping your grout lines clean between sealer applications.
Saltillo Tile Grout is an important decision when it comes to these Mexican clay tile 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!