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One of the questions that we get asked most often is “How do I grout my StoneImpressions decorative tile mural or pattern?”

The short answer is this:

Grouting is a matter of personal preference.  You should always talk to your installer to discuss how your tiles will be grouted.  And make sure your installer reads our Installation Instructions before starting your job.

The D’Orsay Pattern, part of our Luster Finish Collection

Grouting – Ceramic vs. Natural Stone

Stone Types we Carry

In general, grouting is usually done by smearing grout all over the tiles to get it in every joint and space between the tiles.  When you grout ceramic tile, the only place the grout can go is in the spaces between the tiles.  The ceramic tiles themselves have a smooth surface and do not have holes in the tile where the grout will fill in.

 

Natural stone tiles are a bit different.  Depending on which type of stone you choose, these tiles can have naturally occurring holes, cracks and crevices.  When you smear the grout all over these tiles, it will not only fill in all the joints and spaces between the tiles, but every hole, crack, and crevice too.  With that in mind, let’s talk about some options for how to grout our decorative tiles.
Option #1 – Smear Method
Spread the grout over the entire image 
This will fill the natural holes in the stone and can cause the image to become randomly spotted with grout.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  There are two points to keep in mind for this option:
  1. The Type of Stone you are Using

Our Light Travertine has natural holes and pits in it which gives it a rustic and aged look, so grouting the this type of stone using the Smear Method will result in spots of grout.  If you prefer a more rustic look, this might not be a problem for you.  On the other hand, our Tumbled Botticino and Tumbled Durango tiles do not have many natural holes or pits.   You can see the different stone types that we offer on our Stone Options page.

The Type of Design you Choose
If the design that you have chosen has a lot of dark colors, the light colored grout in the holes and pits will be very apparent.  If your design is a lighter color, the grout in the holes will not be as obvious.

The Sanza pattern on Carrara in Snowflake Blue

 

If the design that you have chosen has a lot of dark colors, the light colored grout in the holes and pits will be very apparent. If your design is a lighter color, the grout in the holes will not be as obvious.

The same is true with our accents and listellos.  The listello shown below is on Light Travertine and has many holes and pits.  But the ink is a very light color, so grout filling in the hole might no be a problem for you.

The Grapevine Listello on Light Travertine

Option #2: Grout Bag Method
Use a grout bag to fill only the grid lines of the mural.

A grout bag is just like a pastry bag that is used to decorate cakes.  You fill it with grout and then squeeze the grout through a tip which allows you to put the grout only where you need it.

You use the grout bag to grout only the joints and spaces between the tiles.  That way you avoid getting grout filling in every hole and crevice in the natural tile.  This can be more time consuming than the Smear Method.  If your installer uses the grout bag for a single mural, then it is probably no big deal.   If you expect your installer to use a grout bag on twenty or fifty square feet of tile – you should also expect to pay them for the extra time it will take.

The Altalena pattern on a natural stone, Durango

This method gives you the best of both worlds.  You get the sealing and protection that the grout provides, and you avoid spots of grout showing up throughout the design and detracting from the overall look.  In many cases, this would be the ideal way to grout your decorative natural stone tile.

Option #3: No grout at all.

You can place the tiles right up next to each other and skip the grout.  This is the best way to keep the design of a mural intact – it displays the image without spaces in between that can interrupt the design or pattern.  This option will result in some gaps between the tiles depending on what type of stone you are using.  Stone with very tumbled edges will leave gaps where the four corners of the tile meet.  Like this:

The Damnson Mural shown with no grout lines

 

If you are using stone with a straighter edge, like our Micro-bevel Durango, you will not have many gaps in the corners. See picture below:

The Minuet Pattern on a honed Durango

Leaving the gaps and spaces without grout could create difficulty in the future, because dirt, dust and moisture can accumulate in those holes.  This is one of the main reasons that people use grout in the first place.  It seals the spaces in between the tiles to prevent any accumulation of dirt and moisture which can eventually damage the wall behind the tile.  You should consider where the tile is located to decide whether you want to use this method.  If you are installing in a room in your house where you don’t expect much moisture, this method might work for you.  You could also try using the grout bag to apply grout only to the bigger gaps between the corners of the tumbled tiles.  That will give you some protection.

Grouting wrap-up

If you are concerned with how your design will look with grout, we are more than happy to create a rendering for you on photoshop to show you where the grout lines will be and how they will look on your mural or pattern.  Below are a few examples:

The Portella Pattern shown with grout lines

The Scarlet Mural shown with Grout Lines

 

We hope this information will help you in deciding how to grout your StoneImpressions tile.  And perhaps you can understand why there is not just one simple answer to fit everyone.  Your taste, your stone choice, your installation location and your mural or pattern design will all be factors to consider when determining how to grout.

 

Let us know in the comments below if you have any grouting tips for us or additional questions that you’d like us to answer.