Why Does Your Grout Stain? And How to Prevent It!
Picture this: You get new tile installed, it is so shiny and beautiful. The grout lines look crisp and clean, exactly the way you want them to. You keep making excuses to go in the room just to see your new tile! Only two months later, you’re frustrated because your grout lines are now stained and discolored. Yuck!
Over the years, our team of Flooring specialists has heard many of these stories from frustrated homeowners, just like you, who’ve come to us for help and solutions to this common problem. After discussing the issue with our project management team and our grout vendors, we knew it started with “us” at Flooring Solutions to help educate our clients on ways to keep tile grout looking fresh. After all, our huge goal is to help you genuinely love your updated space and know you made the best decision for your home.
We will take a deep dive into all things grout. We want you to walk away from the article with the knowledge of what the different types of grout are, what to do with your current grout issues, and what type of grout will be best for you and your family as you begin your tile project. Get ready to say “Hello” to clean grout lines, and keep them looking fresh for years to come!
What Causes Grout To Stain?
It’s easy for dirt, water, and other liquids to absorb into your grout. Whether it’s from lotions, makeup that has fallen on it, or muddy pawprints tracked in from our four-legged furry friends. So what causes your grout to stain just from exposure to these regular, household items? It’s because traditional grout is porous. Porous means it has spaces or holes throughout where liquids or air can pass through.
Once those liquids and other items get in, drying out can take a long time. This means that the stain on the grout might not be coming from your last spill; rather, it could be residual from a previous spill, muddy shoes, old food scraps, or even chemicals from certain household cleaners like bleach and vinegar.
Most grout is made from cement. Cement is a popular grout material because it’s durable and easy to work with. However, cement is also porous and absorbs liquids very easily. It is also easy to show signs of discoloration. Over the years, manufacturers have produced many different types of grout that are not porous, thus giving better results to homeowners.
What Are The Different Types of Grout?
There are mainly five types of grout. Each type has pros and cons and the most common uses. At Flooring Solutions, we commonly see all five types of grout used in different applications as needed.
Laticrete Sanded grout – the traditional grout most commonly known
- Pros: easy clean up during installation & cost-effective – this grout can usually be bought by the pallet at big box stores, such as Home Depot, Tru Value, Lowes, and sometimes Walmart.
- Cons: porous, requires additional steps during installation such as sealing and staining regularly. This can increase installation time and costs.
Laticrete Unsanded grout – most commonly used on porcelain tile (so it doesn’t scratch/scuff)
- Pros: the material and ingredients are easy to install/clean up during installation & cost-effective
- Cons: Porous, requires additional steps during installation & often shows discoloration signs if repairs have to be done. It might look like two different colors once repairs are done and dried.
Spectralock Pre-mixed grout – can be epoxy or acrylic-based
- Pros: Non-porous, gives a consistent color throughout, even after repairs have to be made, and never requires sealing
- Cons: Harder to work with during installation due to the texture of it, as well as how it is packaged, less cost-effective due to it being pre-mixed and having stain-resistant qualities already mixed in.
Spectralock Pro Premium: Mostly used in commercial settings
- Pros: Makes tiles look more vibrant due to its patented, stainproof epoxy mixture. This grout offers a unique opaque color that diffuses light and increases the vibrancy of the color.
- Cons: Does not work as well in smaller residential settings due to the manufacturer’s guidelines recommending a larger grout line be installed.
Laticrete Permacolor: used in residential & commercial settings
- Pros: Fast setting grout – dries dense & hard. This is a great benefit during the installation process because it decreases dry time, which allows the installation crew to move on quicker, as well as you, the homeowner, to move furniture and other items back quicker.
- Cons: Less cost-effective due to the high demand and stainproof features. Though it does cost more than traditional grout, it can save money in the long run due to lower maintenance costs.
Here at Flooring Solutions, we only use grout from trusted, reputable manufacturers:
We’ve done the research ahead of time for you. These grout companies have perfected their materials over the years of testing to try and give the best results for homeowners, so your tile and grout stay clean and fresh for longer.
We recommend pre-mixed grout out of all of the options, as it helps fight against stains the most! But there are times when other groups are needed. However, like all flooring products, these types of grout should be installed properly by a professional.
Dark vs. Light Tile Grout: What’s the Difference?
You should choose a color that you love, first and foremost. But we want to share the pros and cons of choosing a dark or light grout, so you can see if it will be a good choice for you.
Light Colored Grout:
- Pros: It is easy to see spills or stains and can be wiped up quickly. Light-colored grout usually blends a bit better with most tile selections than a darker, contrasting color.
- Cons of light-colored grout: On the contrary, you may be able to see pesky, hard-to-clean stains that won’t go away.
Dark Colored Grout:
- Pros: If you are aiming for a heavy contrast or “accent” floor, a dark-colored grout can help give that “Wow” factor and catch someone’s eye when they walk into your home. It can also hide stains easier if that’s your goal.
- Cons: Since grout usually dries lighter than when it’s applied, the color may not be as dark as you initially thought. It’s best to request before and after photos of your grout selection
How Can You Prevent Grout Stains?
The most important step to preventing grout stains is made at the very beginning – when you purchase it.
Though there are applications where sanded or unsanded grouts work well, it’s usually best to purchase the pre-mixed, stain-resistant grout we mentioned above. You no longer need to seal your grout if you choose a pre-mixed grout.
If you currently have grout that is not stain-resistant, we recommend contacting a professional flooring company to discuss sealing your grout. If you’re unsure if your current grout is stain-resistant or not, we suggest calling the flooring company that installed your tile to check.
Epoxy and acrylic-based grouts are more expensive than cement-based products, but since they’re better at resisting stains, they could actually save you money in the long run by not having to hire cleaning companies or purchase more cleaning products. And saving money is all something we can get on board with, right!?
Quick Tips to Prevent Your Grout From Staining:
- Wipe your shoes off before entering the house to ensure loose dirt, gravel or mud does not track onto the grout
- Put a rug or walk-off mat down in areas where you may have cosmetics, lotions, or other personal items spill to the ground on accident
- Clean up food and drink spills as quickly as you can. Certain ingredients in food and drinks can cause staining easier/quicker.
How Do You Clean & Maintain Grout?
Another big reason for grout stains is the buildup of soap scum around the tiles. Soap scum is made up of hard water minerals that stick to the walls of your grout and create soap deposits on them over time.
What grout cleaner should you use?
You should avoid using harsh cleaners or abrasive tools, as these can damage the grout and make it more susceptible to stains. If you use a new cleaner, test it out on a small, inconspicuous area first to see how it will react. It’s best to clean your surfaces where grout is installed regularly so they do not get stained by soap scum or mildew buildup. You should use manufacturer recommendations, or consult with your flooring professional.
If you have pets or children in your home, they may also be the culprits behind staining because they tend to track dirt and other substances on their paws or shoes when they come into the house from outside. Having rugs and walk-off mats at the entrances can cut down on this buildup.
Which Grout Is Best For Your Tile Project?
Regularly cleaning & maintaining your grout can be a real pain, and does not always guarantee stains will come out. If you have newly installed tile, and your grout is already stained, that’s even more frustrating.
To avoid this frustration, you may be wondering, what type of grout is best for my tile project? Like most homeowners, you’re probably hoping for a grout solution that doesn’t require much maintenance over the next 3-5 years. As well as a type of grout that fights stains because you have a busy household with kids, pets and accidental spills. At Flooring Solutions, our flooring specialists can help guide you through the grout selection process. Remember, the right grout for you is about more than just color and “looks”. It’s about what will give you the best results, and actually help you to love your floors for years.
We’d love to be your trusted advisor during this selection process, and we’ve made it easy to schedule a free tile and grout consultation direct from our website. Just select a day and time that is best for you.