Black Grout: Should You Do It?

Tell all ya friends and neighbors!

If you’re on the fence about using black grout in your next tiling project, here’s the good, bad, and the ugly about using it!

Design and Decor

Black Grouting: Good, Bad and the Ugly

Now that our kitchen tile is officially finished (!!!!), we have officially done a proverbial crap-ton of tiling jobs between our own home and our investment properties.

black and white patterned tile and white subway tile in a small bathroom with black shower fixtures

Jordan has also designed multiple flips with his team of investors that he works with, and they have all had tile somewhere.

We keep finding ourselves using black grout in our projects many times over, from bathrooms to kitchens. After using it on walls, floors, and in the shower, I wanted to share our experience with it, including all things good and bad.

Maintaining Black Grout

Before you decide whether or not black grout is for you, you’ll want to determine where you’re going to put your grout. You may be asking yourself, “Is black grout hard to maintain?”

Suppose you’re putting your black grout on a kitchen backsplash. In that case, your maintenance should be pretty low because kitchen grout doesn’t usually get too dirty or wet.

white starburst tile in bathroom floor with gray and white turkish towel hanging on hook

Floors and shower walls will require more maintenance on your end to keep the dark black color. It’s not impossible in any scenario, though.

We love using black grout (or very dark grey grout) with white subway tile. We have done this in our own guest bathroom, and every time I walk in there, it feels like an elevated level of luxury.

I think if we had gone with white or even a gray grout, it wouldn’t have had the same effect.

We also used black grout with white subway tile in the guest bathroom at our first investment house. Again, it elevates the space and gives it a level of luxury that wouldn’t have been there had we not used black grout.

Should Grout Be Darker or Lighter Than the Tile?

The answer to this question will be a total personal preference and depends on what you like in your space and the look you’re going for.

black and white patterned tile in the bathroom with white subway tile

Some people might prefer black grout because it provides a more visually interesting look. In contrast, others may feel that black grout makes the space look too dark or adds too much contrast.

My humble advice would be to peruse around some grout and tile combinations online with a quick Google image search. You could even go somewhere like Home Depot or our favorite Floor and Decor to see what they have out as some options for tile and grout color combinations.

Does black grout show dirt?

Black grout doesn’t necessarily show dirt, but it definitely can get dirty. It can be challenging to keep clean, especially if it’s in an area that is either high in foot traffic or is near a lot of water.

The most crucial thing after grouting your tile, especially if your black grout will be in a bathroom or on a floor, is to seal it properly.

closeup of black grout and white subway tile

You can see in this photo above that this is not something we did the first time in our guest bathroom because it was our first time doing it, and there are several spots now that we have to redo before we seal everything.

Jordan’s tile guy, who has installed both Beverly and Arch and his team that does tile for his group of investors he works with, recommends¬†Aqua Mix Sealer’s Choice Gold¬†because it provides excellent protection and seals in just a few hours.

black grout with white subway tile in bathroom

Another thing you may want to take into consideration is that using black grout can be super messy.

Grout is comparable to the texture of kinetic sand so it’s gritty and it can get everywhere, even with the most seasoned professional.

As you can see in this picture in the top right corner, we still have black from where we originally used the grout to get the top line of the tile. You can easily cover this with paint, but again, just something to be aware of.

Cleaning Black Grout

If your grout is sealed, the type of cleaner is crucial to maintaining the integrity of your sealed grout.

It would be best to find a cleaner with a neutral pH balance as your routine, “everyday” cleaner.

(I put every day in quotes because I clean my house, but I do NOT clean my bathroom shower grout daily. I just don’t. It’s fine; I’m still credible.)

white vertical stacked subway tile and gold finishing edge

If you use a cleaner that lacks a neutral pH balance, it will break down your sealant, which can lead to lightening of your black grout, which can make it lose some of its color or make it look more like dark grey concrete versus actual black grout.

Your grout will always look black from a distance, but when you get up close, it may lose some of its luster and depth of color over time.

Can I put black grout over white grout?

There are a couple of different ways to put black grout over white grout.

The best way to do this is to remove the old grout and replace it with new.

white mermaid tile in laundry room with wood shelves

This can be a daunting task if you’ve got a large area because you need to use a grout tool like this one. Speaking from experience, using this in both our laundry room and our guest bathroom it’s labor-intensive work.

You can try a grout pen if you want an effective but easier solution!

A grout pen is very similar to a paint pen, but it’s used specifically to color over existing grout.

All About Grout Pens

Do grout paint pens work?

Yes! Grout pens are very effective and can easily and quickly change the color of your grout.

The best part about using a grout pen is that it doesn’t require any prep work and can be used on any kind of tile without worrying it will mess up your tiles.

The “ink” in the grout pens is waterproof, so once it dries, it will be permanent and won’t come off easily, even in high-traffic areas or areas with a lot of water.

However, it’s good to reseal the grout once you’ve used the paint pen to make it last longer.

Are grout pens worth it?

A million times. They’re great both in a pinch or if you want a short-term solution and on a budget.

Plus, as I said earlier, removing grout can be super laborious. If you aren’t about that life or just don’t have the time, a grout pen can provide a great solution to getting black grout or any grout color you may desire!

Are grout pens permanent?

Yes and no.

They’re permanent in the sense that once they dry, the ink is waterproof and won’t come off easily.

However, if you use a black grout pen and then decide you want white grout again (or vice versa), you do have the option to repaint over the black grout with a white grout pen!

DIY bathroom niche with herringbone subway tile

The same goes for any color, really!

So while the ink won’t come off easily with normal wear and tear, if you want to change the color again, it’s not a huge deal because you can just paint over it.

Can you use a black grout pen on white grout?

Yes!

If you’re installing grout for the first time, I would highly suggest that you just get black grout to begin with. Still, if you already have existing white grout or gray grout and it looks discolored, or you want a change, you can just put a black grout pen right over it.

black and white patterned tile in the bathroom with white subway tile and black hexagon tile on the floor

Suppose you’re trying to use black grout with white subway tile or any lighter colored tile. In that case, you just want to make sure that your pen only goes on the grout and not on the tile.

Black grout can be a beautiful addition to your home. Still, it is essential to maintain it properly to retain its color and luster! With very little time and effort, you can have black grout that looks brand new for years to come.

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