Grout vs Caulk: Which One Is The Better Choice?

Sealing

DIY newbies who start replacing, repairing, or setting up new tiles might be confused about the comparison between grout vs caulk. Both products feature adhesive properties. 

That said, they are still not interchangeable. Please scroll down to see how they are different and in which situation one shines to guarantee long-wearing and terrific-looking tiles. 

Let’s get started!

What is caulk?

For easy understanding, it is color-matched to meet the existing group. Thus, it isn’t easy for you to distinguish it from the grout. It is available in both non-sanded and sanded textures to match the grout’s existing texture. 

If you have just installed a new tile with colored textured caulk, it is hard to identify where there’s caulk and where there’s grout. Usually, you can distinguish the two from each other once the caulking begins to get moldy over time

Keep in mind, it is essential to alter it periodically after it becomes moldy. Meanwhile, the grout should last longer, even for the shower’s life. It could be cleaned periodically or replaced with a color sealing procedure for a pristine condition. 

Luckily, today you could clean caulking effectively, and it could be taken away and altered with a recaulking process to ensure its like-new look. 

Read more: What Happens If Caulk Gets Wet Before It Cures?

Uses

The first thing to say about caulking is that it is waterproof and flexible. Hence, it could be utilized in various applications. Often it is used around the bathtub’s edge, in which tiles meet the tube. 

You could apply it in the corners or around the showers’ base. Other places of application are in pipes and drain to hinder leaks or windows and doors as a weather-resistant agent. 

Anything else? Well, it is also useful in a disposable applicator or a gun of caulking application. In a nutshell, it is perfect for areas sustaining heavy moisture without cracking. But we have to say; it will grow mildew and mold on the surface after time. 

Grout vs caulk which is the best choice?
Image by Bob Vila

Several other uses that many people overlook include putting a molding piece into place. It secures a loose carpet piece down on the floor, fixes wallpaper beginning to separate from your wall, and installs light wood paneling with no unsightly nails. 

Caulk is also helpful to repair tiny holes in your wall, especially before you paint. It plays a vital role in sealing gaps and holes outside the house with the extra benefits of keeping rodents and insects at bay. As you can see, it is helpful in numerous ways. 

Read more: What is the Best Exterior Caulk for Your Sealing Needs

What is grout?

It is a sturdy, durable substance used between the tiles. The grout in the shower is regularly a cement-based substance. It is quite robust and durable. One more thing, synthetic ones such as urethane and epoxy ones are highly durable and sturdy. 

They are gaining much popularity these days in a host of tile installations. Nevertheless, it isn’t much flexible and could crack easily, even break when you flex. 

That’s why you should use the caulk between the tile planes in which there’s movement and flex. 

Moreover, caulking is more watertight. It doesn’t let water get between the tiles planes and leak. 

Read more: How to Remove Rust Stains from Tile & Grout?

Uses

There are a bunch of kinds of grout. The most well-known one is the tile one. 

You could use it to fill the gaps between the tiles and keep them in place. It is made with water and cement. You could use the cement-based one for years for a lot of tile projects. 

Grout vs Caulk: Which One Is The Better Choice?
Image by Anna Hill

That said, there are various inherent problems with this kind. It is porous and takes on stains quickly. It is also not weather-resistant and needs sealing in any effectiveness. 

You might not know this, but excessive moisture could lead to the cracking and peeling of the cement-based type. Moreover, it could develop mildew and mold quickly. Another choice is epoxy grout, requiring no sealing. 

It is an excellent option for both outdoor and indoor uses as it is highly stain-proof. It is durable and multitasking in various areas, in which there’s high traffic.

Application comparison

In shower

Now, we will go through the differences between grout vs caulk in the shower. 

Firstly, between the non-tile and tile surfaces, it would be better for you to apply caulk. There would be much movement between the surfaces where the tiles butt up against the non-tile characters. 

Image by Geberit.com

Take this instance, the tiles are set up, and people are in the bathtub. The movement will make much movement between the adjacent tiles and bathtub. Thus, caulking should be utilized in such areas.

Tile caulk vs. grout

The grout is utilized to fill the joints between the tiles. 

On the other hand, caulk could seal seams in various spots, such as crown molding, baseboards, or windows to hinder drafts and leaks. It functions flawlessly even if two building materials meet and on outdoor concrete. This fact proves that it is more versatile.

Sanded caulk vs. grout

Caulk is not similar to grout. It comes in unsanded and sanded varieties, so mistaking unsanded grout for unsanded caulk is not uncommon. 

Nevertheless, these two materials come with different uses. The grout looks like a mortar and works for filling in crevices and gluing materials together.

For instance, the grout is spread on the rear of tiles, ensuring them to the floor and the wall. It would be better if more grout is spread on the tiles to guarantee them stick to each other. 

Grout dries to an inflexible and porous consistency, making it inappropriate for use as a caulking.

Though grout is sold in a tube, several manufacturers sell grout tubes looking like caulk tubes. Check the label to avoid mixing up these two materials.

Ceramic caulk vs. grout

You might not know this, but grout is essential for ceramic tiles, irrespective of floors or walls. It is considered a bonding material with cement bases and used to seal the gaps between tiles. These joints need sealing for various reasons. 

Image by Doityourself

First, the group aids in the prevention of discoloration and stains. It also makes it easier to clean while developing the tile’s life expectancy as it assists in tile securing. 

The joints between ceramic tiles on a floor and any wall material that comes down to meet it are included to protect the two surfaces from the house’s seasonal movement and overall movement. 

When you set up a baseboard on top of ceramic tiles, you might want to have some form of caulk joint between them to accommodate for movement. The suitable type you should use depends on the materials.

In a nutshell, for ceramic tiles, you should consider whether you want to seal the gaps or provide a movement to go for caulk or grout. 

Final Thoughts

So you have just known about the difference and uses of grout vs caulk. They are both useful in various situations, and in some specific areas, one of them performs better than the other. 

So before going to buy any product, remember to check the information on caulk and grout carefully and consider your demands.

We hope our article is helpful for you. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask us.

Thank you for your reading!