Building & Renovating

Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With Grout

It can do more than keep your tiles in place

Photography: Ocs Alvarez/ACME Visual Productions and William Ong (Main Photos)

Many of us are familiar with grout—it's the material used to fill the gap between your bathroom tiles, available in mostly the same color. This mortar or paste which is used to fill the spaces between your tiled walls and floors can be bought at any hardware store, too. ABC, Novtek, and Bostik are just some of the brands that might ring a bell.

What you do not know is that grout is available in different colors and that you can use it in different ways around the home, post-renovation. Get started with these ideas:

Make your own chalkboard paint (in any color you like)

Chalkboard paint is a popular material these days and you can use it on walls and furniture. It can be expensive and it's only available in two colors—green and black. Did you know that you can make your own chalkboard paint with your chosen paint color and a secret ingredient? Yes, tile grout can be handy.

Making your own chalkboard paint is simple—for every cup of latex paint (in flat or eggshell finish), add one to two tablespoons of tile grout (the unsanded kind). Mix these ingredients well and break all the clumps to achieve a consistent texture. Apply your DIY chalkboard paint on a pre-painted/primed wall with a roller or sponge brush right after mixing. The grout can harden the mixture if you don't use it right away.

Play with the look of ordinary tiles by using colored grout

While most people choose grout based on the color of the tiles installed (they opt for the closest color possible), you can do it differently. From using a contrasting color to a completely different one, colored tile grout can bring life to plain tiles or tame bolder ones. You'll see pegs on the Internet where white subway tiles and mosaic tiles are lined by grout in shades of blue or yellow. You can do the same in your chosen color, too.

RL Tip: Try playing around with metallic colored grout (in gold and silver). Keep in mind that these are harder to find and you might have to purchase these online.

On the other hand, colored tiles are matched with white grout to define individual tile pieces—especially for mosaic tiles. Darker colored tiles can be combined with a lighter neutral grout color for the same reason. Keep in mind that it's all a matter of preference, especially for those who find beauty in lines that stand out. For others who want to keep their grout minimal, it’s best to pick shades that are closest to your tile color.

Freshen up your bathroom tiles

Nothing can age your bathroom quicker than dirty grout lines. You'll find this to be true in bathrooms using light-colored grout, but it can also be evident in spaces with darker grout colors as these fade overtime. If regular cleaning and your go-to baking soda or vinegar concoctions don't cut it anymore, you might have to consider redoing your bathroom grout.

To redo your bathroom grout, make sure you scrape off a shallow layer of grout with a dull utility knife before applying a new layer. Clean the areas for regrouting and apply a thin layer of grout only. Let the grout cure for 48 to 72 hours.

RL Tip: When you redo your grout, make sure to use a grout sealer after. It will help keep the grout looking fresh for longer—some kinds even have fade-resistant claims. Allow the sealer to dry for at least 24 hours before using the area. Grout sealers come in spray and applicator types. Choose one that is easier to work with.

Interior designer Vera Villarosa-Orila is an alumna of the University of the Philippines and is one of the go-to designers for the Real Living Makeovers. You can get in touch with her through e-mail: vera.villarosa[at]



Do you have questions or concerns about your home's layout, furniture, and color scheme? Send your questions to reallivingonline[at] with the subject: Expert Advice. We might answer and feature your queries online.

PHOTOS: Michael Angelo Chua | Ocs Alvarez/ACME Visual Productions | Dairy Darilag | William Ong

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