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Though grout may seem to be a secondary-to-the-tile functional necessity, it is also the essential design element that finishes the look of a tile installation. Neutral grout colors are still the most common choice, but current trends have elevated grout to make more of a statement. The latest style trends have grout both blending in and boldly standing out. A grout line can be very thin or very wide to make a big impact. The many contrasts in grout aesthetics make perfect sense when looking at the trends that influence grout. Trends in technology, tile and color are driving the current changes in grout installation, style and color palette.
Grout Technology Trends
Developments in technology have transformed grout over the last decade. Newer high-performance grouts provide installers with a great option for pleasing homeowners with an easier way to maintain the beauty of their tile. TEC Power Grout is an example of advanced technology that installs as easily as traditional grout, and is stain-proof, color consistent, mold and crack resistant, and easy to maintain – no sealing required. Both installers and consumers benefit from the performance.
Of course, tile trends also have a huge impact on grout installation styles and palettes. For 2022 and beyond, a top trend is bringing nature inside with wood-look, natural stone, marble, verdigris and earthy terracotta tiles. Additionally, an incredible range of new hues for tile in nature’s greens or blues offer designers wide-ranging options. Neutral grout colors in the earth-tone or blue-grey family that either match or complement these tiles, enhance the nature-indoors feeling.
Highly patterned tiles are also trending with their bold graphic or exotic looks. The popularity of Moroccan tile fits this trend with intricate floral or geometric patterning and vivid jewel tone glazes. To complement these statement tiles, neutral grout colors, especially whites and very light greys, keep the focus on the tile patterns. Manufacturers have expanded neutral options in support of these distinctive looks.
Installations of tile shapes that create intricate patterns are seeing a resurgence in popularity. Whether trendy hexagon, subway, picket, arabesque, fan or a combination of shapes; walls, floors and even ceilings can deliver the intended style, from nostalgic to modern. Tile shapes and colors are being mixed artistically with matching grouts to form new looks such as color blocks and tone-on-tone expanses. Within intricate patterns of tile shapes, grout can be any color in the palette, because designers can choose to match, complement or be in high contrast to the tile. Grout installation style can be bolder, moving from classic narrow lines to ultra-wide areas between tile shapes.
Large format and wide plank tiles continue to trend, with no signs of slowing down. These large tiles help create an edgy, industrial or sleek modern aesthetic, both part of the growing minimalist movement. Recently, designers are using disruptive tile installations to add interest to the minimalist look. These artistic surprises might include popular new metallic, textured or handcrafted tiles. While large format or plank tiles have nearly invisible grout lines, grouting for tile that is a focal point depends on the tile. Metallic or textured tile is often set with grout in the same tone as the tile. For textured or handcrafted tiles, a neutral grout color keeps the statement tile the hero.
Tile trends reflect the latest colors, and grout, of course, follows tile. However, grout also is impacted directly by color trends. Color trends have many complex influences, including the pandemic. While the human need for tranquility, respite and simplification was already growing, the pandemic has intensified this need. Calming colors in grey-blues, earthy bronze or nature’s blues and greens address this trend. Additionally, people are seeking mood-lifting visuals with colors like sky blue and bright white. At the other end of the spectrum, darkest blues and blacks add drama and awaken the senses. Another pandemic driven trend is the growth in popularity of vivid digital hues, due to the necessary dependence on digital forms of communication. Showing up in both commercial and residential spaces, these saturated colors have been dubbed A.I. colors for the artificial intelligence medium that inspired them.
In response to both tile and color trends, grout palettes have expanded. The Tec® brand, for example, is introducing seven on-trend colors at Surfaces 2022.
Today’s grouts come in a rainbow of new colors to match, complement or contrast with the latest tile. The grout is the finishing touch that delivers the tile installation’s look, subtle or bold. Exciting technology advances enable grout to resist stains, mold, cracks and installation challenges. With the advantages from new grout performance and colors; installers, designers and homeowners are creating beautiful tile installations that will be on-trend for years to come.
Article written by John Anderson.