Caulk vs Grout – What’s The Difference?


If you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Details

Caulk vs Grout - What's The Difference?

Both caulk and grout are essential components in home development. These two are the most common sealants used in households to improve an area’s overall waterproofing. Due to having similar applications, some mistake these two as the same thing. However, there are significant differences between the two, and understanding this is crucial to optimize each sealant’s capability.

The caulk is a sealant made from a mixture of acrylic, silicone, and latex. It is pretty versatile and is often used on tiles perpendicularly installed. Grout is a heavy-duty mixture composed of water, sand, and cement and is used to fill in the spaces between tiles. 

Keep in mind that while both caulk and grout have similar applications, you cannot interchange one with the other. In this article, we will further expound on the significant differences between the two sealants and inform you of where best to use each. 

Grout

Man grouting tiles in bathroom

As noted earlier, grout is a sealant composed of a mixture of water, sand, and cement. This type of sealant is commonly used on horizontally or vertically installed tiles. The thick consistency of grout mixture comes in two types:

  • Epoxy-based
  • Cement-based

Grout is also porous, making it not ideal for use in areas that need to be waterproof or airtight. As for the two types of grout, cement-based is the most commonly used in households because it is cost-effective. 

That said, the more expensive epoxy-based grout provides more flexibility in its application and tends to offer higher waterproof capabilities. Epoxy-based is also more durable than cement-based grout, but it does not match the flexibility that caulk can provide. 

Alas, while grout is a generally reliable sealant and is compatible with most materials, it is not ideal for use on surfaces at an angle. Simply put, grout is best used on sealing and keeping joints intact at a horizontal or vertical position. 

Caulk

Closeup view of a silicone gun on the floor.

Caulk is a waterproof sealant made from a mixture of polymers. Due to latex, silicone, and acrylic construction, caulks are incredibly more flexible than grout. This type of sealant is also 100% waterproof, making it ideal for use in areas with high moisture levels, such as bathrooms and kitchens. 

That said, the high flexibility that caulks offer comes at a price, which is its reduced durability. As a result, you will find yourself replacing or re-applying caulk more often than grout. Another aspect of caulk is its airtight quality, making it ideal for use on sealing doors and windows. 

The lightweight and flexible nature of caulk also makes it the ideal sealant for surfaces at an angle (90 degrees or so). The drawback to the high flexibility of caulk is that it is not recommended to be used with heavier materials. 

Additionally, caulk application is also more accessible and more convenient with the use of the caulk gun. You can find caulk in ready-to-use tubes, which you place into the caulk gun’s chamber. Each variation of the caulk brings different advantages. The latex-based caulk is easy to apply and easy to clean. If you want flexibility and durability, silicone-based is the best option. 

What is the Main Difference Between Caulk and Grout?

As stated earlier, caulk and grout should not be interchanged despite having the same application. So, to help you better understand the main differences between the two types of sealant, we will go through each key aspect of the two. 

Application

The caulk is applied using a caulk gun, making it an ideal choice if precision is required. Also, caulk is best used on surfaces with a 90-degree angle. The airtight and waterproof structure of caulk is another excellent sealant trait. 

On the other hand, the grout requires more attention and time to apply. Using a float, the grout is applied between tiles to keep them intact. Depending on the type of grout you use, it can also offer a good deal of waterproofing to the surface. 

Caulk is flexible but less durable than grout, while grout is tough but is generally porous (except if you use the epoxy-based grout). 

Waterproof Capability

Caulk is waterproof because it is either composed of silicone, acrylic, or latex. Grout does not provide the same level of waterproofing unless you use epoxy-based, which is considerably more expensive, making it less popular. 

Summary of Caulk vs Grout

Here is a quick lowdown of the main differences between caulk and grout:

  • Grout is porous, making it less waterproof than caulk. Grout is best used as a sealant between tiles. 
  • Caulk is flexible and waterproof and is ideal for sealing surfaces at an angle. 
  • Grout comes in two variations: cement (the most common) and epoxy (waterproof but more expensive).
  • Both caulk and grout are available in sanded and un-sanded forms. 
  • Grout is durable and is more resistant to cracks and chips.
  • Caulk is flexible but not as strong as grout.

How to Determine When to Use Caulk and Grout

Caulk should be your primary option for areas that are exposed to water. However, since caulk is less durable, you should limit its use to smaller spaces. Grout should suffice for larger projects that will not be as exposed to water. Also, bathroom construction and renovation will typically use both grout and caulk. 

Which is Better?

As mentioned earlier in this article, each sealant is designed for specific situations. As such, there is no definite answer as to which is better. However, as long as you apply the right type of sealant to the correct location, you will yield excellent results. 

So, the answer to which sealant is the better choice pretty much depends on where you plan to apply it. 

Conclusion

There is no competition between the two sealants. Each excels in different areas that the other does not. As long as you know the main differences between caulk and grout, you can optimize each sealant’s capabilities.