White Subway Tile with Gray Grout: My Favorite Grays (2022)

If you’re looking to add white subway tile with gray grout to a kitchen, bathroom, or other space in your home, this post’s for you! I’m sharing my tips for testing grout colors and my favorite gray grouts!

Since sharing the results of our kitchen renovation (you can see all of the photos and details of our renovated kitchen {here}), I’ve had so many people asking about the gray grout that I used that I realized I wasn’t the only one who struggled with which gray grout would work best with my kitchen’s white subway tile. “Struggle” is kind of laughable for something as silly as choosing a grout color but your grout choice can make a night and day difference in your final tile job so I wanted to make sure not to mess this choice up!

I was surprised not to find hardly any “real life” images of white subway tile with gray grout where the grout color was given so I decided to share how I chose my grout along with some pics of my favorite gray grouts combined with white subway tile.

First off, here’s a look at the gray grout I chose – I went with a light gray option called Frost. This pic shows how the white subway tile and gray grout look in both shadowed spaces (underneath the upper cabinet and to the left of it) and in a more sunny spot close to the countertop:

White Subway Tile with Gray Grout: My Favorite Grays (1)

I used the same grout for the Walker Zanger Villa D Oro mosaic behind my kitchen range:

White Subway Tile with Gray Grout: My Favorite Grays (2)

(Video) How to Choose Subway Tile - Pattern and Grout Options

I wish I could say that my decision was as easy as looking at a color chart and saying “that’s the one” but oh my gosh, there are SO MANY gray grout options and since I wanted to choose the best one for my space, I did some legwork to make sure I got it right. Here are some things that I found helpful to do (affiliate links included in post – full disclosure available {here}):

Narrow Down Your Options with Grout Color Sticks and By Walking the Tile Aisles

Start off by talking to your tiler (unless you’re DIYing it!) about his/her recommendations and viewing the grout sample sticks that they typically have. The sample sticks are usually plastic replicas and not the true grout so while I’ve found them to be helpful in narrowing down my options, they’re not always helpful in making final decisions since the real grout can differ a bit in appearance. Tilers see all different grout and tile combinations so they have valuable experience to add to your decision but also remember that your taste might not be exactly the same as theirs – my tiler was adamant about the grout color that would work best with my fireplace tile but I went with something different (Polyblend Natural Gray) and am 100% happy with my decision.

White Subway Tile with Gray Grout: My Favorite Grays (3)

So get their input but make sure your final decision is what YOU will like best, not them. After narrowing it down to a few options, walk the aisles of stores that showcase grouted tile – I walked around Lowe’s where they show all sorts of different tiles with different grouts (and the grout colors are labeled!) to see some “real life” samples. Just be aware that the same grout will look quite different depending upon the color of tile surrounding it.

Make Sample Boards

I was able to narrow my grout choice down to two gray grout options but hadn’t ruled out the possibility of just using white grout either so I made sample boards with all three grout options (I also made samples boards of two other grays I liked so I could share them with you!). Luckily subway tile is inexpensive so I made sample boards with full tiles but if your tile is more pricey, you could cut tiles in half and grout in between them so you don’t use as many (an inexpensive tile cutter like {this} works well for that). The grout itself isn’t exactly cheap, but spending $50 on grout now to get it right is well worth it in my opinion – it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of what you put into the rest of a kitchen reno! Choose sanded or unsanded grout depending upon the width you choose for your grout lines – mine were going to be 1/16″ (the most narrow you typically go) so that meant unsanded grout. Here’s how I made my sample boards:

Use a Glue Gun to Glue Your Tiles on a Board

I snagged a plywood remnant from our renovation and used {this glue gun} to glue my tiles onto the board. You could use a different type of adhesive including the mastic adhesive used for tile or liquid nails, but the glue gun dries instantly so you can make your sample board quickly. Just be sure to put each tile in place on your board immediately after you put the hot glue on the back before it dries!

White Subway Tile with Gray Grout: My Favorite Grays (4)

(Video) Interior Design Tips: How to choose grout colour for your tiles

I glued down four tiles for each sample. If you have tile spacers, you can use them to get the same distance between your tiles as you’ll have on your walls (mine are 1/16″ spacers like {these}) but they’re not worth buying just for the sample boards – you can do the same thing with a ruler if you don’t have a tiler to snag a few from.

Mix Up Your Grout Using the Directions on the Bag

You can buy premixed grout but since the bagged grout is cheaper, I went with that. Using a disposable bowl and plastic spoon, I poured some of the grout mix into the bowl and added a little bit of water at a time until it got to the right consistency (you want it well blended but not runny). Read the directions on the grout bag – let it sit for a few minutes after mixing if the directions state to do that like mine did. Then trowel it onto your tile, pressing it into the gaps. I happened to have a little trowel but a putty knife would work just fine for this too!

White Subway Tile with Gray Grout: My Favorite Grays (5)

Once you’re done, remove the excess with your trowel/putty knife (no need to get it all – just the bulk of it!) and let it sit for a several minutes according to your grout instructions.

Use a Damp Sponge to Clean the Tile and Get Smooth Grout Lines

After you’ve let it sit for the time recommended on your grout bag, use a slightly damp sponge (wring out all excess water) to clean off your tiles and wipe over your grout lines to remove excess and make them smooth. You can also just use a paper towel for this!

White Subway Tile with Gray Grout: My Favorite Grays (6)

Let it Dry

This last step is huge. The color will change quite a bit as it dries (it will lighten up) so don’t make any decisions about grout color until it’s totally dry. The time it will take to dry depends on the grout width but even the narrower width grout should dry overnight before you use it to make a color decision. The image above shows what Frost grout looked like wet and the image below (Frost is at the top) shows how much lighter it was when it dried:

(Video) How to grout subway tile - DIY for beginners

White Subway Tile with Gray Grout: My Favorite Grays (7)

As you can see, when it’s dry Mapei’s Frost is just the lightest of grays (I show it here compared to Avalanche, which is a soft white) which you might not expect from the appearance of the grout when you mix it.

Favorite Gray Grouts

Once I made my sample boards and put my mosaic up next to them, the choice for my own kitchen was obvious – I wanted my mosaic to be the star of the show so I went with the lightest gray. But I did love several of the darker grays that I sampled too and would likely have chosen one of them if I had all subway tile with no mosaic. Here’s a comparison of how the different grays I sampled looked against the white subway tile (the image is Pinnable for you to save for a later project when you might need it!):

White Subway Tile with Gray Grout: My Favorite Grays (8)

All of these are Mapei Keracolor grout – the same named grout might look totally different in a different brand so only use this as a guide to this specific brand! You can buy Mapei grout at Lowe’s or order it online: unsanded Pewter {here} | unsanded Silver {here} | unsanded Warm Gray {here} | unsanded Frost {here}If you want to go for a darker gray, check out Mapei’s Gray, Timberwolf, Iron, & Pearl Gray.

After Grouting, Seal It!

And one last thing I wanted to be sure to mention – definitely make sure your grout is sealed after your tile job is done! {This} impregnator penetrating sealer is more expensive than others but is the one that’s been recommended as the best by every tile guy I’ve ever worked with.

Want to see more details of our kitchen? You can find the complete “before” and “after” post on our kitchen renovation {here}!

(Video) How to Grout Tile A Beginner's Guide

White Subway Tile with Gray Grout: My Favorite Grays (9)

Here are a few of our kitchen sources, but for a full list of each and every one of them, see my kitchen renovation blog post!

Scroll & Click/Tap to Shop Our Kitchen:

White Subway Tile with Gray Grout: My Favorite Grays (10)

Thanks as always for stopping by!

White Subway Tile with Gray Grout: My Favorite Grays (11)

(Video) GROUTING THE TILES... well that was the plan at least!

FAQs

Should I use grey grout with white subway tile? ›

If you want to create a pop but in a less drastic way than you would get with black grout, a light gray grout or medium gray grout is the way to go. It will also add a nice contrast against the white subway tile, but won't be as punch-worthy.

What is the best Colour grout for white subway tiles? ›

Grey grout is a beautiful choice for white tiles as the slight contrast in color helps make the white tile pop. Once you add a color difference between your tile and grout, the shape of the tile is revealed more clearly, and the grout itself forms a pattern out of the negative space.

Does grey grout work with white tiles? ›

Grey Grout

Softer than a dark grout but much more user-friendly than a white grout, grey is the perfect solution for a kitchen splashback as it will keep looking cleaner for longer. Large white tiles often look better with a grey grout as it will frame the tile.

Should grout color be lighter or darker than tile? ›

ProTip: If you are looking for contrast, a good rule of thumb is to select a grout several shades lighter or darker than your tile color. The more of a contrast you choose with your grout color, the more pattern you add to your space.

Is white subway tile out of style? ›

We know classic white ceramic subway tile will never go out of style, but that doesn't mean we can't look for ways to jazz it up! One of the current trends to give this timeless tile a fresh new look is adding contrasting grout!

Is GREY grout easier to keep clean? ›

What color grout is easiest to keep clean? The grout color that's easiest to keep clean is likely to be a neutral shade such as a gray, or a tone of beige. These are super-practical choices for both kitchen and bathroom tile, and will demand less maintenance to stay looking good as new.

Why does my white grout look GREY? ›

If you haven't kept up with grout maintenance, the once-white grout lines between your ceramic tiles may now appear gray, brown, or black. This discoloration is an accumulation of dirt, food particles, and—in the case of shower tile grout—mold.

Why do my white tiles look GREY? ›

Wet stone is always darker in color, so the white marble tiles become gray and stay gray since they are saturated with water.

What color grout should I use with white tile in shower? ›

It's no surprise that pairing dark charcoal or black grout with white tile results in a striking contrast that would work well in a variety of situations, but none more so than a black and white bathroom.

Does white subway tile go with everything? ›

White subway tile pairs well with almost any decor and allows plenty of freedom to play around with other materials and textures.

What kind of grout do you use on subway tile? ›

Unsanded Grout

Common uses for this grout include ceramic wall tiles like subway tiles and also natural stone, such as marble, that is usually set with a tight joint. The rule of thumb is if your grout joint is 1/8 inch or smaller then you want to use a non-sanded grout.

What is the best grout to use for kitchen backsplash? ›

Unsanded grout is most often used on vertical surfaces, such as a kitchen backsplash. Since wall tile installations with narrow grout lines are less prone to cracking, the extra durability of sanded grout won't matter.

How do you pick a grout color? ›

The shade you pick relies on what you are trying to accomplish in your design. If you want to highlight the pattern your tile creates, a contrasting color is best. If you're trying to unify your tile, such as with a wood look tile floor, go for a close match that's a little bit lighter than your tile.

Does GREY grout dry lighter? ›

Will grout dry darker or lighter? It's usually lighter than what you see in the bucket due to the drying process.

How do I choose a grout color? ›

Match your grout with one of the colors in your application (try the most neutral color first) to ensure that the grout will coordinate well. Select a grout color light or dark enough that it will contrast with all the colors in your tile application.

Are subway tiles out of style 2022? ›

Clean and straight lines and neutral color schemes which are the backbones of a modern style for kitchen backsplashes stand out in 2022 trends. You can use classic subway tiles in a stacked layout to give a more modernized vibe. Geometrical tiles like hexagons or triangles are also perfect to create a modern appeal!

Is subway tile in Style 2022? ›

Are subway tiles in style for bathrooms in 2022? Subway tiles, placed in the traditional way, are out of style for 2022.

How can I make my white subway tile more interesting? ›

In keeping with the classic white subway tile backsplash, one way to add a bit of interest is by adding contrast with a dark grout, such as the deep gray featured here.

What kind of grout do you use on subway tile? ›

Unsanded Grout

Common uses for this grout include ceramic wall tiles like subway tiles and also natural stone, such as marble, that is usually set with a tight joint. The rule of thumb is if your grout joint is 1/8 inch or smaller then you want to use a non-sanded grout.

How do you pick grout color? ›

Match your grout with one of the colors in your application (try the most neutral color first) to ensure that the grout will coordinate well. Select a grout color light or dark enough that it will contrast with all the colors in your tile application.

What is the best grout to use for kitchen backsplash? ›

Unsanded grout is most often used on vertical surfaces, such as a kitchen backsplash. Since wall tile installations with narrow grout lines are less prone to cracking, the extra durability of sanded grout won't matter.

Why do my white tiles look GREY? ›

Wet stone is always darker in color, so the white marble tiles become gray and stay gray since they are saturated with water.

Videos

1. This Grouting Mistake will Ruin Your Tile Job
(Home RenoVision DIY)
2. Tips and Tricks for Choosing Grout Color
(Flooring Inc)
3. How to Grout Irregular Subway Tile Backsplash
(TileCoach)
4. How To Grout | DIY for Beginners
(Home RenoVision DIY)
5. Kitchen Marble Backsplash + Mudroom Tile | All The Details!
(Jenna Kate at Home)
6. Popular Kitchen Colors | How To Choose
(Mark Tobin Kitchen Design)

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