Grout Vs. Caulk: Which One Should You Use?

Inexperienced DIYers often mistake grout for caulk and vice-versa. In this blog, Handyman Connection® of San Mateo discusses the differences between the two and the applications in which they should be used.


Grout is a masonry product that has many similarities with Portland cement. It comes bags of dry powder, requires mixing with water to activate, and has the same consistency once it’s cured. Grout is solely used to fill the spaces between tiles after they’ve been set on the wall or the floor using tile adhesive.

There are many types of grout depending on tile and the surface it’s being installed on, so when buying grout, make sure it matches your tile installation requirements. If installed properly, the combination of grout and tile should create an impermeable waterproof barrier, ideal for bathrooms and kitchens. Note that, because of its porous nature, grout tends to accumulate stains, which is why it needs to be sealed after curing.


Caulk is a semi-liquid product that comes in tubes. It is made from latex, silicone or acrylic that retains flexibility when cured. Unlike grout, caulk requires no mixing and comes ready to use with a caulk gun. Caulk is typically used for sealing areas that need a flexible seal, such as bathtubs, windows and drywall. Caulk sticks to most surfaces, including glass and porcelain. It comes in a variety of colors, including translucent silicone.

Caulk is resilient to thermal expansion and contraction, which makes it ideal for use on materials that have high expansion and contractor rates, such as wood. It is also less likely to develop mold growth, thanks to its minimal porosity after it’s cured. Whereas grout has one purpose—filling the spaces between tiles—caulk can be used to fill virtually any seam that needs to be sealed. Baseboards, crown molding and even outdoor concrete are materials that caulk can be used on.

Handyman Connection of San Mateo is your leading provider of tile installation and other handyman services. Give us a call at (650) 437-8995 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.

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