Wednesday, February 5, 2014

White vs. Gray Grout

Domino
Today's a very gray day with lots of white snow falling so let's 
talk gray and white....grout, that is.

I've seen a lot of great kitchens using subway tile with gray grout lately.
Alison Cayne's kitchen in the Domino Holiday issue is a recent favorite.



On my "stove wall," I'm planning some floating shelves--I put up some
blue painter's tape just to experiment with their placement--but before
that, I'm going to be installing white subway tile from the counters to the ceiling.

via Our House blog

I've already purchased my tile--a soft white with a crackled glaze--and
I've already made a decision on the grout.  But if you look at these examples
of both white and gray grout, you'll see why it was a tough decision.

Crown Point Cabinets via Houzz

via Simply Seleta
via Plaza Interior

Daniella Witte via Skona Hem


Marta Stewart

Anna Kern via Desire to Inspire
Badgley & Mischka Kitchen, Elle Decor

via Houzz
This might be a lighter value gray.


via Apartment Therapy

Are you in the white or gray court...or do you love both?








90 comments:

  1. I love both, but for a more traditional look, I think a light grey or white grout is best. Dark grey/black grout reads a touch more modern to me, which I also love in the right space. I'm actually living in a converted industrial loft apartment right now with white subway tile shower with really dark grey/black grout. It looks amazing -- especially because the flooring throughout is a super super dark wood. The dark grout really plays off the dark floors and works really well with the industrial detailing.

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    1. Emily,
      White tile, gray grout, dark floors in a loft sounds really awesome!

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  2. i always thought i was a white grout fan with white subway (have it in my bathroom) but lately im enjoying a lighter gray with the tiles. either way, it'll be smashing lord knows! the contrast of the dark looks abit more modern and edgy whereas the white looks classic and understated. i like BOTH the more i think about it!

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  3. I prefer a seamless look and would choose white. The gray does look attractive with the darker cabinets.

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  4. Love the gray grout with the classic subway tile. Wish we would have used it in the shower. Don't tease, which way are you going?

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  5. I like the white- I like how it looks so clean and love that in a kitchen. I adore white subway tiles so can't wait to see yours! That said, I used a light grey grout for the marble floors in the master and guest baths upstairs as white would be a bugger for Fifi the maid (that would be me;) to keep clean. So, what did "you" choose? Stay warm today!

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  6. I go with gray. Main reason being that it seems grout tends to darken, my bathroom has white tiles on the walls and floor and it takes scrub brushing to keep them white which is a real pain. Kitchens get a lot of traffic even on the walls because of all that goes on there, it's easier upkeep and besides it will look really pretty with all of your other gray accents.

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  7. When I did subway tile in my bathroom upstairs, I went with white, and even though sometimes I get a little angry when I have to clean it ... I think it was the right decision. Because of the brick pattern in the subway tile, I think that a gray grout can be too busy in a small room. The kitchen from domino is lovely, and on that long wall with the doors breaking it up, it's almost like wallpaper, but in a small kitchen like mine, (or in a bathroom as the case were) it was just so much more of a "clean" look and I would advocate for that over anything else - especially in a kitchen or bathroom. So, for me, white it is. Hope you chose white, otherwise I'm gonna feel like a real turd. :P

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    1. Thank you so much for your comments. I'm in the middle of this decision right now. I bought light gray grout for the white subway tile, but have not installed it yet. Your comments helped me clarify why I was unsettled with the gray and I will exchange it for white grout before we do the install.

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  8. I like the darker grout - reminds of the Oyster Bar in Grand Central which I love!

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  9. White on walls, grey on floors. Our kitchen has handmade white subway tiles on the backsplash, grouted in white (on the one wall I have grouted ... but that's another story). This is the wall behind our stove and my most used counter, and we have had absolutely no problem keeping the grout white. It's way easier to maintain white grout in a kitchen than it would be in a shower.

    Tile to the ceiling? Your ceiling is level, right?

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  10. They are both pretty, but the grey can make the walls look to busy and it reads more modern to me. I definitely lean to the white for a more classic, clean look!

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  11. I've been looking at soft white subway tiles and if I find any that will work for us we'll be using a recycled glass grout ... has a soft reflective sheen, doesn't stain (no worries about tomato sauce etc) but still keeps a "light" look. You mentioned you'd found soft white subway tiles with a crackle glaze ... that's one style I've looked for but can't find ... would you please share the brand / style name and perhaps even what store you found them in? Thanks.

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    1. Robin,
      The tile is Horus Art Tiffany and the color is Bianco Crackle. It isn't bright white, much softer with a little cream in it.

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  12. Hmmm. I'd do white, personally, because it's a preference but also because I wouldn't want to compete with that gorgeous marble, but I can see an argument for either way in your house. You're killing me. Which did you decide?

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  13. I'm in the white camp. Now I'm curious to hear what you chose.

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  14. I prefer the white. The gray, unless it is very pale, looks too busy to me. I cannot believe Joan and I share the same maid, Fifi. For her sake, I also chose gray for my marble bathroom floors.

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  15. Tough decision. Both would look good in your kitchen. I'm guessing white.

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  16. Definitely white.. Classic, simplistic elegance...

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  17. I've had some people tell me that the crackle glaze will hold the dark grout and ruin the look. I would test it before you grout.

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  18. I have white subway tiles with white grout in one of my bathrooms and love the look but the gray looks really nice too. I would have to say I'm a white grout girl, I think,

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  19. Dear Steve,

    For me it's not a difficult decision. White looks cleaner, more elegant. The gray grout — to my eyes — makes a wall look more like bricks than tile, and I think with time, you would fall out of love with the look. The white tile with white grout is timeless.

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  20. Both are very nice depending on the size of the tile area and the other elements in the room. If you get too much grey grout it looks dirty especially if it is too dark or it gets to busy looking. If your beautiful kitchen was mine I would go with a light grey that pulls the veining out of the marble.

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  21. I like both, but would choose white on white for longevity. I'm afraid the grey grout would look dated after a while. White/white combo has been around for a long time, and is still classic. In our bathroom we have off-white subway tile and I wanted off-white grout rather than pure white grout. Our tilers told us that any off shade can end up being inconsistent in color as it dries. I insisted on off-white, and sure enough there were areas that were darker than the rest, and had to be redone. Has anyone else had or heard of this problem? Not sure if it was a true color issue, or an issue with who did the work. Anyway, I would assume grey could have the same issue.
    Claudia

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    1. Claudia,
      One of my coworkers just had the same problem with gray grout. She said the color is different in some places. Not sure if it happens or if it was operator error.

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  22. I have both in my house now...in the kitchen and in a bathroom. I have the dark gray with subway carrera marble in the kitchen and I love it. In the bathroom we did plain white subway tile with white grout and although I like it I wish I had gone with the gray. I have never second guessed my kitchen with the darker grout.

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    1. Interesting. I'd love to see the carrara with dark gray. I'll bet that's handsome.

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  23. Easy choice for me...I am WHITE grout without a doubt. I think grey highlights the space between the tiles instead of the tiles. I think it's way too distracting...whereas...a wall of white subway tile with white grout...you just enjoy the beauty and texture of the tile itself. I know people say grey because white gets dirty but my kitchen as had white grout for like 20 years now and it looks just fine. I know gray grout is trending right now...but for me it's white...white ...white..... Hope that is what you went with...plus it's more vintage looking.

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  24. I like the definition of the grey grout and also wonder if it would hide any stains that splash up from the counter cooking and living activities ...

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  25. Oh...just looked up your tile and I LOVE it! I WANT it!!!!! Oh...I can't wait to retile my kitchen one day. The suspense is killing me....white or gray. I'm betting you went with white....just seems more like you.

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  26. I prefer the white grout.
    The change in light, shadow and texture is just enough.

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  27. why am I even commenting?
    you know that I will say White.
    ;)

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    1. I could see you liking the white tile with the dark gray grout. That's why.

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    2. yeah, dark grey grout above black counter-tops with lots of industrial and mod mid-century stuff, yeah I would love THAT.
      but I think classic style, elegance and perfection, when I envision about your home.
      ;)

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  28. White. I agree with Mark Ruffner. The dark grout makes the tiles look like brick.

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  29. I have the white crackled tile in my kitchen. My designer tried to talk me into gray grout, but I went with my gut: white. Classic. Haven't had any problems with staining. I did use a light gray in a bathroom.

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  30. Happy compromise with no regrets......very very light grey?!

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  31. I prefer the clean simplicity of the white. To my eye the dark gray grout looks too busy.

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  32. White. I've come to like the darker grout in showers because it serves a purpose - to disguise the dirt. But it is a compromise to use it because it can make things look busy and cluttered. When you don't need to hide dirt, go for white! It's timeless and clean and beautiful.

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  33. Definitely White. It is clean, calm, serene and lovely. As many have said, the grey draws the eye to the grout not the tile and looks busy, messy and hectic. The look is more of a dingy old butchery in Soviet Russia!! There shouldn't be a problem with staining of white grout. I have had white grout in my kitchen for 14 years and it has never stained despite the best efforts of turmeric oil spatters and tomato bubblings. I love the way the kitchen is shaping up and am looking forward to big reveal. Exciting days.

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  34. I love both!!! no help there then. However to keep white grout from being stained from general cooking and kitchen grub, I have a tip given to me by a very experienced tiler.
    Once the grout is dry and all the tiles are clean spray the whole area with a wax furniture polish, especially the grout. It may change colour a touch until it's dry,but once dry, polish off and your grout is protected...ta dah!!!
    I've tried this and it works.

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  35. Grey grout....every time. We have done our last two bathrooms with white subway tiles and grey grout and I love it. It adds interest to what would otherwise be a large expanse of white shininess. And I think it looks a little more 'industrial'. For what it's worth.......

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  36. Do I have to even comment? You know what I would say!

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  37. We have white tile with grey grout in a bathroom with grey/white marble floors. It drives my husband crazy that the grey grout shows where the corners of the shower are not perfectly square. That doesn't really bother me, I like the grey grout, as well as white. If I were putting it in a kitchen (we just gutted and remodeled our kitchen) I think I'd want it all white. Good luck! Can't wait to see what you choose!

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    1. That's a good point, Suzy, that any misalignments would show much more with a contrasting grout.

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  38. I do love both ......so can empathise with the dilemma you would have had, having said that I would have settled on white.
    Annie

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  39. I just read an article, can't remember where, and the writer was stating they went with grey grout because it was more period/antique looking. Interesting that many comments are voting for white as the "classic" choice. It got me thinking, esp. when I saw a butler pantry with original white subway tile and darker grout. It was beautiful, crackle glaze tile with dark grout-the main difference I noticed was a MUCH tighter grout line than you typically see today, but that narrow line kept it from seeming too noisy, visually. Can't wait to see your choice!
    Cheers,
    Meredith

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    1. Interesting, Meredith. I agree that a really tight grout line would tone the pattern down. I'll have to do some research and see what I can find about dark grout being historically accurate. If you saw it in a butler's pantry, that sound Victorian period to me.

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  40. Hi Steve,

    For a less busy look, I always choose to match the grout to the tiles. In my kitchen I went with a silvery gray to match with the pale grey of the carerra marble subway tiles. It was the perfect choice in this case. I think I am in the white camp for your kitchen. Grey grout gives a space an industrial vibe and adds tons of contrast, which I think would compete with the other fabulous elements in your space, such as your exquisite cabinetry and countertops. I think contrasting grout works better in a space with simple, modern lines. You sure have your readers in suspense here. We can't wait to see the results!

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  41. It's a toughie. I used a light gray grout with my subway tiles in the bathroom. I still love it but maybe just a fad?

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  42. Steve,

    I have used both, one in my 1940's cottage and one in my current 1930 Tudor. In my last kitchen I had white grout with subway tiles and this kitchen, when I went all the way to the ceiling behind the sink I went with a medium gray. Both look great depending on the look you are wanting, but I personally really love the contrast of the gray grout. I think it highlights the tile, the pattern and I also think it tends to look more period in an older home. Since your cabinets are gray though, the all white might look cleaner. I have white cabinets, so I really wanted that extra pop.
    One thing our tile installers did tell me when I had made my choice, is that in an older home with uneven walls, the darker grout will highlight imperfections more. As much as they will try to make things as even as possible, the darkness of the grout can show some of the subtle level changes. White grout will hide that a lot better. I still went with my original choice of gray and as a major perfectionist, I have to look reeeallly close to pick out those areas. I was 100% happy with the results and the quirks and imperfections that naturally come with a older home. :)
    Either way you go, it will look fantastic! Can't wait to see the final product!

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  43. Dark, without hesitation. I like the visual impact of the darker, but it is the upkeep of the white grout that, for me is prohibitive.

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  44. my biggest regret grout-wise is that i didn't do gray in the shower stall. otherwise i love the classic clean look of white in the kitchen.

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  45. IF YOU USE GRAY GROUT OUR ROMANCE IS OVER.

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    1. HAHAHA! I didn't know there was so much riding on the decision!

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  46. Thpought you were crazy when i first started reading ... WHO would consider gray. Then i looked at the pictures and totally changed my mind. It has such a finished and classy look. i love it. also thought it make the rooms look large.

    Definitely gray - you're gonna have to look for a new romance.

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  47. dude. TELL US what you decided.

    and that last anon comment is the BEST!

    donna

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  48. Absolutely white. Marilyn in Mt. Vernon

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  49. I definitely prefer white grout but could live with pale gray.

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  50. I enjoy your blog so much but this is the first time I believe I have chimed in! I vote white.
    Although we have white subway tile with gray grout in our showers, we chose white grout with
    the subway tiles for our kitchen. I am so glad we did.

    You will have so many interesting design features in your beautiful kitchen. I don't believe gray grout should be one of them. My white grout wipes off very easily, no problems after two years.

    KW in Atlanta

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  51. You know me - I'm always in the white camp.

    xo Terri

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  52. I favor white grout. It's going to be lovely Steve. Have a great weekend. Xo Nancy

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  53. I prefer white, I think a very soft light gray would be alright. What I don't like about a dark gray grout is that the contrast makes things look busier. Lighter grout with white or light tile just seems more serene.

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  54. White's always right :)

    Although, as a native NY'er ( no matter where I live) the whole subway tile thing is LOST on me.
    Have you been in the subway? LOL Actually, our rental has white subway/ white grout in the bathroom ( with a thin black stripe in the upper third) and I love it- especially after that peach and burgundy I had to live with in OR!

    It's a classic look though, and will fit your space very well. The grey makes it look more brick like
    ( and to me, distracting); the white is more of a cohesive let-your-eye-land-on-something-else backdrop. Interesting to see what you pick.

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  55. Not tough, personal preference - white! The grey looks too busy… (for me!)

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  56. I think about this a rather absurd amount. I prefer the look of white. But I cook nonstop and often with wine and tomatoes and I can't deal with splotches of this and that in my grout. For that reason, next time will be grey. In my opinion both are timeless.

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    1. Good to know I'm not the only one that looses sleep over such things.

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  57. A vote for white grout!!!

    -- unless you do the grout in deep red -- I believe that the stains will show up on gray grout of any tone or shade! LOL! :)

    Cheers! Jan at Rosemary Cottage (I LOVE your blog!)

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    1. Hmmmm, deep red. Interesting. That could be cool!

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  58. With a crackle glaze I would be hesitant to use a grey grout. Unless the crackle glaze is fully fully sealed I would be concerned that when the installer wipes the grey grout across the crazing in the tile, that the grey may stick in the fine crackles of the tile. It may not be an issue... but it would be enough of one in my mind to encourage me to pick the white.

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  59. I am just in the process of tiling my shower and during my research landed on this page! Lucky me!! Everyone here keeps talking about white vs grey. Well, I have a new twist on that! How about chocolate brown or an expresso colored grout as an alternative to grey. I am using subway tiles throughout my shower with the exception of a very modern glass, silver and stone 1 x 1 tile on the floor that will tie in with the same, ran as a continuous band at eye level. My floor tiles are a modern grey sized at 12 x 24, to be placed under an expresso vanity, which pairs well (identical) to the 1 x 1 glass tile. I would also use the expresso or chocolate grout color on the floor.

    Any thoughts on using a dark brown or expresso colored grout vs the white. Thanks!

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    1. That could be amazing for sure. I have also recently seen someone use a dark navy blue that looked beautiful. I saw someone mention that you need to have a really good tiler when you use dark grout because it's difficult to get consistency of color and thickness of the grout lines. Every sin shows.

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  60. I am in the process of remodeling my bathroom! I love the classic subway tiles with grey grout! I feel it's a more classic look and definitley the way to go! I vote gray all the way!

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  61. wow! I amazed with some images of white kitchen cabinets that make the kitchen look more charming. love it!

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  62. My vote: White or Light Gray
    To me, dark grout looks more original style and white / light looks more modern. When I've been on Paris and New York subway platforms, the grout lines on the old subway tile are dark because dirt clings to it. Kind of like when you're at a restaurant and the older the bathroom the more you see dark grout lines all over the floor and it stops about 6 inches up the wall, where people have mopped. Yuck.

    White to me seems more fresh and modern bc the lines aren't as defined making it appear to be one continuous plane from first glance. Modern homes tend to have simple color palettes and designs. Both classics, but different takes on it. Another reason I would not want darker grouts line is that any imperfections in tile placement will be accentuated by darker grout lines.

    Wonder if people are considering dark grout lines "modern" because they are using the term interchangeably with "trendy" because of all of the industrial revival we've seen in recent years? Thanks Williamsburg hipsters! :) I'm not sure.

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  63. HELP !!!! Need to know what you decided !! Finishing up our desperately needed kitchen remodel and down to the final step,the back splash.......we chose rustic white subway tiles and can't decide on grout........light gray or white ??? Thought I was definitely doing gray but all these comments have me leaning towards white now......cabinets are dark charcoal,Himalayan white tops(which are really gray with black specks/veining),white sink and medium wide plank laminate floors.......my only concerns are keeping white clean and it not competing with my countertops......

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  64. Ps...... I just checked the name of our tile and its from the same brand as yours !!! "Horus Art" Broadway and the color is Latte field......

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  65. OMG!!! How am i supposed to decide between white and gray grout between my white subway tiles??? I like BOTH!! And I love everything y'all are saying about BOTH!! I love the clean look of it all being white with no break ups between the tiles....but then again I love how you can see the tiles w/the gray grout. What is a woman to do? My designer suggests the gray grout. But it IS a very small bathroom and I'm thinking that the white grout might create a smooth, almost calming view in the bathroom versus the breaking up view that the gray grout produces. I just don't know??? But by tomorrow I have to decide....

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