The difference between grout and mortar (SURPRISING Answer)

If you are planning to buy a piece of land and build your dream home, you need to do a good amount of research. Apart from searching for the perfect piece of land in the right locality, you also have to learn about building techniques. Grout and mortar are common terms and it can be confusing to know what they do.

Let’s understand each mixture in detail.

What is mortar?

In construction projects, mortar is used as an adhesive material to attach stones, concrete slabs, and bricks. It is a thick paste made of Portland cement, sand, and water.

What is grout?

Grout is used to fill gaps and joints between ceramic tiles. It is a filler material, unlike mortar which is primarily a joining material. It is a viscous material due to the presence of polymer and epoxy. Even stone tiles can be bound using grout. We have discussed how to regrout a shower wall Here.

The difference between grout and mortar

Both grout and mortar have cement as their base material. However, there are some differences that make them different entities in the construction industry. Both have different properties and usage too.

1. The main difference between grout and water is the water content. Mortar contains lesser water than grout and hence is more solid in its consistency. Grout is more watery compared to mortar.

2. Mortar is created by mixing sand, cement, lime and water. Grout contains some adhesive materials like epoxy along with acrylic and polymer. These materials are mixed along with Portland cement, water, and sand.

You can make mortar and grout by hand. They both have to be fresh as they can dry out. You can buy a pre-made mix or combine the different ingredients together yourself.

3. The main function of mortar is to act as a binder material in stone and brick masonry. Grout on the other hand works as a filler material for tiling work and filling in cracks.

4. Mortar is stiffer than grout due to the water content in both the mixtures.

5. Since the water content is more in the grout, it is difficult to make it sit on a trowel and other tools and use it. On the other hand, since mortar is stiffer, it sits very well on a trowel and it is easy to work with it in masonry projects.

6. Grout is highly viscous due to the other elements like epoxy, acrylic and polymer. Mortar is coarse and very less viscose.

Grout has to be replaced after a few years. If it hasn’t been installed properly, it is always possible to remove it and get it reinstalled. It also has to be cleaned as it can get dirty over time. You can use a brush to remove the dirt from it. This is something that a lot of people forget and mold and dirt can get in these spots. In some parts silicone is used instead of grout as silicone is better at closing gaps between different materials.

7. Mortar is generally grey in color. However, if the mortar is white, it will take an off-white hue. Grout can be colored using artificial colorants and matched with the ceramic tiles.

8. There are multiple types of mortars- cement mortar, surki mortar, lime mortar, gauged mortar, and mud mortar depending on the main material used to create the mixture. Grouts, too are found in multiple variants like unsanded or wall grout, sanded grout, furan grout, epoxy grout and acrylic grout.

9. Mortar is non-porous in nature and after settling down, water cannot seep through it. Grout on the other hand is porous after setting and water can pass through it.

10. Mortar needs extra water for curing after it is applied to two surfaces and left for hardening. Grout cures on its own and does not need extra water.

11. Mortar takes a much longer setting time than grout.

Mortar generally lasts for over a decade. Once it has been installed, it is harder to remove. This is why it is essential that it is installed properly. Mortar is harder to install as you have to cut the tile to size and make sure that they fit properly together.

Most people can use grout but adding tiles to a wall with mortar can take more practice. Tile can chip and break and therefore you have to be able to use them properly. Every part has to fit together and it takes a lot of discipline to get it complelty right.


Building your dream home needs a lot of hard work and attention to detail. Just spending money is not enough. We would advise you to spend at least six months doing research about the various designs, and architectural terminologies before you make the decision to buy the plot. Go to hardware stores and check the varieties of cement, bricks, sand, and stone chips.

Mortar and grout each have different functions in a home. While grout connects tiles, mortar is used to attach tiles against the wall. We have outlined some other key differences in this post as well.

You should have a good idea about the painting options, waterproofing options, and what kind of roofing you would like for your home. Happy home building!!