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Need help fixing shower tile grout

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Topic by schmidty13 posted 02-28-2011 12:29 AM 27333 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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schmidty13

3 posts in 2400 days

02-28-2011 12:29 AM

Topic tags/keywords: bathroom tiles refurbishing

Hi everyone. I have a problem and have no idea of the best way to fix it. I have no experience with tile, so bear with me! Ha-ha

First some info: I bought my house about a year and a half ago. A few months after buying it, pieces of the grout in the shower started to come free. It is only happening in the “wettest” area of the shower. There is a glass block window in the shower and the problem areas are mainly on, and below, the window shelf.

I have been trying to educate myself on-line today, and have learned that mastic is a frowned-upon method of attaching tile in shower. Well, the previous owner left behind some extra building supplies. Paint, extra tile, and most importantly (maybe) a tub of mastic. He tiled the kitchen and bathroom floor as well, so maybe the mastic wasn’t used in the shower.

Anyway, for now I have been applying a “band-aid” to the grout as it comes loose. I have been removing the loose grout and sealing the gaps with DAP Kwik Seal Kitchen and Bath Adhesive Caulk.

If your opinion is that mastic was used, and that it should all be torn off and retiled (I have seen this advice on other sites) that is just not an option for me right now. I just don’t have the funds for that. Not to mention it would be a shame. He did a pretty decent job with the tile, at least aesthetic-wise.

Now my questions:

Do I remove and re-grout the entire shower, or only the problem areas?
If only the problem areas, I would assume I should seal the other areas? Advice?
How can I determine if mastic was used? Does it matter?
Do I just keep-up with my “band-aid” method until I can afford to fix it correctly?

This is getting longer than I had anticipated. I’ll stop now and let you digest it. Ha-ha. I am going to try and include some pictures in this post. We’ll see how that works out! If you click on the pictures link, you can see a close-up picture of the cracking grout…I hope!

Thank you in advance!

Bathroom Tile

-- Schmidty



View Todd Thomas's profile

Todd Thomas

739 posts in 2992 days

02-28-2011 03:51 PM

ok this is just a guess…..but in just the 2 pictures…..it kind of looks like you have a water…..and maybe mold issue????? I would guess that the tile was put right onto the drywall with now waterproofing…....I see this a lot….

what makes me say that you ask…..well in the 2nd picture it looks like some discoloration, wow that’s a big word for a redneck like me :-).....which would lead me to think of mold starting…....people think tile is waterproof….it’s not! So if the tile is on the un protected drywall you are going to have problems…...

-- Todd- Oak Ridge, TN

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

342 posts in 3252 days

03-01-2011 05:45 PM

I believe that if you’ve got grout falling out then you’ve got issues with moisture behind the tile. Which corroborates Todd’s observations.

So, yeah, if it were my house, I’d pull enough to see what the tile is mounted on. If it’s a cement backer board, then you’re probably okay with just reworking the portions that you’re having problems with. However, my guess is that you’ll want to yank the whole thing out, replace the now soggy drywall with a real underlayment that’s installed correctly, and tile back over that.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/

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allmyfingers

31 posts in 2192 days

03-02-2011 02:50 AM

if you want to just repair as you go, regrout the problem areas only but look carefully, the tiniest holes will allow water in and weaken the grout. the most important thing people forget about is GROUT SEALER. grout is not waterproof by itself it needs to be sealed to prevent moisture from weakening the grout.

-- caring costs nothing

View schmidty13's profile

schmidty13

3 posts in 2400 days

03-02-2011 06:20 AM

Thanks for the replies, everyone. I’ve been trying to stay on top of it to prevent/reduce any possible water damage. Hopefully it’s not too late.

While talking to a semi-knowledeable buddy, he mentioned the same thing as “allmyfingers”. It got me thinking that maybe the previous owner didn’t seal the grout. I took a close look, and it would appear that may be what’s going on. It’s gritty feeling like “bare” grout. If it was sealed, wouldn’t it be smoother?

I think this weekend I will remove and re-grout the problem areas, and then seal the new AND existing grout.

-- Schmidty

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allmyfingers

31 posts in 2192 days

03-02-2011 02:12 PM

schmidty13, you are right sir. although gritty grout could also be a sign that he used sanded grout, which is for floors and wide joints. either way, sealing the grout is a maintenance project you should do every year or so to keep things tip top and clean.
Schmidty13 sounds like a phillies fan to me???? Allmyfingers(woodshop joke) is a pinstriper 4 ever. see you in the world series?

-- caring costs nothing

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schmidty13

3 posts in 2400 days

03-03-2011 05:04 AM

Mr. ‘fingers ;-)

I understand why you guessed Philies fan. As a matter of fact, my last AND first name are identical to a certain HOF 3rd baseman for the Phillies. So the Phill’s are one of my “second-favorite” teams.

BUT, I am a Twins fan. Yeah, lets have it…you guys have had our number BIG-TIME for quite a few years now. But you wait…one of these years we are going to knock you out of the playoffs!

-- Schmidty

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allmyfingers

31 posts in 2192 days

03-03-2011 03:10 PM

Schmidty,
much respect for the Twinkies… soft and fluffy tho they may be. my sis is a target exec and i love going to the minnie apple for visits

-- caring costs nothing

View simi's profile

simi

34 posts in 1934 days

11-26-2011 08:36 AM

Well, the substrate clearly isn’t drywall (as previously suggested) or green board. Nothing is rotting, so I’m going with cement backer board – which from my reading would be the correct material to use. So no problem there.

I don’t know how to tell visually if mastic or thinset was used to place the tile, but clearly you do. Thanks.

So, it looks like the reason why my grout cracked can be traced to two things:

1 – mastic isn’t the best choice for (wet) shower walls because it can allow the tiles to shift and thus the grout to crack.

2 – the grout was poorly applied, and allowed to “skim” over between many of the tightly set tiles rather than being packed fully in. (That’s an observable fact.) It may also have been pre-mixed grout or any of a number of other things that cause grout to crumble and wear poorly.

I still have to decide how I want to deal with this, but at least I now know my walls are NOT deteriorated/history, and that rot is not what cause my grout to crack. (I’ll replace the tiles I removed with thinset, btw.)

It’s been educational, to say the least. Thanks for the comments.

-- http://www.everestind.com

View Grandpa's profile

Grandpa

140 posts in 2101 days

11-28-2011 05:58 AM

In my part of the country we don’t put grout in the corners of a project. This sounds like it might have been a DIY project. If they did grout the corners then maybe you should think about removing it. Use the tub and tile caulk in the corners. When section of tile heats up it expands and grout pops out. Just a suggestion. See it all the time here.

View alkillian's profile

alkillian

7 posts in 1952 days

12-17-2011 03:38 AM

The only way to fix the grout is to gut the wall and fix the window. Sounds like water is leaking in behind the tile and allowing it to knock the grout out. I would gut the wall and start from scratch. It is the only way to fix it.

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Ha-ha. I am going to try and include some pictures in this post. We’ll see how that works out! If you click on the pictures link, you can see a close-up picture of the cracking grout…I hope!
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