Questions about repairing cracks in shower floor grout

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  #1  
Old 01-18-11, 10:11 PM
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Questions about repairing cracks in shower floor grout

Hi All,

I had a new shower installed about 2 years ago. In several places on the floor and also on the wall, the grout is cracking. I would like to repair this myself, as I've done plenty of tile-work before, just never in a shower. I "think" these problems were from a lazy sub-contractor not taking his time on the grouting, rather than deeper problems. I have been under the house and can't find any areas where the new pan is leaking, etc. The contractor came back and tried to repair this himself because he couldn't get the sub to respond to him. I think he just scraped out some of the grout and re-applied new grout on top in a couple of spots, but the cracks are still there. I'll attach some pictures below to show what I'm talking about. So, here are my questions:

1. Where the grout is cracked in the floor, I am going to use the Dremel attachment and remove all of the grout. My question is, how far back to I go? Do I just remove grout back to where it is sturdy? Or if I'm removing some grout, do I need to remove all grout from that entire grout-line (from the front of the shower to the back?)?

2. Where there will be existing grout meeting up with the new grout that I'm going to put down, will there be a clear crack between the old and new? or will the new grout "blend" into the existing at these intersections? (I'm not concerned about color differences, just material stability, I don't want to have to do this again)

3. If there are more than a couple of spots like this in the floor, would it make sense to just remove all of the grout while I'm at it and re-grout the entire shower floor? Or would that be overkill?

4. In the spots where the grout is cracking in the corners, do I just remove the grout and put new grout back in there? Any tricks to doing this in corners (where the wall meets the floor)? I have seen some suggestions to not use grout here and instead use caulk. Caulk just seems like kind of a weak way to do that. Thoughts?

5. There are a couple of spots in the corners where the wall tile is really close to the floor tile. While I'm doing this, would it also make sense to use a diamond bit and cut back the tile some to ensure that I can get enough grout in there to fix future potential problems?

6. Lastly, there are a couple of places on the wall grout where it's cracked, but they are smaller, hairline-type cracks. For these that are above where water usually hits, is there any benefit, besides cosmetic, to repair these?

Thank you all in advance for any help or suggestions!

IMAG0251 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


111IMAG0252 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


IMAG0258 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


IMAG0253 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


IMAG0256 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


IMAG0254 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


Thanks Again!!!!!
 
  #2  
Old 01-19-11, 11:28 AM
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Two years is pretty quick for grout cracks - they will come right back if this was a poor installation
 
  #3  
Old 01-20-11, 02:31 PM
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The cracks didn't take 3 years to show up. They showed up shortly after the installation. Then the contractor came back and 'patched' it up...and now I've been putting off this repair for a while...
 
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Old 01-20-11, 05:56 PM
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I'm not a tile pro

But, I understand that whenever you change planes, as in floor to wall, it should be caulked rather than grouted. That appears to be the biggest portion of your problems. I don't know what might cause cracks in the floor. Whatever you do it is critical to get it dry before repairing.
 
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Old 01-24-11, 08:36 AM
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I have seen that also, but kind of got the impression that caulking in corners is a quick way to do it that will cause problems down the road. What do you all think? Is it better to caulk or grout where the wall meets the floor?
 
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Old 01-24-11, 09:42 AM
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The reason for using caulk where there is a change of plane, is that each wall, floor etc moves independently, and as such, grout will crack when you have movement. All walls and floors will move some. Pluses to caulk, is that it'll allow some movement and still keep it's bond with both surfaces. Minuses, are that it will always be a maintenance issue, in that every couple of years it'll need to be replaced. If you grout the changes of plane, they may develop hairline cracks as the surfaces move independently (you already found this out). Tile and grout arent the waterproofing system for the shower, so if the shower was constructed properly, with the right materials, the cracks in the corners are really cosmetic.

It looks like you have other issues though where you have cracks on the walls and the floor. What size are the grout joints? Do you know if sanded or non-sanded grout was used? Do you know whats behind the wall tile, cement board, drywall or something else? Was a vapor barrier used over the studs, or was a surface applied waterproofing membrane used over the substrate? What kind of thinset was used, manufacturer and product? Can you describe how the shower floor and pan were built? Do you have any pics of the original construction in progress?
 
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Old 01-24-11, 10:54 AM
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We do mortar bed tile showers frequently, both curbed and curbless. For problems to appear as quickly as you say, it is safe to say that hardly anything about the installation was done correctly. Frankly, if it were my house/shower, I would take it down to the studs/joists and start over because that is the only way to keep the symptoms from recurring on a too frequent basis. How often is that? Less than 20 years. It is the difference between a "fix" and a "repair." What you describe says this guy/crew was far worse than just lazy.

You use the term subcontractor. Was there a GC on this job or did you hire them directly? If there was a GC, go to them and request corrective action. Also, do everyone a favor and file a complaint with BBB and a report on Angie's List documenting your experience with that "subcontractor" to help others avoid your experience.
 
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Old 01-30-11, 10:34 PM
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Sorry that it took me so long to respond...couldn't find where I had saved the pictures that I have. I only have a couple and they aren't as detailed as I would like, but take a look at these and see if they help answer any of your questions from above...

Bathroom Remodel 025 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


Bathroom Remodel 026 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


Bathroom Remodel 016 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


I am going to get in touch with the contractor and see what he will do. In the event that I end up doing this myself, any thoughts on my question #1 from the first post? Do I just remove grout back to where it is sturdy? What about the intersections of sturdy old grout and the new grout; will these two "blend" together, not cosmetically, but functionally?

Thanks again for your help!
 
  #9  
Old 01-31-11, 11:43 AM
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Its hard to diagnose the problem without more info. Can you answer as many of the questions below as possible? The pics are somewhat helpful. By getting more info, we'll be able to tell if this is something simple (not likely) or what the more problematic issues are. Most important question, as a I look at the pictures, did the contractor use cement board on the walls, or did he use drywall????? Looks like he used a paint on membrane on the walls. Do you know what he used?

It looks like you have other issues though where you have cracks on the walls and the floor. What size are the grout joints? Do you know if sanded or non-sanded grout was used? Do you know whats behind the wall tile, cement board, drywall or something else? Was a vapor barrier used over the studs, or was a surface applied waterproofing membrane used over the substrate? What kind of thinset was used, manufacturer and product? Can you describe how the shower floor and pan were built? Do you have any pics of the original construction in progress?
 
 

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