Bathroom wall tile grout cracks

Old 11-27-04, 11:11 AM
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Bathroom wall tile grout cracks

My bathroom was renovated in the early 80's. The walls around the tub/shower are tiled approximately up to the level of the shower curtain top. I've noticed in the last year that the caulk where the tile meets the tub has mold or mildew spots on it which nothing removes. I've assumed this was the result of moisture coming from behind the caulk and while tracking down the source, I noticed only very recently that the tile grout has developed some tiny cracks. One tile in the top row, at the juncture of the walls near the shower head, is the worst. It doesn't seem to be coming off the wall, but the grout has pulled away from the adjacent tile. I've left it alone but I think it would crumble without much help.

I'm not sure if this and the other hairline cracks I've found have anything to do with the mold problem, but I'd like to fix them before they get worse. The grout lines are quite narrow.. maybe 1/8". Except for the cited tile, the cracks are so fine that I really don't want to start chipping things out. My uneducated guess is that this has become visible only now because I've just started using the furnace and the grout was at an age where the heat would bring about enough expansion/contraction to make things obvious ( my plaster wall cracks are showing up again too).

Is there a simple repair method, or a simple way to deal with the barely noticeable ones and a slightly less simple way to deal with the major one? Caulk possibly?

Old 11-28-04, 05:37 PM
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There is no easy fix for this,what would need to happen is the grout needs to be raked out with a grout removal tool and then regrouted,you would need to remove most of the grout to get the new grout to hold ,and if you were going to change colors then you would need to remove about 99% of the grout.It's real pain in the keister.
Now the caulk on the ohter hand is not so bad,take a knofe and score both the top and bottom edge of the cualk and it should remove fairly easily and for the stuff that won't come off easily then take a 4" razor scraper and run it along the tub edge and the tile as well.keep it clean and dry and then use 100% silicone to reseal,take a dry finger and smooth the joint,good to go
Old 11-29-04, 06:34 AM
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You say it's at it's worst around the shower head? Given it was done in the early 80's, you've got yourself a green board shower surround and water has done it in. If it were only in corners, then I'd say it should have been caulked, but around the pipe is an indication of swelling, failing, and unstable substrate. If you cut out the grout, you'll probably find the tiles want to fall off the wall. Sounds like a new surround is in order here, as any repair won't last long at all once the substrate is gone.
Old 11-29-04, 09:12 AM
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I guess I wasn't clear. I was attempting to identify the position of the single tile that has one side of grout that has pulled away from the adjacent tile. It isn't around the shower head, just *on* the wall where the shower head is. The tile is the top most tile in the corner of the shower head wall and the long wall perpendicular to it.

I wish I could tell you I remember the specifics of the installation, but I don't. It's held up extremely well, with no problems except the ongoing fight with the caulking between the tile and the tub getting grundgy and having to be replaced. The cracks in the grout have only become noticeable in the last couple of weeks. The grout isn't even discolored.. still white.


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