Poor Grout Job

Old 08-04-05, 01:22 PM
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Poor Grout Job


Our bathroom is almost finished. The grout for the wall is TRI-POLY FORTIFIED UNSANDED GROUT -1600 SERIES by Lanicrete from Lowes. The color is "Sauterne", which blends well with the "biscuit" field and decorative tile also from Lowes. From the floor up, we used six 6x6" field tiles topped with a l/2 " pencil liner, then a 2 3/4 decorative liner, then a l/2 " pencil liner, then a 6" field tile and on top a 2x6" bullnose. This same pattern runs through the shower area, with more 6x6" tiles above the "wainscoting". The grout lines are small - l/8".

The bathroom has 8x7sq feet of tile in the shower and 21x4 sq ft elsewhere, for a total of approximately 140 sq ft of tile. The grout was applied to the entire bathroom before it was sponged.

There are two problems with the wall grout job which was done over a week ago.

l) The grout is uneven, but what concerns me most are the cracks and little spaces that have opened up between the tiles. Have any of you experienced this? What could have caused it? How can it be corrected? I'm concerned that water could seep through the cracks in the shower.

2) We haven't used the shower yet as we're waiting for the door to be installed. However, we tested the handheld shower and found that when the grout gets wet, it changes color - gets dark. After a while (when the grout dries?) the color of the grout changes back. I've never had this happen before in a bathroom . . . Any idea why it happens? Solution?

The contractor/tiler feels problem #l is with the Lanicrete grout. He says it dried out too fast. . . had too much hardener in it. His solution is to "touch it up a bit", so it looks better.

When I showed him problem #2 (the change of grout color when it becomes wet), he said "Call Lowes!".

Any advice, suggestions, or solutions will be appreciated. Thanks.
Old 08-04-05, 01:44 PM
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Poor Grout Job

Did the tile contractor pick out and buy the grout or did you determine what was was used?

Old 08-04-05, 02:37 PM
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The usual, but not the only, suspects when unsanded grout develops cracks are; too much water when originally mixed; too much water when wiped down with sponge during original install of grout; grout lines are bigger than 1/8" in some areas, like intersection of 4 tiles or where you go from one type of tile to another. Was cement board used on the walls and were the seams taped and covered with thinset prior to the tile being installed?

Grout is porous so it absorbs some water when it gets wet, just like a sidewalk does when it rains, both are made of cement afterall. A sealer can slow down the absorption but not stop it 100%. As the grout cures and hardens it may absorb less but the tan colors are most noticable, at least to my eye, if they get wet. Like you said, it does go back when it dries out.
Old 08-04-05, 02:37 PM
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Lightbulb ????

Several ?'s

Did you do the grouting yourself?
if so,,

While curing did you spray it with a mist of water at regular intervals?

if you did,

What kind of grout sealer if any did you use?

When grouting it is imprtant to allow the intial application to set up before sponging off the residue. Just as important is to NOT allow the grout to dry before it cures. This is usually handled over a 24hr period with a misting water spray bottle. Only after this has been done right can the grout be sealed with the best sealer you can afford.

Problems that can occur are way to much water in the mix (grout should beable to hold it's form without being too dry. In other words, just enough water to make it workable.

Depending on what you have done since it may be as simple as regrouting over the existing after removing any serious loose or broken joints.

Also what did you use as a backer for the tile? Green board or Hardi-Backer (Cement Board)?

P.S. You mention "uneven" could you further explain this? Why I'm curious is mainly due to who did the grouting. Those used to floats are used to handling joints and how to properply spread grout across all intersecting joints. While i in no way intend to imply inexperience on your part, I would just like to further understand the "uneveness" that you quote.

Grout is not meant to be flush with the tile. Again hope that didn't come across as talking down to you, just want to be sure any who answer fully understand your descrptions. I'll follow up and hopefully along with some others get you back on track.


Last edited by jst4advice; 08-04-05 at 02:45 PM. Reason: Added ?
Old 08-04-05, 02:48 PM
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Exclamation Oh Yeah

Any way you have a digital camera that you could post some pics of the tile job. Depending on your email account almost all providers give users Home page space to do with as they please or you could email them. So much easier to SEE the problem than try to verbalize it.
Old 08-04-05, 02:58 PM
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Thanks to those replying.

I chose the grout.

The contractor did the grouting . . . he did all of the work.
No spraying was done.

He used the cement backer board.

He used a backer-board.
Old 08-04-05, 03:24 PM
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Lightbulb Follow up

By the way I will assume you mean LATICRETE and not LANICRETE grout.
I am giving you a link that provides direct info from laticrete on the 1600 series and provides grout troubleshooting guides.

What you will see is the number one and already repeated answers given here, too much water in the mix!!!!


On the left click on TECHNICAL SUPPORT, and then in the blue window "Grout Troubleshooting Guide". What you will see is:
1)Excess water in mix
etc etc

or in cases of higher temps-they say 85* but 75-80 is enough:
1)Failure to damp cure

If this is all done by the contractor then you have several options:

If reffered by Lowes, contact them to report,

Contact state BLIS system (Business License Info System) to file complaint which will require him to correct or face arbitration or suspension.

The hardest route if he's already been paid, is to use a grout removal tool (looks like a skinny toothbrush made of metal-or a dremel grout tool) and remove existing grout. Then, Purchase a small 6" Grout Trowel and 7"-8" Grout Float, and do the job yourself.

It's not nearly as hard as you might think. Only add water a LITTLE at a time.

Of Course this is really the contractors problem and once you go to

and show him the info they provide (data sheets, installation, and problem support) I'm sure you may find him running out of excuses for a rush careless job.

Just curious, had he ever mentioned sealing the grout after curing?

Keep us posted.
Old 08-04-05, 03:49 PM
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Lightbulb and yet again

"The contractor/tiler feels problem #l is with the Lanicrete grout. He says it dried out too fast. . . had too much hardener in it. His solution is to "touch it up a bit", so it looks better."

Tile does not crack due to drieing to fast, but mainly due to an overly wet mix. Uneveness has to do with improper float control, diagonal across joints, and then waiting too long to remove excess grout. To compensate he used a extremely wet sponge to remove grout, a big NO-NO.

How much time passed between his applying the grout, allowing it too cure, and then coming to finish it?

"When I showed him problem #2 (the change of grout color when it becomes wet), he said "Call Lowes!".

Grout often becomes darker when wet and this IS normal no matter how much sealer or how well it was applied, much depends on the color (dry). However not using a grout sealer in a WET application area is a sure sign of imcopetance on his part.

I suggest getting a full material list he billed you with or look at the one he asked you to provide.

Lack of a sealer like TILELAB, SURFACEGUARD, etc is a problem.

And if your going to have him do it over or choose to do it yourself, might I provide a PERSONAL OPININON from experience. Use POLYBLEND (I would use sanded depending on your design, but thats me) Polymer modified grout. I just prefer it and have less problems than with LATICRETE.


If I read your post right, you say 6" shower wall tiles??? IF thats the case then the joint width should be 1/4". While your at the Laticrete website look it up or check any tiling site. I would never use UNSANDED Grout on 6" tile with 1/8" spacing in ANY situation. Not just out of taste, but also due to expansion and strength of bond.

Don't dispair, You'll be showering in no time.

One more question, what is the dimension of the shower enclosure, and does it have a bench? A rough W X H (Wall 1 Width + Wall 2,3 etc etc X Height) skip untiled surface. This may be key on the best way to solve the problem and alieve the STRESS


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