Grout and Caulk questions - with pics...

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Old 01-12-15, 07:57 AM
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Grout and Caulk questions - with pics...

Questions:

1) Have I removed enough of the old grout, to allow proper adhesion for the new grout? In the pics where you can see some grout still in there, I have taken it out in those spots, so there is a recess there, it's just hard to see in the pics. Or do I need to remove more?

2) Are these gaps too wide to caulk? Do I need to put some sort of material in there to fill up the space before caulking?

Grout pics:
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Caulk pics:
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Old 01-12-15, 08:01 AM
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I've not done much grouting but I think that should be ok to regrout [the tile guys should be along later]
The gap next to the tub is fine for caulking. Don't forget you also want to use caulk in the tile corners.
 
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Old 01-12-15, 10:19 AM
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The question as to whether or not you've removed enough grout is difficult to answer since the ideal situation is that you remove all of the grout between the tiles, and anything less than that becomes progressively worse the less grout you remove.

If it were me, I would grout what you have now, and be prepared to an encore performance in those areas where you find any of your grout breaks out. It looks to me that you've done as good a job as anyone working for the benefit of their own home would do.

When you grout:

1. Don't mix up more than about a cup and a half of grout at a time. That's because you'll be needing to wipe off the excess grout after each time you apply grout, and the longer you wait after each grout application, the harder it will be to remove the grout dried onto the tile faces with a damp sponge.

2. When you grout, KEEP A GREEN SCOTCHBRITE PAD ON HAND. These are the kind they sell in supermarkets for scouring pots and pans. The abrasives in these pad fibers aren't hard enough to scratch the surface of your tiles, but if you're concerned about that, then keep a white Scotchbrite pad on hand instead (or as well). The grout may harden up too much on the tile faces that you simply wouldn't be able to clean it off with a damp sponge. If that happens, you can use a damp Scotchbrite pad to remove that dried up grout real fast.

3. When you grout, keep a few POPSICLE STICKS on hand, and use them to scrape the grout lines down before you start wiping off the excess grout with your damp sponges. That's because it's vastly easier to wipe the grout lines down to a uniform deapth if you start with them at a uniform deapth. Be careful where grout lines intersect so that you don't gouge too much grout out at those points. Plastic knives and spoons will also work reasonably well.

4. With cement based grouts, the instructions will tell you to mix the grout, and then "let it slake" for 5 to 10 minutes before mixing it again. "Let it slake" simply means to let it sit there while any dry clumps of grout absorb moisture and soften up. When you mix again, those clumps will get broken up and your grout will be uniformly mixed. That's an important point, so be sure to allow for that slaking.

NOW, while the grout slakes, it will become thicker and start to set up. Don't worry about that. Grout is "thixoplastic" which means it thins out when you work it and thickens up again when you stop working it. As long as you're mixing the grout or working it into your grout lines with your float, it will remain thin enough to use.

Never add more water to your grout after mixing because the grout has stiffened up. If you do, once you start working the grout it'll be too thin and hard to control because it'll be dripping off your float and making a mess everywhere. Mix the grout to a workable consistancy, let it slake, and then mix it again and start packing it into your grout lines. When you've used up your grout or it's hardened up too much that you can't use it, scrape your grout lines down with a popsicle stick or other tool, and then start wiping those lines down with a damp sponge. If possible, have a helper rinsing out one sponge while you wipe down the grout lines with another.

5. Don't grout the joint between the bath tub and the bottom row of tiles. You want to caulk that joint because there will be a tiny amount of movement between the tiles and the tub when you fill the tub with water. Silicone caulk will accomodate that movement, but grout will crack. It's hard to keep grout out of that joint when you're grouting, so take the time to mask off that joint with masking tape before you start grouting. Also, GROUT the corners where wall meets wall rather than caulk them. That's because you can use a grout sealer to keep mildew from growing on the grout in those corners, but you can't really keep mildew from growing on any silicone caulk you put in those corners. So, if you put silicone caulk in those corners, you'll be needing to replace that silicone periodically as it gets overgrown with mildew, and that's a chore. If you use an acrylic grout sealer over the grout everywhere (including the corners) you can then just clean off the mildew with any phosphoric acid based bathroom cleaner. The acrylic grout sealer on the surface of the grout will prevent the acid based cleaner from coming in contact with the grout, and hence dissolving any grout.

6. After you finish grouting and wiping the grout lines down to a uniform height and wiping the excess grout off the tile faces, then within a half hour you will see a grout "haze" form on the tiles. Wipe that grout haze off with a DRY rag within 2 or 3 hours after it forms. Use a rough fabric if you have some, like denim from old blue jeans, or even burlap if you have any. The grout will harden up in the grout joints and won't be damaged by the rough fabric. You could also probably use a white Scotchbrite pad to remove the grout haze as well, but any dry cloth will work too.

7. After grouting, allow as much time as you can for the grout to dry before sealing your grout. NEVER use any grout sealer that says that it contains "anything siloxane". The word "siloxane" means a silicone based plastic. You want to use an ACRYLIC plastic film forming grout sealer instead, or if you prefer, a penetrating grout sealer. In my case, I have 21 ceramic tiled bathroom surrounds in my building, and all of them use an acrylic film forming sealer rather than a penetrating sealer, and I'm more comfortable with film forming sealers that simply dry on the surface of the grout than supposedly penetrate into it because I can use a bright light to confirm that the grout sealer is coating the surface of the grout. With a penetrating sealer, you have to test it with a drop of water to see if the water is absorbed or not, and I just don't have as much confidence in testing that way as I do when I can literally see the grout sealer on the surface of the grout.

Home Depot sells two good acrylic film forming grout sealers made by Tile Lab called "Gloss Sealer and Finish" and "Matte Sealer and Finish". I like them because Tile Lab also makes a product called "Heavy Duty Cleaner and Stripper" that make easy work of removing those sealers if and when you need to.

8. After you apply grout sealer to your dry grout, caulk the joint between the bath tub and the bottom row of tiles. ALSO, caulk the joint between the side skirt of the bath tub and the tiled wall beside the tub. ALSO, caulk the joint between the top of the bathtub and the side skirt of the bathtub. That's because if water ever gets in that joint, the tub skirt and top will rust, and in a worst case scenario, you might even have to replace the tub as a result. Caulking that joint between the two parts of the tub ensures that you'll never have to replace the tub because of rusting there.

9. After you finish grouting, post again and I'll tell you how to seal your grout.

10. Post again in future and I'll explain how to clean mildew off of the silicone caulk around your bathtub when it becomes mildewed. There's a lot more to understand about what to do and why with this stuff than most people presume.

Hope this helps.
 
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Old 01-12-15, 10:35 AM
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Forgot to mention:

10: Have a plan as to how you're going to grout the lines between your faucet cartridges and any pipe that sticks out of the wall for your tub spout. If your float won't fit in that area everywhere you need it to, just use a margin trowel with several coats of masking tape on it to make it soft so it won't scratch or chip your tiles.

http://www.forestry-suppliers.com/Im...9_53719_p1.jpg

Ideally, you want to use caulk in the joints between the plumbing and the tiling because there will be some tiny movement there as well, but some faucets make it hard to caulk around them. In that case, grout those joints first, then before the grout hardens, use a razor to remove the excess grout so that it's flush with the wall, and then once the grout is fully dry, caulk around the plumbing with silicone caulk. That way, even if the grout cracks, the silicone caulk will still prevent water leakage into the wall.

Ditto for around your shower arm if it's sticking out of the wall (and you need to grout there too).

Also, regarding caulking or grouting the corners where wall meets wall:
You can do either, but if you need to grout there, remove enough of the old grout that the new grout can anchor itself well in the corner. Grout won't stick well to the glazed surfaces of the wall tiles, so you need a deep gap in the corners there for the grout to grab onto.

If the grout falls out of those corners, you can always remove the remaining grout in the corners with a single edge razor blade gripped into the jaws of a pair of needle nose locking pliers to remove the hardened grout in the corners, and then put caulk in those corners afterward if you need to. That is, if you grout those corners, you can always remove that grout and caulk them later should you need to. But, you can't really do it the other way. If you caulk the corners, it'd be near impossible to get the old silicone caulk out of the deep crevice at the corner, and then the grout won't have anything to stick to. It won't stick to either the old silicone caulk OR the glazed surface of the tiles. So, best to remove as much of the old grout as you can in the corners so that the new grout sticks well knowing that if push comes to shove, you can always go to Plan B and silicone those corners should you need to if the grout falls out there.

11. Pay a bit more and get a better quality grout float. Better quality grout floats will have two rounded corners on them at one end of the float, and two square corners at the other end, like this:

QEP 4 in. x 9-1/2 in. Epoxy Grout Float with Firm-Green Rubber Pad and Traditional Handle-10064Q - The Home Depot

http://www.homedepot.com/catalog/pro...dc49be_400.jpg

Note how the corners of that float are rounded at one end and square at the other end.

You can use the rounded corners to grout the edges of your tiling, thereby saving the expense and bother of having to order bullnose tiles for the edges of your tiling. The rounded corners also allow you to grout the corners where wall meets wall, but you don't want or need as much grout there as you do at the edges of your tiling, so I you do grout the corners, use a popsicle stick to scrape much of the grout out of those corners before wiping them down with a damp sponge. You don't want a lot of grout in the corners because the grout won't stick to the glazed tile faces, and so the more grout you put there, the greater the liklihood that grout will be coming loose and falling out.
 

Last edited by Nestor; 01-12-15 at 11:21 AM.
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Old 01-12-15, 11:15 AM
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Hey thanks a lot for all of the tips, it's much appreciated!

I'll probably do one more quick round of grout removal before re-grouting, but just fairly minimally.

I was planning on caulking the vertical corners though. I thought any change of plane required caulking? Figured that would be easier too...

Thanks for the tip of putting tape over the gap at the bottom of the tiles to keep the grout out... good idea!

So the gaps (especially in the last pic) are not too big to caulk? At the top corner, the space gets fairly wide...

Also, I like the idea of only mixing a cup and a half of grout at a time. But if I'm doing the larger wall. Can I do a section, say 3'x'3 or so, wipe it down, mix more grout and then do the next 3'x'3 section next to it?
 
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Old 01-12-15, 11:47 AM
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No, those gaps don't look to me to be too wide to caulk. It just means you'll have wider beads of silicone, and that means you'll loose a bit of precious tub top real estate. You can compensate for that by sticking up some porcelain corner shelves if you want to, and I can explain how to do that.

http://hostedmedia.reimanpub.com/TFH..._SHOSHE_02.JPG

I'm reluctant to say that the guy in the above photo is doing it wrong, but he's certainly not doing it the way I would tell a newbie to do it. He's sticking the shelf on with silicone without doing anything to ensure the shelf gets stuck on straight or preventing that shelf from sliding down the tiled wall as the silicone sets up. Does he intend to stand there all night holding that shelf in place while the silicone cures? Maybe he's using a very fast setting silicone, and I've used GE 1700 which sets up in half an hour, but even that short amount of time is too long to be standing holding a shelf steady. Also, a fast setting silicone won't prevent him inadvertently holding the shelf crooked as that silicone sets. We can see from the nearby grout line that the shelf is straight, but that's because we have a better perspective to judge that. The guy is looking down on that shelf and can't judge as well as we can whether the shelf is parallel to the grout line or not.

If it wuz me, I would use some double sided mounting tape to stick some straight pieces of wood molding to the tiling to support the shelf from sliding down WHILE the silicone sets up. And, I would have the shelf cover that grout line above it to keep grout lines away from the shelf. Mildew feeds on the animal fats and vegetable oils in bar soaps, and that may very well be what's kept on that shelf, so you want to keep your grout lines as far away as possible from your bar soap and bar soap soapscum. Also, if'n it wuz me, I woulda put masking tape around that shelf before I stuck it to the wall. That way, when I'm caulking around it with white silicone, the tape is already on it. It's vastly easier to put the masking tape on the shelf BEFORE you stick it to the wall. (Maybe the guy is excellent with a caulking gun and doesn't need masking tape on the shelf to ensure he gets a nice, neat job with the white silicone, I dunno. Whatever. I would not recommend a newbie install that shelf the way the guy in the picture appears to be doing it because of all the potential pitfalls I can see with a newbie trying to do it that way. I'd suggest a much more "fool proof" way for the newbie to do it. It might be more work, but it's also much more likely to guarantee good results.

Yes, mix your grout in small quantities and grout, scrape and wipe down each small area one at a time. If you try to grout everything at once, your grout will harden up on you by the time you're finished grouting and starting to wipe down, and then you'll have much more trouble getting the excess grout off the tile faces. Still, if push comes to shove, a green (or white) Scotchbrite pot scouring pad will tear stiff grout off the tile faces real fast to get you out of trouble should you find the grout is too hard for the damp sponges to remove. In Scotchbrite scouring pads, the abrasives are impregnated right into the nylon fiber the pad is made of, but the abrasives in the green pads aren't nearly as hard as the glazed surface of your tiling, and won't harm your tiles no matter how hard you need to scrub. Test them in advance on dry tiles just to put your mind at ease so that if and when you have to use them you can do so with confidence.

Once you finish grouting, scraping and wiping down with a damp sponge, wait for an hour or two and then remove the grout haze with a DRY rag. Then wait as long as possible for your grout to dry and seal your grout with the sealer of your choice. If you can paint a straight line with an artist's paint brush, you can seal grout. When you're finished grouting, let me know and I'll explain how to go about sealing your grout. In the mean time, decide on what kind of grout sealer you want to use. Theoretically, the best sealers are "penetrating sealers" because they plug up the tightest crevices of the porous grout, thereby reducing the capillary pressure and the ability of the grout to wick water in. In the absence of water, no mildew will grow. Film forming sealers simply form a film over the surface of the grout and keep it dry much like a rain coat keeps you dry on a rainy day. I am partial toward acrylic film forming sealers, but it's your tiling, your money and your choice.
 

Last edited by Nestor; 01-12-15 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 01-12-15, 11:49 AM
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You are fine to grout what you have. Don't mix the grout too wet and you should be fine. I usally work on one wall at a time. If it is the back, or front wall, I do the whole wall, if it is the long side wall, I break it into two sections. Spread your grout on using a float and a cross pattern at 45 degrees to the grout line and push the grout into the cracks. Then have a couple of 5 gallon buckets with fresh water and a good tile sponge. Ring out the sponge of all loose water and then swirl around the whole wall - shape the grout with the swirls, flip the sponge when saturated with excess grout. Work the wall till uniform grout lines. Then wash/rinse the sponge, ring it out, and start working the wall at 45 degree swipes across the grout to remove the excess. BTW, I have never used a green scrub pad, they are not needed unless you let the grout sit too long (don't break for lunch in the middle of the grouting). Rinse the wall in both 45 degree patterns being sure to make only ONE pass with the sponge per rinse. Once relatively clear, move on to the next section. If you still have some bleed through old grout sections at the end, hit them with a grout pen and bleach them white like the rest of the grout.

On the caulking, if the gaps are large, plan on a couple of passes on subsequent days to totally fill. If overly large, I sometimes pre-fill with some grout, let set and then caulk over everything. The grout acts as filler so you don't use a whole tube of caulk trying to fill deep gaps.
 
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Old 01-12-15, 04:08 PM
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Great, thanks for all of the tips!

So the large wall you do in 2 sections? About how long should each section take would you say?

Also, after grouting is the grout sealer or caulking done next?
 
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Old 01-12-15, 04:12 PM
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Wait, 3 days before sealing, you can caulk when ever you want. I would hold at least 24 hrs on caulking after grouting.

The sections will take as long as they do, no body can predict or tell you how fast you are going to be at this task. Give yourself at least 30 - 40 minutes per section to be safe. And, look closely, as I guarantee that you will miss a big section and go WT heck after the fact.
 
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Old 01-12-15, 05:13 PM
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The reason to caulk where two walls meet in the corner is because this area often cracks because of movement in the wall. You can try grouting here if you prefer and then caulk if you find the grout cracks and falls out.

Silicone caulk will not still to silicone caulk. The gaps look fine in the pictures. How wide is the widest point?

Use mildew resistant caulk. There are other things you can do to prevent mildew growth, or at least prolong the life of your caulk. Regular cleaning of your bathroom helps. There are also after shower sprays you can use that work really well.

When replacing silicone caulk, pull as much as you can off with a putty knife or utility knife and use alcohol to get the rest.
 
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Old 01-12-15, 07:55 PM
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The only reason I would caulk first is if I felt that the grout needed more drying time. Otherwise I'd seal the grout before I caulked the tub.

That's cuz silicone caulk will stick to sealed grout, but grout sealer won't stick to silicon caulk.

So, by sealing first you get overlapping protection against water absorbtion into the grout near the tub, whereas if you caulk first you don't.

It wouldn't matter all that much to the grout drying. Moisture can evaporate through an acrylic grout sealer just as easily as it can evaporate though latex paint. So, grout that isn't completely dry can still dry out behind an acrylic film forming grout sealer. If you use a penetrating sealer, then the grout will dry just about as quickly as if you hadn't sealed it at all. So, the grout will still dry out completely regardless of when or how you seal (as long as you use an acrylic grout sealer or penetrating grout sealer).
 

Last edited by Nestor; 01-12-15 at 09:44 PM.
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Old 01-12-15, 08:11 PM
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Drooplug:

Unless the mildew on the silicone is VERY bad, you can clean mildew off of silicone caulk very effectively, and I do it all the time after tenants vacate so that the bathroom looks clean and attractive for the next tenant. I often have prospective tenants asking if I had just recently renovated the bathroom in the apartment because they're used to seeing mildew on the grout and silicone caulk, or something other than ceramic tiling around the tub.

Do this:

1. Use a dessert spoon (or other strong spoon) to mix Borax laundry powder with bleach straight out of the jug in a mixing container. It will be very hard to mix, so you might have to use something strong, like a paint mixing stick to mix it, and just use the desert spoon to break up any clumps of borax in the slurry. Mix it so that you get a smooth spreadable consistency of slurry that isn't generating any more heat. As the borax dissolves in the bleach, the slurry and mixing container will heat up, but won't get anything more than "warm". Note that it's the bleach that does the work here, and it really doesn't matter what powder you use. (I've used talcum powder and have gotten equally good results.) I prefer Borax because a Borax/Bleach slurry seems to be a little stickier and tends to hold onto the tile a bit better, and that's important if you have to clean the silicone caulk on the underside of a soap dish or corner shelf.

2. Scoop the Borax slurry out of the mixing container with the dessert spoon and use a tea spoon to spread it onto your bathtub silicone caulk where ever there's mildew.

3. Cover the slurry with Saran Wrap, or any cling wrap that will stick to the tub and tile. I use a tape I buy from a local tape supplier that's about 6 inches wide and sticks better than Saran Wrap, but anything that will stick to the tub and tile and prevent the slurry from drying out will be work equally well.

4. Leave that slurry on the silicone caulk for at least overnight, and preferably several nights, and when you remove the cling wrap and hardened Borax/Bleach slurry, your silicone caulk will be white as Manitoba snow. The Borax Bleach slurry will harden up in the first day or two, and I'm not sure why that happens either.

The problem is that there's nothing holding that slurry in place except gravity when you're cleaning around the tub. So, it's much more difficult to clean vertical silicone caulk lines this way if you had caulked the wall corners because the slurry wants to slide down the wall. You can do it for a few inches, such as on the sides of a soap dish stuck on OVER the tiling with silicone, but you really can't do tub to ceiling without having a major fight keeping the slurry from sliding down the wall on you. So, if you do caulk the corners, once that caulk gets mildewed, your only option is to replace it cuz you really can't clean it effectively.

If you do this when the silicone is really badly mildewed, you'll still see a big improvement, but there will be brown spots on the silicone where the mildew was worst that can't be removed (so far as I know), and in which case you pretty well have to replace the silicone caulk all around the tub.

Dow Corning's "DAP" consumer division makes a silicone caulk remover called "Silicone-Be-Gone" which I find works well for removing silicone caulk. You should be able to find it in the caulking aisle of any hardware store or home center. It's nothing but gelled mineral spirits, and it doesn't actually dissolve the caulk. It simply makes it swell up and get soft so that it can be more easily removed by mechanical means, such as scrubbing with a Scotchbrite pad.

Also, it's not a good idea to just presume the Silicone-Be-Gone got rid of all the old silicone caulk. To do a Cadillac job, remove as much of the caulk as you can mechanically (as you said) and then apply the Silicone-Be-Gone and give it time to swell up the remaining caulk. Then remove the swollen caulk with a single edge razor blade gripped in the jaws of needle nose style locking pliers. Then clean off the remaining Silicone-Be-Gone with water and dry the area. NOW, use a brush to apply a very fine powder (like floor leveler or portland cement) to the area, and rub with your fingers. If there's any remaining silicone caulk, the fine powder will become embedded in the soft swollen silicone and reveal it's location(s). The fine powder will wipe cleanly off the tub and tile if there's no residual silicone.

When I do this work, I apply the Silicone-Be-Gone TWICE, once each on two consecutive days, and after the second cleaning and drying, I apply floor leveler powder with a brush and rub it. I usually don't find any residual silicone, but doing that gives me the confidence of knowing that the new silicone will stick well because I KNOW (not just hope) that I've removed all of the old silicone.

That residual silicone would be near impossible to find any other way because it's so thin as to be invisible, but cement powder will still get embedded in it and reveal it's location so that you can be sure you got ALL of the old silicone off.
 

Last edited by Nestor; 01-12-15 at 09:57 PM.
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Old 01-13-15, 06:35 AM
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I'm having trouble finding the exact grout I should use. When I look on home depot I can't even find bathroom wall tile grout on there...
 
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Old 01-13-15, 06:46 AM
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I'm a painter not a tile guy but I'm pretty sure you want non sanded grout. There are basically 2 types of grout; non sanded for fine joints and sanded for wider joints.
 
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