Grout has reacted with my stainless mosaic tile

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Old 06-27-15, 10:06 AM
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Grout has reacted with my stainless mosaic tile

I recently re-tiled my shower and included a band of mixed glass/stone/stainless mosaic tile at about eye level. Installation went well, but when I grouted the tile, I discovered that some of the stainless mosaic tiles had become significantly brighter where the grout had been sitting on the surface before I wiped it off (see attached picture). It appears that the grout had reacted to and removed a surface treatment that was used to darken the stainless in the tiles.Name:  IMG_20150623_104149397_HDR.jpg
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Oddly, it only affected a handful of the tiles - most were not affected at all. I didn't use any grout release or other chemicals on the tile prior to grouting - just plain old white grout found in Lowes or Home Depot.

I initially tried to even out the mottled appearance by mixing up some more grout and deliberately letting it sit on the darker parts hoping that it would even out the discoloration, but it didn't have any effect. I have since tried to stain or bleach the tiles with various household acids or alkaline cleaning agents hoping to stain or clean the tiles to even them out (I don't care so much if they are darkened or brilliant, I just want them to be consistent!).

Can anyone explain to me what happened and whether there is any hope of fixing it? I wrote an email to the manufacturer, but never received a response...
 
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Old 06-27-15, 10:14 AM
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It looks like your stainless tiles had a coating to give them a different color. I don't think you have much hope of repairing those tiles without it ending up looking worse.

One option would be to tape off the area around those tiles and use a Scotch Brite pad to remove the remaining coating. This would get you to a shiny stainless tile with a polished look. Then once you have that tile piece uniform stand back and take a look and see if you want to live with the new appearance or if you want to try coating it with something. Possibly a clear coat with a slight tint added to knock down the shine.

Personally I'd clean off the stainless tile down to shiny metal and leave it. It will be the most durable finish long term and you wouldn't have to worry about your applied finish rubbing off.
 
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Old 06-27-15, 11:28 AM
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Sometimes the stainless is not so stainless... I've installed mosaics where the metal pieces all came with a plastic coating that had to be removed after installation. I literally picked at every piece to remove the white coating. I think the smoothest repair would be to order another mosaic sheet, harvest out the stainless and replace the ones on the wall that have discolored. Apply masking tape over the metal before re-grouting to prevent re-occurrence of your staining issue. Remove tape after completion.
 
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Old 06-27-15, 12:31 PM
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Thanks for your replies. I'm ok with trying to get the tile entirely bright, it's just a matter of how (and why just glopping on more grout and letting it sit did NOT work). I have a scrap piece left over that I can experiment on - I'll give the scotchbrite approach a try (is there a drill attachment available, I wonder).
 
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