What cause grout lines color variation?

azmomJanuary 12, 2014

I know there are million more important things in life than cleaning shower grout lines, but I really want to know what cause the color variation......Any ideas?

Our guest bathroom was completed recently. The contractor and his workers are outstanding in every aspect. The guest bathroom turned out very nice. The grout color is close to the color of tiles.

Here is a photo showing the shower floor before we used the shower:

So far the shower has been used for no more than 10 times. After each use, we cleaned it very well, espeically after our guest left on 12/28, it was thoroughly cleaned.

I noticed the color variation of the grout lines on the shower floor. First I thought the grout lines were wet so they looked darker. I waited until a couple of days ago and mentined that to the contractor. He said it was caused by soap scum. Tilex soap scum remover would work.

I was a little suprised, since the shower has only been used no more than 10 times, and we used body wash. In theory, it should cause less soap scum. Also, the bathroom was cleaned very well after each use. We do have very hardwater in our area.

Photos show the shower floor before cleaned with Tilex soap scum remover.

Yesterday I clened the shower with soap scum remover, the shower was completed dried by this morning, but the grout lines still show color variation.

Photos show the floor/wall after being cleaned with scum remover:

Does anyone know what cause the color variation of these grout lines on the floor and walls??

Is it caused by hard water? bad quality Grout being used? Others? Should we be concerned?

Thank you in advance for any suggestions.

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I don't know the answer, but I do have another question for you. Did you seal the grout? If so, what product did you use? It is my understanding that sealing the grout would/should prevent this. Had a tile shower and bath with coloured grout in my last house. I remember sealing all the grout lines (and with a 2X2 tile there were LOTS of lines!), and don't remember any colour variation afterwards, and these were well-used BR's.

Have still not finished our present Master BR. Have fairly light grout lines, but with 12 X 24 tiles, plan on sealing with Aquamix penetrating sealer (cuz I have that on hand). Hope that will prevent this.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 3:57PM
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Hi Raehelen,

We did not seal the grout. It may be a mistake.
We were crazily busy during the year end, we thought to seal the grout after the holidays.

We too are at the last stage of finishing the master bathroom. We are still very busy and need to travel for work. We will ask the contractor to seal the grouts before we ever use the master bathroom.

In the past we used the "511 Poroous Sealer" to seal grouts, we had great results.

Hope we could hear from professionals or homeowners on this forum who are familiar with the issue.Their answers would be very beneficial to us.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 10:06PM
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Looks like wet grout to me - your shower pan is not drying out. The slope under the tile is inadequate or incorrect to where the water is not flowing to the drain causing the mud pan to stay wet. Moisture is wicking up the walls from where it is sitting on the sides and corners of the pan too. There could be problems with the weep holes around the drain too. Lots of things to investigate in the construction of your shower pan.

I like your Hansgrohe shower bar - I'm going to use the same fixture in my master remodel.

Here is a link that might be useful: Similar Gardenweb thread

This post was edited by Anna_in_TX on Mon, Jan 13, 14 at 12:42

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 10:36AM
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Anna, Thank you so much for the inputs.

I forwarded your response to the contractor. He said he could 100 % guarantee their work and none of the causes stated in the thread is applicable to our bathroom installation.We will discuss the causes and fixes of the grout line discoloring when I am back to town.

We trust the contractor and his crew, not only for their sterling reputation and long tenure in business, but also for the outstanding work and attitude they have been demonstrating in both bathrooms remodeling.

We installed various Hansgrohe brushed nickel fixtures in 3 bathrooms. They are of good quality, affordable and in the style we are after, we like them a lot.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 7:45AM
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I have a similar issue with wall tile above a tub, so I'll be interested to hear what your contractor has to say. Please keep us updated (I'll be asking my contractor the same thing next week).

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 2:45PM
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Hope you resolve this issue.

This post was edited by Anna_in_TX on Sat, Jan 18, 14 at 22:59

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 9:27AM
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The problem we had is not caused by what you suggested.

The contractor believes it was caused by soap scum and hard water, yes, we have horrible hard water in Phoenix. He also said in order to match the tile color, the color grout he used is less stain resistant than the grout he used in our other bathroom.

I purchased a different brand soap scum removal, and color grout cleaner. Thoroughly cleaned shower with both products. Next day, all the dark lines were gone.

The contractor is right, the shower drains perfectly.

This post was edited by azmom on Sat, Feb 15, 14 at 1:28

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 9:09PM
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This was an interesting thread to read, I didn't know soap scum could be so dark! Based on what people were saying, it seemed totally reasonable that it was a drainage issue. I'm really glad you were able to resolve it w/the special cleaner.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 12:10PM
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Could you please tell me the specific products you used?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 12:32PM
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Yes that sure looked like a water problem! Maybe the soap scum layer keeps it from evaporating thoroughly or quickly enough between showers. Or type of product with oils.

Very good news for you (and him) and an astute contractor! You don't need any more discouraging problems!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 1:51PM
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I use Finazzle Grout Cleaner for Color Grout and Finazzle Soap Scum Remover. I learned about the products from this forum, and purchased from local True Value Hardware store. The contractor suggested Tilex Soap Scum Remover. I think either product would work.

Snookums2, I wonder about the products used in the shower too. They are fancy designer line received as gift, not the plain ones we usually have. In our case,the color of the grout, its composition and hard water all contribute to the color variation.

Raehelen, I sealed Guest and Master bathrooms floor with 511 Impregnator Sealer. The shower floor will be the next.

DH said there is some degree of color variation in any grout work. It is true. He did not think shower looked bad even before I re-cleaned it. Guess it is the difference between regular people and the anal Garden Web type like me who examines every single detail so very closely. LOL!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 1:45AM
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I don't think what you had there was anal to notice! Lol. It's good to be aware. It is often a water problem.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 7:58AM
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@azmom - I have the same slow drying grout issue with soap scum & hard water like you that caused our shower's grout to turn from silver to dark &/or orange.

Am dying to try Finazzle suggestions to remove some of that.

Question: Has your 511 Impregnator Sealer been helpful as a preventative measure for your shower floor grout?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 12:39PM
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I'm going to "cut & paste" this from an earlier thread.

Grout sealer only makes it a tad easier to clean the grout...it doesn't make it waterproof.   
Best recommendation, taken from John Bridge is to NOT use "bar soap" in a shower as it contains animal fat as a "binder" and will leave scum. Try to go to a liquid soap and wipe down the shower with your somewhat dirty towel after showering. 

If you do this, the shower will look good forever.....   
Having said that, sometimes the colour variations can be a result of mixing several different batches of grout with varying amounts of water. It can be a result of using "well water" with a higher concentration of sulfur, etc. 

Finally, it can be as a result of the shower pan being improperly sloped...or NO "preslope" put under the rubber liner.
    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 4:08PM
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I will add, that, if the problem isn't resolved....I would dig out the grout and replace it with "Fusion Pro" grout from Home Depot. It's bulletproof, doesn't need sealing and stays true to the colour.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 4:10PM
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Thanks for the tip StoneTech!

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 4:24PM
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