Grout and Caulk: Bill, why didn't I listen?

jssaustintxFebruary 3, 2012

I didn't actually NOT listen- I just got so obsessed with grout color I forgot about a comment Bill added to one of my threads about caulking. After 30 minutes searching the site today, I have come to the realization that I have grout at every seam/change of plane that I should have caulk at:

- floor tile (1" hexagon) to wall (sanded)

- floor tile to tub (sanded)

- tub to shower wall tile (subway)(unsanded)

- shower wall tile to ceiling (unsanded)

According to boyfriend and unbeknownst to me, the change of planes were discussed with the guy who did the work, who told him we should caulk on top of the grout after a couple of days. (to save us money since he would charge to come back and caulk)

From my reading today, though, I am gathering that I should remove all grout (its been almost 2 weeks since grouted) and replace with caulk). Is this the ONLY option? OK, only GOOD option? It's not that I am lazy, I'm just terrified I'll mess it up. Is the installer's recommendation an option at all?

TIA to any and all responders! jss

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I forgot another potential plane(s)- we have soap dish and corner tray that are also grouted. Not sure about what's supposed to be used for those? jss

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 1:34PM
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i know it is contrary to what all the "experts" say, but I did not use caulk in our shower and after two years I am very happy with it. (knock on wood!) every change of plane was grouted. I used Bostik Truecolor urethane grout. Bostik makes claims of "crack resistant flexibility", so maybe that makes the difference.
I would just leave it until any problems appear in the future.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 8:10PM
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Thanks for the advice, Jules. I think I would have heeded it too, but unfortunately, less than 2 weeks in- we already have a thin crack at the tub joint, albeit hairline. I'm very tempted to go ahead and caulk it- clear no less b/c the big box requires a 4 tube minimum special order to get caulk in the color(warm gray) and texture(unsanded) to match grout. It also costs 15 bucks a tube.... So at this point, I will either remove the grout and use white- the tub is white so should look ok- or I'll just caulk clear on top of the grout. Sigh. So disappointing to have to undo something I just paid for :(

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 12:47AM
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jssaustintx, Bill will tell you to NOT caulk over grout! I'm sure you can google it and find his advice. Good luck!

Monica (who listened and used color match caulk at change of plane)

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 2:05AM
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Thanks for response, Monica. That's what I was afraid of. I am dreading doing it and realize I have to redo the corner seams of the alcove as well!

To clarify, its not that I ignored caulking advice, I just overlooked it in a larger discussing about choosing grout color. I missed part that caulking at the change of plane is recommended and am frustrated that it was done that way by a professional.

I guess my follow up question for the forum is, and mind you tile installer was paid in full b/c we didn't realize the mistake-

Do I have any justification for asking installer to come back and do the caulking? I was thinking of offering to scrape myself, but because I haven't ever caulked, I am worried about messing up my lovely subway tile lines. I paid for a pro job and would like it to look like one.

Any thoughts?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 11:21AM
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I would have the installer come back and caulk for you. Caulk in the joints is part of a professional tile job. However, since you didn't insist on caulk in those joints in the first place, he will want to be paid to do the work.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 11:27AM
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Good point AIW. Thanks.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 11:30AM
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I would think a professional tile setter would know better. Why is it up to you to tell him how to do his job? When my husband installs carpet in someone's home, he doesn't expect the customer to tell him what he needs to do ;) The grout is cracking. He needs to fix it and you can tell him that when you were researching WHY your grout is cracking, you found that caulk is recommended at change of plane. The fact that you're willing to scrape the old out should make it easier for your tile guy to be agreeable (I would think)
Good luck :)

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 6:01PM
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Thanks Monica. It does seem to be the industry standard (caulking) but the more I research, the more it seems I'm not alone. I wonder what the disconnect is?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 9:00PM
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Here's one of my old GW threads that may help you. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: old GW tile thread

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 2:57PM
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i also don't understand why so many tilers (from my experience) use grout at change of planes... i've owned several houses with tiled showers, etc and have had each of the shower floor/wall 'seam' grouted... i know that our current home was contracted out by the builder to be tiled by a tiler from a reputable tile store...
you are definitely not alone with this issue!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 8:32AM
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Geesh...the grout in the wrong place must be the most common discussed problem with contractors. Amazing. Everywhere I go (hotels, restaurants, etc), there is more grouted change of planes, than caulked. I bet these same contractors in their homes....they are caulked, they know they will crack if grouted. But they just want to bang the job out and not grouting everywhere is easier.

Lesson to be learned....get it in writing in your contract and make sure you have teeth in your contract.Specifically, percent payment upon completion of a significant amount to make it worth their while to correct.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 12:44PM
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I suspect the reason is that many, if not most, tile setters and contractors learned on the job but didn't necessarily pay attention to all of the details. When full mud job showers were the only game in town, grout was absolutely fine at the changes in plane because the showers were monolithic. Once cement board became more common, caulk was necessary at the changes in plane, but many tile setters knew HOW to do their job but not necessarily WHY each step was necessary and continued to grout because that is the way they had always done it, then taught their apprentices to do the same and so it goes.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 1:45PM
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Your reason sounds admirable, but I bet the contractors have caulk in their bathrooms. I am sure you will not find cracks in their corners, they would not stand for it in their high end beautiful bathrooms. And unforunately, too many consumers have no clue and do not question when a crack forms a month later. Grouting the corners is far easier when you are banging out the room, versus caulking.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 7:50PM
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Thanks again all for the feedback and support. I made the mistake of hiring someone, sitting back and just contemplating grout color. We did all demo and subfloor work ourselves, but hired out the tile BECAUSE we didn't know much about tiling, leaving it up to the"expert". Oh well, lesson learned for the next project. I'll just take a more active role.

The tile shop I am working with now recommends mixing the siliconized matching grout from MAPEI with a 100% silicone caulk, which they call a grout match. Anybody know about that?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 9:38PM
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I don't know about mixing grout and caulk. I'd be inclined to find a caulk that meets your needs rather than mixing one up - sounds like a real mess to me.

I bought a color matched silicone sanded caulk from "The Tile Shop" when I did my kitchen backsplash. Each of their grouts have a corresponding caulk. In other words they have sanded and unsanded grout and sanded and unsanded caulk to match. I would think that other lines would provide the same variety of products.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 10:11AM
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