Need help with bathroom remodeling grout issue..

GigglestwoApril 11, 2013

I am having an issue with our bathroom grout and am looking for advice and any guidance on this issue.

We recently remodeled our bathroom and decided on using the wood tile planks . Found a lot of great information on this forum and a few others on placing the wood tile planks. Picked our contractor/handyman who had a tile guy he recommended we use. We went with the black walnut porcelain wood tile from lowes . We used unsanded sable brown polyblend grount with 1/8 joints . Really wanted to use expresso epoxy grout, but tile guy talked us out of this one. Once grout was placed, it was lighter in certain areas (had originally spoke with both parties of all our concerns in making sure the grout would be as dark or darker than the tile planks). Expressed our concern to contractor who spoke with tile guy about the issues we were having. Tile guy decides we needed to clean area with water and vinegar mix and see how it looked after cleaning. This did not help at all! Proceeded to voice our concerns again about grout, in the meantime contractor is finishing up painting walls etc over the next several weeks. Tile guy who originally did the job is now unavailable. After our constant talking about grout with contractor/handyman he decides he will fix the grout himself, he placed the PAINT we used on our cabinets in the grout. Once we discover that paint has been used my husband calls and again expresses our concerns with this slop job. He lets my husband know that he spoke with a gentlemen at the tile store who recommended this technique and said if we didn't like it he would try something else. So, today he decides to use the miniwax WOOD FINISH stain marker. I am totally freaking out on all this. Has anyone ever heard of these techniques being used. I know he is trying to do a quick fix . He is wanting his last part of payment. Do not know what else to do!!! Sorry for this long post, but I am frustrated this is still going on. I would say this may be okay procedure for someone wanting to change grout color on old grout to liven it up and cut cost, but this is a new floor!

This post was edited by Gigglestwo on Thu, Apr 11, 13 at 7:42

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I am so sorry, I say withhold the payment until the grout is taken out and the epoxy you wanted put in. I don't know if one can follow torn out cementous grout with epoxy as I am a novice. If he can't do what you want, would it be within reason to withhold what it would cost for someone else to do it from his pay? I say get info from the industry standards and be sure that the tile is installed to those specs, including the grout and caulk. You may have to get someone else to do it.

I hope someone else post like Mongo or BillV. They are experts.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 8:10AM
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What a mess. Sorry for your troubles, these things just shouldn't happen.

Here's what I advise you to do: Write down the original problem, then each blunder that followed. Have it ready in an email. No emotion. Just the details.

1) This is what we ordered.
2) This is what was installed.
3) This was the problem with the installation.
4) This is what was done in an attempt to repair the problem (vinegar, stain, paint).
5) Is there a way to repair what has been done so we can have what we wanted in Step 1)?
6) If there isn't, what is the best course of repair so you can be made whole? (Full grout removal and replacement?)
7) Is their an alternative course of repair? (Mask it with Aquamix Grout Colorant?)

Now one thing, you certainly don't want to use the AquaMix colorant if you don't like any of the offered colors.

Call Custom's tech department. Ask the tech for his email address and while you are on the phone, fire off the email to him so he has the details in writing. I've even emailed photos to techies whole on the phone with them.

Have your discussion, and have the tech reply to you in writing via an email. If the tech can't assure you that repairs can be made to the grout "as is", then have him write that the only way to get a proper installation is for the grout to be removed and replaced. The goal is to get specific answers back from him in writing.

Some tech guys can suffer from the "I don't know" syndrome, and it's fine if they do...but they still have to recommend a final course of action.

The point-of-view I use when dealing with tech support is that if they can't assure me that everything is okay, well, then it's not okay. And if it's not okay, the best course of action is usually full removal and replacement. With it being replaced, then you know it's okay.

Your do have a few choices. One would be to have the grout removed and then new grout installed. That would "make you whole" in terms of you getting the installation that you originally wanted. One of the risks with that is when removing the grout, sometimes the tile edges can get nicked here and there. Any damage to the tile can just make this whole experience sink further into the abyss.

Small nicks to the tile might not be a huge issue if the tile is a through-body color tile, ie, the color of the "inside" of the tile is similar in color to the surface color.

An alternative repair, and it is a "repair" versus "making you whole", can be attacked on two levels, but the overall "repair" is using a grout colorant over the grout you have. Not a grout stain, but an epoxy-based grout colorant.

I don't use colorants often, but when I do it's Aquamix Grout Colorant.

AquaMix is a product from Custom, so it'd be right up the tech's alley in terms of a product that he could recommend. But again, you have to like one of their offered colors to want to use the product.

One level of repair depends on the "paint added to the grout". I'd get an answer from Custom Tech on this. Is the grout okay? Will the paint prevent the epoxy colorant from adhering to the grout, etc? Will the stain used create adherence issues? If the messed up grout is a concern, would a proper repair be for then to remove the polluted grout from those sections. Install new cementitious grout. Then the grout colorant can go over the entire floor?

It's difficult because your proper repair is removal of the grout and installing new grout. But the nature of that repair can cause damage to the tile...and sure, damaged tiles can be pulled and replaced. But does your C/H have the ability to carry out a repair like that without causing more problems?

Your interaction now is pretty much between you and your contractor/handyman. Sure, your tile guy did the installation. But once your C/H jumped in with the paint and stain, he sort of absolved the original tile guy of all his installation sins.

The fact that your C/H followed bogus advice from the tile store versus calling the grout manufacturer's tech department for repair advice, that's all on your C/H. He can certainly blame the sales guy at the tile store for giving him bogus advice. But that's not a concern to you. Let the C/H argue with the sales guy about that. Only your C/H is a concern to you, he's the one you hired, he's the one who really buggered up the installation. He should have done what you're going to do...and what it says on every bag of grout to do...if you have problems, call tech support.

Sorry for the wordy reply. This is one of those cases where I was interrupted by several phone calls while typing, etc...ramblin' man...oh yes oh yes oh yes...oh nooooo....

Custom Customer Support

Custom Technical Services

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 10:38AM
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Wow, excellent detailed post. I hope OP sees this and can benefit.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 5:47PM
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Thank you mongoct and enduring for your help! Will do a follow up on this forum. Great advice.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 9:06PM
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You're welcome and I am looking forward to your report.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 9:20PM
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Follow up on bathroom issue... We did not even get to the addressing issues that mongoct suggested. Handyman/contractor called my husband wanting the payment and my husband explained to him we were not happy with the results. Handyman/contractor told my husband he would be placing a lien on our house if payment is not made. This has become such a ridiculous ordeal. Our last payment is not a huge amount , but it is the fact it was not done right. The amount we owe this guy is $938.00. He seriously thinks what he did looks fine. I will be posting several pictures later from my phone.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 10:20PM
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Oh dear! So sorry it escalated to this! I just had a good piece of advice from a tile guy this weekend. He said he always makes up a sample board with tile and grout for EVERY customer and insists on approval before he begins tiling. He said most clients dissatisfied with their tile job are because of grout issues. I will definitely be doing this myself before I start tiling...will see if I like my planned spacing of grout, etc.

This doesn't help you though. My Mom had an issue with a 'handyman/carpenter' she hired to build some shelves for her in her laundry and wine cellar areas. He quoted a price based on five days of labour. It took him 2 1/2 days (even 2.5 is generous). My Mom thought he should reduce his price as it took him way less time than he anticipated. He wasn't happy, and said do what you want...she took off $200 (which she felt was more than fair). Anyhow, he said he was going to put a Lien on her +600K house! She was furious, but since she figures she'll die there, guess it'll be an issue for us sometime in the future...

I am just about to pop a cheque in the mail for a deposit for a custom made vanity...this is a reminder that bad things happen...and I've never actually had a contract that stated what would happen if unsatisfied...guess the only weapon you have is to withhold payment. I certainly hope he doesn't bully you into paying him until this is resolved...

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 11:02PM
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HI there, I just wanted to share my experience with you. We tiled our living room (20'x16') with Serso Brand 6" x 24" Walnut Porcelain Tiles (from Lowes) and used Mapei Chocolate Grout. To our dismay, the grout color dried really light, almost like a wheat color. How disappointing, because we wanted the grout lines to blend in with the dark tiles. Here is a list of several things we did to do to resolve it:

  1. Use Dupont grout sealer hoping it would darken the grout, but had zero effect. FAIL
  2. Bought Polyblend dye from home depot and the darkest color was Charcoal which did not match well because it was more of a grey tone; no other color really works. FAIL
  3. Used Minwax Polyurethane clear which had better effect than the grout sealer but still didn't darken much. FAIL
  4. Bought a quart of Valspar paint but again, it's so hard to match the right color. FAIL
  5. Tried Minwax wood stain -> Ebony shade. The color matched the tiles perfectly and was easy to apply. The grout soaks it in fast, and just had to wipe off excess from the tile surface. It doesn't really soak into the Porcelain tile surface which made it really easy to wipe off. SUCCESS!
    The only thing was that the stain smell takes a few days to dry out. You can go over it later with grout sealer which takes care of any remaining stain odor.
    It worked for us, and I just want to say that based on my experience, wood stain is perfectly fine to use on grout lines.

You can email me if you want to see before & after photos

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 10:08PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Can you match his threat with a complaint made with the contractor licensing board in your state? Worth a try. They really helped us resolve an issue regarding a large family room laminate floor that was improperly installed.

Grout is porous. I have used with success wood stain on grout, when it wasn't dark enough. After thoroughtly drying, and being happy with the result... I sealed it with a couple coats of waterproof sealer. All this was handpainting with a little brush, but my entry and hallway have remained in perfect shape since 1976. Back then the stain was oil based, and the sealer was lacquer based. Smiley Spencer above has had good results more recently than I. Tell the contractor about your concerns and ask him to make a sample of whatever he wants to do.... before you tell him to jump off a cliff. Rub it, scrub it, make sure it will be permanent.

Unless you sell your house (or re-finance) the lien means nothing, and he needs to renew it periodically.

It can be fixed. Chin up.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 9:04PM
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