Limestone shower floor wet and cracked grout

TaraUKAugust 5, 2014

Hi everyone,

Hope you can help. We just had a new bathroom installed, including a shower in Moleanos beige limestone (think they might call it Gascoigne beige in the US - it's a Portuguese limestone). We have used the shower a few times over the past week and the shower floor now looks permanently wet and the grout has cracked.

The guys who did it are away until 16th August and we will speak to them when they get back but I wanted a 'neutral' opinion.

The shower is tanked, it drains correctly, doesn't leak out or anything and I know the tiles were sealed with Lithofin (May have got name wrong but is an impregnating sealer). One of the floor tiles also has a hairline crack.
You can see from the photo that some areas dry out again and some not.
Is this normal? Is the water sitting under the tiles unable to dry out because the tiles are sealed?

This happened a few weeks back before the glass was installed and our guy said it was because he hadn't get sealed around the drain (husband used by mistake). We let that dry out completely over 2 weeks and they then siliconed and installed the glass but now we gave the same problem again. The installers don't yet know as the main guy was going on holiday 2 days later and I didn't want to ruin his holiday by telling him just before he went. He's a decent guy.

What is the answer/what would you do?

We are not so bothered from an aesthetic point of view - more bothered about water sitting around/potential leaks.

Hope you can help!

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Photo of cracked grout and hairline crack (upper right tile just above cracked grout and then curving up on a bit of a diagonal)

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 11:00AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Limestone is one of the least suitable stones that there is for a shower. It's very porous. Sealing it does nothing to change that. Maybe it will keep the stains from your shampoo from sinking in to it, but that's it. It won't stop it from etching. Which is to say that I suspect that a large majority of your issue is directly due to the material choice.

The rest of it may be do to the sealer, or it may be due to incorrect waterproofing. You would need to describe the method of construction and which waterproofing system was used in order to further diagnose.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 9:44PM
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Thanks for the reply. Had I known limestone was such a nightmare I never would have chosen it but the bathroom designer said it was fine as long as sealed properly.
With regards to the installation/construction the only thing I can tell you us that it involved a wooden frame on a concrete (old concrete) floor, they used some sort of waterproof boards and a paint on blue rubberised/waterproofing membrane. The tiles are sealed with Lithofin.
The pitch of the floor is good, ie all the water drains to the centre well.
Husband thinks we should just let it dry out and then seal all the grout lines and the broken tile with silicone.
The installers are confident that the waterproofing underneath is tight but surely can't be good to gave water sitting under the tiles all the time?
Installers on holiday until 16th - have already emailed them with photos.
I guess my questions are:
1) Is it actually doing any harm - ie could we carry on as is?
2) Would the drying out and siliconing work? Currently only the changes of plane and the axis radiating out from the drain are siliconed - the rest is normal grout (which has cracked).
3) Would it gave been better NOT to seal the tiles at all (so water could dry out through them)?
4) If the installers were to rip up the floor and replace how horrific would this be? Would all he wall tiles be wrecked too? Could the glass shower frame be removed without too much damage? I am pretty sure they said ripping up the floor would break the waterproofing.
5) Should we re-tile the floor with something other than limestone, eg marble or ceramic mosaic?
I can't tell you how much I wish I had chosen another material.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 6:51AM
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Again, What "waterproofing system" did they use? Kerdi, Hydroban, plastic on studs, rubber liner between preslope and final slope?

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 4:50PM
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All I can tell you is that it was a paint on waterproofer - blue coloured. Otherwise I didn't witness the construction. It was not a solid membrane of any sort.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 5:03PM
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I am just taking a guess here but if they used a paint on waterproofer then perhaps it would not be a problem to pull up the floor tiles. I am wondering if you will have to do that anyway since the cracked grout seems to indicate that something is not stable. I would want the tile with the hairline crack replaced anyway because water will get into it.

You might also want to ask your question at the John Bridge tile forum where all the professional tile guys hang out. They will definitely be able to help you.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 9:50PM
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I would be concerned about the black appearing on the grout in your second photo. Is that mold or mildew?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 11:16AM
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