Emergency shower grout question!

newbie33August 13, 2012

Hello all,

I am a total newbie to the board and renovations, but have read the board sporadically while planning my tiny (8x5.5) bath reno in my condo and appreciate the collective wisdom here!

Here's my issue: Complete shower porcelain tile (floor/walls/ceiling) plus a border (glass mosaic with marble rope on either side) was installed Wed, grouted Thursday and sealed Friday. After grouting, looked great. After sealing, some of the grout looked darker (as if it were wet-but plumbing not hooked up so couldn't have been). Most (but not all) of dark places on shower floor, which is a 2x2 porcelain tile (on a sheet). Fan blowing 24/7 on tiles all weekend resulted in some of the dark patches clearing up but not all.

Discussed situation with contractor today (Mon), said he would address it. A few hours later he told me that he used sanded grout with an additive that did not require sealant all over on Thursday, but because he wanted to seal the glass mosaic, he used sealant everywhere on Friday. Said he thought it would just provide extra protection. Says now he doesn't understand why the dark spotting occurred but his fix was for shower floor, he dug out part of the original sanded with additive and replaced with unsanded grout, also with that additive that doesn't require sealer. He was not very clear about his fix for the dark spots on wall, sounds like he sanded them away? Now says no more sealer needed (due to that additive) and all is well.

I believe the brand grout used is Custom Building Products.

1. My novice take on this from reading this board is that the spotting occurred because of the rush to seal. Does that sound like the culprit to you?

2. Was his fix correct? Should I be asking him to do something else?

I really appreciate any advice! I am single and not able to stay home and monitor all this first hand. Purposely picked the best contractor per Angie's List, was willing to spend more than other quotes to get it done right but this worries me. He is in a rush to complete the job and so I would really appreciate some quick feedback so I don't sign off without getting this addressed in the right way.



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If the grout joint was wide enough for sanded grout, the unsanded should not have been used. If this guy thinks that's a solution to your problem he sounds pretty clueless. Sorry. I would also ask your question over on the John Bridge tile forum.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 11:02PM
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Thank you terriks for your input. I did post on the forum you suggested.

An update now that I am home from work and can see what was done today: he definitely sanded down the grout on the walls, I can see the marks that process left on my tile. Will try to attach pic of that.

He left bags of the grout he said he used so specific brand name is Polyblend. Didn't leave any container of that mystery additive he was talking about...

Aside from my questions about the discolored grout, now I notice that, as a result of his hasty fixing today, the grout on my marble rope is nowhere near flush with the marble (will try to attach pic). Is that right?

I hope someone can give me some good guidance as to what to ask for. He has been pretty condescending to me when I have nicely asked for explanations. If I should not be making a big deal of this, please say so, I will be relieved. But I do have some leverage as I still owe him 25% so need to know if this is something to fight over or not.

thanks in advance for any insight (I have been trying to speed read all I can about grout in the last 6 hours....)

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 12:22AM
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It can take several days to even a week for the moisture to work it's way out of a new installation, especially on a newly tiled deck mud shower floor.

During this time, it can be blotchy and grout colors can be uneven until the entire structure dries out to ambient moisture levels. That's true for unsealed grout too.

Am I understanding correctly that as part of the "fix" for what very well could be a non-problem, your tile guy used sand paper to sand the sanded grout?

First, he should have used a penetrating sealer that is vapor permeable. A penetrating sealer will penetrate into the depth of the grout. So a simple sanding will not remove the sealer if that was the goal.

Second...again, the sealer should have been vapor permeable. So any trapped moisture would have eventually worked it's way out of the assembly through the grout joints.

Thirdly, the idea of modifying already modified products. Polyblend grout is already modified as it is in the bag. No need to add more modifier. Adding other third-party grout additives could possibly mess up the chemistry of the mix, especially if it's not fully blended throughout the product.

I could certainly have it wrong, but it's almost like your tile guy is trying to solve phantom problems that don't exist. And in the process, he is creating real problems.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 1:13AM
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hi mongoct,
Thank you for your feedback.

I tend to think that he didn't really add anything to the Polyblend but is just telling me that line about it having an additive not needing sealer to a) refer to the polymers in the Polyblend and 2) justify why he isn't sealing the "fix" done on the shower floor. Like I said, he didn't leave any container of that additive and was not going to give me any explanation at first, because "you wouldn't understand, just know that it looks good now".

Yes, the fix to the sanded grout on wall was to sand it down. See attached pic, it is best I can get to show the effect of sanding on my tile. Fix to the sanded grout on shower floor was to replace it with unsanded.

I agree that his focus has been on making it "look good" so that I won't keep asking questions. My concern is whether there are any serious implications to what he has done.

What should I ask him to do now to fix the fix in the right way? Or is it okay as is?


    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 9:05AM
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Hi all,
So regarding my previous posts, contractor agreed to regrout the marble rope so grout was flush with the rope and I decided to let my inconsistencies/concerns about his grouting methods lie. He insisted that he mixed the grout with some additive (either in place of water or along with water) that did not require sealant and I decided not to fight this battle now and that I would just call him up if problems arose.

Surprise: they did. First shower has to be aborted 5 mins in because the water is not draining and is 1.75 inch high. Waited 2 hours and had only dropped to 1 inch high. Contractor can't come until evening, so I go to work. I come home 11 hours later to find all water drained and the situation as per attached pic: some grout completely dried, other patches not.

He shows up and does some work and says there was some debris in the pipe and that water is draining properly now. I say great, now what about the grout not drying up after now 12 hours? I get alternating attitude/patronization in return:

Me: isn't that a problem that the grout didn't dry after more than 12 hours? "Well, that's what happens when grout gets wet. You know, when you put your clothes in water, they take time to dry out"
Me: how long normally should it take for grout to dry out?
"i don't know"
Me: Does your shower have spots like this that don't dry out after this long?
"I don't know, I don't spend a lot of time looking at it"
Me: Don't you think it might be a sign of a problem that most of the grout dried but some didn't, especially that part that is much higher than the standing water was?
"no, I guess to find out I would have to call the grout mfr because I did all of it the same."
Me: Could it be a sign that there might some some problem of water seeping behind the tile?
Me: Ok, so what might be a sign of that?
"maybe if your neighbor reports a leak and that's really all i want to say about this anymore. your job is finished, i have so many jobs and emails to deal with and have been working 16 hours and i just can't deal with anymore"

I told him I was going to let it sit unused for 24 hours and if it is still not dry, I was going to call him. He wanted to bring in a fan then and I said no, let's let it sit in normal conditions for 24 hours and see what has happened.

It is now 3 hours since he left and the same pattern of dry/not-dry grout is there. I have a 25% payment still due to him.

Please tell me what I should do?
thanks so much in advance,
newbie 33

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 1:26AM
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attaching another pic

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 1:27AM
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attaching another pic

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 1:29AM
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attaching another pic

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 1:30AM
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Did you ever figure out the problem? I'm having the same issue on a newly grouted shower floor. Contractor removed the grout and regrouted. It has been 5 days and is still not dry in most areas.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 7:15PM
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