Contractor changed grout; should I be miffed?

kmcgOctober 5, 2012

I specified Laticrete epoxy grout for my shower walls and floor - basically white with silver shadow grout. There's accent tile that's handmade, and required sanded grout, so my contractor and I discussed how he would need to use 2 different kinds of grout. Soooo, the woman at the tile store talks him into what she called an upgrade, which would work for the grout lines on both the subways and the handmade tiles. Having just insisted he move the drain for the bathroom sink, I let this go, rather than quiz him about what this meant. I got home today, and he has grouted the shower with Laticrete Permacolor, which is a cement grout.

So I have 2 questions: do I pitch a fit about this, and do I insist that he change to epoxy on the floor, which he has not done yet (12x12 tiles with moderate grout lines)? I have seen BillV say that epoxy is usually overkill (we have no hard water problem, and there's no countertop involved), but I was looking forward to a lower maintenance grout. Is there really a big difference? Should I go ahead and have him seal the Permacolor?

Thanks in advance for your advice!

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Epoxy does have advantages in challenging environments. But I also understand people wanting, or preferring, the more "bulletproof" epoxy versus cementitious grout in residential construction.

For him to shift gears like that without first having a clear conversation with you, it's a bit of a bold move in my book.

One concern is grout removal. Even in the best of cases, tile edges can be dinged up. But if you're going to remove grout, it's best to do it sooner rather than later. Cement-based grout gets harder over time, the steepest curve being over the first month after installation.

So I really can't advise you which path to take. If really you want epoxy grout for specific reasons, have him install epoxy grout. If your shower has a topical membrane (Hydroban, Kerdi, RedGard, etc) then your cementitious grout is in a less demanding environment to begin with, so to speak.

If you use lotions and potions and color your hair in the shower, than epoxy would be the better choice.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 11:47AM
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Thanks, mongo. At this point, I really don't want to damage the tile so I don't think removing the grout makes sense, unless there are huge advantages to epoxy. I asked for it mainly because of ease of cleaning; we don't use colorful substances in the shower. I guess it will be okay, and I do think it was an innocent mistake (contractor was talked into Permacolor by a salesperson who convinced him it was an upgrade).

I'm wondering if there are strong advantages to insisting on epoxy grout for the floor (not the shower floor, but the room floor). It's been ages since I had a tile floor in a bathroom, so I can't even remember how difficult it is to keep cement grout clean. Any thoughts?

And, should he seal the Permacolor? Website says you don't need to, but is it better to do so?

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 12:03PM
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I've used Latricrete Permacolor grout in several bathroom applications, as well as a laundry room and entry. I've sealed each application.

As I understand, there is more effort required to apply epoxy grout. (Though I've never done it myself.) I would hope the cost to you was lower because of this unapproved change.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 2:13PM
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I seldom seal grout. I leave that to others. (yay for me) Nothing wrong with it. It's just not my deal.

The only grout issue you might have in a master bathroom is urine on the floor around the toilet. But if urine on the floor is an issue, it's an issue with the person depositing the urine, not the tile or grout that's on the floor. ; )

If someone really has issues with grout staining and discoloration, then it might be time to consider something like Aquamix grout colorant down the road. It's an epoxy colorant that gets "painted" over cementitious grout. Pretty much bulletproof.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 2:24PM
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If my husband starts peeing on the floor, I think we'll move to the old folks home!

Good to know about the Aquamix for future remediation. I'm going to quit worrying about this one.

pricklypear - thanks for the input on sealing. I think he planned to do that, and I just wanted to make sure it wouldn't be a BAD thing to do. As for the cost, the contractor bid this without epoxy in mind. I'm not sure he's ever used it. When I added it to the spec before signing the papers, he didn't change his bid. He's very flexible that way - just kind of rolls with it. So it's probably not fair of me to ask for a price adjustment, but it would be legit to ask for epoxy on the floor installation.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 3:41PM
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mongoct, thanks for the Aquamix suggestion. I may want to use that at some point on some of my white grout. Also, I really love the "if urine on the floor is an issue, it's an issue with the person depositing the urine, not the tile or grout that's on the floor" comment. I need to share that with a certain male in my house. Though he claims that the smaller waterspot in the new low flow toilet is responsible. Not sharing the same skill of urinating while standing, I have been unable to dispute his assertion.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 7:07PM
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