Help - poor grout job by contractor? And what next?

HCloudyDecember 1, 2012

We are finishing up having our only full bath remodeled. Now that the lighting is installed, we have seen the grout under good light (grouting was done a few days ago). I think it's pretty bad but could use input. I know there are not supposed to be cracks and holes everywhere (which we've got), but also surely the grout shouldn't look very crumbly and come off easily? It looks bad all over - holes, cracks, graininess, and some very low grout areas.

We have white subway tile on the shower & walls, and marble hex on the floor, with unsanded grout all over. The GC, not his tile guy, did the tile and grout.

Can this be fixed without regrouting? I'm not sure what to do at this point - withhold final payments until it is fixed, but what would be needed to fix it? Can he patch the holes? The all-over graininess is worrying and just looks really bad.

Thank you for any advice.

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It's a sloppy job, both the tiling and the grout.

If it was a neat job with just a few voids and pinholes, I'd say grout right over the old, but to do that the faster you do it the better off you'll be.

In your situation, a second "void-filler" application won't work.

The grout was installed poorly. Very poorly. The joints were not properly tooled with a grout float or with a sponge.

Too much water while grouting, an improperly timed clean up, or an attempt to clean up a grout mess with an acid wash, can wash away or dissolve the fines in a sanded grout mix, leaving the too rough texture that you have there.

I'd recommend removing the grout. Then taking a good look at the lines of the tile. If they are good enough to keep (decent joints, good layout, decent cut lines) then you can regrout.

If they are ugly, and in that photo they most certainly are not that attractive...but if they are bad enough, consider having the tile redone.

There is no way that the guy that did this work would get a chance to remediate it. It can be difficult and tedious to remove grout and then regrout a second time. If this is what he did with a clean slate...

I'd withhold any additional payments until the job is rectified by someone with the proper skill set.

And no, you don't pay "extra". He botched the job with his own two hands, so he eats the job.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 6:20PM
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Thanks so much for the advice. Yes, it looks very bad all over. I thought the lines of the tile looked ok before the grout (not amazing, but ok), but after grouting everything looks pretty awful (particularly the graininess of the grout between subway tiles - all over the entire room).

Here's a picture of the floor too (very beautiful 1 " marble hex, but now with holes, low grout areas, and a lot of grout on the tile surface)

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 6:47PM
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I am so sorry you are having to deal with this. It does look bad.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 7:30PM
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Sophie Wheeler

The tile job is pretty sloppy. And unsanded grout was the wrong thing to use. That's part of the problem. Sand is what holds the grout together. Then too much water was probably in the mix. And it was applied sloppily, and put in the corners where it doesn't belong. I could keep going, but I won't.

I'd have it ripped out and done over by someone more competent. And that ain't this guy.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 9:03PM
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I requested unsanded grout, actually, based on everything I read about using marble tile (although the contractor had no objections or different recommendations about it). The floor is marble so it needed unsanded grout to be safe from scratches, right? And the walls are 3 by 6 subway tile with 1/16 spacing, which are supposed to be ok for unsanded.

Thanks again for the perspective, so I know it is not just me thinking this is unacceptable and unworkmanlike.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 9:29PM
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Sorry you have to deal with such poor workmanship. It really does look like a sloppy job. Re the grout for your marble hex floor tiles: I was under the impression one had to use unsanded grout for them too but then I learned from Bill and Mongo that you can use grout with very fine sand and be ok (you can certainly do a test on a mounted sheet before to be sure).

I'm a big fan of Laticrete products (for their quality and service) and so we used Laticrete Permacolor (a cement-based grout) for our 2 inch marble hex floors in the bathroom just last week. It looks great. We did seal the tile with Miracle 511 before AND after grouting.

I hope you can get this rectified.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 4:32PM
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Jack Kennedy

Just curious as to what grout was used. Most of the Laticrete grout products have to be mixed with an epoxy type liquid. Learned this the hard way when I was told to mix water with it and it crumbled right out of the wall...

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 10:37PM
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Turns out sanded grout was used everywhere, on the subway wainscoting, the subway shower walls, and the marble hex floor (it was probably immediately clear that it was sanded from the photos, to those of you with more grout experience, I guess). It was Laticrete.

glenwood705: I checked the product page and it says you can mix it with water, or optionally with grout enhancer for "improved performance".

I'll post a followup when there is some resolution.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 10:30AM
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Was that grout job done by a class of kindergartners? That's how it looks to me.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 12:09PM
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HCloudy, I am so sorry. All of that beautiful tile looks awful. I have never actually tiled before, but I am positive I could do a better job than that.

Listen to Mongoct he knows what he's talking about.

I hope all will be fixed in the best possibly way it can.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 10:22PM
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That guy, who you've said is your general contractor for the remodel, hasn't a clue what he's doing. I would have the whole job inspected. It's a disgrace. There could be more serious construction issues that need to be corrected. And no, no more money and don't have him back.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 10:54PM
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I'm so sorry! I would not be happy with that grout job AT ALL. I also had some grouting that I thought was a little sloppy in some areas. They took out the grout with a special tool and redid it, and now it looks perfect.

I love white subway tile and I think it needs to stand out, but a grout job like that will ruin the whole look.

The floors too! Now, to redo the grout there would be much more tedious. Not sure how that can be salvaged other than to rip it out and start over ... with a different guy.

Snookums has a good point ... if that's the kind of work he does, I would be VERY concerned about the rest of your project.

Please let us know what happens, and good luck!!!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 11:34PM
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The layout in the corners are also not neat. It doesn't look like the corner line is straight and he didn't lay out the cuts nicely so the joint lies at mid way points. Maybe that wasn't possible. I wonder what's going on with the little cut pieces at the bottom of the photo that seem to be along the floor.

Matching caulk should be used on a change of material or change of plane since those areas move naturally with the building. Corner grout will often crack (although they did not use caulk in mine and the corners have survived 8 years with crack resistant grout. Base areas and ceiling did crack and a tile was chipped getting it out to caulk.)

The joints look small. Grout joints less than 1/8" should have unsanded grout. Looks like it is oozing out on the floor.

Do you know what the underlayment is and what he used to adhere them? Did he build a pan base or use premade?

My heart goes out to you. This should never have happened to your beautiful tile and bathroom. I hope he reimburses the losses when you have it fixed.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Sat, Dec 8, 12 at 12:29

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 11:07AM
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