O.T.--but would really like suggestions

sis2twoSeptember 7, 2012

This is a cleaning issue I guess but wanted to get some suggestions here.

I have a white subway tiled shower in our master bath and honestly I am about ready to take a sledge hammer to it! The problem is that I continually get black mildew behind the caulk along where the floor meets the wall. We get great ventilation in there so that's not the issue. For the past six months I have been using a bleach pen which helps some but I can tell it kind of eats at the caulk. Removing the caulk and reapplying is the biggest pain. Do any of you have this problem and if so, have you found any remedy? The shower is 12 years old and I also have small areas where some grout has come out between the subway tile. Can small areas of grout be replaced? While I love the look of a tile shower, we have two one piece acrylic shower/tub units upstairs and they have been great. They look as good today as they did since they were installed. I can't say the same for my tiled shower. And we won't even talk about the glass door issues with cleaning. Help!

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Caulking and Sealing Tile Grout Tips
When installing new ceramic tile, absolutely make sure that the horizontal seam between the bottom row of tile and the tub and/or shower is not grouted! This seam must be caulked with the best quality 100 percent silicone caulk you can buy. These caulks are available in various colors, should you be using a colored grout. Grout will shrink after installation and a very tiny crack will exist, trust me.
The best way to caulk this crack, believe it or not, is to do it in your bathing or birthday suit. Why, might you ask? The reason is simple. The tub should be filled up to the overflow with water when caulking this joint. The added weight of 30 to 50 gallons of water plus your body weight can cause the floor below the tub to deflect. Leave the water in the tub as long as possible to allow the caulk to cure. Don't leave water in the tub like this, however, if you have small children at home! Left unattended, they may think the tub is a swimming pool. Drownings have been known to occur.
After the grout is dry (three to five days), seal the grout with a silicone grout sealer. These products are available at your tile supplier. Be careful not to get these products on the tub or shower floor, as they are very slippery. The grout needs to be sealed, as it can and will absorb water. Remember, grout is nothing more than fine cement. The sealers also help to keep the tile grout clean. Reseal the grout every six months, after thoroughly cleaning the grout.
Existing Construction
Do all of the above, however, clean, clean, clean before caulking or sealing. These caulking and sealing products will not stick to soap scum very well!

I just found this online. Disregard the part about the tub. It's pretty specific about what king of caulk you should use and that you should never grout that part. Don't know if any of this applies to you.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 2:12PM
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Francy: I'm not Sis, but this info really comes in handy for me, too. Many thanks for taking the time to post it! Lynn

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 4:29PM
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Truthfully, I have the same issue. I have silicone caulk in the 'change of plane' area between the wall and the shower base and I have to redo it every year or two. Is IS a colossal pain! I had asked about it on the bathroom forum and there were those who insisted that if I had silicone caulk there was no way that mildew (or mold) could form. Well come and visit...there's always some to look at. I had my bathroom redone about 8 years ago and I think I'm up to the 4th time to replace the caulk.

Yes, you can replace just the missing sections of grout. I like to scrape out a little bit more around the area, mix up my grout and then add the rest needed.


    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 4:42PM
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I am not an expert by any means, but if I saw mold behind silicone caulk, I would be concerned that the mold was growing behind the tile. I can't imagine how fully cured silicone could get moisture behind it unless it was coming from inside out rather than outside in. Again, I'm a complete DIY novice, so perhaps there's a perfectly good explanation.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 5:11PM
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Takes a quick spray of Scrub Free with bleach. We have caulk not grout...and it will get a tinge of black on the surface...nothing behind it. We live in the humid South so that may be part of it but still. This fixes it perfectly..has for 6 years. There is no reason to tear it out or replace. Spray / wait 15 min or so/rinse. That is it. I only do it once every 2 weeks or so and it has kept it under control. There is nothing going on behind the walls or odors or anything in the crawl space that would indicate leaks etc. Hope this relieves your problem. It sure has fixed mine. c

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 7:33PM
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Count me as another with black mold coming from BEHIND the caulk. It's in our shower stall that is tiled but it's where the tile and the threshold you step over meet, not around the base of the shower. I want the entire stall demolished. Then the million dollar question is what to replace it with.

For cleaning glass shower doors - my sister on a whim started using cheap shampoo and an old washcloth. A realtor asked her what she cleaned her glass walls and doors with because they sparkled.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 8:07PM
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Thank you all so much. My mold appears to be behind the caulk as well. I have taken the caulk out before, sprayed it with bleach mixed with water and let it air out for DAYS, recaulked and had it just come back. I am definitely going to try the scrub free with bleach.
Any more suggestions are welcome.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 10:14PM
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Uh oh!There may be a good chance you will have to gut that whole area; replace the moldy drywall with a water resistant / mold resistant product. I hope that the studs are dry and not rotted or moldy also. I think you need a professional to come in if that mold has been coming back all the time. Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 1:24AM
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EG3d--I hope that's not the case. We have a basement underneath and there is no signs of water leaking in that area.

If anyone else has this problem, have you had yours checked out? If so, I'd like to know what you were told. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 11:37AM
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It would be difficult to have mold on the drywall itself in my case. My shower pan has a flange which goes up behind the tile about an inch or so. There's a gap above that to the drywall. When I remove the damaged silicone, it appears to be clean in the area.

I've used plenty of soft scrubs, bleach and other bathroom cleansers frequently. They help at first, but the mold/mildew moves quickly. For me, the only solution is to remove it and start over.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 12:51PM
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It sounds like the problem is in the construction of the shower behind the tile and grout. Tile and grout are not waterproof. Water does pass through them, and if the shower was not properly waterproofed before tile you could have issues. Also the shower pan may not have been sloped properly causing the pan to hold water.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 2:07PM
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If there is no noticeable leaking that we can see in our basement under the shower area, how would we know if there is a problem behind the tile and grout. The problem that we're having is the caulk between the tiled wall and tile floor of the shower. Would love to know how this could be checked without tearing out my tile.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 4:05PM
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