Touch-up unsanded grout shrinkage cracks with sanded grout?

samk1017May 15, 2013

Hello,

I have a tile floor grouting question:

My contractors did a great job with laying porcelain tile with 1/16 spacers on the kitchen floor. We bought an unsanded grout, and they put it in, but there is lots of shrinkage cracks and voids. He wants to use a sanded grout to patch it up. Is this a wise idea?

Thank you so much!!

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dan1888

This shouldn't be happening because unsanded is good up to 1/8" as I recall.
So what brand of grout.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 8:54PM
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samk1017

Example:

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 8:58PM
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samk1017

example 2:

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 8:59PM
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samk1017

Example 3:

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 9:01PM
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samk1017

Here is the grout:

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 9:02PM
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herbflavor

I don't think they mixed properly and/or followed protocol with this product.Water and mxing [and ]application and timing are necessary components of a good job. this is not a good job. I wouldn't want them messing around with it any more. You can remove the grout-the sooner the easier and redo it yourself or by another person.[this is not rocket science]

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 9:23PM
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dan1888

This doesn't look like shrinkage or cracking. It appears from the pictures to be voids missing grout. Either not enough was worked in during the application or sponging removed some. I'd also google for a tile forum and cross post these pics there. I would touchup with the same grout.

This post was edited by dan1888 on Wed, May 15, 13 at 21:59

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 9:32PM
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PRO
Sophie Wheeler

Too much water from somewhere. Either in mixing, or in wiping it down.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 11:32PM
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angie_diy

Agree with both herb and dan. Doesn't look like shrinkage cracking to me, and 1/16" unsanded shouldn't crack anyway!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 11:39PM
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snookums2

I don't think you're supposed to use sanded grout below 1/8 inch. That and the grouting problem you are seeing lead me to believe you should find someone else to remove and replace it.

I would also be concerned with the prep and installation at this point. You might want to post over at John Bridge Tile Forum.

Did you check the expiration date on the bag? Where was it stored? Unopened?

What area was this done in? What was the previous flooring? Did you see any of the prep work or installation procedures?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 12:07AM
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Circus Peanut

To me it looks as though they didn't clean the excess mortar between the tiles after laying them, which will cause the grout to have roughness, bumps and voids, plus they probably used too much water too vigorously after grouting.

I second the recommendation to post your photos at the John Bridge Tile Forum - very experienced and helpful bunch of tilers over there.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 8:10AM
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eam44

Just echoing what everyone else is saying - they grouted incorrectly. In all fairness, they should probably rake out any loose grout pieces whether they're going to fix the floor or not.

Whoever fixes this, you will want to make sure that they mix the grout properly (they should buy you another bag if needed), and apply it correctly.

Some tips: 1.) don't apply grout to a larger area than you can handle; better to do 1/4 of a floor at a time, than try to do the whole thing at once and do it badly. 2.) make sure you push the grout into every seam with your grout float; there's no shortcut here, you have to cover every seam. Grout doesn't magically sink into the lines. 3.) everything shrinks a little when it dries; the secret to having nice full grout lines when you're done is to keep an eye on the grout as it is drying and re-apply before it has dried completely - possibly everywhere, but certainly wherever you see it sinking away. This is a pain over a large area, and it means you essentially end up grouting, cleaning up, waiting a bit, then doing it all again, but it's the best tip I can offer if you want your grout job to look professionally done and last you for dozens of years (you want this - image is from This Old House, link below). 4.) You have to seal your grout with a penetrating sealer or it will eventually stain.

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: TOH

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 8:20AM
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samk1017

Thanks for the advice. I will ask them to re-grout. I posted the same thread at the mentioned tile forum. Will post results/resolution from this job.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 11:59AM
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dan1888

For others using light colored grout in a kitchen, an alternative to sealing is to use epoxy grout initially. This should be done with more care than standard.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 2:47PM
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annac54

I agree with the other posters, this is not shrinkage, just a bad grout job. We have grouted several jobs recently on a condo we are re-doing, and used both sanded and non-sanded grout in the same color from the same manufacturer in two different applications (one a floor, the other a wall tile). There was a definite difference in color between the sanded and non-sanded grout. Also, as others have pointed out, I think your grout joints are probably too narrow to use the sanded grout. Hope you get it repaired to your satisfaction.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 3:26PM
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snookums2

You need someone experienced with the expoxy grout. Don't be their learning curve! lol

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 4:01PM
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chinchette

You must have had the same person do your grout as I did. I am in the process of removing 700SF of grout myself. Be careful of letting this person remove or repair your grout. With the job that they did and their suggested solution, it is more than likely they will create further damage. Its just a bad grout job. I am not letting the original person remove mine, because I am afraid that with their work ethnic, they will surely chip my tiles.

Please do post here what you learn at John Bridge.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 10:26AM
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blubird

Chinchette,

Not to hijack, but how are you removing your grout? I also have 700 square of tile which needs to have the grout removed. When I checked into it, info on the Internet suggests that chipping some tiles is inevitable. I don't want to have to replace tile because of damage, but I am willing to remove it myself if I can be successful it will just take time.

Helene

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 1:43AM
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chinchette

My handyman has a tool I borrowed, that is electric. Its just a cheap tool that I put a good blade in the correct width of my tile. It vibrates. There are many versions of this. I did very minor chipping or scratching that I can't see easily. Most of mine came out very easily with the tool because the grout was mixed with too much water. Also, it was only done a few weeks ago. I ended up hiring someone to complete the job. They had similar tools but I don't know what brands.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 6:16AM
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angie_diy

Helene, I think chinchette is referring to what has become known as an "oscillating multi-tool," if you are looking to buy one.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 9:04AM
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blubird

I figured it was the multi-tool you were talking about. We recently bought one for other reasons, but we will test it out on a sample.

When our grouting was done, almost 3 years ago now, I suspected they had used too much water. I didn't have the many gaps the OP has, but I do have differently shaded areas and in a few spots some of the grout has come out. We have rectified tile with a small 1/8" grout line and many of the grouted areas are also too shallow.

I was just hoping for some sort of a miracle tool which would avoid any chips altogether.

Helene

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 11:35AM
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chinchette

If you go slow, you may not get any chips. The little amount that I have shows through the same color as the face of the tile. The tool does not take off and get away from you. You will have control over it.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 1:30PM
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blubird

The problem with chips is that my tiles are rectified and would have chips at the sharp top edge of the tile surface, not buried in the grout as non-rectified tiles might have.

I will have to practice having a steady hand. I've held the tool and it's somewhat heavy...too bad there is no "base' to help slide the tool along. I might have to 'invent' one.

Helene

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 4:56PM
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samk1017

UPDATE

So we had this floor re-grouted three times and finally figured out what the problem is... almost 50% of the tiles are MOVING!!! Some are obvious, others you have to have someone step back and forth between them while you look at them to tell.

We STILL haven't paid for the floor labor, plus the amount I spent on tile, plus some more. They want to come in and replace a handful of tiles and maybe caulk the rest. Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen to me. Any ideas?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 9:42PM
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snookums2

It's a rip out. You can do it now or down the road after you pay them. I expect JBT would say the same. Ask over there. They should have checked for movement first. You are seeing a series of blunders not just a mistake.

What is the subfloor?

This post was edited by snookums2 on Sun, Jul 21, 13 at 23:40

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 11:02PM
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Molly Phillips

Same thing happened to us.... tiles were moving. We removed the tile and it had been put down so horribly we were able to save over 90% of the tiles. They just popped right up. It looked to be a combination of subfloor not being put down well (not enough screws used) and not enough adhesive laid under the tiles. Just an overall bad job. Good news was that it made for a much easier demo (but we were remodeling so it wasn't my finished, new kitchen). So sorry!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 11:36PM
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samk1017

"You can do it now or down the road after you pay them."

I was thinking I shouldn't pay for moving tiles, and should withhold the cost of demo as well, is this too rash?

Subfloor it 3/4 OSB with cement board supported well in a crawlspace, beams/joists seem to be OK, no big cracks or movement... At least from what I can tell.

This post was edited by samlawn on Mon, Jul 22, 13 at 6:07

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 6:03AM
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snookums2

I agree that you should not pay them for a bad install or a demo required to start over again. If the tiles cannot be salvaged, then they owe you for those, as well as the backer board, etc. that was wasted. I hope you are planning on finding another installer this time. They need to find out what the source of the problem is before proceeding with any more work. If it was simply shoddy workmanship, poor prep or inexperience then the installer needs to reimburse your losses. Once they decide to install, they have taken ownership that it is a sound foundation upon which to install. It is a given that they should be trained and know what they are doing!

Good luck. Hope it goes better next time.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Tue, Jul 23, 13 at 12:55

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 9:00AM
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Linelle

Wow, this also happened to me. It was my bathroom floor which was mercifully small. Fortunately (or maybe not) it was my brother-in-law's work, a great guy who was just helping me out. :(

He finished the job and left for home, on the other side of Calif. I was just cleaning up and noticed chunks of grout would pop out and/or turn back to sand. The tile store said it was because my grout was old and it would have to come out and be regrouted. As I was on hands and knees removing grout, entire tiles began to lift off. So, not just the grout was bad, but he had screwed up simply laying the tile. It was a total Charlie Foxtrot. At the time I was undone by this, the last in a series of well-intentioned blunders that made my poor bathroom a disaster. I paid a guy to redo the entire floor with new tile. The bathroom and I recovered. Hopefully you and your floor will too.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 11:24AM
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