Wood Tile Floor Issue

jennifer11203August 20, 2013

Hi Everyone,
So where at the process now of finishing our flooring in the kitchen but we came into a real issue..... UGH! After grouting the grout lines turned white. The color of the grout is Sable Brown by Polybl*nd which is a very dark chocolate brown. Does anyone have any experience with this or have any solutions???? I am very stressed out over this because it changes the look of the floor entirely. I chose a black walnut wood tile floor with white grout lines and it looks bad! I even tried to clean the floor a couple of times to see if that would take the white away but had no luck!
Thank you so much.

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willtv

I'm no expert, but I'm told that grout color gets washed out if they add too much water to the mix.
Try mixing up some of the grout, as instructed on the package, and spreading it on a sample board to see if it's any darker.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 4:37PM
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mudhouse_gw

I'm no expert either, but I think this sounds like grout efflorescence. Basically soluble salts rise to the surface of the grout as it dries, making the white film. Here is an article with more info:

grout efflorescence

You might consider cross posting in the bathroom forum, as there are some really knowledgeable tiling pros that help out over there, and they might be able to brainstorm solutions with you.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 6:51PM
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snookums2

It could be either efflorescence (which they can try to remove) or the pigment has been washed out by using too much water. It is amazing how many of these installers do not know this. They will make excuses too even though it's right on the bag and the color is clearly washed out. What did they say?

As I recall, a vinegar solution can be tried first, from there there are stronger cleaners. Don't know the waiting period from installation. Check over at John Bridge Tile Forum for specifics.

It's an installer error, so if you can't remedy or live with it, I guess they will need to remove the grout and start again.

I would recommend a higher quality grout next time. TEC XT and Laticrete are a couple. I don't know if Polybl* has a premium product. Look for stain resistant, crack resistant and color lock technology.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Wed, Aug 21, 13 at 9:47

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 9:00PM
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millworkman

I am confused by your post. Is the grout supposed to be "White" or is it supposed to be "Sable Brown"?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 9:16AM
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jennifer11203

Thank you all for your help. We contacted Polyble* and they advised us that it is a mineral build up and to scrub it with phosphoric acid.

@ snookums2 - the installer acted like he never seen anything like it before and told us he never heard of a mineral build up. Obviously they were not that experienced and this was most likely their mess up but I just hope that the phosphoric acid works and my grout will look brown again!

@millworkman The grout color is suppose to be sable brown but instead turned white.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 9:49AM
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snookums2

Sad but true, I don't know how it is possible they can be in the field but are oblivious. One guy insisted it was just the color of the grout (long time in the biz). I tried the acid washes myself but the pigment was washed out for the most part.

Try the milder stuff first, a vinegar solution. Acids, even food grade vinegar, are not good for grout and weaken it, so the less exposure the better. Check out JBT.

Hope it comes off.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 10:09AM
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live_wire_oak

We had the same issue on one of our vignettes, and it was one of our installer's helpers who used too much water too soon to wipe the grout off. The solution was to use an epoxy grout colorant to make it the correct color.

The #1 cause for your issue is too much water, unless you live somewhere that has some severe alkaline soil and water. Either the grout was mixed too liquid from the beginning, or too much water was used to rinse off the residue. Another factor to that would be how long they waited for the grout to set up before starting to remove the residue. A "perfect storm" of too much water in the mix, too much water used to remove the residue, and not waiting long enough for it to set first, is the only way that brown grout "turns white".

If you can clearly see the brown, and it merely has a whitish haze over the top, that is efflorescence. What you describe isn't efflorescence.

And no manufacturer should suggest that a homeowner use phosphoric acid in their home themselves unless it's clear that that is the issue, and the homeowner has some technical skills. Yes, it's a "weak" acid solution, but it still requires goggles, protective gloves, and other personal protective equipment. And, if you start with the big guns, you've removed any remedy against the installer for incorrect install.

I'd start with a vinegar wipe in one area first, and see if that improves anything at all. I suspect it won't, because that's not the issue. If I'm wrong, and it does remove some of the white, then it would be up to the installer to deal with the phosphoric acid wash. But, I'd bet money I'm not wrong.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 10:12AM
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jennifer11203

live_wire_oak - Thank you for your help. I know problem lies with the installer and I have no doubt that it they used too much water. At this point my husband is so fed up he wants to rip out the whole floor cause they were overall sloppy. He rather not pay them and get them out of the house sooner than later then have them try to correct the problem. It seems like every time they try to correct something they make it worse. The job was suppose to be finished on Monday and today is Wednesday and the floor is still not completely done. In the past my husband did all the tiling and this time we thought since he was doing everything else (electric, plumbing, dry wall, cabinets, etc.) we would get someone to do the tile to make it easier on him but in the end I feel like if he would of did the job it would have came out 100% time better because he is a projectionist and the job would have been done. IâÂÂm hoping that the floor looks better when the grout color is correct and you wonâÂÂt notice their minor sloppiness. I hate to put them down cause the job isnâÂÂt all that bad but when you put so much time in effort into something you want everything to be perfect. So IâÂÂm hoping that when all is said and done it will look beautiful lol! Wish me luck!
On another note the company said that it was a mineral build up because when the tile gets wet it turns the color it was intended to be so they suggested to try the phosphoric acid and then advised that if the phosphoric acid did not work they will reimburse us and send us the epoxy grout colorant for free. At this point I just want the whole job done. It seems like everywhere we turn there is another obstacle. Also my husband has dealt with the phosphoric acid before so he will be in charge of this job. We may try vinegar first but we have such a tight schedule that we just need to get everything done. Cabinets come on Friday!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 10:29AM
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snookums2

It's too bad they won't be the ones removing it, because they can put it all on you once you start messing with it.

If you get a chance, please post back if it worked.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 10:41AM
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