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Old 11-24-2013, 01:59 AM   #1
BantyMom
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Grout Cracking in Corners

I've had my shower tiled in slate (India Lilac Autumn) over mortared walls (is that the correct term?) and it was grouted with charcoal Hydroment grout (sanded). This was awhile ago (long story - and the shower has never been used) and now the grout is coming away from the slate in the bottom corners (all four) and in one of the top corners. I had put on one coat of Enhance and Seal before I was unable to finish it.

I have now read that caulk would have been better in the corners, but does it come in dark dark gray?

Do I remove and replace the grout? Here are the steps I found:

Step 1) Clean the broken grout area with a 1-to-1 vinegar and water mixture.

Step 2) Use a grout saw to remove the loose or damaged grout. Be careful not to chip the tile. (Grout saw??)

Step 3) Dampen the joints with water. Use a paper towel to absorb any water that puddles in the grooves.

Step 4) Mix the grout according to the manufacturer's directions.

Step 5) Use a grout float to spread the grout, filling the joints completely.

Step 6) Smooth the joint surface with a rounded stick.

Step 7) Remove the excess grout with a squeegee or damp grout sponge. Rinse the squeegee or sponge periodically. Wipe the area once.

Step 8) Allow the grout to set firmly by following the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 9) Clean the tile with a damp rag.

Step 10) Allow it to dry until a cloudy haze appears on the tile.

Step 11) Polish the tile with a dry towel to remove the haze. (Hmmmm.. polish slate???)

Do you guys have any corrections or additions to this?

Thank you all very much for your time and patience,
Bantymom
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Last edited by BantyMom; 11-24-2013 at 02:06 AM.
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Old 11-24-2013, 10:25 AM   #2
Tool Guy - Kg
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Hi Banty,

Tiny bit confused here. You're asking about using a flexible caulk to correct the cracking grout problem, yet your instruction are for grouting the corners again.

Technically, you are indeed supposed to caulk all "change of plane" and "change of material" transitions. In some cases, some pros have success grouting corners. But that's probably for another discussion. For caulk in a shower, you don't want just any caulk. You want a sealant...something like 100% silicone. Yes, it comes in a large variety of colors. Laticrete has 19 different colors of Latisil to match their grouts. And Tec has 33 different colors of AccuColor 100 to match their grouts. However, with your slate tile that isn't shiny, the shine of silicone may look like a poor choice as it would contrast the tile. In this case, you can order 100% silicone in a "satin" or "sanded" variety from a company called ColorRite. They have over three hundred colors and if you specifically order the "satin" or "sanded" variety in any given color, it will probably blend a lot more with your matte tile. Mechanically remove as much grout as you can. If you need to clean with a vinegar solution with water, make sure to rinse the joints with water afterwards to neutralize the pH. After it is very thoroughly dry, apply the silicone. If you're not familiar with silicone, it's wise to practice/TEST on a couple pieces of scrap tiles ahead of time. This is especially true when working with natural stone. Some acetoxy (which ColorSil is) sealants don't play well with some stone and can stain the material.

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Old 11-24-2013, 04:31 PM   #3
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There is nothing wrong with the grout. The corners crack on most installs. A house moves around seasonally more than you'd think. If the grout is cracked, but not falling out, you can just apply Dow Corning translucent white silicone over the existing grout. It will hide the hairline cracks and keep it from falling out.
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Old 11-24-2013, 07:22 PM   #4
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Sorry for the confusion. It was late. I was asking both, actually, sort of. Let me try again:

Corners cracking, etc....

1) Can I (as someone else told me, but which seems suspect to me as it doesn't seem much of a fix) mix a slurry of my original grout and just spread it back over the area since tile and grout are pretty much cosmetic decoration anyway (over an inch of mortar)?

2) Can I just seal over it with colored silicone sealant?

3) Or do I have to remove all of the old grout before:

a) replacing with more grout (with an admix in it) (hence the grout steps, posted because I wanted to make sure they were correct)

b) replacing with silicone sealant (sanded I'm guessing)

It sounds like the recommendation is to go with the sealant, which would require removing more grout than if I were going to use more grout, unless I can use the sealant just in the corners?????

Why do I need to wash it with vinegar and water first? (this is not a challenge, just a question for clarification).

If the cracks are caused by house movement, does that mean that the mortar underneath is also cracked? or could the cracks be caused by the grout/water ratio when it was put in?

As for removing the grout, any recommendations/tips/warnings about using a grout saw? a Dremmel? or the Regrout Tool?

Thanks much,
Banty
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Old 11-24-2013, 08:34 PM   #5
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1) You can, but it's not likely to stick...or match the color...or remain uncracked for very long.

2) You can, but because it's full of grout, the silicone will be very thin once it's tooled and it'll be likely to crack. A very thin bead of silicone puts all the stress onto a very small part of the grout body. You really want to remove the grout so that it can be filled with silicone. A full bead of silicone can deform much more than a thin film can before cracking or pulling loose from the corners.

3) Yes, remove the grout.

3a) The individual walls move independently due to normal expansion and contraction. Grout has very poor elastic qualities; slightly better with the admix, but no where near where what 100% silicone has. Even with the admix. I would recommend against grout, but you're free to do what you like.

3b) Yes, my recommendation.

4) Recommendation is to remove grout and replace with 100% silicone that can remain intact as it deforms with individual wall movement.

5) You don't need to wash with vinegar. You brought it up. If you've got a little grout film, this is one method of cleaning it off. If all the grout you need to remove can be done with a grout removal tool, then just use the tool.

6) You're substrate is likely to be cracked in the corner as well.

7) I like using an oscillation tool like a Fein MultiMaster with a grout removal blade (actually, I don't like removing grout at all, but when I'm forced to, this is the tool of choice). But I've used every tool at one time or another for various reasons.

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Old 11-27-2013, 12:17 PM   #6
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Thanks so much for your friendly patience with me and for taking the time to gently answer my all of my questions. And now I'm off to remove grout!
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