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Old 06-17-2004, 07:35 PM   #1
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HELP! Preparing to regrout shower.

Just happened upon this forum today and was relieved to find so much knowledge in one place. THis is short notice, but I'm hoping you guys can help.

I have a problem similar to something that somebody brought to these forums a while back.

I have a shower -- possibly 15-20 years old (approx. 4 inch tiles, 1/8 inch grout). Grout is in fair condition overall, but some places it seems to be getting powdery. In other places, they've patched with caulk. There are some places where grout is cracked. Tiles aren't "loose" per se -- but some are coming apart at the seams, so to speak.

We haven't used the shower more than 10-12 times, and I've decided that we really ought to consider regrouting. I'm presuming I'll need to break the caulk bond between tub and tile, recaulk, and then start the regrout.

Can somebody take me through this process from start to finish? I just want to make sure that before I take my weekend to do this that I have a good handle on what I'm getting into. I'm prepared to head off to HD or somewhere to buy supplies tomorrow.

Also - how long will the grout need to CURE before we can shower? (we've been bathing for the past few days)
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Old 06-17-2004, 07:56 PM   #2
lo_bluestocking
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Sorry, guys -
Didn't register before posting.

I thought I'd rectify that and give myself an identity before expecting any sort of help.

Am first-time homebuyer, but I came from handy stock. Am just hoping for a jumpstart...
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Old 06-17-2004, 08:13 PM   #3
KChurch1
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We use a few different tools to regrout showers. One is the Fein Multimaster with the grout removal blade. This tool costs between two and three hundred dollars (www.feinus.com). If you don't want to invest in this tool (which is great for several tasks) you can use a Dremmel with a grout removal bit... 3/32" bit for non-sanded narrow joints, 1/16" bit for sanded wider joints. The best (cheapest) place to buy these bits is at www.leakyshower.com I get all my bits there.... much, much cheaper than the $12 bits from Dremmel... you'll appreciate this fact as you break the bits one after another.... (wear safety glasses while operating)
We also use a little hand tool with a triangle tip called a Grout Getter (Grout Rout) made by Superior. I especially like this tool for scraping out old caulking and cleaning up the edges of the grout joints.
I recommend that you clean the shower first.... get it as clean as you can and dry it well. Start digging out the grout. Wear a dust mask... and mask off the area you are working in (unless you use the Fein tool... doesn't generate too much dust). The Dremmel kicks up a lot of grout dust... you don't want to breath this. Use all the tools to get the grout joints as clean as possible. Dig out the caulking. Clean the area with a shop vac and then a damp rag. Mix up your grout and start grouting with a grout float (If you need grouting instructions, just ask). Small sections at a time, use one of those big yellow grout sponges to wipe the excess grout off the tiles and smooth your grout joints (wear gloves or else the tips of your fingers will bleed and will turn your grout pink...) . Get the sponge wet with fresh, clean water and then wring it out until you can't get anymore water to drip off the sponge (this way you won't be using too much water during your clean up which can cause the grout to fail). Rinse the sponge often. If it's a hot day, don't use an occilating fan to keep you cool in the shower... it makes the grout dry too fast and reallllly hard to remove the excess....
When you have completed the grouting and sponged everything real well, get a piece of cheesecloth and buff the tile (this gets all the haze off) I use the cheesecloth from the tile section... it's made with raw cotton and has just enough cottonseed oil to leave the tile nice and shiney.
After you have finished grouting, you can caulk the joints. You can always caulk the joints first and then wait a couple days before you begin grouting.
We always wait 72 hours after grouting to apply sealer to the grout joints. Then wait another 24 hours before using the shower.
Keep it clean with a good neutral tile and stone cleaner.

While you are digging out the old grout, you may run into problems such as loose tiles. Moisture may have gotten behind your tile and caused problems. Let us know if these problems come up during the process.
Good luck
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Old 06-17-2004, 08:20 PM   #4
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Thanks, Karen - Good start.

If you don't mind, I'd love step-by-step to the grouting process. Would just ease my mind a bit.

Any rec's on types of grout?
And can I put up a plastic barrier so that we can use the tub for bathing in between waiting periods?

Also - Can I dig out grout by hand (with an exacto knife or similar)? Don't know how many jobs I'll have to do to justify the price of a saw...

I know, I know. Lots of questions. Just wanting to ease my mind a bit before beginning.
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Old 06-17-2004, 10:18 PM   #5
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The Dremmel tool is less than fifty dollars.... well worth the investment, but if you'd rather do it by hand, the triangle tip grout getter tool is about twelve dollars and will do the job if the grout is soft enough. I wouldn't do it with a knife...
The grout I normally use is Custom's Polyblend non sanded bright white. I like the bright white because it looks clean and it's an easy color to match if you ever need to do a touch up.
Mix the grout according to the box. You won't need the whole box for a shower.... maybe half the box. They have white plastic buckets at HD.... gallon size would be plenty big enough. Put a little bit of water in the bottom of the bucket to start... not too much.... add the powder, add more water and stir. You want it the consistancy of peanut butter. Not too stiff or too loose. Let it rest for about ten minutes and then stir it again.... letting it sit is important. I like to use the smaller rubber grout float with the handle.... easier for me to work with. I start at the bottom of the wall and work my way up. Spread the grout into the joints and over the tile keeping the bottom of the float at a low angle to push the grout into the joints. Work out any air bubbles that may form in the joint. Do about 4 sq ft to start. When you are sure the grout is in the joints, turn your float to a higher angle and scrap the grout off the face of the tiles... working on a diagonal. If it's hot and dry where you are working, you might be able to start sponging the area. If it's cool and damp, go on to another section... when you finish the second section, start sponging the first. You don't want to wash the tile too soon or you'll wash out the grout joints, but if you wait too long it will be a bear to clean. Rinse the sponge often. I like to groom the grout joints with the sponge lightly working the grout joint up and down, back and forth until it's the right level and smooth. If you mess up on an area... remove too much grout... you can always go back and add more grout and try again. If you leave too much and it dries... it's more difficult to get it smooth. It's nice if you can work with a partner... one to float grout and one to clean.
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Old 06-18-2004, 07:05 AM   #6
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Again, many thanks for the good information. I'm indebted.

Before I start... Am I being presumptive to assume that this is something your average "Joe" (or "Josephina") can tackle?

Another quick question that has popped into my head -- I'm presuming I should also dig out the caulk between the tub and tile (and in the corners of the previous job).

If so, can I recaulk AFTER doing the grout? Is that the smartest way to go about things?


Also - is there any way we will we be able to use the tub for bathing or anything? Or are we talking a week of non-use after this job?
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Old 06-18-2004, 09:26 AM   #7
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Hey, guys -
Sorry for the basic questions. I think I'm getting myself all worked up about this for no reason. I just hate the thought of messing something up.

This tile job isn't the best in the west, and maybe should just be torn out. But right now I'm in the process of getting estimates for a new roof... so I have bigger fish to fry. The regrout is just a means to make the shower last for a while longer.

My biggest concern is that we find a way to get CLEAN over the next week or so. I've read some vague information about putting plastic up over the grout so that it can cure... but I'm wondering if that is the best thing (will that hold in moisture?)

Any advice you guys can give would be much appreciated.

Again -- sorry for the short notice and hyperventilation
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Old 06-18-2004, 08:45 PM   #8
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Hello Blue, Please give us a first name.

Karen's instructions are thorough and correct. I hope you noticed the sentence she placed about moisture possibly getting behind the tiles and causing problems. You see properly installed tiles don't just all of a sudden start coming loose. I'll bet you have a "sheetrock shower." Nothing behind the tiles but sheetrock. If that's the case, I would rip it out and build a new shower.
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Old 06-18-2004, 09:10 PM   #9
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Regrouting a typical track home shower that is less than 20 years old with non sanded white grout is something just about anyone (diy'er) could tackle. Older grout is more difficult to remove and sanded grout is more difficult. Colored grout also poses some challenges.

Digging out and replacing the old caulking is also a good idea.

I always caulk after grouting... others may do it different.

You can use the tub if you are very careful not to get the new caulking/grout wet... especially the caulking.... before it has cured.

If you do have sheetrock that is wet and falling apart behind the tiles, you will find out when you remove the grout and the tiles start falling off. If the tiles are not loose, you can just regrout. If the tiles are loose, you should reset them. If there is greenboard behind those tiles, you will have to remove that section and replace it with cement board. If you have an eye for detail I'm sure you can handle this job.
Come back to these boards if you discover problems.
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Old 06-19-2004, 07:57 AM   #10
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Alright, guys. Here to report back.

Firstly - name is Lorilei, "Lo" for short. Sorry for not signing off on that sooner

Things went well yesterday afternoon. I got most of the grout out from the tiles, got the caulk torn loose... and that's when we realized that we have the beginnings of some rot behind the tiles (I just noticed some crumbling behind the caullking at the tub/tile line).

PLASTER behind those tiles, people. UGH!!
The shower is only about 20-some years old, from our guesstimation. But the house is pure 1927.

UNFORTUNATELY, we can't afford to rip out this shower right now. We're in the process of getting bids for a new roof... so I'm going to need to pretend it never happened. We may have to just boycott SHOWERING in that tub for a while; I don't have any other really good answers. I'm a worrier by nature -- and I won't rest until this is fixed. I just don't know how to do it anytime soon.


In any case, it is with a heavy heart that I'm going back in there today to regrout the sections that I took down yesterday. I can't say I'm as excited about this as I was before. I think, in this case, it's my worst nightmare about the job come true.
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Old 06-19-2004, 07:59 AM   #11
lo_bluestocking
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DARN!

First I don't even introduce myself properly... then I can't seem to remember to sign in when I reply... just slap me, will ya??


BTW - If any of you have any words of wisdom for my plight, I'd love to hear them. I'm a born perfectionist, and this whole situation is killing me.

Last edited by lo_bluestocking; 06-19-2004 at 08:07 AM.
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Old 06-19-2004, 10:05 AM   #12
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If the tiles are not loose and falling off the wall, go ahead and regrout/caulk.... this will help prevent future moisture damage behind the tiles.
Do you have pictures?
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Old 06-21-2004, 07:30 AM   #13
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Karen -
No pictures at this point -- digital camera is out of commission. But I wish I'd have taken some to show.

After I removed all grout and caulk, there were two or three tiles that seemed A BIT loose down toward the bottom of the wall (near where the caulk line between tile/tub is). Most tiles seemed to be in good shape, but those few made me nervous. Out of curiosity, I did pry them off (took a bit of work, but not much)... I found what I expected to find (much to my annoyance) -- adhesive over crumbly surface plaster.

I managed to scrape away a bit of the damaged plaster to make a relatively flat surface for the tiles, replaced them with adhesive, and regrouted the next day.

As I explained, we don't have the money to replace the wall right now -- which I'm assuming is what we need to do (and I have company coming over 4th of July weekend, so now was NOT the time to start a big project). In order to avoid further damage to the wall, I'm presuming we'll just avoid showering (since that puts direct spray on the wall... probably not a good thing)... UNLESS someone can provide me with a better solution, or some assurance that we won't be further damaging the wall.

Grout appears to be solid now, after two days (no cracking or separating). Should I be misting the grout, as it indicates on the package instructions? Something tells me there was some controversy about that...

Also - how soon will I know if I have a successful grouting in place? Any recommendations for sealer? (I saw a spray-on sealer at Depot...???)
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Old 06-21-2004, 08:00 AM   #14
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Sounds like you are doing fine. I hope you didn't use a premixed mastic adhesive to set your tiles. Thinset is the way to go.
You can get some Aqua Mix Sealers Choice Gold at Lowe's or Home Depot and seal your shower with that.
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Old 06-21-2004, 10:09 AM   #15
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Thanks, Karen --

You've been a big help.

Will be off to Home Depot for that sealer... I'm presuming I can seal next weekend, then?

Now, what's the best way to apply the sealer? And what do I need to be aware of?




Again, thanks for all your help.
I'm anticipating you guys will be a great group to have around when we attempt a tear-out of that tile wall... so I hope I haven't overstayed my welcome.
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