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Old 04-14-2006, 08:45 PM   #1
DonB
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SpectraLock - Nothing to fear

If this stuff was any easier, it would be illegal.

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Old 04-14-2006, 09:36 PM   #2
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So many people were scared off by the horror stories from the original epoxy grouts that many people aren't willing to believe that SpectraLock could possibly be relatively easy to use. Keep spreading the word.

BTW, did you use the Pro version or the stuff that is now only available at Lowe'st?
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Old 04-14-2006, 10:03 PM   #3
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Jeff,

I got "stuck" with using the original. There's no place to buy the Pro version around here but this stuff is easier than the Polyblend I've always used. I am definitely a believer.

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Old 04-15-2006, 04:39 PM   #4
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Good to know. Glad you posted.

Don

Thank you for posting these encouraging words.

In general I have been so totally frustrated by never seeing samples of epoxy grout in stores. Once, four years ago, when a new Home D-Pot opened near downtown Montreal, a Mapei rep was there on the same day the Home D-pot had an opening event including cake laced with rum, and I got to see real life samples of epoxy. These were big samples, like 3'x3', with a bit of tile in between.

I'm currently doing the biggest project of my life, and I'm sure I'll end up considering epoxy grout. After all my talk about how good epoxy grout is, after four years, even my wife is OK with the idea. And she has NEVER seen it! I have only seen it once. Why can't the big epoxy people put HUGE samples in the stores? Add a bit of rum cake, and they'll sell more of it.
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Old 04-15-2006, 11:05 PM   #5
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David,

Here is a picture of SpectraLock epoxy grouts. The sample is a rough bar of Raven against the granite I'll be grouting with it. The other color is Silver Shadow that I'm installing on my island. The best way I can describe this stuff is it looks like grout wishes it did. I'll be following this post with a narrative of installation experiences I've had so far.

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Old 04-15-2006, 11:15 PM   #6
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Dispelling the mystique

Iíll recount the installation techniques I found to work to work best for me with regular SpectraLock.

First of all, if you have an accurate means of weighing and can work a simple proportion, thereís no need to mix an entire unit. Mix what you need, when you need it. Even though two of three components are liquid, they are conveniently packaged and measured in grams. You should probably have the ability to measure to the tenth of a gram. Do rely on the contents information listed in the Laticrete data sheets, not whatís listed on the mini unit packaging. This is total misinformation. Laticrete canít or wonít tell me why this is so but I suspect itís to dissuade the typical DIYíer from mixing partial batches. Part C, which is supposed to be an even kilo is a bit heavy so keep that in mind if you want to reduce the color/sand part to make small joints easier to stuff. All of the Part C boxes I have actually contain an average 109% of a kilo so if you want to cut back by 10%, you should probably cut back by 19% for joints less than an eighth. Iíll know more about that when I begin grouting my granite installation.

As for the actual installation, I was very curious after reading countless horror stories about epoxy grouts. I initially mixed 10% of a mini unit just to see how it acted. It mixes nice and quick, just like Polyblend except for you mix the liquid Parts A & B before adding the solids of Part C.

Since I was expecting the proverbial situation of ďgrouting with bubble gumĒ I decided beforehand my method would consist of stuffing the joints full with a margin trowel thus keeping the pookie off the tiles as much as possible. I also did this to maximize economy and minimize waste. After doing the stuffing, Iíd hit it with the float held at a 45į angle to both the joints and the surface to ensure they were packed tight.. Next, I strike off the joints with a vertical float, which pretty much cleans it all up. I follow this with a basic shaping of the joint with the rounded corner of the float at a very shallow angle and slight pressure. Follow this again with a very high-pressure strike off with the vertical float. The tile is clean and the joints are full and fairly nice looking at this point. I loosely park any leftovers in a convenient empty joint and go rinse my tools. Think this may be hard? No way. Basically, you just rinse them off with water. Nothing to it.

For some reason, I mixed my first batch of rinse water a little richer than Laticrete recommends. They suggest Ĺ cup of plain white vinegar to 2 gallons of water. I used Ĺ cup to a gallon. It worked well for me so thatís what I continued to use. After cleaning my tools I go right to it with the orange sponge and start smoothing the joints with a light circular motion. I donít clean my sponge until I get all of them smoothed. The nastier the sponge, the better it works. If I find an imperfection, divot or a general low spot, I dip a bit out of the leftovers dropped off in a nearby joint with a utility knife and use my finger to do whatever is necessary for repair.. Scary thought eh? I mean they put the rubber gloves in every kit for a reason, right? I dunno. Cementious grout is pretty rough on my skin but this epoxy doesnít bother it at all. Besides, thereís always the convenient bucket of vinegar water to use as a finger bowl. It doesnít take long before all the joints are smooth as glass. When Iím satisfied with it, I rinse the sponge and start cleaning as per normal by lightly dragging the sponge diagonally across the tiles. One drag each side, per rinse. I continue with this until I pick up no more residue and call it done.

Any additional cleaning beyond this is for entertainment value only. Although Iíve participated, as recommended, itís a waste of time and not necessary. I have gone back in an hour, as Laticrete suggests, scrubbing the bejeezus out of it with a white scrubbie and vinegar water hunting for residue producing froth and any other nasty side effects of the devil epoxy but I find nothing. I even go back the next and do it again but I always come up dry.

As for color, this stuff is true. Interesting thing is it starts out light and darkens to the proper shade as it cures which is the exact opposite of cement grout. Iím using two colors, one a light silver and one a very dark almost black. Never in my life have I seen an actual grout install match the color on the sample card until now.

Bottom line is this stuff is easy can be, no problem with haze and works like a dream. Thereís no way to wash out the color with water because there are to pigments to wash out and the stuff loves water. Hitting it quickly when itís still nice and soft melts it all down to a beautifully smooth texture. Now, if they could get the price more in line with cement, conventional grouts would soon be nothing but a bad memory.

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Old 04-16-2006, 07:13 AM   #7
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absolutely beautiful grout lines. Maybe I'll change my mind about my next grout job.
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Old 04-16-2006, 08:11 AM   #8
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Don,

Absolutely awesome looking grout lines. I've got a couple of questions if you've got the time...first, is the material such that it could be used for the "change in plane" instead of caulking? Does it need to be sealed like conventional grout and are there specific sealers? How much more expensive is it than Polyblend...double or more?

Thanks,

Brian
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Old 04-16-2006, 10:12 AM   #9
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Thanks Y'all.

Brian, I don't know how to answer your first question. I'm unsure of how to even determine ultimate strength. Thit is something for our engineer. For instance, compressive strength of Polyblend is higher at 4650 psi vs. 3500 for the epoxy while 7 day tensile strength of the epoxy is higher at 1100 psi and Polyblend reaches a max of 423 at 28 days. Polyblend has a flexural strength rating of >990 psi but I don't find an ANSI spec for this in Spectralock. Instinct tells me the epoxy would have much more flexibility than cement grout but this is deduced by using the swag method (scientific wild-assed guess). It would certainly have none of the flexibility of caulk.

I don't think epoxy could possibly benefit from a sealer, or even take any sealer. I've never seen any recommendation for sealing and indeed, putting sealer on it may actually goof it up as it will if applying it to some granite types of natural stone. This is a question for our pro's who are much more educated and experienced.

Although the price I paid for my load of Spectralock is on par with Polyblend, due to a huge good ol' boy discount combined with a scratch & dent crushed case deal, I expect at retail prices, Spectralock may be as much as 10 times the cost of Polyblend. For small, critical applications such as countertops, where acid based food spills can potentially negate sealer protection in an instant, I think the epoxy is well worth the investment. I also wouldn't hesitate to use it in a shower.

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Old 04-16-2006, 05:38 PM   #10
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I've read stories (never seen it) where they used epoxy at changes of plane...it broke the tile rather than cracking the joint. I'd seriously consider caulk.
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Old 04-17-2006, 02:30 PM   #11
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newbie Spectralock questions

Hi,

I think I'm going to try Spectralock (Pro, hopefully) for my kitchen floor project. Thanks you DonB for taking the fear away and explaining your technique.

Here's a basic question:
Do you have to do the entire grout job in one go, or is there a way I can grout some of the tiles, and get back to it another day without having color-match problems? Should I dry-mix all of the Spectralock units in advance to make sure the color is consistent everywhere?

and here's another:
I want to leave an expansion gap around the perimeter of my tile field, next to the walls. My plan was to get some type of foam strip material (1/4" thick or so) to put next to the wall so that I would have an expansion gap, and tile&grout right up next to it. Will I have any problems grouting up to a expansion strip like this with Spectralock? Should I even bother with the expansion gap?

thanks,
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Old 04-17-2006, 03:27 PM   #12
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You can grout in sections; no problem especially with epoxy -- it'll stick to itself.

You need an expansion gap at the walls, but not necessarily the foam. Just leave a 1/4" space and keep the grout out of it. It won't be that hard to do. Cover the gap with either the wall tile or the baseboard.
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Old 04-17-2006, 04:21 PM   #13
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Hi Russ,

If your color/sand components (Part C) are not all of the same lot and batch number, you should dry mix them. If you buy them all at once you should have no problems getting all the same numbers. You always mix the liquid components (Parts A & B) before adding the Part C solids.

It's no problem starting and stopping anywhere in the project. You can also mix any size batch you need as long as you can handle the exact proportioning and measurement. I mixed 1% of a mini unit to make that Raven colored sample bar. If you can deal with this part of it, you can grout your floor one tile at the time and nobody will ever know the difference. Also, if you find low spots or imperfections later, you just go right on it with new stuff.

I always leave a gap between floor tile and the bottom plate or drywall and cover it with the baseboard. I never have put anything into that gap.

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Old 04-19-2006, 12:11 PM   #14
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Another little tip/trick I've confirmed is keeping it cold or freezing works. If you have a tedious and time consuming bunch of grouting to do, keep your supply in the freezer and dip out of it as you go along. It doesn't take long to freeze up, which will scare you at first, but scoop a plug with your margin trowel and in a minute your grout is just like brand new. I know for a fact this gives you more than two hours of useful life and I've heard it will hold the grout uncured for an indefinite period of time. The stuff I installed out of the freezer last night cured out just as perfectly as the rest of it.

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Old 04-20-2006, 08:51 AM   #15
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Spectralock Removal

If for some reason the Spectralock pro grout ever has to be removed/changed. Is the removal process the same as it is for all the portland cement based grouts. Do the standard grout saws found for normal grout removal work on spectralock?
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