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Old 10-21-2009, 09:54 AM   #1
gopujols
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seam between tiles and tub

Okay I know there are varied opinions on this but I'm trying to make my mind up. I removed our ugly acrylic tub surround mainly because we had a huge problem with UGLY black mold/mildew growing on the caulk between the surround and the tub. Anyway I took down all the walls, put up 6 mm plastic on the studs, installed 1/2 inch hardibacker and two niches (not prefab niches). I redguarded both niches and installed 18-inch ceramic tile on the walls and I'm going to use natural stone in the niches (reason being I have a lot of tile left over from another job I'd like to get rid of).

Now comes the question: What do I do for the seam between the tile and the tub? I left a 1/4 inch gap between the tub and tile which I thought I was supposed to do but now seems too large--but it's too late. I'm going to use that TEC XT grout you don't have to seal--does that mean it's an epoxy grout? I'm tempted to just use that to grout the seam between the tub because maybe that will resist the mold/mildew problem.

If I should caulk, should I use silicone caulk or the siliconized sanded caulk that matches my grout color? If I do a really good job caulking could I prevent the mold/mildew problems?

I really don't know which way to go on this one because I definitely don't want mold growing anymore. I also don't want cracked grout! My tub is steel. Either way I go I'll make sure to fill the tub 1/2 way with water.

Help me make a decision please!!!
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Old 10-21-2009, 09:57 AM   #2
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Hi Gavin, welcome! TEC XT is not an epoxy but is will resist mold and doesn't need to be sealed. I use it all time. You can get TEC silicone in matching color to caulk the tile to the tub.
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Old 10-21-2009, 10:05 AM   #3
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Okay but you're saying I shouldn't use the Tec grout between the tub and tile correct? I didn't know Tec made a silicone caulk to match the grout. Would that caulk have the same mold/mildew resistors? I'm worried if I go with any caulk again I'm going to run into the same mildew problems I had before, especially with the 1/4 inch gap I'm covering--that's a lot of caulk exposed to water.
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Old 10-22-2009, 08:52 AM   #4
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bump. Please help me with this decision. I need to do something this weekend so the wife can use the shower again. I found sanded silicone caulk to match the color of my grout. Should I just go with that and hope I do a good enough job where the mold won't grow? Will the silicone caulk help over the siliconized caulk I used before?
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Old 10-22-2009, 09:11 AM   #5
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It's more likely to crack if you grout the horizontal tub-to-tile transition. Then you'll definitely be wicking moisture up there. Not desired.

If you find the color-matching silicone (not "siliconized") caulk, I'd use that.

Kinda tough for us out here to say "This is guaranteed not to mold" in your particular situation, sorry.
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Old 10-22-2009, 09:16 AM   #6
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Gavin,
Your first problem, I am afraid, is your backerboard install. You shouldn't use plastic behind, and then redguard only part of the shower, that is a no no. If you are going to use a waterproof membrane, you need to use it on the whole shower. By just doing the niches, you are going to have water absorbed into the durock around the niche, absorb behind the niche,and then stay there because you have plastic behind it as well, aka moisture sandwich. I guess if you already tiled, not much you can do about it now.
As far as grout vs caulk. If you had put a membrane over the whole shower, I would probably say silicon caulk (never just siliconized latex for the bottom, it always develops problems), but since you have a lot of bare durock for water to soak into, grout might be the way to go.
If you have a really sturdy tub with no flex, you may get lucky and not have any cracking with the grout.

If you are adventuresome, there is a way to get the best of both worlds, and you need a bigger gap like what you have.
Tape of a line on the tub about 1/8 inch back from the face of the tile. Then tape the tile from the top so the tape goes into the joint most bu not all of the way. Then apply silicon caulk and spread it so you get a layer of it resting on the tub top, and into the joint just a bit. Peal off the tape immediately. You want a nice straight line across the front.
Let that cure for at least a day. Then come back and fill in the rest of the gap with grout. I did this once and it was tricky to get to look nice, but it worked. You will have the grout which will allow for moisture to escape, but the layer of caulk between the grout and tub allows some flexability.

Good luck.
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Old 10-23-2009, 09:35 AM   #7
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sealing natural stone in shower niche

I just installed 18 inch ceramic tile on the tub surround and included two 18-inch niches, and used 4-inch travertine for them. I sealed both the niches and the ceramic tile with Tec XT grout. Finished it last night. I'm going to caulk the seam between the tub and the tile today as well as the ceiling. I also would like to seal the natural stone niches. I don't remember what kind of sealer I have but I bought it at Lowes for an earlier project. It goes on with a rag and last time I sealed the grout and the stone with the same stuff.

What I'm wondering is:

1. How long do I have to wait for the grout to cure before I can seal the natural stone niches?
2. I know Tec XT doesn't need sealing, but will I hurt the grout by sealing it anyway? Can I just be extra careful just to seal the surface of the stones and try not to hit the grout.
3. My wife really wants to use the shower. Assuming I caulk the seam of the tub this afternoon, how long till the grout is cured enough and the caulk ready for someone to use the shower? Remember this is a bathtub surround so water is not going straight on the tile, but I am worried about damaging the caulk around the seam if I don't wait long enough.

I have pictures of my finished shower I'd like to post. Any ideas how to do it? Thanks.
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Old 10-23-2009, 09:38 AM   #8
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Reading my final post I think I need to clarify. I am not planning on sealing the grout around the shower, but I do need to seal the natural stone in the niche, which is already grouted, so I'm worried I'll damage the XT grout when I seal the natural stone. Make sense?
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Old 10-23-2009, 09:53 AM   #9
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If you'll keep all your project questions on a single thread, Gavin, it'll help folks to see what you're working on and what's been previously asked and answered.

All those materials you're using, except the natural stones, have manufacturer's instructions for their use.

The grout, for example, indicates it doesn't reach it's full potential for stain resistance for at least seven days, and they counsel a ten-day wait before normal cleaning. That would keep me from applying any sealer for at least the seven days, and better might be the ten days.

The sealer you have will also tell you how long to allow cementitious grout to cure before sealing. It's usually about three days, but they, too, actually want you to wait seven days.

If your spouse can't possibly wait that long, I'd suggest you tape some four or six mil polyethylene around the top of your shower walls to protect the new installation until it's sufficiently cured for sealing and cleaning.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Old 10-23-2009, 09:57 AM   #10
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Hi Gavin,

XT can be sealed, but it requires a solvent based sealer. I've used AquaMix Enrich N' Seal. You can attempt to seal the stone/ grout in the niche areas, but the grout may darken a bit with the sealer. If this happens, you can seal all of the grout with the solvent based sealer to maintain a continuous color.

Read the directions carefully, and BE SURE to buff off all sealer residue thoroughly.
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Old 10-23-2009, 09:58 AM   #11
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... and all the other stuff CX said.
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Old 10-23-2009, 10:09 AM   #12
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Thanks for the help. I think I'm going to wait three days and apply the sealer--hopefully it won't darken the grout lines too much. I guess I should have sealed the natural stone BEFORE applying the grout. What kind of sealer should I use? A solvent-based impregnator sealer? I want something that will last a while and give me the best chance of not darkening the XT grout too much.

And Muddman, you're the first person I've ever heard who told me I did this install wrong. Everywhere I looked, including this forum, said that you should either redguard the entire shower without a plastic membrane behind it, or apply the plastic membrane over the studs and Redguard only the niche areas, because there isn't plastic behind those areas. Isn't this correct? I did know to avoid redguarding and applying plastic on the walls because I didn't want a "moisture sandwich."
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Old 10-23-2009, 10:16 AM   #13
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Gavin,

Sorry ... I threw out the Enrich N' Seal because I almost always use an enhancing sealer on travertine and slate. Pick a solvent based penetrating / impregnating sealer that is non-sheen and non-enhancing.
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Old 10-23-2009, 10:20 AM   #14
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Okay, will do. One other question. I could get a hold of some silicone unsanded caulk to match my grout today, or I could order some SANDED silicone caulk to match my grout and have it in a couple of days. This would be for the seam between the tub and tile and the ceiling. Can I just use the unsanded silicone? What would the benefits be of using sanded vs. unsanded?
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Old 10-23-2009, 08:45 PM   #15
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I don't think anybody makes sanded 100% silicon.
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