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Old 03-10-2012, 09:06 PM   #1
DieselDennis
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Sanded Grout from a Tube ( caulk )

I'm currently into a bathtub surround project. I got the tiles laid down today and started grouting. I'm using a sanded caulk for grout. I chose to use the caulk to try to keep things to a minimum rather than slathering on mixed grout in/around the tub.

I've dealt with regular caulk before and thought things would go smooth (literally). Getting the caulk in the line was fine, but working it was another story. I was trying the standard wet finger method, but it seemed like my finger was still too dry. This let the caulk "tear" and look terrible. I resorted to dipping my finger in a cup of water to smooth the caulk. This left a wet mess. I had a wet rag and a wet linen rag. They both left marks (streaks) in the caulk.

Anybody have any tips to working with this stuff? Their instructions also mentioned using a wet sponge. I think this would have left marks in the caulk too though. I want the caulk smooth with the tiles around it.

PS This caulk was about 4 years old. Could it have "dried out" in the tube? Would fresh grout be smoother?
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Old 03-10-2012, 09:36 PM   #2
RaymondJ
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You're not grouting the tile grout lines with sanded caulk are you?

It's usually supposed to be used only for grout lines at changes of plane, or 'soft joints' for long runs of tile, or perimeters where tile meets another material.

And... if you are doing all the grout lines in a wet area (tub surround, with a shower) you are quite likely to get mold and other funk growing in/on that acrylic caulk =/

depending on the size of your grout lines, you should be using a cementicious grout (powder mixed with water, sanded(joints 1/8" or greater) or unsanded (1/8" or less)) or perhaps an epoxy/urethane grout.

which is worked into the grout joints with a rubber float, left to set up for a bit, then tooled and washed using a grout (just damp) sponge and clean wash water.


is there an expiration date on the tube? 4 years sounds a bit old to me.

but your experience sounds quite consistent with any caulk I've ever used, a total pain in the ass, and only to be used where absolutely necessary ;D
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:18 PM   #3
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I agree with Raymond, caulk is, for lack of a better term, inferior to grout, but we need that flexible joint sometimes, and so we have no choice but to use the caulk. For the rest of the tile, go with a grout that is meant to be used in field tile.

Acrylic caulk lasts longer than siliconized caulk, but 4 years does seem a bit old.

But, if you're asking for tips as to how to tool caulk joints, there's a product out there called caulk-ez. It's a foul smelling, but almost magical product that makes tooling caulking a breeze. In a pinch, I've also used a little glass cleaner (the foaming kind preferably) It works, but not quite as nicely as the caulk-ez. Just make sure the caulk fills the joint first, otherwise it won't stick to the inside of the joint.

Another way to get nice joints, is painters tape. Tape off the areas you don't want to have caulk in them, and full the void with caulk. For perfectly flat joints, use a flat edged razor blade and scrape off the excess flush with the surface. For a slight concave, you can use your finger, or get a bunch of plastic spoons, and use the spoon end to tool it nicely. When your done, pull the tape, and give it one last careful wet wipe to blend the little ridges the tape leaves.

I also recommend using backer rod in larger joints. Most of the time, for joints 3/16" or bigger (smaller than 3/16 it isnt necessary, as the joit probably wont take much material anywy) ill use 1/4" backer rod, or bigger depending on the size of the joint. For flexible joints, the backer rod is your compressible material, whereas your caulk is just the flexible, decorative finish. It's also much cheaper than filling all them joints with tons of caulking all the time!
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:56 PM   #4
DieselDennis
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I've got a 3/16" grout line.

The caulk is clearly advertised and indoor / outdoor use and says it's mold and mildew resistant. So I'm a little confused about the moisture concern.

Thanks for the tips on keeping it clean. I think I'm going to try to spoon idea.

Wife is bringing home some more caulk. So maybe the new stuff will be better.

And this may seem like a stupid question (apparently dumber than using this caulk for grout), but does this tube grout need to be sealed? I was expecting more of a rubbery texture after this stuff setup, but it's setting up hard like traditional grout, hence the sealer question. I didn't see a recommendation for a sealer.
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Old 03-10-2012, 11:08 PM   #5
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Im not completely familiar with exactly it is your working with. In any case, I would still recommend the caulk only be used in corners, and soft joints, as it's intended purpose.

As for the sealing question, no, it doesn't have to be sealed. It is an acrylic based product, and when dried, is essentially plastic. It will not hold a sealer any better than any other plastic would.
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Old 03-10-2012, 11:18 PM   #6
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Hi Dennis.

Does this bathtub have a shower head?
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Old 03-10-2012, 11:22 PM   #7
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EJT, rather than hijacking this thread please see my question under "tub deck problems" if the title has been changed, or "is it ok to use drypack...." if its still old. It ends with a similar caulk problem.
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Old 03-11-2012, 09:48 AM   #8
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Be careful with out of date caulk, sometimes its bad and will not set up properly.
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Old 03-11-2012, 11:06 AM   #9
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Hi Dennis,

You're trying to re-invent the wheel here. The only caulk that will work in a wet are is silicone, and it's very hard to find it in the color you'll need. You can't use latex caulk. It will re-emulsify when it gets wet. I don't care what it says on the tube to the contrary. I made that mistake decades ago.

Use grout, except in the joint at the tub. Use silicone there.
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Old 03-11-2012, 11:31 AM   #10
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Quote:
I don't care what it says on the tube to the contrary.
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