Fireplace tile installation gone wrong [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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12-22-2016, 12:37 AM
We are building a house and we picked a limestone oval tile for our surround and 4x10 limestone tile for the hearth. The tile surround has sections where it is light and dark (the dark sections look "dirty" to me). Pics from camera don't do it justice. I doubt the oval tile was sealed before grouting.
My grout is discolored too. It's supposed to be Alabaster from Mapei, which is a very light color, but the grout still looks wet 7 days after installation.

What caused these light and dark sections on my oval tile surround? Not sealing before grouting?

What caused all these grout discolorations?

My tile is from Emser with serial# M05METRCR1212MOV if you care to look. It's a very light and creamy tile.

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Todd Groettum
12-22-2016, 07:39 AM
Color variation is an inherent part of using natural stone and a huge part of its natural Beauty...While it is hard to tell from a basic photo, what i can see looks pretty good....:shrug:

12-22-2016, 07:47 AM
The sections on the right are darker than the left. It's more apparent with full quality pictures.

What happens when you don't seal stone before going?
The grout is supposed to be a lighter color closer to white(
. It currently has this"wet" look all over. Will this dry to a much lighter color after a month? I haven't seen much change after a week.

You can see that the "wet" looking grout is in the majority of the surface area in the zoomed in picture. The lighter color is hardly there.


Todd Groettum
12-22-2016, 07:53 AM
Grout can take time to fully cure out....Much depends on the type used, the installation method in the installation etc....If the tile was done with a mudded substrate the additional moisture could cause the grout to cure much slower...

It would help to have
1 - Better photos
2 - list of materials used
3 - an idea HOW this was installed by your contractor

Based on the colors in the ovals and the limited view the picture gives i think he may have presealed the stone with an enhancer

12-22-2016, 08:37 AM
Uploaded what I hope are better photos. You can see the dark spots and definitely the grout looking wet.

I know that he put a dark gray paste onto the fireplace as his substrate and Mapei grout. I will get specifics ASAP.

Will dabbing some water on the stone reveal if it is sealed or not?

12-22-2016, 08:58 AM
Could it be the grout haze was cleaned off one side more than the other?

12-22-2016, 10:52 AM
More pics with unlaid original tile next to the already laid. Still waiting on materials and technique.

There shouldn't be THAT much of a difference when the tile is laid right? Unless they sealed it with an enhancer, which I didn't ask for and I don't think they did seal it though. What I picked at the store didn't come out as expected, lol. What a headache.

12-22-2016, 02:24 PM
1. More specifics with setting material would help
2. If he used grey thinset that can contribute to the darkening of the tile, typically with natural stone I use white.
3. Have you tried using a grout haze remover on the areas that look dirty to you?
4. Best thing to do is talk to the installer and get the specifics on exactly what his installation methods were.

12-22-2016, 10:14 PM
I was unable to get in contact with the builder today to get specifics. I was able to get the grout information: Mapei Ultracolor Plus Rapid-Setting Sanded Grout with Polymer. My wife said that the technician installed it within an evening. She saw him lay the tile onto some dark gray substrate. The next morning we came and it was done and already brownish beige.

An installer friend of mine did come by and compared the unlaid tile vs the laid tile. He said there should be absolutely no reason that there should be a complete change in color from gray, cream colored tile to beige and brown (unless enhanced sealer was used). He also splashed some water on it and confirmed there's no sealant.

Installation error. Will have to redo it. We did not try a grout haze remover. I feel that it's so far off from the original color that the color of the tile has been irreversibly changed.

01-21-2017, 09:08 AM
I bought bulletproof stone sealer to seal some stone. I then decided to do a test and seal a piece of the limestone tile I had laying around and then grout it.

I followed the instructions exactly on bulletproof and then waited 3 days for it to cure. I only sealed half of the tile piece to compare.

Results? Camera quality isn't the best but you can see a clear demarcation between sealed and unsealed. Grout color is 2-3 shades darker on unsealed and also the stone itself is browner. The sealed portion has barely and brown in it (relatively) and retrained more of its initial color.

Would a grout release actually have been be more effective in this situation?

01-21-2017, 09:15 AM

Anyway, the bottom half of the tile looks like what I have on my fireplace except the lighting is much better.

01-21-2017, 10:20 AM
There are products made for removing stone sealers, so use your sample to try one or two out and see if it brings it back to the color you wanted. It's a bit hard to tell from your photo, but I'm thinking the grout doesn't look different at all, that any darker or lighter that you are seeing is an optical illusion like the one below - the strip in the center is all the same shade.

IMHO though, the sealed portion looks nicer.... the unsealed part looks a little flat and muddy to me.

01-21-2017, 12:59 PM
Do you mean use the stone sealer on the portion that I sealed to bring back the original? The sealer did make the stone 1 shade darker than the original but it preserved a lot more of the color (and kept the color variation more consistent) compared to the unsealed portion.

The unsealed portion completely changed and looks dirty to me.

01-21-2017, 01:59 PM
No I mean try a cleaner made to remove the sealer on your fireplace that you do not like - or are you saying that the unsealed tile is what looks like it had the color change? If you think it's color change from the polymer in the grout, a cleaner could still be useful to take that off.

This is only one company that has such products, I'm sure there are plenty more -

I would test any product you decide to try on your sample before you use it on your actual fireplace.

I think we differ greatly in opinion though - the top of your sample is what looks cloudy and like it needs a good scrub to my eye...

01-21-2017, 03:13 PM
The unsealed tile (bottom half of test sample) is what had the largest color change. For me (and you too), the top half looks significantly better. The cloudiness might be because the to half of the photo is more blurry or the sealer made it cloudy. I'll look into the product you recommended.

The sealer did a great job of preserving the color but the stone still changed a little bit color after I grout it. Do you think a grout release would have been better for preserving the color versus the sealer?

01-21-2017, 04:47 PM
Nope sorry - it's just an opinion, but the bottom looks better to me....