grouting woes [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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12-15-2016, 10:49 PM
i am currently working with a contractor on a bathroom renovation. after the shower surround was finished, the unsanded grout appeared to have a lot of holes and uneven-ness to it. the contractor's solution was to come back and add another lay of grout to the entire thing. everything i've read says you can't do this. my question is -- what will happen with this grout?

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Tool Guy - Kg
12-16-2016, 12:43 AM
Welcome to the forum, apothic. :wave:

Pinholes (if that's what you are referring to) are typically the byproduct of mixing the grout with more water than was designed.

Uneven grout is the product of either excessive shrinkage due to over-watering the grout, or lack of proper packing of the grout and even clean up with the spong.

About the proposed fix...
Adding grout to partially cured grout generally results in the new layer drying faster than the microscopic crystals can grow within the grout...resulting in a very weak bond layer. It's likely to flake off weeks and months later. Also, the accelerated drying is very likely to alter the finished color of the grout (unless it's white). And no matter how many times a contractor might press for this easy fix and say, "I've done this tons of times without problems" is either ignorant to the real situation or has no interest in doing a proper job.

Industry standards are very clear on regrouting: Remove grout to a depth of at least 2/3rds the tile thickness before regrouting.

You might get more news from us than you're looking for. But a contractor with uneven grout and pinholes might.....just might.....have taken other shortcuts in the construction of the shower. If you would like some feedback on how the shower was constructed, please tell us more details of how it was built. Pictures would be most welcome.


Todd Groettum
12-16-2016, 08:43 AM
What Bubba said and i'll just add, It dont sound good!!!:bang:

12-16-2016, 09:11 AM
Thank you for the responses! This was just done yesterday and when touching the grout lines now, it leaves a chalky residue all over my fingers. This is subway tile so there is a ton of grout lines. Apparently he did the same thing in the master shower which was also just rebuilt. Is regrouting the best way to go? Ripping out tile and starting fresh? I really want to cry.

12-16-2016, 09:30 AM
Your not satisfied with the grout job, and ...
It was grouted less than 24 hours, and ...
It was unsanded grout ...

Then get on it with a utility knife and knife it out, it will come out. The longer you wait the harder it cures.

12-16-2016, 12:31 PM
The contractor seems to think scrubbing out the grout placed yesterday with a sponge and rag will get most of the new grout out since it is still soft. how long does it take for grout to turn hard? If I run my finger along a grout line of unsanded grout, should it be leaving a white fine powder residue?

argile tile
12-16-2016, 05:19 PM
(note i'm not a pro, so follow pro advice)

your ground probably contains cement. old dirty concrete (after cleaning) adheres to new concrete but not "perfectly" (unless right cement mix is chosen). and sometimes it is roughed up (instead of) etching/cleaning.

i assume "THE INDUSTRY STANDARD TO remove old grout down to x" refers only to OLD grout even if it didn't say so (to existing installations) - but i can't swear to it. the tile and floor grout adheres to are cementous also, per say. for new work it can't hurt to "rough up" the old grout but i doubt it's required. the new grout isn't even fully cured yet

i recently had an experience with non-sanded grout sinking a little after 1hr drying. i decided to immediately grout a 2nd time - unsure what my grout was made of unsure if a 2nd coat was possible (i didn't know it contained cement and was rushed)

i *wished* i had waited and just re-grouted the next day! a 2nd coat after 1 hr (floor still hazed) wasted grout and was much more difficult at cleanup time.

my advice for cementous grout is: new grout adheres very well and is rock hard - i would not worry allot about the grout itself (ie, get it off your tile before it dries!)

(since you bought the work, is not DiY, i see your concern to insure your floor is not the floor that needs re-grouting due to poor installation)

i've never had pinholes in cement so i can't comment - i'm unsure how deep wide or frequent they are. the fellow above says it's due to grout being too soupy when installed. overyly wet cement is not as hard. if you put your fingernail to it it should not scratch easily. pockets are normal. there are pockets under tile (combing) and grout is not expected to "penetrate down to flat mortar" either. however the pinhole situation alludes me - i simply can't comment and have never tried it. since others say it can be problematic, my best guess is wait 3 days and test is for resilience, call the installer back if it scratches or "falls out easily".

Houston Remodeler
12-16-2016, 05:22 PM
On the bright side, the second layer of grout will fall out easily. :stick:

12-17-2016, 10:32 AM
To update, they scrubbed everything for hours with sponges and rags and did remove a lot of the new grout, but when they were all done, running my finger down the line still brought a chalky residue-- which means there is still a some of the new grout there. the contractor wants to give it a few days to harden and thinks that will be fine....i'm skeptical this will harden and bond properly, but I guess i will wait a few days and see.

Anyone in the DC area on this board that can recommend a good post construction clean up crew? Since now my two bathrooms have been grouted 5 times (and i'm not convinced this won't need to be redone -- so potentially 7 times) my house is covered in fine dust on top of the renovation dust.

01-04-2017, 07:46 AM
so i recently had a contractor redo two bathrooms. they first grouted with polyblend unsanded grout (subway tile, 1/16 joints) and after there was pinholes, skim coated on top of that and the grout was powdering out at the lines. after some back and forth, they agreed to redo and regrout.

this time, they used laticrete 1600 unsanded grout. now, a week later, when i run my finger through the grout lines, it produces a powdery residue. almost like if you were to run your finger down a piece of chalk.

is this normal? should i give it longer to cure? try misting? please help!

Houston Remodeler
01-04-2017, 07:59 AM
Sounds like they are adding far too much water to the original mix. This weakens the grout substantially.

1- Read the grouting tutorial ( some nice guy wrote

2- Resist the urge to dopeslap the installers

3- Have a new bag of grout and a measuring cup ready for when they return

01-04-2017, 08:05 AM
thanks for the reply! After they reluctantly regrouted -- they wanted to ensure everything was done properly and read the instructions, showed me how they measured the water to grout and even took pictures and videos to have on file in case of any issues -- so i dont think it is an over watering problem, since i watched them measure per laticretes instructions.

i called laticrete and they basically told me try cleaning it -- which we did. it helped a little, but its still chalky.

should i just give it more time to cure?

is wet misting it effective?

01-04-2017, 08:42 AM
here's a pic for reference...

HooKooDoo Ku
01-04-2017, 09:08 AM
Do you know (or can you find out) what is the expiration date on the bag of grout?

I don't know if "old" grout would cause grout to be chalky, but I don't see any reference to the date being effective (and did they start with an unopened bag).

Even as just a DIYer, I've encountered expired bags on store shelves.

01-04-2017, 09:41 AM
Yea, I pulled the number off of the bag for the laticrete rep and it is a new bag -- not expired. the grout is hard, its not like i can remove it with my finger, its just chalky. are all unsanded grouts like this?

Houston Remodeler
01-04-2017, 12:37 PM
We have a few Laticrete folks on the forum. Who replaced Danielle?

01-04-2017, 02:38 PM
thanks! any advice from a laticrete expert -- or any grout/tile expert would be appreciated.

some grout joints seem pretty solid, while others are chalky -- so i dont know what would cause the inconsistency. the floors that used sanded grout are rock solid with no issues.

Is unsanded grout always powdery? I'm at a loss since this is now the second time these showers have been grouted -- with a different brand of grout-- installed by different people -- and it is still powdery to the touch :-/

Houston Remodeler
01-04-2017, 09:46 PM
It could have something to do with the manner of cleaning the grout haze away if they used too much water.

01-05-2017, 08:16 AM
We have a few Laticrete folks on the forum. Who replaced Danielle?

Hi Everyone - Sharon here from LATICRETE. I'm checking now with our team on this and will respond as soon as I have a solution for you.

01-05-2017, 03:08 PM
Apothic, you can try misting it with water for several days and that may help.

argile tile
01-05-2017, 11:15 PM
i remember buying a poly-blend product once (for enhanced color durability qualities?), then not using the product because it (used to say) says something about a sealer being required (and kept maintained), so not knowing if it was a true requirement - i went with "regular grout"

did they Seal it ?

Houston Remodeler
01-06-2017, 07:50 AM
all 'regular' cement based grouts should be sealed regularly

01-06-2017, 09:06 AM
thanks so much for all the replies and help! i've learned so much on this forum :)

I have not sealed it yet, as I wasn't sure if the grout was curing properly and didnt want to seal if it needed to be regrouted.

I will try misting it for a few days and see what happens.

Is there a sealer that you guys recommend?

01-06-2017, 11:42 AM
Is there a sealer that you guys recommend?

The best sealer would depend upon the type of tile or stone. Check out the Maintenance and Care Instructions ( found on the LATICRETE website. When you get to the section entitled Surface Care – Maintenance and Care Instructions, pick the link that matches the type of tile or stone that you have and go to the Sealing and Protecting section.

01-30-2017, 03:38 PM
My sub-contractor did the same BS. Put a second coat of grout over the top of grout that was not curing. I can scrape it up with my fingernail and when it is wet, it comes up like a sandbox...and this is in a kitchen! I gave him notice that I am filing a complaint with the contractors board (the complaint is against the flooring business and they have to go after the sub) someone else said, if this is failing, what else is failing underneath. My problem, is I have no idea what to tell him to do (besides pull up grout)....because he asked already. Good luck and stand your ground. I have been learning the hard way unfortunately.