grout dirty and cracking - and cleaning tile [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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argile tile
01-23-2017, 08:03 AM
Question 1: in "cleaning tile forum" i see only pictures of stone floors being polished. if the same (techniques) were used with OLD ceramic tile would they also "look great again?". If I end up re-doing floor - being a kitchen - I think i want something enduring that "can be polished" versus "has to be replaced again".

Question 2: main question. I have have a kitchen with off-white pat ceramic tile white sanded grout (unmodified). Dirt is getting in the white grout like a magnet and discolored I think (ie, not from lack of brushing grout with a stiff brush - just unable to be white again - but unwalked areas are still bright white).

The grout is cracking and also brushing out in a few places.

Sealer was applied: it's gone. And the white grout attracts the smallest ammount of dirt to become brown-ish.

I know I cannot simply "put brown grout on white", i've tried in a small bathroom before - the grout would have to be scraped to change it's color.

(floor install background: installed using white floor mortar - unmodified - on "pretty flat" plywood that has "passable but a little" deflection. there are no clear deflection "long cracks" or popping, plain white sanded grout - sealer is no good)

From where I stand what is the easiest "remedy". Is removing grout and replacing with non-stain grout the easiest fix? Or should i think of cleaning the grout with ???? and re-applying grout and seal again without removing grout?. Come to think of it - what is the "best approved way" to clean white unmodified sanded grout who's sealer is missing in action? This is my parents floor I have no idea if they were told to continually apply sealer or not.

(and yes - i realize their is an advantage to using brown grout - i've done it before and it works well)

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argile tile
01-23-2017, 08:17 AM

on that same floor there is a floor vent with broken tile

two tiles were cut in L shape to meet in the middle of the rectangle shaped vent

the short legs broke off - the floor is not good in that area

my issue here is that tile setter use thinset thin. to scrape the old mortar off i'm practically scraping plywood

as you see - to repair it my options are not good. I can tear up two tiles but goodness knows if i'll be able to scrape very thin mortar off plywood so when i set them (or new tiles i have) back in - that they won't look out of place.

another option is I can carefully "edge" the tiles whose legs broke off to 1/8" and set the legs individually...

I have a 4th problem. I obviously have to use new grout to repair - and it will be bright white in an area the rest of the grout won't come clean.


all in all it kinda sounds to me like the floor was not installed well and it's possible that re-doing floor may be necessary maybe i should be seeking advice on how to install tile on a plywood floor :)

i'm unsure if i can re-use the tile. it's medium quality lightly patterned tile, not special but not especially bad or good either.

Todd Groettum
01-23-2017, 10:02 AM
Wire brush in a drill to clean any stubborn old morter you cant scrape clean with a sharp 1.5" wood chisel that you use with that bevel facing DOWN.This is to keep from tearing into that plywood.Resharpen as often as needed...reset tile using mapei keralastic.

For severe cleaning requirements wait until you can ventilate area or get Breathing gear and Use SURE KLEEN 600 ( follow all instructions to the letter) You will find it at Most Masonry supply houses

For mild cleaning any of the tile cleaning products available at your local shop is fine..:shades:

You might also try Bleaching that white grout after cleaning but do small areas at a time and rinse well...

01-23-2017, 12:08 PM
There are some restoration companies that use steam cleaners to clean grout with awesome results.
They make grout colorants that can be applied to old grout and it pretty much stains it to a new color.
From the sounds of it though, if you have grout cracking, tile cracked, and can see that it is set over just plywood...more issues will continue to pop up. Plywood is a poor choice for a substrate to install your tile directly to. If the budget is there it may be time to explore replacing the floor before you spend hours putting lipstick on a pig.

01-23-2017, 07:29 PM
Cracking grout is a sign of other, fundamental problems - improper install and/or inadequate flooring strength. If you get a cut tile installed, and things cure, it shouldn't be any more prone to cracking than a full tile later one except for the fact that it is more prone to breaking IF the floor is not strong enough.

While there is an approved method to install tile directly onto plywood, it requires both the installation of TWO layers of ply, and a high-strength mortar...there is no situation where directly over plywood you can attach tile with an unmodified and expect it to last long-term.