prism Grouts [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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03-01-2006, 05:26 PM
We are a small intallation company and have been using prism grout since it was first brought to the market place. At first, it was incredible. Loved the consistency, application, and clean-up. It would set up as hard as a rock and we could use it in almost every situation. But recently we have a had a few calls in regards to the strength ( you can scratch the surface with your finger nail). At first I thought it was just limited area so we ground out and regrouted but recently I went out to a job that we grouted with prism to pop a couple tiles so they could move a vavle assembly and took my razor knife and poked right through the grout ( grout was like powder) Made poping the tiles easy but scared the heck out of me in regards to strength. And just a couple days ago we grouted a couple showers and floors and the same thing happened. So yesterday I mixed three different consistencies and different color grouts and ran into the same problems with all three. You can scratch it out with your fingernails and I let some clumps dry with out rinsing them with excessive water and the same resutls. You squeeze the dry grout to a powder. So right know it looks like I am going to have carve out all this grout and start from scratch. I have called custom and they are doing batch test on a couple bags tht I have used. My question. is anyone else runing into the same problems that we are? Thanks in advance..

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03-01-2006, 05:48 PM
I've had good luck with it so far, 7 or 8 jobs but this problem of yours has been mentioned here a couple times. Here's one thread to look at

Do you deal with T & A Supply or maybe Daltile in Lakewood? Wondering what the folks there have heard.

Welcome to the forum by the way. My name's Mike, up here in La Conner. You in WA?

03-01-2006, 06:37 PM
Located in Seattle. Purchased @ OTM and they have yet to hear about any complaints.. I think this problem could easily be over looked. Since half the time we are cleaning and sealing not probing the grout to determine it's strength. Now, I must say we are always checking to make sure we have solid cure. Thanks for info on the links..

03-01-2006, 06:41 PM
NW Guy
Welcome to the board. Do you have a name for us? We like to welcome everyone here. Hope you stay around.
The custom rep is Rob McCall 206-250-4675
Thanks for the heads up.

03-01-2006, 07:18 PM
I have been following these Prism threads for quite some time and have been grateful for all the help I've gotten. We grouted 2 rooms in mid-December then had to break for the holidays. We finally finished laying tile in 2 more areas and grouted 3 weeks ago. After reading this new post, I checked the most recently grouted area and found it could easily be gouged and crumbled with a metal scraper. I really dreaded checking the older rooms, but felt I should. Sure enough, I am easily able scrape and crumble the grout.
I am ablsolutely sick about this - it's a massive undertaking for my husband and myself and the thought of removing all of this grout is unbearable (we are not even close to half finished the job). I suppose it can stay in place as long as it's not directly scratched.
What should my next step be? Contact Custom I assume, but what is their responsibility? If I switch to the same shade in Polyblend will the color be the same?

Karen :mad:

John Bridge
03-01-2006, 07:28 PM
Hi Folks, :)

I have not used Prism since I tried the beta version, which worked great. The suppliers here will only stock it if they have orders for it, and I'm not a big enough fish to worry about. I do use Polyblend on a regular basis, though.

You do have to get hold of the Custom folks directly. We've tried running dialogs here on the forums, but it's very difficult to do.

Karen, the Polyblend colors are the same, except that it's possible to get a little latex scum on the surface of polyblend that doesn't occur with Prism. The scum can be cleaned off with light acid (usually vinegar) should it occur.

03-01-2006, 07:45 PM
Oh boy, I'm glad to find this out now! I've just about finished tiling our new shower (Kerdi) and was about to special order some Prism grout from Home Depot this weekend. I've really been looking forward to trying it ever since first reading about it here because I've had mixed results with Polyblend in the past. Not sure what I'm going to do now.

I really don't understand why getting good results with grout is so difficult. In most cases, the grout makes or breaks a tile installation, but it is so easy to screw it up, and a major pain to fix afterwards.

03-01-2006, 08:14 PM
In the area that I work they (custom) pulled przim off the shelf because of problems what they were I dont Know They say it is fixed but I dont know Go to the retailer and express your concerns and have them pass it up the chain with some pressure (stand aroud till they call there rep)

03-01-2006, 08:25 PM
I custom ordered mine through HD. It took quite a bit of persuasion to get them to make the call and I don't think they would be very helpful with a problem.
After recovering from my initial hysteria, I find that not all of the grout in the first 2 rooms is powdery. Probably more than half seems hard - I can scratch it with a metal paper clip, but it doesn't crumble. Other areas turn to powder. I definitely did not use too much water when cleaning. I can't trust using the Prism any more so I guess I will have to try the Polyblend.


03-01-2006, 08:39 PM
I just checked for grout hardness on a test board I made up back in November. Half was grouted with PolyBlend, other half with PRISM. Tried to dig both types out with a ice pick; no go. The PRISM grout is hard.

03-01-2006, 08:59 PM
Does the ice pick make any mark in either of the grouts? Even in the areas that I can't dig out easily, the ice pick leaves a little hole without much effort.


03-01-2006, 09:10 PM
JTG- Thanks for the Welcome , My name is Bill..

Mike, I saw your test board and like I said in my original post, The original batches were incredible and rock hard, that's what made switch from Customs Polyblend. It's just been in the last few months that we have seen the inconsistencey in the strength of the cure.

03-01-2006, 10:00 PM
Karen: Pushing hard with one hand I can force the pick into the grout's surface and leave a small hole. This is true with both types. But no way does it even begin to crumble and fall apart as is being reported here.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not questing any of these reports. Just posting my own experience which supports in my mind that if CBP has a PRISM problem, it's not a universal one. Perhaps more recent as Bill suggests

Bill I have the PRISM bag code used on that Nov. test board. It's 051054C2 which translates to bagged on April 15th, 2005, run # 4, plant C2.

03-01-2006, 10:02 PM
I do have the bags that I haven't yet used. I ordered them all together in November. I'm not sure which code is which. Mine has 32073 then 6-05 which I assume is the manufacture date. Then below that it says Code 52019.


03-01-2006, 10:06 PM
Let's not go too overboard with our expectations on the grout there. It's really not made to be directly gouged with a sharp metal object. You could do the same thing for any non-sanded grout job for instance. Being able to make a gouge with metal is not a defect in non-sanded grout & it's also not directly a defect in sanded grout.
Usually in typical sanded grout we would assume that if it was too soft that it's weaker & therefore might possibly be easier to show movement cracks. The cracks would be the direct defect, not the softness. But Prism is different. It's not "sanded" grout, it has no sand.
Did you notice that there is no Sanded/Non-sanded grouping with Prism? Because of the lightweight glass bead technology, it can go all the way down to 1/16" like a non-sanded grout, & up to 1/2" like a sanded. It's really an advanced hybrid. It resists the cracking through a combination of flexibility and strength, not just strength alone like sanded grout.
So unless you have cracking from normal wear, you don't have a defect. It's not sanded grout so don't expect it to have the same finished hardness in order to do the same good job of resisting cracks.

Karen, the differences in different areas of your floor are probably like any grout: if you use more water in the mix (not necessarily the wash water) it will be softer. Because the glass beads are so slippery, it is made to mix dryer than regular grout but still be as easy to apply. So it would be easy to overwet it if you didn't carefully read the directions.
In the future I would recommend mixing with measured water & grout for 1 job so you can get used to exactly how dry it is intended to be used. :)

03-01-2006, 10:11 PM
Karen: Bottom of bag, upper left immediately above the bar code. Should be an alpha numberic number, most likely beginning with 05, possibly 06. What's that one?,

03-01-2006, 10:16 PM
The area that I am checking was all mixed at the same time and when I do mix a new batch it is precisely the same as the one before. I'm using a scale, measuring cup and timer.
I can understand the suface being able to be marked easily but the bad spots literally return to the powdered state with very little pressure. It doesn't break into pieces - it powders.
After seeing Mike's code number I think this might be what he wanted - the batch number on the bottom; however, on all of the bags it is patially cut off so I can't be positive that I am getting it correct. 052301T.


03-01-2006, 10:18 PM
Yep, that's it: Aug. 18, 2005, run #1, Plant T.

03-01-2006, 10:20 PM
Karen has any of this happend through normal wear, or is it from you torturing it & just assuming it will then have a shorter wear life?
Again, just like other non-sanded grouts, it's not made to resist gouging with metal objects.

03-01-2006, 10:33 PM
Well it hasn't been finished that long and hasn't had much wear, but after reading this original post I wanted to check. I knew that the area that was done 3 weeks ago could be easily broken up because we needed to remove some. When looking at the 2 1/2 month old rooms, I noticed some scratches in the grout surface and in some places I could scrape the grout with my fingernails (which are paper thin and useless). That's when I took a scaper to check some areas that had been scratched. I didn't expect to remove the grout, it just fell apart. I didn't have to gouge - just rub back and forth on the surface.
I can't say for sure how many areas are like that. I think that most areas are fairly hard but not as hard as Mike's test board.


03-02-2006, 01:24 PM
I spoke to a guy at Custom, but the only thing he could suggest was that it dried too quickly. He said I should wet it for 3 days and see if it helps. He said they have seen that before and have taken the crumbled grout, rehydrated it and it dried hard. However, he also said they are still working with customers and contractors to make changes so they obtain a harder product.
It is true that it does set up quickly. I know Mike and others have said that it takes quite a while, but I am in Houston and the weather is warm. I will try his suggestion, but I don't know how much rehydration can be obtained with sealed grout. I think I'll also use the second half of the bag to finish grouting the kitchen and then try the 3 day misting. That will be a better test.
To the original poster, Bill, if you here anything from Custom regarding their tests, please let me know. As a professional, they will listen to you more than to me.


03-02-2006, 02:05 PM
I'll be doing some more testing myself this weekend & will post up the results right here. Have a floor coming up next week where I planned to use PRISM Oyster Gray. Thinking now I will/better create a test board to check out this hardness business. :nod:

03-09-2006, 01:09 PM
I thought I should post a follow up. I finished grouting my kitchen area and removed some old soft grout from the other room and regrouted that. This time I misted the grout frequently for 3 days and it has turned out well. It seems to be uniformly hard and I could notice a difference when I applied the sealer. I'll keep my fingers crossed that this was the problem and will continue using the Prism throughout the house.


03-09-2006, 04:40 PM
Day-4 after grounting two test boards using PRISM samples from 3 different bags, everything here in La Conner is A-OK. All all the grout lines have become quite hard and pose no cause for concern.

03-09-2006, 04:55 PM
Thanks for posting the results of your test. :bow: JTG

03-09-2006, 05:25 PM
Mike and Karen,
Thanks for the updates. I guess I'll go ahead and order a couple of sacks and give it a try in our new shower and bathroom floor. I sure hope this stuff works as advertised, because we're getting really fed up with grout that dries two shades lighter than expected. :(

03-09-2006, 05:55 PM
Pictured here is one of two test boards used.

In addition to three different samples of PRISM used in this test, I also used 2 samples of sanded PolyBlend and one of Mapei Keracolor. Did this for control purposes. In the event I ran into cure problems with PRISM I wanted something readily available, at the same state of cure, to compare it to.

In addition to these test boards I also left unused grout set up in the mixing cups.

Then using a scientific instrument, beat the crap out of each cup with a hammer. This was also after day-4.

After only 4 days of cure all the samples were indeed very, very hard.


03-09-2006, 05:56 PM
The color I'm using is Earth which is sort of a medium brown and it dries the same color as the dry powder - not lighter at all. When it's wet it's very dark and looks just like brownie mix. Hope that helps.


03-09-2006, 07:11 PM
That's great to hear. We used the 'Earth' color in Polyblend for our entry-way, but it dried lighter than the powder. We're going with 'Haystack' in the bathroom, which is a bit lighter than 'Earth'. Based on our previous experiences, if the problems with Prism had been confirmed, we were going to use the 'Earth' Polybend again and hope that it dried close to the Haystack color that we really wanted.

11-23-2006, 02:53 PM
Just spoke with a local Canadian distributor of Cutsom products and was told that the product is now discontinued. At least in Canada...


Tool Guy - Kg
11-23-2006, 02:59 PM
Just spoke with a local Canadian distributor of Cutsom products and was told that the product is now discontinued. At least in Canada...Hi Ron, welcome!

Prism has actually been discontinued for a good many months. Wonder if your dealer held onto the remaining stock in an effort to sell it off? :shrug: