HELP!! I need grout help [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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09-14-2001, 09:09 AM
I posted this question on the site, but was advised to come here:

I just laid black and white 12x12 glazed tiles in my kitchen. I then went back and grouted using a charcoal colored sanded grout (Custom Polyblended). It was extremely difficult to get the grout off the edges of the tiles- around the corners and along some edges. I was concerned about digging out some of the grout by pushing too hard at the edges as well. Now, the grout has set and I need some advice about ways to remove the grout from the edges of the face of the tile. One place said to use white vinegar, but I am not sure how exactly to use the vinegar. Whatever I do, I want to make sure it is right. I am very upset that this happen and I hope there is a solution to the problem. Thanks you in advance for any advice you could provide.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I am so concerned that I ruined my tile and I am moving in next Saturday. I wanted to try to do something tomorrow. Thanks.

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John Bridge
09-14-2001, 02:35 PM
Hi Andee? Welcome.

I doubt that vinegar (a very mild acid) will be of help. You will need something much stronger, a tile cleaner (either sulfamic or phosphoric acid) from a tile supplier.

If you have a definite build-up of grout on the tiles, it's going to be difficult. Does the grout in the joints come up above the level of the tile surface? Is it more than a haze? What type of tile did you install -- porcelain, glazed ceramic? Not stone, I hope.

Is it possible to take a picture? We can post it here, and the pros will be able to take a look. If you have, or can load, a digital pic on your computer, we can get it here instantaneously.

09-14-2001, 02:45 PM

Thank you so much for your reply. There is a little haze on a few tiles, but really what I am most concerned with is the grout on the edges or corners of some tiles- particularly the white ones. What happened was that the back grout was extremely difficult to work with, and I was afraid that if I wiped very hard at the edges, that it would pull the grout out of the lines. Now, I have the problem of it remaining on the edges/surface of the tiles. The grout lines do not come up above the surface level of the tiles, but it is pretty even with it.

The tile is glazed ceramic- 12 x 12, black and white. The grout is Custom Polyblended Sanded Grout in Charcoal. I can take a picture, but I don't have a digital camera so I will have to get them developed and get them on the site, somehow.

I did go to the place I bought the tile- Daltile- and they said it should just buff off and that grout would not stick to the surface of the tile, and if it did, then I should use this vinegar idea to take it off. I wanted to talk to you guys before I did that.

Another problem, that I just discovered may be a problem is that I grouted the edges where the tiles meet the walls in most places in the kitchen. I had no idea you were supposed to caulk them- in spite of all the times I asked the people at Daltile. Is there something I should do about that as well.

Okay, true confession- I feel like an idiot. I do truly appreciate and need your help though.


John Bridge
09-14-2001, 03:53 PM
There are no idiots on this site. We don't allow it. :D

Try the vinegar, just because it's easy to do. Get yourself a kitchen pot scrubber (plastic, not steel), and try scrubbing really hard in a corner of the room using the vinegar straight out of the bottle. Puddle a little on a tile and scrub. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Set a glass of red wine off to the side and take an occasional sip. It offsets the unpleasant aroma of the vinegar. ;)

Let us know what happens, and the pictures are optional. I wouldn't go to too much trouble.

09-14-2001, 03:57 PM

I will do that this evening when I get home- I am very anxious about this. Can you tell? The wine is an excellent complement to the vinegar, in my view. Should I be concerned/do something about removing the vinegar afterwards? Will it hurt the grout in the lines? If this doesn't work,. I will definitely get those pictures on the site- I just wanted to do something sooner than I would probably have the pictures back. Maybe that is bad. Otherwise, I'll have before and after photos. Thanks.

Oh, any suggestions about the edges of the tiles near the walls? Should I remove some grout and put caulk instead? Yikes.


John Bridge
09-14-2001, 04:31 PM

One thing that I should add is don't use that cheap red wine that comes from overseas. Get the expensive stuff that comes in those large jugs with the ears on them direct from California. The box with the spigot is an even better vintage. ;)

Rinse the test area thoroughly with clear water, and that'll take care of it. Vinegar is extremely mild and takes repeated applications over the course of years to do damage. Don't sweat it.

The issue of the grouted base can be taken care of in due time. It won't cause any short-term ill-effects, if it causes any at all. I want to leave room here for my associates to comment.

Rob Z
09-14-2001, 08:41 PM
Hi Andee

John has got you all taken care of. The best advice is to have a drink and relax. Don't feel bad about this. This is your first tile job and I bet you won't do it again. I see tile "pro's" that do this all the time!

If you use the sulphamic acid, use gloves, glasses and long sleeves. Use it carefully, and dilute it quite a bit to see if a weaker solution will do it. You can always try it again with a stronger solution.

Just to be safe, try bit of the solution on a spare tile to make sure the glaze is not affected. If not, proceed to work on your floor with a scrub pad and the acid soution.

Get plenty of water on it to clean it up after scrubbing. I use a wet/dry vac sometimes to suck up the liquid.

Let us know hpow this works for you, and then we will discuss the grouted baseboards.

Rob Z

Bud Cline
09-15-2001, 08:18 AM

Sometimes a stiff bristle tooth brush can be used with the acid to address specific areas. I would also start with vinegar, then go to sulfamic crystals if need be.

The grout around the perimeter is not recommended as you know, but hey, it's done now. How big is your room? I doubt that you will experience any ill effects from the grout in the perimeter gap in a small area. This gap is to allow for expansion and frankly the expansion shouldn't ever be that much, but damage could result. If this perimeter grout is against sheetrock then I think the sheetrock could "give" enough so as not to cause tenting of the tile. I really don't think you have any worries here. To attempt to remove this grout now would be a great task.

09-16-2001, 09:21 AM
Hello everyone!!

Thank you so much for your advice so far. I will tell you that I tried the vinegar on the grout yesterday and it worked!!!! The tiles look great. But now, I have a new problem. The grout I used was charcoal colored. Now, in some spots where I used the vinegar, it took some of the color out of the grout- and it is various shades of gray. I can't catch a break can I? Any suggestions about how to deal with that? Can I paint it? Sounds strange, but I will get down there with a little paint brush, if necessary.

I'll deal with discolored grout lines now and worry about expansion joints later. Thanks so much. Hopefully I haven't wrecked it in another way.


John Bridge
09-16-2001, 09:47 AM
I'm really happy things are working for you, and you can't damage grout with limited applications of vinegar.

There are a number of things you can do to even out the grout shade. Number one is wait a few days before you do anything. It might even out a little. Also, grout never comes out perfect. There is always some minor shading.

If it doesn't even out in a few days, try these steps in ascending order.

1. Clean all the grout joints with vinegar, even those that weren't screwed up.

2. Use a tile cleaner (mild acid) on the entire floor. Be very careful to follow directions and observe warnings.

3. Last resort. Go to a grout colorant (paint/stain). Aquamix, among others, makes them: and I have posted a short article on the subject elsewhere on this site.

4. Feel free to return to us as often as you like.

Rob Z
09-16-2001, 07:28 PM

Don't act on this one until John weighs in...


Is it practical to use a grout saw to cut out some of the grout in the problem areas and regrout just those small areas?


John Bridge
09-17-2001, 03:32 PM
I'd go that route if there were only a few small joint segments. Otherwise, it get's old in a hurry. Need mucho red wine.

09-17-2001, 03:59 PM

Now, are we talking the discolored lines or the egdes?


Thanks for making me feel better. The house is on a concrete slab, and the ceramic is on that same concrete. I don't know how much movment there really is. On one side of the room, I didn't grout at the adges, but at another, I did. :(


John Bridge
09-17-2001, 04:31 PM
Well, I'm just going off your previous post: "now I have another problem."

I would just cool it for a few days, maybe a week, and see what happens. There is absolutely no hurry now.

If you like, you may join us over at the Mud Box. That will get your mind off your floor for a while. Maybe we could tell some lawyer jokes or something. :D

09-20-2001, 10:12 AM
Hi everyone. I just wanted to tell you that I think my grout/kitchen is in a finished form, for now. I think I'll hold off for a bit on the grouted baseboards issue. I do have some pictures that I can post, if anyone would like to see the results of their good advice, in spite of my idiocy. :) I truly appreciate all of your help so far. This is the one place I have actually gotten advice.

I guess I need to know how to actually post a picture. Thanks

andee dyer

John Bridge
09-20-2001, 04:22 PM

Of course we want to see your floor. The information you need is contained in the FAQ section of this board at the following url:

Scroll down to Images. I can't actually post the code here, because it becomes invisible when you try to do it. If you have any problem at all, email me, and I'll explain it that way.

The pictures have to be on the Internet. If they are not, email them to me as attachments and I'll post them for you.