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Unread 03-21-2014, 08:00 AM   #1
yeagert
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Avoiding "Picture Frame" staining while grouting Carrera Marble

Hi everyone. I'm new to the forum here and have a question about a project I am doing. I installed White Carrera Marble Mosaic tile on my bathroom floor and sealed it twice with AquaMix Sealer's Choice Gold, did my water test, and the water beads up nicely so I know it is sealed.
I used Spectralock Epoxy Grout in Silver Shadow color in a test area (under the vanity) last night. I have used Spectralock before and am familiar with the cleaning stages, which I did.
Almost immediately after I finished my first cleaning, I noticed that many of the tiles were becoming stained from the edges in a "picture frame" effect. (See pic)
I am assuming this is because the sides of the tiles don't get sealed, so the tiles stained from the outside edges in. This morning, the picture frame effect has gone away a bit, but the tiles appear darker than the rest of my ungrouted floor, as if the tiles were stained the whole way through now. Not sure what to do.

My question is, "how do I avoid this?!?!" Would using a Urethane Grout like Bostik Quartzlock2 be a better choice? Thanks so much for the help!

-Jeff
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Unread 03-21-2014, 08:14 AM   #2
Bodie Powers
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Jeff, this is from the Spectralock installation guide: "Epoxy resins may affect the color of white or light colored porous stones (such as white carrara, thusos white, royal danby, etc.)." This might explain it. Contact Laticrete tech support and show them the pics.

Have you tried scrubbing a few tiles using a vinegar/water solution? Some of what you're seeing may be haze.
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Unread 03-21-2014, 08:22 AM   #3
Pete1972
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With Carrara marble you might have to go with a cementous-based grout. Epoxies tend to cause framing on the softer marbles and I'm not certain there's a proven way guarantee that won't happen when grouting an entire field of Carrara no matter how sealed/treated in advance.
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Unread 03-21-2014, 08:28 AM   #4
yeagert
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Thanks for the replies. Definitely not haze. I got it all off and even went back over with a cheese cloth later. Surface is clean and not tacky.
Hey Pete . I may try a cementous grout then. Since this is a bathroom and shower, will I run into problems with cementous grout in a wet environment?
Thanks again!
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Unread 03-21-2014, 09:48 AM   #5
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I've gotten to the point with white Carrara of only recommending two things:

NEVER seal it, specially in a wet environment.

Only use Prism grout (or the equivelent)

The best advise of all is to not use it at all. I sure wish my customers would listen.

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Unread 03-21-2014, 11:11 AM   #6
yeagert
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Thanks Marty. I've already sealed my tile (before grouting). I understand now that the issue could be water getting into the tile and then not having a way to evaporate out. What can I do at this point? I'll be grouting with cementous grout (Laticrete 2500) today. I need to seal the grout lines at least, correct?
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Unread 03-21-2014, 11:42 AM   #7
JerseyDIYguy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MDtile
NEVER seal it, specially in a wet environment.

Only use Prism grout (or the equivelent)
I'm curious why you recomend not sealing carrera? Doesn't that lead to potential stain problems?

Also what are the advantages of Prism over something like Tec Power grout with Carrera?
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Unread 03-21-2014, 01:26 PM   #8
Pete1972
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff
Since this is a bathroom and shower, will I run into problems with cementous grout in a wet environment?
Thanks again!
No, you're not likely to have problems in a wet area if you grout is mixed and applied as recommended by the manufacturer. If you run into problems it'll likely be with the Carrara itself, not the grout. See Marty's photos above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff
I need to seal the grout lines at least, correct?
No, there's no requirement to do so (I don't believe). Sealing grout may help with future maintenance of the shower (cleaning it) but won't improve the grout's performance over time. Again if it's staining you're worried about the Carrara will likely be more problematic than the grout over time.
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Unread 03-21-2014, 05:02 PM   #9
yeagert
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Thanks everyone! I ended up grouting today with Laticrete 2588 Cementous grout in the same "silver shadow" color, and the staining did NOT occur like it did with the Spectralock. Thanks for the advice, glad to have it all over with.
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Unread 03-22-2014, 10:57 AM   #10
MDtile
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JerseyDIYguy View Post
I'm curious why you recomend not sealing carrera? Doesn't that lead to potential stain problems?

Also what are the advantages of Prism over something like Tec Power grout with Carrera?
It's not just white Carrara, but all translucent marble and onyx. Unfortunately, it becomes the lesser of 2 evils...do I seal, helping to stop staining from above but locking-in water penetrating the stone from the underneath sides, or do I not seal, allowing the moisture to dry and taking the risk of staining on the surface?

I recommend sealing countertops and floors, and opaque stone showers.

I recommend not sealing translucent marble showers.

Keep in mind that should you accidentally stain a never sealed white Carrara shower (although this is highly unlikely since water and soap will not stain), you can usually pull the stain out with Wyandot poultice. If you seal, poultice will rarely work 100%. Sealer traps in stains as well as helping to keep them out. Sealer is meant to give you time to wipe up spills before it penetrates. It will not stop a stain from happening should it be allowed to absorb over time. If you spill something like fingernail polish remover, which has a percentage of oil mixed with acetone, stains can happen almost immediately, even after being sealed. But all stones need to "breath". This is why the penetrating sealers are designed to allow some VAPOR transmission. Entrapped water can take weeks, even months to pass. And entrapped water in white Carrara can also permanently stain. Ask me how I know

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This is a picture of my own master vanity, installed 11 years ago. The halo you see at the front left of the sink opening happened when the caulk failed. The was much darker when it was first wet, but a shadow of the halo remains as a permanent stain. Live and learn. I now wipe sealer on the bottom of the opening in one sponge length prior to install, as well as the top. This counter was sealed after install. Past the caulk there is no sealer.

Oh well.

I have always wished that the term "sealer" was never used, as it implies impenetrable. A better term would be "protectorant".

Just my 2 cents after almost 4 decades of observation.

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Unread 03-22-2014, 11:16 AM   #11
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Here's another example. This is a customers honed white Carrara floor, which was sealed with a penetrating sealer.

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The wax gasket failed. This is a permanent stain. The stain is from the underneath side; there was no water on the surface. Nothing could remove or lessen the stain.

It was fixed by replacing the two stained tiles.

Last edited by cx; 03-22-2014 at 02:45 PM.
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Unread 03-22-2014, 02:41 PM   #12
schmdtea
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FWIW, We just put down a honed 2" hex floor, and used the exact same spectralock grout. It was dark and picture frame-y (?) right away, but seems to have faded with time. Now, a couple weeks later, it might be a bit darker, but there is no frame effect to it.

No pictures, as I did a horrible job setting the tile and don't want to be run out of town....
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Unread 06-01-2014, 05:24 PM   #13
clare1234
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Help! Picture framing problem

Yeagert, when you continued your job using a new grout (the Laticrete) did you have to take out the old grout and do it over for a perfect color match? We're getting the picture frame affect using grout we bought at The Tile Shop (brand Superior) and I'd like to change to the Laticrete. Unfortunately, they don't have the "whisper grey" that we started with...

Any help at all would be greatly appreciated. We have SO much time and energy invested in this kitchen and this picture-framing is ruining the whole job!
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Unread 06-01-2014, 07:36 PM   #14
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Clare,

I can't speak to the specific project, but generally once an epoxy has oozed its way into a stone its there for life. Removing the grout between the stones won't change the staining.
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Unread 06-01-2014, 09:34 PM   #15
Steve in Denver
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I used spectralock on my white carrara bathroom...I did a sample board beforehand and I noticed a few things:

Edit: In case it matters, I didn't use the "Lowe's Spectralock" - it was the "Spectralock Pro premium commercial unit" from Stone Tooling. I did get the "part C" from Lowe's. I can't say I could tell a difference between this and the Lowe's stuff, but I had seen mention that they were different...

1. Picture framing started almost immediately.
2. It dissipated starting after a few days and probably over the course of 2-3 weeks.
3. The stone looked duller after grouting and continued to look dull compared to the naked tile. I think a lot of this had to do with the cleaning step as I mistakenly used a cleaning solution that was 4x strength.

When I grouted my shower I noticed the same behavior, more or less. This time I used the correct strength cleaning solution and followed up with straight water after each cleaning step. The marble didn't dull as much as with the sample board, but it still knocked it down a bit. At a steep angle you can see "water spots" on the face of the marble.

It's honed carrera from Arizona Tile. It does look a fair amount different (subdued, you might say) compared to the naked stone, but I think it looks great as it is.


Unfortunately the pictures don't tell the story as well as looking at it in person, but I'll include them anyway.

The first picture was taken a day or so after the grout was applied - the left half was sealed and the right half was not. We were trying to determine what effect (if any) sealing had on the spectra-lock staining. No appreciable difference as far as I could tell.

The second picture is from the same photo as the first, just cropped out for clarity. It is an ungrouted, unmounted group of tile from the same lot. It looked approximately the same as the sample board before mounting and grouting.

The third picture was taken about 6 weeks later...in different lighting, with a different camera. So it's probably not a great comparison, subjectively the vast majority of the "picture framing" had receded / dissipated. The exception is the top of the rightmost tile where I globbed on a bunch of grout - that area still showed a darkened contour/cloud edge penetrating easily 3/8" into the tile.

Again, the pictures don't tell the whole story...guess you had to be there.

The fourth picture shows the niche/walls not long after grouting. The picture framing is quite apparent on the hex tiles. Being smaller, the picture framing penetrated so far into the tiles that it eventually "filled" the whole tile with the "picture frame" (5th picture)

This has since dissipated significantly.
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