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Unread 07-07-2015, 06:13 PM   #1
Lovegasoline
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Repairing Large Grout Gap Between Bathtub & Wall Tiles?

Greetings!

I’d like to get some advice on how to repair defective grout between a bathtub and wall tiles, that has widened to make a significant gap: about 5/16" at the widest.
I assume that the floor must be settling a little as the grout seam between the tiles and tub has frequently cracked. What is a little alarming is the gap has widened to about the diameter of a pencil.

I’ve attached a few pics.

I didn’t do this job but it came as part of a full bathroom renovation (everything from the ceiling/floor joists, floor, walls, etc. were redone). The original bathtub was retained (HEAVY cast iron from 80+ years ago) and reinstalled as part of the renovation. The tile work is only about 5 years old. Tiles are standard 6" x 3" subway tiles.

I live in an apartment and the guys doing the renovation were not so good, although the tile guy did a pretty good job in my opinion. This grout has already cracked a few times in the past five years.
Any suggestions how to tackle this as a DIY repair?

I might as well get my feet wet (I’d like to add a kitchen backsplash this summer).

Thanks a bunch for any advice!


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Unread 07-07-2015, 06:35 PM   #2
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Welcome, Lovegasoline. Please change that permanent signature line to a first name for us to use.

That gap should never have been grouted. Tile industry standards call for a flexible sealant there. A professional tile installer should be aware of that.

While I am personally opposed to such a sealant in that application, I think if you caulk it and leave some gaps as drain holes it can work well enough.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 07-07-2015, 09:38 PM   #3
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Welcome Lovegasoline!

Remove the grout and dry it out to make sure there's no moisture trapped in there. Then recaulk with 100% silicone sealant (caulk).

If you've never used silicone caulk before then you might want to check out this caulking tutorial one of our members made. It's a lot more difficult than latex caulking that cleans up with water.
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Unread 07-08-2015, 01:45 PM   #4
Lovegasoline
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cx wrote:
"That gap should never have been grouted. Tile industry standards call for a flexible sealant there. A professional tile installer should be aware of that.

While I am personally opposed to such a sealant in that application, I think if you caulk it and leave some gaps as drain holes it can work well enough."

(There's no doubt that the renovations were not of the highest quality. It's a long-term apartment rental and the building owner never uses workers with industry standard professionalism).

I'm not clear what you're suggesting here ... are you saying you dislike using caulk for this sort of gap?
What do you mean by leaving 'gaps as drain holes'?
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Unread 07-08-2015, 01:59 PM   #5
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Tiger Mountain Tile Inc. wrote:
"Remove the grout and dry it out to make sure there's no moisture trapped in there. Then recaulk with 100% silicone sealant (caulk).
If you've never used silicone caulk before then you might want to check out this caulking tutorial one of our members made. It's a lot more difficult than latex caulking that cleans up with water."

I've used silicon before (and not too far back I stripped and resealed a large aquarium with silicone), however it's always great to learn more and improve one's techniques...the thread you referenced is great with lots of useful tips, thanks.

From the aforementioned thread:

"Too much caulk is a bad thing. But, thanks to some great minds there is a product which allows you to fill large voids - Its called "Backer rod" which is rope made out of foam. It comes in 1/2" and other nearby sizes. Sold in the weatherstripping aisle of Home Burrito. 20 feet runs about $4. Shove this stuff in so there is a slight depression for the caulk to fill.'

Is it recommended to use a product like this to fill the gap?

I've got a broad selection of tools, although not many 'tile specific' tools. What is the recommended method(s) of removing the old grout and prepping the area for the silicone?


Also, the same bathroom has (smaller) cracks in many sections where the tiled wall meets the tiled floor where grout was also used. Last year workers came and applied fresh grout, which has also cracked. Is it recommended to remove all the grout from that seam and apply silicone caulk? As an aside, I was just examining the caulk job at the base of the bathtub-to-floor seam ... it's about as messy and clumsy as one can envision!
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Last edited by Lovegasoline; 07-08-2015 at 02:43 PM.
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Unread 07-08-2015, 08:24 PM   #6
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This is the backer rod and it's probably a good idea for your situation.

As far as cleaning you might try a product like this to get the bulk of it and a utility knife to fine tune it. The scoring tool will scratch if it slips so you have to be extremely careful with it. You might try a utility knife first and see how far you get just using that.
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Unread 07-17-2015, 01:12 PM   #7
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What about using an oscillating tool (Fein-type knockoffs)?
Would that do the job/ If yes, any recommended blades for this sort of job?

P.S.: how do I change my signature name?
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Unread 07-17-2015, 01:52 PM   #8
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One other thing:

Regarding the seam where bathroom tiled wall meets tiled floor (it's not a big gap like the tub/wall gap above, maybe 1/8' but it does occasionally crack, perhaps from floor settling) should this seam get grout or silicone?

Ditto for toilet base-to-tiled floor, grit or silicone?
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Unread 07-17-2015, 02:41 PM   #9
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Stick with (sorry ) silicone for those areas. Toilets can go either way, however, I always leave about a 1" gap in the rear, by the wall. If the terlit ever leaks, I wanna know about it sooner rather than later.

The Fein tool will work, but be gentle with it so as not to scratch up anything...
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Unread 07-17-2015, 03:48 PM   #10
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Unread 10-15-2015, 01:26 PM   #11
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Follow-up:
I’ve not yet done the caulking but I’m about to.

Some workers were in my apt. and I had them chip out the old grout between tile and the tub. It turns out that it wasn’t just grout: it was very thin pieces of tile(!) many just 1/4” tall and covered in grout. We shown a flashlight into the new gap and the worker said that there’s no sheetrock or backer board there behind the gap … there’s just the steel wall studs. I’ve uploaded some pics.

I’ve read the informative thread ‘Silicone caulking for DIYers’ and while at first I was planning maybe on not using tape, due to the irregular gap width I think it would be best to tape it off to get as regular a line as possible, so some chalk would be overlapping the tiles? Although the gap is very wide in places and overlapping the tiles 1/8" or so with caulk will only make the gap look even wider, it seems like the best solution. THE other strategy is to just use chalk in the gap and wipe off any excess that's on the tile, leaving an irregular caul;k line between tub and tiles, although that line might visually 'blend in' and look better than a fatter caulk line with the former method.
Thoughts?

Thanks again.
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Unread 10-15-2015, 01:57 PM   #12
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Neal~ You can certainly use tape if you like. Might be easier to get a clean edge with it...particularly with silicone, but it can be done freehand if you take your time.
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Unread 10-15-2015, 02:15 PM   #13
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My reason for using tape was to get a uniformly straight line.

However, if I did it freehand, i.e. without having the silicone come up over the tiles - and did a good job of it - I'm unclear if the tub-to-tile seam would appear ordinary and uniform, even though the gap itself is not a uniform width, is jagged in places, and goes thick and thin. That is, I'm not sure if it would sort of all blend together and look relatively straight. I just do not have nay experience with this sort of application to understand how the end result can appear.
???
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Unread 10-15-2015, 03:54 PM   #14
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I'd tape it and let it extend over the edge of the tile a tiny bit.

You can experiment with that in a small area, maybe on the leg of the tub. If you're using silicone, have some paint thinner and a tile on hand to help remove the silicone if you don't like the look of it.
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Unread 10-15-2015, 06:00 PM   #15
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Hi Neal,

You definitely have to use tape on that with silicone. Since it is white, it'll look fine if you do it right. Just use 1" blue or green painter's tape on both sides of the gap. Do one section at a time, as in 5' back wall, then the side walls down to floor, then the two vertical joints at the back wall. Focus on getting lots in the joint. Don't worry about applying it neatly. Tool it with finger tightly to the tape. Carefully remove the tape. Now you have about three minutes to tool it again. Wet your finger and use short strokes consistently. Don't press too hard; just enough to smoothen the ridge from the tape. If you wet it enough you shouldn't really get any silicone sticking to you. The inside corner junctions are a bit tricky. Carefully tape up the next section from where you ended. In that corner junction you wanna wet your finger and dab the silicone to blend with where you left off and on the new bead and make a nice little triangular-like shape. Trim your fingernail short. Hopefully you don't have fat sausage fingers.
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