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Unread 10-21-2012, 01:30 PM   #1
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Questions about grout work in my shower

I had mildew on a little of the grout in my tile shower. The grout lines are 1/4 wide. A handyman viewed it and said chlorox would get the mildew out, and the problem was it was sanded grout, and that showers should always have unsanded grout. He removed about 90% of the mildew with chlorox, on the first application of it, but we were running out of time that day. He said I should redo the grout in unsanded grout. He said his wife was excellent at replacing grout and that everything he learned about grout he got from her, and that I should have her do it. I decided to do that and when we were at the Home Depot picking up some other stuff, we got the unsanded grout he said we needed.

She came over, removed the remaining mildew and did the grout and also said unsanded was needed in the shower. She said that the previous person did it wrong.

She came back the next day to finish up and she said the grout she did was cracking in spots and she put another coat on some spots, and told me not to use the shower and would be back to finish up.

That night I was at the Home Depot, and a guy there who said he had done a lot of tile work said unsanded should only be used in lines 1/8th or narrower, and anything over 1/8 needs to be sanded. I searched online and it appears he’s correct, but I want to be sure before I tell her.

If it should be sanded, do you think it’s fair for her to return it to the original sanded (I have more of the same type) and refund me the money that she charged to make it unsanded?

Or return it to sanded, and not refund me the money? I’m a somewhat new homeowner so I haven’t come across this and would appreciate advice on what is fair. What is the best method for removing the sanded grout that was recently put down and should all of the sanded be removed, or only 1/8th” - for example, will the sanded stick to the unsanded fine, or will it stick better to the original sanded better that is still part-way under the new grout)? Thanks.
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Unread 10-21-2012, 01:37 PM   #2
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Grout lines 1/8" or less should be unsanded, more than 1/8" should be sanded.

The mildew problem you have is not related at all to whether or not it's sanded or unsanded grout, though. That problem is related to moisture that is trapped behind the tile. The problem won't be solved by changing the type of grout, and cleaning it with bleach only makes it look better for a little while. The mildew will return, sooner or later, regardless of the grout you use.

To fix the problem, you need to find out why the moisture is trapped and alleviate that problem.

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Unread 10-21-2012, 01:39 PM   #3
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What Kevin said plus;

1- Got pics?
2- Do y'all leave the door / curtain open?
3- What kind of ventilation is there?

For when DIY isn't such a good idea...
Houston TX area Kitchen & Bath Remodeling

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Unread 10-21-2012, 01:57 PM   #4
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She came back the next day to finish up and she said the grout she did was cracking in spots and she put another coat on some spots
I'm a little concerned about that statement, "put another coat on." Also, did she remove the original existing grout, I don't read that anywhere? All, at least 2/3's depth, some, or none?

Last edited by Pirate; 10-21-2012 at 02:03 PM.
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Unread 10-24-2012, 12:48 AM   #5
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I'm not sure what's under the tile because it was done before I bought the house. The mildew is not very bad and primarily occurs somewhat in the summer months when I have to travel for 4 months for the nonprofit I work for and sublet my place. It's part-way due to the FL summer heat, and part-way because when I'm here I mostly shower at the gym down the street after working out, and the renter uses it more often.

It's almost all on the floor and lowest 4 inches of the walls. Are there any easy corrective steps short of ripping out the tiles to fix what's under them, which besides the cost, I can't find matching tiles for. The whole shower matches itself and the bathroom floor.

I have a vent above the toilet, and would not be able to get one above the shower itself because the roof is so low above it that there's only 8" of crawl space and impossible to get anything there. There is, though, a 6 foot by 18 inch opening above the top of the glass, so the mist moves out of there much faster than most enclosed showers I've seen. The glass rises 6'4" above the floor of the shower, and then there's an 18" opening the whole 6' length of the shower. I'm not sure if I could get a renter to leave the door open, though I could ask them to.

One thing I assume adds to it is the AC duct going to the bathroom is small and it has a large window with eastern/southern exposure, so the bathroom gets hotter than anywhere in the house. I could buy a tinted sun blocking film that blocks about 70% of the rays, and about 60% of the heat coming through the glass to reduce the heat effect. I could also try to get the HVAC company to get more AC in there, though I'm not sure if they can get a wider duct through the narrow gap.

Another idea is that I notice the metal screen covering the drain easily gets blocked with hair/soap suds and if I don't clean it out after every shower, then each shower ends with 1-2 inches of water on the floor. It seems like it drains out within an hour, though if my renter isn't cleaning the screen, I imagine water may be sitting in there for 2-3 hours which combined with the heat might be a recipe for mildew. I don't think a renter is going to stay on top of cleaning the screen every shower, so I likely need to make it so it drains better.

The screen is 4 inches wide, but the outer ring of holes has something (thinset or something else) less than a quarter inch under them so I assume those holes don't get a lot of flow. That leaves only a 2 1/4" circle of holes that get maximum flow and as soon as a small number of hairs/suds block them, the water backs up. My showerhead has amazing water pressure and cranks out something like 4 gallons a minute. To start, would it make sense to remove some of the stuff under the outer ring so there's an inch of space under the whole screen and see if that helps drainage?

It looks like the drain itself doesn't start until about 1 1/2 inches down, though I'd have to get the screen off to verify, and it seems like the screws are stripped on it.

I tried to give plenty of details so you all would have more to go on.


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Unread 10-26-2012, 02:06 AM   #6
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Thanks. The drain seems to flow freely as soon as I clear off the grate. If someone mistakenly put thinset or something else too close to the outer ring of holes in the grate, is there a good tool for breaking up the thinset (or similar material) so we can re-lay the same material somewhat further below the grate.

Also, as far as this: "With the grate off, look at that "thinset" substance again. It could be mineral build-up, and if so, could mean that the weepholes that allow the floor to drain completely are clogged. That is not a good thing. It would require some or all of the floor tiles to be removed."

I did some Googling on weep holes because I don't know them yet, and it seems there are 2 types of weepholes: 1) weephones related to the drain. 2) A couple of sites said that tile shower walls should have weep holes at the bottom of the walls so that moisture that gets into the walls behind the tiles has a place to drain out when it reaches the bottom of the wall.

I figure you're talking about #1. Where do weepholes like that go to? Do they lead to the drain, or do they go somewhere else. I'm in a single story house in FL so there are no rooms, and no basement below the shower.

I'll try to see if there is mineral build-up under the grate. Is mineral build-up basically loose so you can move it, or hardened and attached to the drain?

I'm new to tile because my whole life I had showers in bathtubs. Thanks to everyone for the advice. It's helpful.
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