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Old 06-17-2018, 06:41 PM   #1
tbb
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grout - sanded vs nonsanded - joint width

I am grouting wall tile and something is not running according to expectations.
I have started grouting small areas to give myself time to "learn" while doing something new.
I'm not learning or missing something entirely.

The substrate I am currently working over now is 1/2" cement backer board.
- But it will transition to WP membrane in the tub surround where I have not worked yet.
The tile is Daltile; Rittenhouse Square, ceramic, 3x6 subway tile.
It was set with 1/16" spacers.
- Less than 1/8" ... using Polyblend non-sanded grout (?)

Try as I might I can not pack enough grout into the joints to fill them. As the grout drys it is shrinking up creating gaps.
- I understand the point of sanded grout is to reduce shrinkage and fill wider joints.

The obvious issue is that the edge profile of the subway tile is not square but stepped back so the joint at the back is 1/16" and 1/8" at the front.

Qs:
- Was I supposed to set this tile butted together to get a narrow joint?
-- I'm glad I did not use 1/8" spacers.
- Should I be substantially wetting the joints to slow down the grout drying?
-- Misting has not shown promise.
- Do I just go get sanded grout and not worry about the 1/16" crevice at the back?

Thank you
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Old 06-17-2018, 07:39 PM   #2
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Did you measure your water amount and follow all mixing directions? How long did you wait before wiping? It sounds like too much water in your mix, or too much cleaning with a sponge that's too wet before the grout had time to set up.
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Old 06-20-2018, 10:14 AM   #3
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Mixed non-sanded grout consistency?

Since I have been mixing smaller quantities than a full bag maybe my proportions are off. I do not have the skill level to apply a full box and clean the excess in 30 minutes.

How would you describe the consistency of mixed non-sanded grout?
- mouse
- yogurt
- pudding
- icing
- ?
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Old 06-20-2018, 10:52 AM   #4
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Mousse, yogurt and pudding do not describe it. It should not pour out of the container

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Old 06-30-2018, 11:39 AM   #5
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Mixed non-sanded grout consistency?

I suppose it will depend on what your experience is with yogurt and pudding.
What I have been mixing does not pour.

I increased the amount of grout a small amount so that after the mix slacks it is like creamy peanut butter ... and that being mixed TJs creamy PB somewhere between kept in the cabinet and the refrigerator.

I also changed my technique and after pulling over the joints I press the grout in joint by joint with a plastic spackling knife. This has been the best result yet but I still get voids.
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Old 06-30-2018, 12:00 PM   #6
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If I remember correctly, those tiles have a continuous lug along the back edge of the tiles. Yes, you could have set the tiles lug to lug, which would have given you a 1/16 joint.

Many of the newer sanded grouts can be used with 1/16 joints. The sand is very fine and would probably give you less trouble.
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Old 06-30-2018, 05:22 PM   #7
Tool Guy - Kg
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Hi, Thomas.

1) What tool are you using for a grout float?
2) Is the edge of the float: rock hard, firm, or soft?
3) When you are grouting, is the float running: parallel, perpendicular, or on a diagonal to the joints?

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Old 08-29-2018, 06:19 PM   #8
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Tool Guy,

1, 2) I started with a rubber float that had a hard rounded edge. I moved to using a spackle knife that allowed me to push grout down into the joint. Both of these did not push the grout to the depth of the joint.

I ended up with two plastic spackle blades, wide and narrow, that I used to hold and feed grout into the joint and then drag with an edge to press in. Plastic was used to avoid scratching the tile.

... YES .. it was agonizing.

3) I tried every direction.

------------

Ultimately I find I made one mistake that led to a second.

One - the subway tile I used was a lugged tile. Something new that I did not research to understand and used spacer when the tile could have been set edge to edge. So the efforts to install it with 1/16" joints was a waste of effort that created a crevice that was very difficult to fill since the shoulders of the lugs protected the crevice from my being able to press grout into it.

Second - I used non-sanded grout for 1/16" joints when only the bottom portion of the joint met that description and the top would have better been filled with sanded grout. The unsanded grout in the joint dried out quickly and shrunk leaving voids and cracks.

... So I screwed the pooch on this one. First job on my house that trying to find experienced help would have payed off on.
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Old 08-29-2018, 10:12 PM   #9
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Between the hardness of the rubber and roundness of the edges of that float, I'd get rid of it. I think it's one of the sources of your problems.

I'd recommend buying a new grout float. Not the $6 economy variety. Rather, the $10 gum rubber float is a lot better. (And don't get the float that's meant for epoxy that is really, really firm.) Get the gum rubber $10 float. It'll have a firm and relatively sharp edge that will drive the grout down into the joint. The action occurs at the edge and a sharper edge will assist in driving the grout into the joints better than the rounded edge you've got.

To pack the joints, rotate the float so it's at a 45 degree angle to the grout joints and lift one side of the float so it's 45 degrees from the plane of the wall. You're pressing down with a firm amount of pressure and running the float back and forth in something of a serpentine movement across the tile. It's relatively sweaty work. After you've packed a few square feet, angle the clean float so it's 45 degrees to the joints, but tilt it up to 90 degrees from the tile surface itself.....and use this like a squeegee to make a single pass. It will remove the vast majority of extra grout from the joints. Repeat the process of packing...then squeegeeing until it's all grouted. Then allow it to set up relatively firm before you start your sponge clean up. The grout should be just firm enough where you can press on it with the tip of your finger and slightly deform the pad of your finger without leaving a dent in the grout.

For that subway tile, I'd stick to unsanded grout.

You're not anywhere close to southeastern Wisconsin, are ya?

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