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Unread 01-02-2019, 01:57 PM   #1
numbersjunkie
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Grout Issues

We had a new master bath installed early last year. It has large format tile on the floor and walls (all the way to the ceiling). After a few months, I noticed sections of the grout were popping out on the floor tiles. There were not any cracks, just chunks coming loose. I called the tile guy back and he removed all the old floor grout and replaced it, using a new bag of TEC unsanded grout. I think he used some boost additive to avoid the need for sealer.

Now a few months later, it is starting again. He said he would come back and regrout if it happened again, but I am worried about why it is happening. I see no evidence of this on the walls, the seams where the walls meet the floor, or any of the outside/inside corner joints. I'm pretty sure he said all of those joints were grout and not caulk.

Here are pictures of a few areas. I noticed that it just seems like the top section is coming loose, not the entire depth. Any thoughts?
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Unread 01-02-2019, 02:16 PM   #2
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what kind of floor are these tiles set onto? do you know what is directly under the tiles?

I am trying to rule out any movement.

how large are those grout joints? I cannot tell, but they look kind of big for unsanded grout. I wouldn't use unsanded for anything over 1/8in.
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Unread 01-02-2019, 02:34 PM   #3
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Mike, this is a second story bathroom so not a slab. Most of the floor has double joists because the old tub was cast iron. The other section doesn't, but we had our old shower and toilet there and there was never any issue with the tile in that section before. A ditra mat with floor heat was put down on top of the subfloor. I don't know what was used for the subfloor. The grout joints vary slightly, I measured one at 1/16th and another at 1/8th (both with the issues). Also, we have well water if that might be a factor. I don't know if that was used to mix the grout.
Edited to add this pic I found of the subfloor if it helps.
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Last edited by numbersjunkie; 01-02-2019 at 02:49 PM. Reason: Added picture of subfloor
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Unread 01-02-2019, 05:42 PM   #4
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Unsanded Grout issues

That has always been an issue with the sanded and unsanded grout. The additive should have helped some with it. The new epoxy and acrylic grouts offer a little more movement with any type of expansion.

What type of thinset was used?
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Unread 01-02-2019, 06:43 PM   #5
cx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fern
I think he used some boost additive to avoid the need for sealer.
Fern, whatever else you do with your situation, I'd recommend you not ever use anything in your cementitious grout that is not specifically recommended by the grout manufacturer.

Mike, I know of no manufacturer of epoxy or acrylic grout that advertises it as accommodating movement in the tile surface. They all still require movement accommodation joints as recommended by the ceramic tile industry.

Says he used TEC unsanded grout.
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Unread 01-02-2019, 09:11 PM   #6
numbersjunkie
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Don't know the type of thinset used or what the additive was. I will call him back and see what happens. He said if it happened again he would use a different grout. Maybe epoxy but I am a bit concerned that it is not something he was comfortable with.
Am I correct to assume it is not a deflection issue since it is not really cracking? If so, it would likely fall on the contractor and not the tile guy and contractors warranty ends in March. Not sure what could even be done at this point if that is the issue. I've been losing sleep since this was very expensive and we love how it turned out.
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Unread 01-03-2019, 06:40 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fern
I called the tile guy back and he removed all the old floor grout and replaced it,
Were you there when he removed the grout? I was wondering how deep he went with the removal, or if he just took the very top of the grout off.

Either way, that doesn't explain the grout coming loose the first time.

When the grout was coming up the first time, was it the full depth of the joint, or just the top like what we're seeing in your pictures?
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Unread 01-03-2019, 08:18 AM   #8
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Quote:
Mike, I know of no manufacturer of epoxy or acrylic grout that advertises it as accommodating movement in the tile surface. They all still require movement accommodation joints as recommended by the ceramic tile industry.
Hey CX, I actually chose flexcolor because of its advertised flexibility after cure. See below, note Flexcolor 4 LVT is for vinyl plank....

http://www.mapei.com/public/GB/produ...excolor-uk.pdf
Flexcolor is a ready-to-use paste, and its
consistency makes it easy to apply.
Flexcolor sets through the evaporation of its water
content, becomes flexible with a high bond strength
which is resistant to vibration and the deformation
of building materials.

http://www.mapei.com/public/COM/prod...lor4lvt-gb.pdf
Flexcolor 4 LVT sets through evaporation of its
water content. Once hardened, becomes flexible
with a high bond strength which is resistant to
vibration and the deformation of building materials.
These characteristics make it particularly suitable
for grouting LVT.
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Unread 01-03-2019, 10:30 AM   #9
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Does MAPEI not still require the same movement accommodation in the tile surface per EJ171 when using those grouts, Mike?
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Unread 01-03-2019, 10:40 AM   #10
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I agree that the joint needs to be deeper. A 1/16 bit on a Dremmell would remove the grout down lower so the new grout would hang on better. That said, if there is movement then it'll probably pop back out regardless how much lower he gets the joint.
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Unread 01-03-2019, 10:41 AM   #11
numbersjunkie
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Kevin, I was not watching when he removed the old grout, but recall that the entire process of removal and regrouting did not take very long. I'm pretty sure the original grout damage was the same as the pics I posted - no long cracks, just random sections and not full depth. However, it now occurs to me that certain sections may have been regrouted while the install was still in process. I remember the GC commenting on how the color was not very uniform and tile guy may have redone some sections to get a more uniform color. It could be that those are the areas where there are problems now.

Mike, that Mapei product looks interesting. Wondering if there are others here who have used it and agree that it could be a good option for us.

I really appreciate all of your comments and suggestions! I'm feeling better already and slept better last night!
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Unread 01-03-2019, 11:08 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cx View Post
Does MAPEI not still require the same movement accommodation in the tile surface per EJ171 when using those grouts, Mike?
Not saying anything other than some grout is advertised as flexible with a high bond strength which is resistant to vibration and the deformation of building materials.

Actually, Maepi also states that Flexcolor is ideal for flexible substrates: "Ideal for flexible substrates"
http://www.mapei.com/public/BR/lined...B_2013-low.pdf
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Unread 01-03-2019, 11:11 AM   #13
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Someone mentioned epoxy grout as a possible solution for this. I'd only do this if movement is not the culprit.

Epoxy grout is so incredibly hard. It has compressive strength similar to cement grout but a much higher tensile strength. If anything, it might cause further problems. It wouldn't bust out of the joints for sure but the penned-up energy in the system would find release elsewhere, and this might not be good at all for the installation.
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Unread 01-03-2019, 11:22 AM   #14
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Fern, is the old grout sanded or unsanded? It's hard for me to tell from the pics.

Flexcolor is sanded and has a gritty surface although it is a finer grit than some sanded grouts. If you plan to use Flexcolor and now have unsanded, you would want all the old grout removed so you won't have a mix of sanded and unsanded. You said it didn't take him long to repair the grout the first time. That tells me that he probably didn't remove all the grout in the floor, only the cracked areas.

Regardless of which grout you use, the joint needs to be deeper, of course without getting down to the heat cable.
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Unread 01-03-2019, 12:18 PM   #15
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Wolfgang, will heed your warning about epoxy in this situation. Last thing I want is to make matters worse. We had a bad epoxy application in our living areas - haze, low grout joints, etc. I'm not eager to go there again.

Davy, the old grout was unsanded. Fortunately, the heat was embedded in the kerdi mat which has channels so damage to the wire will be less likely compared to other floor heat mats. At least that's something good!
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