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Unread 04-03-2006, 09:41 AM   #1
DonB
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Please help with a grout decision

The installation is Blue Pearl granite tile countertops set with the spacing of a dime. Grout color will be dark.

The priorities are ease of cleaning, appearance and stain resistance.

For stain resistance, Spectralock is a no brainer. I've learned from the experts this product, with the formula modification of reducing the color portion by 10%, will work in nicely in small joints. Courseness of the surface may still be an issue.

For smoothness in a flush/level grout joint, it seems like unsanded Polyblend would be the best choice for both appearance and easy cleaning.

I know there are excellent sealers that will protect any cement-based grout in virtually any situation but my concern here is an acidic food spill quickly effecting sealer effectiveness and allowing a stain. Is this a valid concern if all cleaning is done with a proper pH neutral cleaner and periodic sealer freshening is done?

Thank you for any opinions and ideas.
Don
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Unread 04-03-2006, 04:10 PM   #2
doitright
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Hi Don

Have you considered using Aqua Mix Black grout colorant?

It's unaffected by the acidic issues, and it's much smoother than the Spectralock grout.
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Unread 04-03-2006, 05:26 PM   #3
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Also look at Prism grout. Kind of between polyblend and epoxy. Much easier to install.
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Unread 04-03-2006, 08:42 PM   #4
DonB
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Hmmm, nice options guys.

John, I know little about this grout colorant other than (I think) it's an epoxy coating. I've never seen it or used it but it seems as though I read it looks kinda phony or almost like the grout has been painted. Is this true and does it wear away in high use areas? Say you have black grout, how would the appearance be changed using black grout colorant?


Jerry, I have been very interested in Prism but two things bothered me. First was the fact there's no dark blue color available but in retrospect, charcoal or black is probably a better color choice anyway. The second deterrent in my mind was all the reports of the powdery and weak installations last year but now it really seems to have been sporadic and isolated rather than a widespread problem. Jerry, do you use it and believe it to be as stain resistant as represented by Custom? Is it the glass bead filler that allows for that?

What do y'all thiink may happen if a countertop grouted with Prism was sealed with AM grout colorant? I wonder if the result would be a smooth, reliable and impermeable job that's easier than epoxy? Or if it would be a big ol' stinker?

Thanks guys. Good stuff.
Don
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Unread 04-03-2006, 09:31 PM   #5
Danny Ferguson
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Hey Don,

I would go with the Spectra Lock. Laticrete has sure made it easy for an epoxy.

Danny
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Unread 04-03-2006, 09:43 PM   #6
doitright
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Hi Don

When I do the AM grout colorant, it does not look painted on. My opinion is the people that post those comments aren't familiar with the experience and techniques we us. Maybe a grout stain would give you what you're looking for.

I don't think any of us will give you the "magical" answer that you're looking for.

You need to assemble the pro's and con's of each method and decide for yourself what is the best for what you want to accomplish. Every comment thusfar is a viable option.

What would I do in your situation? Probably grout with the closest matching grout, seal, and call it a day. Personally, I don't want anything sanded touching polished or honed natural stone. If you ever had to restore it, you would not be able to unless the sanded grout was removed first. Just my opinion.
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Unread 04-03-2006, 10:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
Personally, I don't want anything sanded touching polished or honed natural stone.
Yep. Sand is one thing that bugs me about the epoxy. Although I really don't know how fine it is, I expect it's much larger particulate than the flour used in unsanded.

When you use the AM colorant, do you use manufacturer recs or do you have special techniques?

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Unread 04-03-2006, 10:23 PM   #8
doitright
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Hi Don

It's pretty cut and dry, but instead of using brushes etc. available from AM, I prefer using a toothbrush and quality artist brushes (white bristle). It's also better to apply two thin coats vs. one thick one. Yes it takes more time, but again the end result and aesthetics make a huge difference.

We also spritz a neutral pH cleaner over the area to be scrubbed for final cleaning. It's also better to scrub with fresh white pads vs. the green ones.

These are just a couple of things we incorporate. Don't forget, I've been using AM grout colorants for over twenty years.
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Unread 04-03-2006, 10:40 PM   #9
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Thanks John. Aesthetics make all the difference when producing a work of art as opposed to simply laying a bunch of tile

Don
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Unread 04-05-2006, 08:41 PM   #10
DonB
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Prism is not a possibility. Law of supply and demand means since there's no demand, fat chance of getting any. The cheapest I can get bags of it in here is a little over $70 each. Since I need two colors, Prism will cost me $2.45 a foot. Pretty expensive grout job.

And considering the cost of the grout colorant, Spectralock is actually the cheap way to do it. I always heard epoxy is expensive. Hah!

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Unread 04-06-2006, 01:14 AM   #11
doitright
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Hi Don

At those prices, I have to agree with you.

You will be ok with spectralock. If it isn't smooth enough, you can still apply grout colorant over it.
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Unread 04-06-2006, 08:07 AM   #12
DonB
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Hi John,

This may actually be my perfect solution. The largest section of tile in this project will be the island with porcelain set at 3/16". The ideal color here is probably the Laticrete "silver shadow". There should be no problem achieving the desired degree of smoothness in these lines since they won't be flush.

The granite will be set at a sixteenth and that's where smoothness becomes a problem. I'm getting the impression I can use the same color component for both sections and simply use the AM colorant as a finishng coat to turn it black and give it the smooth texture I need. If this is the case, and considering I do my batch proportioning and mixing properly, I'll be able to complete the entire installation using one mini unit, one box of color component and one bottle of colorant for a per foot cost of under 70ยข.

Do you think I'd be taking an unnecessary risk by not using the "raven" color component for the granite section? I'm thinking it may be smart to begin with the dark color and just use the black colorant as a backup for smoothness modification. Or do you think the grout colorant is something that will reliably turn that grout to a black or at least a very dark gray?

A final question: is the black colorant generally hard to locate? Two out of the three Lowe's I've checked don't stock that color and insist it isn't available. Many things very common to most areas of the country are simply unavailable down here though. I guess I live in a tile challenged area

Thanks,
Don
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