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Unread 11-30-2019, 03:23 PM   #1
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Grout Fail Shower Floor

We recently completed an addition and bathroom remodel completed by a contractor and some subs. The new shower looked beautiful but after using for a couple of weeks, there are areas on the shower floor that are soft, sticky, and coming out. Easily marked by sticking toothpicks in the areas, and then actually having the grout come out when removing the toothpicks.

The grout used was Mapei Kerapoxy CQ installed by a tile installer selected by our contractor. Contacted Mapei tech support and they make a logical argument that the grout probably was not mixed properly by the installer; if the grout itself was defective, the whole job would be coming apart, which it hasn't. The contractor and tile installer say they can't figure out why it happened.

The remedy proposed by our contractor is to get a fresh container of the grout and repair the affected areas. I am open to trying this but not convinced it is a viable long term solution. Ironically the reason I chose epoxy grout was for its durability and low maintenance.

Would appreciate some opinions regarding next steps. Tia
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Unread 11-30-2019, 04:28 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum, Tia.

Sorry for the trouble you're having.

Can you clarify this statement from your post:

Quote:
there are areas on the shower floor that are soft, sticky, and coming out.
Are you referring to just the grout, or does any of the tile seem to be loose or moving?

It may not make any difference, and it may just be a grout issue, but just to humor us, if you know anything about how the shower was constructed, that may be important. Pictures would help.
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Unread 11-30-2019, 04:36 PM   #3
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Welcome, Tia, sorry about the troubles with the new shower floor.

It could be the epoxy was improperly mixed, or the batch was bad, or both. No real way to tell at this point.
  1. You're certain that the soft grout is confined to a certain area?
  2. Have you tooth-picked the entire floor?
  3. How long after the floor was grouted did the shower first get used?
  4. Any idea if the entire shower floor was grouted with one batch of grout, or did they mix up two or more batches?
  5. Can you tell if any of those penny rounds feel like they are loose/moving?

Given that they are penny rounds, removing the failed grout cleanly around them is going to be tedious, at best, and I'd wanna see that a through job was done before regrouting. And if the decision is made to replace just some of the grout there's a chance the new grout may not match the old in shade.
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Unread 11-30-2019, 05:18 PM   #4
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Thank your for responding!

To answer your questions, the tile is on top of a contained system; I don't know the name or brand and under that is a concrete slab.

The room wasn't completed right away so I would say it was at least 10-14 days before we used the shower.

I was at work when the tile was done but my husband thinks the walls were completed with one container of the grout and the floor with a different container (there were two purchased).

The soft grout is present in several areas but not the entire floor and yes, I have gone over it as carefully as possible. There are a few areas that feel slightly tacky but the toothpick didn't go in.

The walls seem fine and the tiles on the floor don't seem to be moving.

I also expressed concern about the color not matching but our contractor doesn't think that will be an issue if we purchase the same stuff (we went with white).

I thought I posted pictures to the forum-I can see them but if there is another way to get them on here please let me know.

Many thanks,
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Unread 11-30-2019, 05:57 PM   #5
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It is certainly reasonable to give your contractor an opportunity to fix the grout issue, Tia, it is also certainly reasonable to set expectations with your contractor.

I wouldn't leave it up to the contractor to find all the soft spots so the first thing I would do it map out the area where the soft grout is, maybe encircle it/them with tape. Epoxy grout is very hard when cured (well, it's supposed to be), so I'd want to use something more substantial than a toothpick for probing, going over the entire floor. My limited experience with epoxy grout (I recently did my shower with Spectralock) is that the color is very consistent. Nevertheless, set the expectation that if the color/shade doesn't match between new and old that the entire floor will need to be redone, and pay nothing until you are satisfied.
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Unread 12-01-2019, 09:15 AM   #6
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The "bad" areas are more easily identified when the shower is wet, but while I was on my hands and knees doing an inspection I noticed a small hole in the corner where the floor meets the wall (see photo).

It seems to be a spot that was missed, not more soft grout but now I am afraid to get the area wet and have water get inside that gap. Also now that some of the grout has come out from the affected areas on the shower floor, I'm concerned about water getting under. Any suggestions for how to find other bad grout areas in the shower without running the water?

Also bad luck for us, these issues were discovered about 2 weeks after paying for the job.

Thanks again,
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Unread 12-01-2019, 09:39 AM   #7
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Tia,

Pin holes and cracks are merely cosmetic in a properly waterproofed shower.
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Unread 12-01-2019, 10:23 AM   #8
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Hi, Paul,

That's good to hear. Our contractor says we can use the shower until it is repaired but I have been reluctant.

Thanks for your reply.
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Unread 12-01-2019, 10:42 AM   #9
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It's going to be hard to prove if the batch of grout was bad or if the epoxy wasn't mixed well. Regardless, the installer should stand behind the installation and make it right. At this point, I don't see the grout suddenly getting hard so I would be taking up the floor and installing a new one. Of course, depending on what kind of "contained system" you have, that could be opening a whole other can of worms. Try to find out exactly how the shower floor was installed and what system.
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Unread 12-01-2019, 01:55 PM   #10
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My husband wasn't hovering while the work was being done but says a rubber-type mat went over the concrete slab and the tile and grout went over that so I may be mistaken about what I thought was some kind of contained system.

What I'm not understanding is why grout in some parts of the floor seems OK, and other parts are clearly bad. The bad areas are not close to each other. If it was a bad batch or poor mixing, it seems the floor would be bad everywhere.

Thank you,
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Unread 12-01-2019, 02:38 PM   #11
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If it was installed correctly, Tia, the rubber mat is the containment system. Hopefully the contractor installed a sloped-to-the-drain "mud" bed, then the rubber mat, then a second mud bed.

It is curious why some areas seem fine while others ain't so good. Is why I was earlier asking about where the bad spots are and how many batches they used. Even still, it doesn't matter at this point.

I'm kinda leaning towards what Davy said; having them remove and replace the entire shower floor.
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Unread 12-01-2019, 04:36 PM   #12
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Does your husband remember what color the waterproofing mat was? If it was a surface type membrane like Kerdi (orange in color) and they rip the tiles off, it could damage the Kerdi. Does he recall a mud bed over the membrane?
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Unread 12-01-2019, 05:15 PM   #13
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Can you remove the escutcheon plate at the shower valve so we see the layers?

A picture like this
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Unread 12-14-2019, 06:09 AM   #14
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I'm back with some updates. I had contacted Mapei and they were very responsive; even sent me a free container of grout as a show of good will.

Due to schedules and my husband being away for hunting season, we anticipate the tile repair sometime next week.

But the floor is worse-in continuing to inspect the floor for "bad" areas, tiles in one area have come up and the layer underneath is also sticky and "bad."

Other than photos, neither our contractor or his tile subcontractor have actually been back to our home to see what's going on here. I have attached recent photos.

At this point I am convinced a grout repair job of the "bad" areas identified is only going to cover up what's worse underneath but I welcome your opinions about what is the appropriate permanent solution and how do I get the contractor to do it?

Someone please pull me back from the edge as I am literally sick over this. We have been without the use of this shower going on a month now.

Thank you in advance.
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Unread 12-14-2019, 06:47 AM   #15
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Can you elaborate a bit on what, "sticky and bad" is?

How did those mosaics come loose?
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