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Unread 04-22-2007, 06:28 AM   #1
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Question major (as in, MAJOR) grout mess - please advise

greetings folks,

checked the boards for an answer on this, but can't find one specific to these details. i appreciate any help you can offer.

got a phonecall from a friend this morning whose contractor (not a tile man per se, but does tile jobs sometimes) seems to have made a huge mistake in grout application.

the application took place yesterday (saturday).

here are the specs:

tile - textured porcelain floor tile, made By Shaw - called Baha.

grout - sanded, w/polymer, also made by Shaw

the contractor applied the grout by spreading it all over the tiles as he grouted. he and his assistant covered large sections very quickly this way.

the contractor and his assistant did not wipe off the grout as they moved from one room to the next.

so ...

the grout dried - ALL over the tiles, coating the entire tile.

my friends tried grout haze remover - it did not remove the grout coating.

they tried firm nylon bristle brush scrubbing - absolutely minimal effect.

they don't know what product / tool to use next, and they're concerned about harming the tile.

they called and asked if i would pose this question to you folks on the tile forum (i talk you up incessantly, after all your help walking me and my partner through our projects!), so here i am.

could you please offer suggestions / recommendations about products and/or tools to help remove this coating of sanded, polymerized grout on textured, porcelain tile?

best springtime wishes to you all, and

thanks as always,

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Unread 04-22-2007, 06:39 AM   #2
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Not gonna be easy but Sulfamic acid is one option. You will need to use that same nylon bristle brush or some textured sponge as well. I've only used it once but I think the dilution was 5:1 with water

You'll also need someone to follow very closely with a bucket of water and a mop to clean up after you..

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Unread 04-22-2007, 06:47 AM   #3
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mornin' jason, thanks for the instant reply!

a couple questions, if you might know ...

- is there a brand-name tile-specific product with Sulfamic acid in it, or do they just go to a hardware store and look for Sulfamic Acid - ?

- when applying it, do they need to steer clear of the grout lines - in other words, will the Sulfamic Acid harm the grout LINES if it is in contact with them - ?

- in clean-up, will just a mild soapy solution with warm water be sufficient to remove the grout and Sulfamic Acid from the tile - ?

thanks a lot.
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Unread 04-22-2007, 07:08 AM   #4
Scottish Tile and Stone
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Kavita, they can get it at home depot. I think its a yellow tub with a red lid.

Not sure but, why in the world would the homeowners be cleaning the tile? Who ever grouted it should be doing it.

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Unread 04-22-2007, 07:14 AM   #5
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hi scotty b,

actually, the contractor will likely be the one who addresses this once they know which products to use and how to apply them. i think he was as surprised as they are about this happening ... he's likely never used a sanded polymer grout before.

by any chance, do you have any suggestions about the other two questions in the last post - about application and clean-up?

thanks all!

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Unread 04-22-2007, 08:25 AM   #6
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I wish your friend well. While sulfamic or phosphoric acid can be very effective at removing stubborn haze I don't know how effective either will be in removing actual grout solids that may be remaining on that floor. Read the directions carefully, especially the recommendation part about how long to wait after grouting to use the product. And don't be surprised if that recommendation is 7 days. You don't want to risk "acid burns" in fresh grout either.

My last comment as a follow-up to Scotty's will be, if this contractor doesn't know how to properly clean-up after grout or what procedure to use afterwards incl. the use of an acid wash, I don't think I'd want them on my floor.
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Unread 04-22-2007, 08:29 AM   #7
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Hi Kavita

This is very noble of you posting for your friend. I strongly suggest you urge them to register here on the forum, and get personally involved with this thread. There is nothing like first hand information.

As already mentioned, it is imperative that the installation contractor resolves this issue! If your friend messes up with trying to correct their (contractors) error, they might assume the liability if the job goes further south than it already is.

The grout joints need to be prewetted before any acidic removal products are utilized.

Can the homeowner post some photo's?

Has the contractor been contacted? How have they responded? Have they been paid?
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Unread 04-22-2007, 08:40 AM   #8
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thank you, gentlemen -

i've forwarded this thread to my friend - her name is Ceacy - and suggested she join the forum and move ahead with you directly.

nearly a couple years ago i spent hours and hours here reading posts and asking (often tedious) questions about my tile projects as my partner and i renovated our house - first timers, we were. i truly can't imagine what we would have done without your help and good humour.

well, i CAN imagine, actually - but it's not a pretty sight.

anyway, thanks for being so generous with your input one more time.

happy sunday,

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Unread 04-22-2007, 09:55 AM   #9
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I agree with the others, the acid may or may not give you good results. Some handymen know how to set tile, some don't. For sure, he should be the one fixing the problem. This could take some time, hopefully not. This is something we hear about way too often.

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Unread 04-22-2007, 10:02 AM   #10
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Just thinking out loud here....but if it's as described....sounds like a MAJOR undertaking. Might a floor buffer/polisher using nylon scrubber pads and the crystals be a reasonably efficient solution?
They didn't want it good, they wanted it Wednesday.
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Unread 04-22-2007, 01:34 PM   #11
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Looking for solution

Hi there, I am Kavita's friend with the grout problem.

My installer is not a full time tile installer but has installed quite a few projects including showers, counters, floors etc. He is an expert plasterer and an excellent carpenter. He has worked on several jobs for me but this is the first tile job. And it is obvious to all now that his experience in tiling did not include using a product like this grout.

The grout is a sanded grout w/polymer additive and the installer let it dry too long before attempting to remove it. He realized the mistake before he had gone too much further so the damage is confined to a space about 7x8ft.
However, despite trying to jump in and assist, all of us scrubbing like mad, there is still an unacceptable amount of grout on the tile. The added complication is that the style of the porcelin tile is to mimick a stone surface so the suface is full of variations in texture.

So, I read in an earlier post about using acid to remove the excess grout. Could someone explain more about this product? We are less concerned about harming the grout between the tiles than we are about removing the grout on the tiles, it is pretty thick in some places. I do not think sanding it off would work because of the unevern nature of the tiles.

I really appreciate any suggestions concerning what product we can try.
I am not worried about working this out with my installer, he's a good guy and will do whatever I ask him to do.

Thanks in advance,
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Unread 04-22-2007, 01:52 PM   #12
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Welcome aboard, Ceacy. Hi Kavita.

Sulfamic acid comes in crystal form and the crystals are added to water. You cannot over-concentrate the stuff because excess crystals will merely settle to the bottom of the container once the correct strength has been reached. It's a relatively mild acid but still acid. Don't inhale the fumes, wear rubber gloves and protect the eyes. Sulfamic is a type of acid, not a brand name. You can get it at Home Depot, maybe Lowes.

The acid may soften the grout buildup somewhat, but it won't remove it, as Mike has stated. But used in conjunction with wood gouges, you might have a chance. Buy hardwood dowels, the size that will fit into a pencil sharpener. Cut the dowels into 1-foot pieces and sharpen them. Wet the surface of the tiles with acid (after saturating the grout joints with water). Then, use the dowels to gouge out the grout.

Do it now. Each day the grout gains strength.
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Unread 04-22-2007, 05:20 PM   #13
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thanks for your help

Dear John,

Thank you so much for your prompt answer. I will do as you advise and I am off to Home Depot to see if I can find the supplies.

A friend suggested I try acetone or muriatic acid, do you have any opinions on either of those products if the sulfamic acid doesn't work?

Thanks again, I was too ignorant to be discouraged before. Now I am not so sure!

Thanksfor your help.
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Unread 04-22-2007, 05:34 PM   #14
Brian in San Diego
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I don't think acetone would have any effect whatsoever on a cement based product. Regarding why not muriatic acid, read the following thread. It scared me. Not really, but it explains why sulfamic is used first. http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/...read.php?t=521

If that doesn't work, I'll always think it should have.
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Unread 04-23-2007, 06:15 AM   #15
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muriatic acid

Dear Brian,

I can't thank you enough for suggesting I read about the muriatic acid. I absolutely will try the sulfamic first and probably rip up the tile rather than try the muriatic. I am particualrly grateful because this is a new house and the appliances have not been installed although some of the boxes have been removed. I have had enough heartache building this house without ruining my new appliances before we even move in.

The irony is that now the installer doesn't want to do the grout on the rest of the floors because we told him what out budget was and he thinks using the tile bag method ( or whatever it is called ) will be very slow. Is it the polymer that makes this grout set up so quickly? He thinks I should try doing the grout myself, I am a little perplexed as to what to do now. Seems the closer I get to finishing the house the more things go wrong!!!!

Thanks for your help,
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