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Unread 10-08-2021, 09:50 AM   #1
scrappy57
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Exterior tile in freezing climate

It looks great where it's working, but... I used black porcelain outside. Vertical shower wall, wall caps, architectural sculpture etc. - in North Carolina. Hot summers, freeze/thaw winters. In some of the places where the grout has failed, I've replaced it with black silicone caulk (Dowsil 795) and proper backer rod and tooling, a time and effort suck, and even that is showing break-down from the elements.
I'm about to grout some tiles I've re-set that came loose due to water intrusion/freeze/thaw, and THIS time, I'm using TEC grout and mixing it with their latex additive instead of water (what they recommend in freezing environments).
Do any of you know a better solution to grouting in a freeze prone climate? I have no idea why "Jake" is included at the bottom of my posts.
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Unread 10-08-2021, 09:57 AM   #2
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Here's a photo of my tile outside.
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Unread 10-08-2021, 10:01 AM   #3
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More pix of my black porcelain:
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Unread 10-08-2021, 10:19 AM   #4
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Welcome, Jake.

Jake appears at the bottom of your posts because that's your permanent signature line and you apparently put Jake in there. If you want a different name, you can change it. And while you're in your User Profile, it would be helpful if you'd add your geographic location there.

Use of a direct bonded waterproofing membrane over the exterior substrate before setting the tiles would probably help with your freeze/thaw failures, but using the grout manufacturer's recommended grout and additive will probably help as well.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 10-08-2021, 11:56 AM   #5
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Hi, Jake.

Can you tell us how you constructed that and what, if any, waterproofing efforts were made? And do you have any close-up pics of the failures? It might help us understand what the nucleus of the problem is.

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Unread 10-08-2021, 12:45 PM   #6
scrappy57
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Thanks,

The walls with the holes are cinder blocks covered in tile. I formed the holes with plywood half circles with a quarter inch space between them, shimmed and joined with splints. Then I cut the blocks to fit around the resulting circle, poured full of rebar and concrete, then removed the splints, then the shims holding the two halves apart, and the forms fell out. The inner part of the circle, I plastered with latex modified mortar, then primed and painted with concrete paint. The stone walls are only stone on one side; the other side is blocks, then cap blocks and I tiled the cap blocks.

I did use isolation membrane under some that had failed on a wall cap, and I "grouted" it with the Dowsil 795 silicone. Some of that is failing again. I really should have sloped it off to one side; that was a mistake. The grout I used 20 yrs ago, when this was new, included the silly, "No need for sealing" and I fell for it.

I'll be sealing it all from now on. I'm sealing with black colorant/sealant, since it's the only way I succeed in Actually making my grout look consistent. It's really a coating and not a penetrating sealer. It makes the sanded grout smooth and shiny. I like the look. I'm hoping that sealing it all from now on is going to make a big difference.

This repairing the outdoor tiles likely has a lot to do with why so exterior tile is rare in this region.

The look is so impressive, I just have to know that there'll be ongoing maintenance/repair, but hey, I mow my lawn every week in the summer too.
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Unread 10-08-2021, 05:37 PM   #7
jadnashua
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Sealant won't block moisture from being absorbed...it tends to slow it down, but that's somewhat negated by not having any slope to it so the occasional snow, and more frequent rain can get inside. Black is also problematic, as it will expand much more as it will absorb heat in the sun. It doesn't look all that big, but expansion joints might still be useful to break it up a little into sections.

An ANSI-15 spec mortar would give you the best resistance to the weather extremes, but it wasn't available when your stuff was tiled.

Should you do it again, you might find something like Ditra-Drain might help, but I'd run that by their tech support. THen, you might be able to use a less expensive thinset.
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Unread 10-11-2021, 10:15 AM   #8
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My outside tile is 27 years old and under ice a few months a year in WI. Grouted with regular old sanded cement grout, haven't touched it since it was installed. Only thing we did different was use the driest method on clean-up (burlap) and struck the joints.
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Unread 10-11-2021, 12:36 PM   #9
jadnashua
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If you don't have good coverage under the tile, if any moisture accumulates in those voids, when it freezes, it can wreck havoc on the install.
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