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Unread 08-19-2005, 12:32 PM   #1
Rafael
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Exclamation Is this efflorescence? If so, what would you recommend?

Hi everyone,

This is my unfortunate story:

8 months ago, the installer finished installing my marble floor, then they grinded and honed it in order to obtain the matte finish I was looking for. It was never sealed.
Some work was still being made at the house, like painting, so the contractor suggested covering the floor with plastic (right after it was grinded and honed). The plastic film remained there for 1 month or so… until I was ready to move in.
After I move in, I started noticing that my floor was forming a thin whitish crust all over, so we started to mop it with warm water, according to the installer suggestion. The problem seem to go away instantly after mopping, but just to come back after three days or so!!
Even thought I have the same problem on the second floor, seems minimal if compared to the first floor where it is a nightmare.

Now that I have read documents and stuff over the internet, I know a lot of mistakes were done through the process and that I might have an efflorescence problem, and that I should not use more wet mops.

Could you confirm if this is efflorescence and could you suggest a way to get rid of it.

My wife is just one-step from insanity if I don’t do something to have that floor clean.

I am attaching some pictures.

Thanks in advance for your comments
Desperate Rafael
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Unread 08-19-2005, 06:25 PM   #2
claycarson
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Raphael -

The resolution on the photos makes it hard to see clearly, so I can't tell visually.

When you touch it with your finger, does it feel powdery and like a light crust that you can physically break off and sweep away? That is what it feels like.

By the way, is this level on or below ground, below grade in other words, like a basement? Efflorescence is more likely below grade than second floor.

What is the subfloor, below the marble? Is is cement? Or plywood? Or do you know? Efflorescence comes from minerals transmitted through the subfloor and stone/grout.

What happens when you vacuum or sweep without water? That may be enough to remove the problem, but soaking it with water may make it worse.

Acid can be used, but with marble, it may dull the shine significantly. Since your marble is honed and not shiny, that may not matter to you. Before you dump acid on the floor, spot test an inconspicuous area to see the results.

It should not have been necessary to grind in place and hone the stone on site. You could have purchased tiles that were already honed to install. Sounds like either you changed your mind after you saw what polished tiles looked like or they put the wrong product down or no one told you it could be done simpler (less expensively, too). One problem may be that all the water needed to perform the grinding made the efflorescence worse. Not permanently, but maybe soaking it made it more noticeable and worse up front.

Let us know.
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Unread 08-19-2005, 08:55 PM   #3
doitright
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Hi Rafael

Grind in place is actually the ultimate installation. It makes for a quicker installation, that ends with no lippage.

Downside as Clay points out, is that excessive moisture could be affecting the type of stone you had installed.

Tape a piece of plastic to the floor for at least a day. Let's see if any moisture shows up.
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Unread 08-20-2005, 12:52 AM   #4
Rafael
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Hello Clay / John

Yes, when I touch the floor some of this powdery material would come off, nonetheless I would have to rub a little bit more to take it off completely. And the subfloor is cement actually.

What do you think? Sounds like efflorescence right?

I would also try the plastic test…

Let you know and thanks for the support..

Regards
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Unread 08-20-2005, 06:09 AM   #5
doitright
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Hi Rafael

Tap around the floor and see if you have any hollow spots. Was there any loose grout?

I think when you covered the floor immediately after the grinding and honing process, you trapped the moisture in the stone. Since removing the plastic, it's finally drying out.

You may be able to just continue cleaning the floor with a brush and a tile & stone specific neutral pH cleaner.

I think it will go away after the floor is dry. Do you have a dehumidifier and/or fans? They will also help.
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Unread 10-10-2005, 10:39 AM   #6
Rafael
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I have tried the plastic test in several ocassions in different places around the house, but have never detected any moisture, and that's weird, because if it was efflorescence I should see some moisture, shouldn't I? What do you think should I seal, regrind?
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Unread 10-10-2005, 10:53 AM   #7
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Rafael
You didn't anwswer the question about the sub-floor. What is it? wood? concrete? Old or new concrete and above or below grade?
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Unread 10-10-2005, 12:29 PM   #8
Steven Hauser
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Hi Raphael,

The other important questions are what type of installation was used?

What is the substrate.

Yers, the preliminary information points to efflorescence, however, that is not the only possibility.

It could be a poor clean up job of slurry that your damp mopping pools but without extraction never removes.

Anyway, whatever it is the problem can be remedied.
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Unread 10-10-2005, 05:42 PM   #9
Rafael
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The sub-floor is concrete, and it was new when the floor was installed, but not sure about the grade.

I called a "marble expert" and he made a test using a floor machine with a pad and some marble shampoo, he extracted the excess water with a vacuum. After this the floor seemed beatiful again, but it only lasted a few days, when this anoying thin whitish crust started forming again.

I will try to find out more about the products used in the installation, in the meanwhile I will appreciate any thoughts you may share.

Thanks and best regards
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Unread 01-27-2006, 05:21 PM   #10
Rafael
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This thing keeps coming back!

It's been more than a year now since installation, but this whitish crust keeps coming back.
It's the same as before, we use a slightly wet mop to get rid of it and then the floor is immediately dried with another mop. And we are being successful, the floor look fantastic again but just for a couple of days when the haze starts forming again. It's a never ending story.

Any idea?
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Unread 01-28-2006, 03:28 PM   #11
Steven Hauser
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Yes, you have moisture in the substrate.

You need to get to the bottom of the installation, and do a moisture test of the slab. Either tear out a few pieces or core drill to the slab.
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Unread 01-29-2006, 09:44 AM   #12
Rafael
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If this is the case, is there anything I can do to fix it? Will I have to tear out the whole installation and then re-install again?
Thanks for your comments.
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Unread 01-29-2006, 12:18 PM   #13
doitright
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Hi Rafael

Everything is pointing in that direction.

Do you have a hygromete to measure the humidity level in your house. I'd start there. What was on the floor before you installed the marble?

Do you own a dehumidifier?

Since you're on a slab, do you know if you have a high water table?

Let's try to eliminate everything, before you resort to a tearout/replacement.

It sure would have been nice to have a waterproofing/isolation membrane on top ot the slab before the installation.
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Unread 01-31-2006, 07:18 PM   #14
Rafael
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Hi John,

The Hygrometer reads somewhere around 60% and before the contractor installed the marble there was nothing but the concrete slab. I had even tried the plastic test in several occasions in different places around the house, but have never detected any moisture.

The likelihood that I have a spring beneath is very low, when the house was being built I do not remember even seeing moisture in the soil when the contractor was removing it to prepare for the foundations.

The other thing that might lead to a moisture problem is that this is only happening on the first and not on the second floor.

So as you can see, I am confused big time!

Definitely it would have been nice to have the membrane on top the slab before the installation, but “the experts” never told me about it, I am just a guy who just liked the way the marble looked, but did not have any idea about proper installation.

I think I am a lost case

Regards
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Unread 01-31-2006, 07:31 PM   #15
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Where are you located?
It does sound like a problem with the slab. You said earlier that the slab was new when marble was set. If was less than 30 days that could be part of problem.
Also if there is no moisture barrier under the concrete or it had a lot of holes punched in it during construction or pouring of the concrete that could be you problem. Did you tape a piece of plastic down on the floor sealed real well around the edges and leave in place for 24 hrs +? Ideal would be an area that doesn't have tile on it.
Get a moisture meter test of the slab.
Tell us a little more about the marble. Where did it originate? What did you pay sq. ft.
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