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Unread 02-26-2020, 09:24 AM   #1
abbradwell
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Loose Subway Tile

Hey there, quick question for the group. I have a bathroom that was tiled recently by a contractor. He did an amazing job, but I guess the thinset skinned over slightly in one area and two tiles came loose (long story, but he left it ungrouted and I am going to grout myself). I didn't think it was worth calling him back out for and just fixed the tiles myself, but even after grinding the edges down a bit, it was still a very tight fit (we went with a 1/16" grout joint and they were butted together without spacers). In the process of getting one tile in, an ajacent tile separated from the thinset. It's in there very tightly, I can't even get it to budge. The only reason I know it came loose is that it makes a different sound when I tap it.

My question is, can I just go ahead and grout or is that risky? FWIW, the grout is dark gray, and is unlikely to show hairline cracks if that is even a risk. I would REALLY like to grout today, and with how tightly it's in there, I also fear knocking other tiles loose if I try to extract it. Thanks for your thoughts!
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Unread 02-26-2020, 09:35 AM   #2
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Welcome back, Allison.

You run the risk of grout cracking if the tile is loose. I would use a punch and hammer and break the tile. It'll come out easy in pieces.

They usually set pretty tight, so getting another tile in there isn't easy. If the tile has built in spacers, shave them off on all sides without cutting into the face of the tile. It should slide in easily, and you'll probably want to use some thin spacers to center it vertically.
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Unread 02-26-2020, 09:40 AM   #3
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What is the application where these tiles are installed, Allison?
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Unread 02-26-2020, 10:12 AM   #4
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Shower/tub surround. I should mention that the tile in question is high up and only likely to be touched during periodic cleaning.
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Unread 02-26-2020, 10:19 AM   #5
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Without knowing what waterproofing method or backing material was used in your shower, it's tough to say how successful you might be in removing a properly bonded tile. But if some tiles are falling off, it might not be a problem at all. Up to you.

I'd at least wanna check all the other tiles in that surround to determine how extensive your bonding problem might be.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 02-26-2020, 10:29 AM   #6
abbradwell
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Substrate is durock covered in Redgard. The tile in question would be unbonded, no?

The other tiles in the vicinity seem ok, I've checked them out. I'm sure the only reason this one is loose is because the other one was so tight to fit and I must not have been careful enough inserting it.

If it is, in fact, only the one tile that is tightly secured but separated from the thinset, do you think there is much risk of the grout cracking? I honestly don't care much if there is a hairline crack, but if there is a risk of grout cracking and falling out, that's another story.
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Unread 02-26-2020, 10:41 AM   #7
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You could just grout it and see what happens. Worst case scenario, you'd have to take out the grout and replace the tile.
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Unread 02-26-2020, 12:04 PM   #8
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Thanks, I'm leaning towards this at the moment. If it's possible that surrounding tiles are currently secure but tenuous, I worry that hammering out the tile could break their bonds.
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Unread 02-26-2020, 06:36 PM   #9
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So, I went for it, and now I have another issue. Following the guy's advice at the tile store, I used less water than was called for in the grout and my mix was too dry, leaving voids and inconsistencies in the grout on one wall. It was starting to get to hard and some was dug out more than I intended as I was trying to knock it back where it was too thick.

I've wiped it down with water once, waiting a few hours before re-wiping. Is there anything that can be done at this point? Could I skim some grout over the stuff that is still drying or am I just screwed?
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Unread 02-27-2020, 12:15 AM   #10
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A picture might change my advice, but I'd probably rake it out before it cures and start over.
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Unread 02-27-2020, 04:14 PM   #11
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FWIW, grout curing is a one-way chemical reaction. Adding water later after that process has proceeded a bit does not make it softer. Now, many mastics will soften after they harden when wetted down, but that's not what we're talking about.

When using cement based products, your initial cleanup needs to be done within the stated time frame. That often is in the order of 15-minutes or so, but that can depend on the temperature and the surfaces it's applied to. You then usually need to do a final cleanup a bit later, but before things have hardened too much (shouldn't be much left after the first cleaning). You always have more water than needed for the chemical reaction to occur to make the whole mix more fluid so you can tool it. People think of it 'drying', but that's not what makes it strong...it's the curing where the cement particles literally grow interlocking crystals...any excess water will evaporate over time, but that doesn't affect the strength unless you mix it with too much water, which will keep the cement particles separated, and not allow as much overlap of the crystalline growth. WOrst case, with too much fluid, the sand and pigments can separate from the cement, and all fall out of the mix leaving a weak, splotchy end result. A modified mix may need to ultimately dry as well. The modifier, when mixed properly, encapsulates the dry components of the mix.

Too dry, much harder to fill the grout joints reliably as it's more like rubber than paste.
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Unread 02-27-2020, 04:31 PM   #12
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Following the guy's advice at the tile store

In the future, you might want to read the instructions on the container.
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Unread 02-27-2020, 06:17 PM   #13
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Ed, if that's intended to be a quote you've posted, you might wanna re-check the PM I sent referring you to our FAQ or the Liberry where there is a brief tutorial showing how to quote and properly attribute quotes here on the forums. Very simple once you see it.
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Unread 02-27-2020, 07:36 PM   #14
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Aye Cap'n.
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Unread 02-27-2020, 07:55 PM   #15
Fast eddie part deux
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Quote:
Originally Posted by name
Ed, if that's intended to be a quote you've posted, you might wanna re-check the PM I sent referring you to our FAQ or the Liberry where there is a brief tutorial showing how to quote and properly attribute quotes here on the forums. Very simple once you see it.
Testing ...

Hmm ... more practice required.
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