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Unread 04-05-2020, 12:03 PM   #1
shannona
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Remove Epoxy Grout from Quarry Tile--Lots of Residue!

Need some help on this situation. I recently did a cleaning and replacing missing grout in a restaurant kitchen. Existing grout is sanded, and we were replacing missing grout with Ardex WA Epoxy grout. One of the guys helping got way ahead, and didn't clean the grout before it set up. Mistake is on me, and what a mistake it has been!

This is more than just normal haze. It's a lot of grout, and I've tried every remover I can find or order, including the one that Ardex recommended. This grout is now over a month old. I'm going to have to remove and reinstall this large area plus multiple tiles scattered throughout the rest of the kitchen if I can't get this removed. I really need some help here!


Several local tile guys have recommended I try gasoline, but I cannot do that b/c of the location, fumes, etc. I've used black pads on floor scrubber, sanding disks, and all the way up to a diamond cup on an angle grinder. The diamond cup will remove it, but I'm also removing top of tile in an uneven manner, too. I'm not a professional installer (no duh, right?), but have done these same jobs multiple times and always had good, clean, long-lasting results (some jobs were done over five years ago and are still holding).

I have considered renting a floor scrubber (super slow speed) and going over the entire area with diamond pads. [I saw this done on a travertine floor in a high-end clothing store many years ago. Install had many high edges and customers were tripping. They used these pads on floor scrubbers to grind it all down until level. It turned out well.] This would remove the grout, and the top layer(s) of the quarry tile. My concern is that the tile would begin to break down over time because I'm removing that top layer. I'm not sure if that will destroy the integrity of the tile.
As far as I can tell from what I've researched, I should be able to apply a non-stick finish when I'm done to keep it from being too slick when water, grease, etc gets on it. Am I on the right track, or should I bite the bullet and replace this flooring? I'll literally have to take out a loan to do...with all materials and labor, will be over $3,000.

Whoever installed this tile did a pretty poor job, as there are many high/low corners. By grinding this down, most of those will go away, so the floor will be more level than in the beginning. However, I have to know that the tile will maintain it's normal life expectancy (at least five years or more) until it is replaced. I have more time than money, especially with the Chinese Communist Party Virus issues, but I'm limited to doing all work at night and on Sunday. Going to be hard to get complete floor removed and replaced in 16 hours. Any help is appreciated!!
Thank you all.
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Unread 04-05-2020, 12:42 PM   #2
Davy
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You might call Ardex and see if they have any ideas. I can't see how you'll ever get the epoxy grout out of the rough textured surface but I've been wrong before.
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Unread 04-05-2020, 12:49 PM   #3
shannona
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Thanks, Davy. I have contacted Ardex, and they suggested a grout remover/stripper type product to try. I did, and it didn't make hardly a difference in removing the grout. They said the epoxy actually creates a chemical bond (other than just mechanical) to the tile, which is what makes it work underwater and in other extreme environments. I think it would probably work in outer space, too!! Thanks.
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Unread 04-05-2020, 01:16 PM   #4
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If there are drains in the floor like we see in a lot of restaurant kitchens and the tiles are pitched towards the drains, the floor is likely on a mud bed which would be more expensive (and time consuming) to replace than a thinset installed floor. Most of the time the mud bed wants to come up during tear out and then would need to be replaced. And, even if there are no drains, the floor could still have a mud bed under it. Unless you know how it was installed, you won't know about the mud bed until you start to tear it out. How many sq ft are you talking about?

Maybe someone else has some ideas.
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Unread 04-05-2020, 05:33 PM   #5
shannona
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There is no mud bed. In fact, it appears that the original installers only used adhesive! Getting the tile up is not difficult. The broken ones that we replaced were almost directly on the concrete, We are going to have to use an extremely thin layer of thinset to not cause too much of a height difference. It was definitely not installed properly.
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Unread 04-05-2020, 05:58 PM   #6
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If it were me I would be removing the tile completely and starting over. That epoxy grout will never be removed and the floor looking normal. If like you say the tile was not properly set to begin with it would probably take less time and will definitely have the best outcome. How many sq ft are we talking about?
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Unread 04-05-2020, 06:11 PM   #7
shannona
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Jerry, there is approximately 300 tiles to be replaced. Many are in a group of 3,9,12 or 15 or so. Lots of piece work to do.
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Unread 04-05-2020, 06:50 PM   #8
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Sounds like around 75 sq ft. Are replacement tiles available that match the existing floor? I still think the best option is to replace. I don't really see any way to get that epoxy removed.
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Unread 04-05-2020, 07:15 PM   #9
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Welcome, Shanonna.

Tough spot. I gotta agree with Jerry. Remove and replace the entire tile installation. If you can't do it within the time limitations imposed, you're gonna need to hire someone who can.

There are installation crews out there than can do that job within your 16 hour time frame. I understand that money is a concern, but you might need to bite that bullet.

This is not a place that can close for Corona virus concerns long enough for you to do the job? Hell, everybody else seems to have!

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 04-06-2020, 06:17 AM   #10
speed51133
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concrete floor grinder with a not so aggressive bit?

you can also sand the floor with a floor sander, concrete sand paper is a thing!.

https://www.garagetooladvisor.com/de...sand-concrete/
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Unread 04-06-2020, 06:54 AM   #11
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Unless you have “smart “ sandpaper that knows when to stop removing grout when it gets to the tile surface I don’t see that working. You will end up with portions of the tile with a sanded face.
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Unread 04-06-2020, 07:17 AM   #12
speed51133
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true, but isnt quarry tile the same throughout?

it would be just like sanding a wood floor. maybe an enhancing sealer afterwards to even out the color?
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Unread 04-06-2020, 09:07 AM   #13
shannona
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Mike, that is my question. I agree that replacing the tile is the best thing to do. However, I am trying to find a solution that costs less but will give the same result (or at least 95% the same). The tile was going to be replaced within a year, but the virus put that on hold for now.

The ownervs concern is the appearance. I just need to know if I can sand quarry tile and will ii still maintain its integrity and not start flaking, cracking, etc. I may end up having to replace it, but I want to try sanding a test area before replacing - - IF I know the tile will still be the same after taking off the top finish.

Can anyone tell me that? Thanks.
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Unread 04-06-2020, 09:45 AM   #14
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Generally speaking quarry tile has a mild texture. Even if it is sanded down it will be painfully obvious. I say painfully because it’s already been mentioned that appearance is important and you won’t be happy with the outcome because it will not look the same as the rest of the tile. The only way to have the effect you want is to have something that breaks down the grout without affecting the tile and I don’t know of anything that does that. You might want to try a small section that was ground down with acetone and a wire brush. But even then I think replacing would be faster. Maybe not. Might be worth a try. Acetone won’t affect the tile and I have used it on some 2 part epoxies.
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Unread 04-06-2020, 11:57 AM   #15
shannona
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Thank you, Jerrymlr1. I think you are probably correct on this. The only reason I think the customer might allow it is because they have other tile that has had to be replaced in the past, and it does not match the existing. Some of it is MUCH different than the original. See pics:

So....I'm hoping I can remove the top 1/64" to 1/32" of the tile, this will remove the grout that is down in the finish that you are talking about. Then I'll seal the tile, and add a non-slip additive, so that it's as functional as before...and I'm sure it will look different. Customer would have to agree to this, and I'll do a sample tile or two so they can see it.

Sorry for asking so many questions, and pushing this issue.
I didn't make it clear that the appearance doesn't have to be identical. But it does have to be clean of grout residue. So, if I can accomplish that, should the quarry tile still maintain it's integrity and not be prone to chipping, cracking, etc if I take off that thin top layer? Hope that makes sense.
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