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Unread 12-14-2005, 01:15 AM   #1
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Filthy unsealed grout

2 Questions:

-We had our filthy, unsealed grout cleaned by a cleaning company. The tile came out beautiful but the grout is still unevenly stained. They used a liquid cleaner and a big round powered brushing machine. Is there a way I can get the grout cleaner or is this as good as it gets?

-How much time would it take to remove the grout on a 400sf area?

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Unread 12-14-2005, 04:59 AM   #2
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Hi Youlka,

Your grout may be as clean as it is going to get, especially if say you have an older installation of a lighter color.

Grout removal and replacement is an alternative, however the cost may be significant. You may also consider a grout staining alternative.

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Unread 12-14-2005, 07:51 AM   #3
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Did you ask the cleaning company about those stains and what they might do to address them? IF they only used a power scrubber I'd be a little suspicious that they didn't try everything to get it clean. Sometimes, a stain requires individual attention and another application of cleaning solution.
400 square feet of grout removal might not take you very long, especially if it's larger tile and wide joints. I'd plan on using power tools though and make sure that you have some extra replacement tiles on hand before you start, in case you chip any in the process.
Staining the grout is another alternative but I'm not very fond of it as it always looks to me like paint on grout rather than stained.
Best of luck,
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Unread 12-14-2005, 08:11 PM   #4
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can I ask - how much did it cost you to have this company clean the tile? $1.00 a sq. ft?

In addition, MY vote is that it is probably as clean as it is going to get. If it is white grout, perhaps take some bleach (in an inconspiquous spot) and let it soak into the grout - see if that does anything. I think it's as good as it will get.

sw (shawn)
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Unread 12-15-2005, 10:10 PM   #5
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Hi Youlka, Welcome!

Everyone thusfar has posted valid opinions.

The only way to know for sure if the grout will get any cleaner is to do some additional TESTing.

You need to start with a tile & stone specific high alkaline cleaner. The solution must be allowed to dwell on the surface for a few minutes, agitated, then flooded and preferrably picked up with a wet vac. Since this is a ceramic tile surface, you can follow up with a tile specific acid cleaner. The procedure is the same as the alkaline cleaning. The two products will also effectively neutralize each other as well, to maintain the proper pH balance.

If after drying, the discoloration or stains are still evident, I wouldn't hesitate to utilize a grout colorant. We have saved many a project using grout colorants. They also have a two fold purpose, as they seal the grout as well.

In regards to removing and replacing the grout. We usually save this as a last resort. It is usually performed if the grout is also cracked and/or missing. If this is the case, it must be determined whether or not any of the tiles are loose. This situation must be corrected before moving forward.

Hope this helps.
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"The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of a low price is forgotten."

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Unread 12-16-2005, 12:45 PM   #6
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Thanks for all your help!

Following your advice, we have voted against regrouting. We did a bit of testing and it seems that some areas can get cleaner. Good music will get us through a week-end of floor scrubbing! Plan B is to stain. Thanks again!
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Unread 12-19-2005, 09:27 PM   #7
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Youlka -

Is this sanded grout on a floor? Or unsanded grout on a wall? Different options depending on the answer. Wall grout can usually be removed and replaced, sanded floor grout usually can't.

The powered machine the company used may have done some good. Did they also use a wet vacuum to remove the muddy water? That helps a lot.

You got good advice above, for the most part. If you want to do it yourownself, spend a few minutes learning the basics at John Rupich's board at www.dirtygrout.com and they can tell you exactly how to do it correctly.

We do it commercially, but as Michael said, if it's lighter color and been around a while, it may already be as good as it gets. We offer clients the cleaning and then if the grout is clean enough, sealer with clear non colored formula. If it's mottled, we offer to use color sealer.

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