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Unread 09-12-2019, 09:19 PM   #1
greatnorthwest
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Advice regarding grout residue on new tile shower walls

Hello,

I'm a homeowner, and I'm nearly complete with my first major remodeling project which covered 90% of my house. Overall, the project has gone well other than taking too long to complete.

I've come here seeking advice concerning a tile installation issue. As part of my remodel, my contractor completely rebuilt my shower in my master bathroom. It looks beautiful, but there's just one issue which concerns me.

The surface of the tile on the shower walls is very rough due to grout residue which was not cleaned off completely. This residue is not visibly noticeable, but the shower walls feel gritty like sandpaper.

Is this normal and acceptable for a tile shower, or should I ask my contractor to do a more thorough job of cleaning the tile walls?

As a side note, the porcelain tile that was used for the new shower surround is highly polished (i.e. smooth as glass), so i know that it's the grout residue which is making the walls feel rough. My old tile shower was unattractive, but at least it was very smooth.

While I'm happy with the appearance of the new shower, I'm concerned that the roughness of the shower walls will create a maintenance and cleaning headache for me because mold and other water related growth likes to adhere to rough spots. I was hoping that my new shower walls would be as smooth as the porcelain tiles which were used to build them.

Feedback from homeowners and tile professionals would be appreciated. If necessary, I can provide additional details as to the specific tile and grout products that were used for building my shower.

Thanks!
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Unread 09-12-2019, 09:34 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum, AK!

No, the tile installer should not be leaving you with a task of removing grout residue from the surface of the tile. That would be an incomplete grouting job. You most certainly are encouraged to contact them to complete the job.

By the way, what kind of grout is it?

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Unread 09-12-2019, 10:19 PM   #3
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The longer the time after grouting, the harder the cement cures (assuming it's a cement based grout), so you want to get this started as soon as possible. Sometimes, just a good rub with say a microfiber cloth will clean a lot off, but if not, it might come to the use of chemicals.

FWIW, if it really is a polished porcelain, the tile needs to be sealed, too. A regular porcelain that is not polished does not usually benefit from sealing, but by polishing it, it will have exposed some microholes whereas a regular version, pressed into the mold, would have had those closed off.
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Unread 09-12-2019, 11:06 PM   #4
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Tool Guy -

The grout is Bostik TruColor (pre-mixed water-based, urethane grout).
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Unread 09-12-2019, 11:19 PM   #5
greatnorthwest
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jadnashua -

Unfortunately, it's been over 3 weeks now since the grout was applied, so I'm probably going to have to contact the manufacturer to find out what chemicals they suggest for the removal of the grout residue.

With respect to the whether or not the porcelain is polished, I must admit that I'm not 100% sure that it's actually "polished". I assumed that it was because it is extremely smooth (like glass).

Shower surround tile: Surface Art - SEVILLE SERIES - Andrea - Taupe
Shower accent tile: Taupe Ice (Stone, Glass, & Crackle)
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Unread 09-12-2019, 11:56 PM   #6
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THe tile is probably glazed. If you have any spares, check to see if the color is the same on the top, edges, and bottom. If not, then it's glazed. I don't know how you'd get a crackle finish without being glazed. If that's the case, a sealer probably won't do much for it. Again, the instructions should tell you if it needs to be sealed. The urethane grout may not need a sealer, either.

On the grout, check the instructions. It will tell you how to remove the grout haze. It's MUCH easier done right after. Also note, a crackle finish may not actually feel totally smooth, so it may not have any grout on it in the first place. Again, if you have a spare tile, compare the surface finishes.

A true polished porcelain is literally ground and polished. A shiney one could easily be just glazed, especially if it has a pattern.

Usually, you can see the discoloration of the grout, or the tile's surface seems streaked or hazy if there's leftover grout after cleanup. It may take getting the lights in the right position and the same with the angle you observe it.
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Unread 09-13-2019, 08:13 AM   #7
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After a quick Google search, the field tile appears to be polished porcelain.

Call Bostick's technical department. They'll probably guide you over to their own Blaze Urethane Grout Haze Cleaner cleaner.

As far as that crackle...it looks like crackled glass(?) rather than glaze crackle that Jim is talkng about. But if there is a physical crackle to the tile, it's suseptible to grout staining in the micro cracks. In every case of using tile like this, it's recommended by the manufacturer to apply sealer over the crackle finish prior to grouting to prevent staining from occurring. Hopefully, that isn't the case with your tile.

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Unread 09-13-2019, 09:08 AM   #8
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jadnashua,

If you have any spares, check to see if the color is the same on the top, edges, and bottom.

I only have spares of the main tile used for the shower wall. I don't have spares for the crackle accent tile.

For the main tile, the color does appear to be the same on the top face, edges, and back. However, the "marble" pattern is only present on the top face which also is the only surface that's smooth as glass. The edges and back of the tile are rough.

"The urethane grout may not need a sealer, either."

I believe that's correct.

"Also note, a crackle finish may not actually feel totally smooth, so it may not have any grout on it in the first place. "

Only some of the hex shapes in the pattern of the accent tile are smooth as glass. The rest are smooth but not extremely so. Regardless, there is definitely grout residue on the accent tile as well because certain areas are unusually gritty like sandpaper.

Usually, you can see the discoloration of the grout, or the tile's surface seems streaked or hazy if there's leftover grout after cleanup. It may take getting the lights in the right position and the same with the angle you observe it.

Yes, this is the case. If lights are shown at an angle to the tile surface it's visibly noticeable. Under normal lighting present in the bathroom, it's not that noticeable. But even without seeing it, I can feel it. And that's more concerning to me because I don't want stuff growing on it. I want smooth tile that's easy to clean.
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Unread 09-13-2019, 09:16 AM   #9
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Tool Guy,

Thanks for the suggestion about the haze cleaner for the grout residue. I'll call Bostik to follow up on that.

But if there is a physical crackle to the tile, it's suseptible to grout staining in the micro cracks. In every case of using tile like this, it's recommended by the manufacturer to apply sealer over the crackle finish prior to grouting to prevent staining from occurring. Hopefully, that isn't the case with your tile.

Unfortunately, it's too late to apply the sealer because the grout has already been applied. However, the overall appearance of the tile looks fine to me. I'm happy with how the new shower looks, I just want to make sure that it's easy to clean and maintain going forward. That is why I'm concerned about the roughness of the surface. But hopefully the haze cleaner that you mentioned will do the trick.
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Unread 09-13-2019, 07:02 PM   #10
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Oh, yes, I know it's already grouted. I said, "Hopefully, that's not the case" because it's almost aways something you can't recover from without having to go through the pain of physically tearing out the affected tiles to replace with new. And I was figuring that if you're having trouble with an installer who can't even clean grout haze (elementary problem for a pro) they aren't likely capable of swapping out ruined tiles without causing additional problems.

Glad to hear the crackle tiles don't seem stained.

The Blaze should take care of 100% of the problem.

Any chance the work hasn't been paid for in full? Any chance you have a signed contract?

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Unread 09-13-2019, 07:36 PM   #11
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Tool Guy,

I spoke with my contractor about the grout residue today, and he agreed to take care of it. I've had a good working relationship with him throughout this large remodeling project, and the overall results have been good. So I'm not worried anymore since he acknowledged the issue.

And yes, I always get a signed contract for any significant job. I make progress payments as the work is completed and withhold a sufficient reserve amount as leverage until the job is done satisfactorily.
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Unread 09-13-2019, 08:08 PM   #12
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Very cool.
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