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Unread 10-12-2020, 06:00 PM   #1
LL_KoolJ
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My new grout is discolored - PLEASE HELP!!!!

Ok - I'm new here and this may be long, but I want to provide as many details as possible up front. (I have seen a lot of the follow-up questions asked...)

I completely gutted a bathroom and built it from the ground up and everything has been perfect until now. On Saturday night I started grouting my shower walls - they are white ceramic tiles (16x4) with 1/8 grout lines - the tile has been up for at least a month and were applied to a concrete board that was sealed with redguard using white thinset. The grout lines where clear of almost all thinset. I used Mapei Ultracolor plus FA which is one of these "advanced grouts". The color is suppose to be a very light gray (Warm Gray). I dry mixed the bags, I used distilled water, I followed the directions exactly (measured out my water, used halfway between the min and max amount, poured the grout into the water, used a low speed drill to mix, then slake, then mix again...) I applied it to the 3 walls - I did one wall at a time. I rubbed out the joints and wiped away the haze - no haze dried on the tiles. I wrung out the sponge as well as I could each time. I did need to go back and dig out / refill one joint at the edge of the niche about 45 mins after I finished because on one of the bullnose tiles the enamel coating was not wrapped as far around on the tile so I could see just a bit of the ceramic color so I wanted to build the joint up higher. Everything turned out perfect until it all started drying. I have color variation between lines on EACH wall. IT IS WAY DARKER then it should be - NOT LIGHTER in the spots that are off. When it is wet (I re-wetted it) it looks fine, when "dry" it looks blotchy and the area around my repair is the darkest (which makes me wonder if keeping it wet longer cause a curing difference????). How can I fix this? "Acid wash" to see if that helps? I read about these epoxy paints, but I don't like the idea of something that can wear off over time. Stain it? I don't care if it is darkish as long as it is even color. I have to admit that I'm an engineer and this is killing me. I have grouted plenty in the past with sanded grout and I haven't had any issues. I reached out to Mapei, but no response as of yet. PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!

I added pics in a reply below.
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Last edited by LL_KoolJ; 10-12-2020 at 08:20 PM. Reason: To alert readers that I added pics in a reply below.
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Unread 10-12-2020, 07:54 PM   #2
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Welcome, LL.

MAPEI is gonna be your best source for information on that problem, I think. A photo or two is likely to help both here and with MAPEI. Use the paper-clip icon above the Reply dialog box to attach photos from storage on your computer.
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Unread 10-12-2020, 08:17 PM   #3
LL_KoolJ
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Pictures

Here are pics of what I'm dealing with - 2 from a distance, 2 closer up, and one with the color sample next to the lightest area and one by the darkest area.
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Unread 10-13-2020, 06:22 AM   #4
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Lightly scratch the surface of a dark spot with an old screwdriver or something, and see what's just under the surface. If it's lighter you can try white vinegar and water mixed 50/50. Rinse well after scrubbing with a sponge.

If it's darker, not surface cleaning is going to help.
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Unread 10-13-2020, 01:39 PM   #5
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John - thank you for your reply. I did scratch it some and it did look slightly lighter so I want to try that before any other actions. Is a white vinegar mixture stronger than a haze remover? I have also seen comments in places about using muriatic acid and water (1 to 10 ratio) or sulfamic acid. Will any of these 4 options permanently damage the integrity of the grout? Will they harm the ceramic tiles and lastly, will I need to protect my fiberglass tub? What should I use to brush the grout with? You mention a sponge, but will that be aggressive enough - what about a toothbrush or something like a smaller steel brush? I just want to make sure I do this right and know what I should or shouldn't do. (Obviously I know that I would need to have the right PPE). I would like to give this a try first. If this doesn't work, has anyone had any luck with epoxy sealers which will color the grout? How well does this hold up on a shower wall? (I'm not a big fan of this idea, but a reputable tile company close by said that they have done this on their jobs without issue...) If this is a viable option - is there a good brand that could be recommended?
Once again - thank all of you for any comments and help.
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Last edited by LL_KoolJ; 10-13-2020 at 01:47 PM.
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Unread 10-13-2020, 03:07 PM   #6
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Did you contact MAPEI, LL?

All of the four will permanently damage a cementitious grout. The vinegar or the Sulfamic acid would be the safest. I would not recommend you bring muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid) inside your house at all.

None of the four should damage your tub, but I'm not entirely sure just what the surface of your "fiberglass" tub might be, so I'd want to do some testing before I got the hydrochloric acid (which you will not be using) on it.

A white "scrubbie" pad would be my first choice of tool to use with the acid to clean the grout joints or a very stiff grout joint brush such as we use for cleaning the difficult thinset mortar out of the joints when setting.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 10-13-2020, 06:22 PM   #7
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CX - I emailed Mapei on Sunday - no answer back yet or any attempt to contact me - this is why I turned to this forum.
Assuming that this surface cleaning doesn't work - what is the next recommended approach? Any opinions on these epoxy sealers? Thanks
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Unread 10-13-2020, 06:54 PM   #8
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Hey LL. Aquamix has a grout colorant that works real well. Fairly easy to apply. I used it on the inside and outside of a commercial building years ago. Probably around 5000 sq ft. The grout looked new for years until the building was eventually torn down. The grout situation was similar to yours but much worse. You might want to give it a try.
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Unread 10-13-2020, 07:25 PM   #9
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Thank you for that info Jerry.

John - I have taken 3 spots and used the vinegar mixer that you recommended and scrubbed with a pad and with a hard brush for quite a few mins - I'm not sure that anything came off (this grout is very hard - much harder than the sanded grout in on my floors or in my other bathroom showers - it took a lot to get it to "scratch", but I did try it again in another spot and I did see some lighter color... I may need something harsher than vinegar and water?) I took a before pics and I will wait until it dries and take some after and compare them.
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Unread 10-13-2020, 08:27 PM   #10
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You won't know until the grout dries. The acid literally eats the calcium in the cement, so will gradually eat it away. Rinse well to stop that from continuing.
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Unread 10-14-2020, 06:06 AM   #11
LL_KoolJ
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I have attached the before and after pics - not much difference, but perhaps I didn’t let the chemical reaction take long enough? I put the mixture on the joint showing in the middle of the pic and scrubbed for about 5 mins. How long should I let the vinegar soak? (Ironically it seemed to have made the lighter spot slightly darker and the darker area slightly lighter, but still neither close to the sample color!)
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Unread 10-14-2020, 06:31 AM   #12
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Hello LL,
Sorry you haven't gotten a reply to your email. Please reach out to Mapei Technical Services at 1-800-992-6273 and we'll be happy to help you resolve your issue.
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Unread 10-14-2020, 07:32 AM   #13
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Ultracolor Plus FA Grout concern

Good morning,
Mapei's Grout refresh would work to get the color you are looking for. I'm sorry you are having this concern. you can email me directly if youd like to further discuss.

Jcantin@mapei.com

Thanks
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Unread 10-15-2020, 06:55 AM   #14
LL_KoolJ
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Best ways to remove new grout.

I’m going to start a different thread since this is a slightly different topic. I’m the guy who has the discolored grout right after installation. I’m not sure which route I’m going to go yet, but if I decided to remove my grout and replace it - what is your advice on methods, tools and such. How do you keep from chipping the edge of ceramic tile and what is the probability of chipping a tile? I could imagine that you could cut a groove between the tiles them somehow “knock” the grout that is right against the edge of the tile into the gap to get a clean edge by the tile. That is the recommended depth - I definitely would not want to get close to the waterproofing membrane. BTW - the grout that was used was a non-cementitious grout if this makes any difference (Mapei Ultracolor Plus FA). Thanks.
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Unread 10-15-2020, 08:27 AM   #15
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I've combined you with your previous thread on the grout issue, LL, so folks can see what you're working on and what's been previously asked and answered.

I've not used that particular grout and don't know how difficult it might be to remove. I suspect you're being a bit optimistic in thinking you can remove all the grout from a shower easily and grout it with something else.

That is a cementitious grout (ANSI A118.7), it just doesn't contain Portland cement. I'd guess it's calcium aluminate mixture, but I can't verify that. In any case, a lot of the same characteristics will apply, such as it getting harder while you're deciding upon a remedy.

Perhaps someone else here has experience removing that grout and will weigh in.

What is the width of your grout joints?

How long has the grout been curing?

My opinion; worth price charged.
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