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Unread 04-27-2021, 09:12 AM   #1
cbaum
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Grout rant

Sorry to rant but I'm quite fed up trying to figure out what grout to use for my bathroom. No matter the message board, or youtube videos, or blog/article, they are all full of conflicting information. Has marketing completely taken over grouting? Are many of the new fancy, technical grouts just a product of marketing and don't inherently offer much over big box store brand grouts, and perhaps they are worse?

Thinking of the bathroom floor and shower walls I just ripped up, there was no cracked grout at all. Was a little stained (mostly because we were lazy), but it was in good shape, and I'm sure it was the cheapest grout the builder could find when they built the house in 2001. We never really scrubbed it or resealed it. So what value do these new fancy grouts give you?

Again sorry to rant, but it seems nearly impossible for someone completely new to tiling to find any consistent information on what grout to use under different scenarios. You either run into brand loyalists, or just the opposite in people who will NEVER use brand X for some unspecified reason. It almost leads me to think the basic, cheap HD grout that has been sold for 30 years is absolutely fine, and the rest is just marketing noise.
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Unread 04-27-2021, 06:08 PM   #2
Just In Tile LLC
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Charlie I share your frustration with things turning into more sales tactic then just people giving real world advice. The old school grouts (ones that still have efflorescence issues) are not my cup of tea. But I do like the newer grouts (about 12-15 years old now).....wow I'm getting old. Prism by Customs is my favorite all around grout because it dries quick, gives really consistent color (something the really old grout were notorious for not giving) and doesn't have issues with efflorescence <---- which springs up from time to time and as a business owner was nerve racking to think on grout day.....the last day before you collect the check... you were rolling the dice that this white haze would develop.

My two cents.
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Unread 04-27-2021, 06:50 PM   #3
Tool Guy - Kg
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Hi, Charlie. Good topic.

I think the marketing folks at some of the companies have entirely too much input over the system than they should. It’s not just grout, but waterproofing, setting materials, installation instructions, and more.

Ordinary cementitious grouts have performed fine for a very long time. The only real problem I’ve had with ordinary cementitious grout is their annoying habit of not drying to the color they advertise. I am not a brand snob. But rather, I pick and choose which manufacturers have products that serve me well. For the most part, the only cemenitious grouts I use these days would be Laticrete’s Permacolor or Custom’s Prism...because they dry to the advertised color, day after day after day.

I suppose you can’t blame these companies for trying to make more money with fancy schmancy high-dollar grouts. But it’s up to all of us as consumers to figure out what is good for us and reject that which isn’t. The fancy grouts are fine, but I don’t see them as automatically elevating all my jobs to a higher quality...but just those where stain resistant grouts are paired with stain-resistant tiles in a non-continuously wet location. That means I don’t use them with stainable stone or stainable polished porcelain. And I don’t use them in showers, as the pan and bottom few inches of the pan are considered “continuously wet”. If I’m considering a fancy grout, I’ll automatically also be considering epoxy....and with epoxy’s higher performance...I end up with epoxy more often than not.
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Unread 04-28-2021, 01:17 PM   #4
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@Tool Guy - Kg - Are you saying you think Epoxy grouts are not a great idea in a continuously wet application like shower pans? Or were you referring to just more "high performance" cementitious grouts with those comments?

Because I am more than fed up with the "fine" performance of cementitious grout, which after enough years always seems to end up with the same problem, mildew/mold growth that no matter how you clean it keeps coming back
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Unread 04-29-2021, 10:00 AM   #5
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I think the mold/mildew problem with ccementitious grouts has a lot to do with how the shower is maintained from the get-go. For years I have espoused hand drying showers with a towel each time they are used. I've not had a problem with grout. I do agree with you that once mold get seated, there's no good way to get rid of it.
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Unread 04-29-2021, 11:32 AM   #6
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Jon, while there is no question that John's method will eliminate a lot of shower maintenance, I don't know that it'll likely be universally practiced in this lifetime. The second most effective method of which I'm aware is to install and use a properly sized exhaust fan in the bathroom, keeping the moisture levels down between uses. And you definitely want a timer of some sort controlling the fan.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 04-29-2021, 11:45 AM   #7
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Soap film eventually builds up if the shower isn't kept clean. The mold likes to get started in the soap build up.

If the old grout was nonsanded then you'll probably want to go back with the same, especially if the joints are 1/16 or smaller. The grouts mentioned are sanded although they do have fine sand that works in 1/16 joints.
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Unread 04-29-2021, 06:32 PM   #8
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I definitely agree with all the above, hand drying between uses (which as Cx says won't be done by most) would help, good ventilation is important, and mold likes to start in the soap scum.

Having all that agreed on, then we see why the problem happens, when you consider that cementitious grout is much more porous than epoxy grout. Eventually enough soap scum is going to get in and even behind it, then its game over. Sealing the grout should help a lot, I can't speak to it myself though as I have not been fortunate enough to have seen a sealed grout shower in action for enough years to know for sure

I am still curious about Tool Guy's comments, and if he was referring to Epoxy or cementitious for the pan. In one way I could see the argument for no Epoxy there, because it would hinder drying times underneath, OTOH it would also allow a lot less water to get under in the first place though
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Unread 04-29-2021, 11:44 PM   #9
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I’m saying that I don’t use the fancy pre-mixed grouts in a shower because they can’t hack the continuously wet portion of the shower.

I’m also saying that when I’m comparing them to epoxy, epoxy is usually chosen because it’s a more durable product.

Epoxy is fine for that environment of a shower. So is cementitious.
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Unread 04-30-2021, 05:28 AM   #10
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Ultra color FA, Permacolor and Prism are fine and dandy products.
Spectralock Pro Epoxy is a fine choice too, less preferable for the installer with some tiles IMO
For a residential shower the above cement grouts will exceed the use demands
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Unread 05-04-2021, 10:42 AM   #11
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Switch to a synthetic soap. These include the gel body wash kind. Dove liquid shower soap is also synthetic.

These synthetics do not promote mold growth.

Stay away from all those natural soaps or shea butter, or the kind that have all sorts of stuff added. These are food for bacteria.

https://www.angi.com/articles/how-pr...hroom-mold.htm
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Unread 05-04-2021, 11:58 AM   #12
cbaum
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Mike it's interesting you mention that. Talked to a glass shower guy and he basically said to throw out any and all bar soap. Not only the soap scum is a PITA on glass and tiles/grout, but it's a buffet for grout. So I've switched to body wash and a loofa don't judge me!
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Unread 05-06-2021, 06:42 AM   #13
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Also threw out the bar soap when the new bathroom was put into service. Between the body wash, porcelain tile, epoxy grout, silicone, exhaust fan, and squeegeeing have had almost no shower cleaning/maintenance after more than 1.5 years.
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