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Unread 10-12-2012, 07:59 PM   #1
JDLee
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Finally got around to installing Laticrete SpectraLOCK 2000 IG epoxy grout...

After researching it and procrastinating forever, I finally installed Laticrete's SpectraLOCK 2000 IG in my home. I want to share my experience, and ask a couple of questions at the end of this post.

After some great advice from these forums, I determined 2000 IG was the only choice for me. I sit pets, so pet-expelled fluids are always a concern. And I have a commercial-grade steam cleaner I use frequently. Laticrete recommends only 2000 IG for these purposes.

I had installed epoxy grout once before in 2002 on a tiny section of countertop. I remember that being difficult. And I've installed cementious grout on several occasions.

The 2000 IG wasn't that difficult to work with. I installed one commercial unit (1 part A, 1 part B, and one of those large milk-carton looking containers of colorant) in 1/8" grout lines on 18" tiles that have a smooth surface. I considered breaking the unit down and mixing only 1/2 at a time, but decided instead to have a couple of people help me (who also had never used epoxy grout) instead.

The three of us worked with two epoxy grout floats. I should have purchased another epoxy grout float so all of us could have applied the grout at the same time. As it was, we wasted a bit of the grout because we reached the point where it had cured too much to keep using (it got very sticky and hard to spread).

It was definitely more difficult to apply than regular grout. You want to use an epoxy grout float with a firm, sharp edge so you can remove (and continue using) as much grout from the top of the tiles as you go, thus conserving the grout and making cleanup easier.

I had many epoxy grout sponges on hand (about 10, though I only used about 7), and will have even more on hand for the next unit I install.

On the initial cleaning, you mix their initial cleaning powder with 2 gallons of water. I also added about a cup of white vinegar. On the first pass, you want to make sure the grout joints are flat and shaped properly and remove all visible excess grout from the top of the tiles.

To shape the grout lines, I used my fingertip and dipped it periodically in the cleaning solution. It is important to shape the grout lines, though I don't know if this is the best way. I didn't use gloves for any of this. If I was going to do it regularly, I might out of concern for exposure to the epoxy grout (and maybe the cleaning solution, too). But I did not experience any skin irritation.

Where I had left too much grout on the tiles during the application of grout, if it was difficult to remove with the epoxy sponges, I used disposable plastic putty knives/scrapers (like you find in paint departments) to scrape up the grout. This works well, and I recommend it to save on epoxy grout sponges. Obviously you want to be careful not to disturb the grout lines.

After about 90 minutes or more of curing time, you start the second cleanup with the second cleanup powder mixed with 2 gallons of water (I again added vinegar). If you don't do the second cleaning well, you'll see areas of shiny haze on the tile's surfaces. But, the good thing is that apparently the shiny haze is fairly easy to clean for several hours, so you can keep going back and checking to see if you got it all. If you miss some entirely, after about 24 hours you may have to use special cleaners (there is information on Laticrete's site about this). To avoid that, make sure you've checked several times.

I also took a recommendation from a Laticrete rep and used microfiber towels to help in the second (final) cleanup.

One rep gave me horribly wrong advice and told me only to mix the 2000 IG with a low-speed mixer. Luckily, I spoke to another rep who told me that is absolutely wrong for 2000 IG (but I think it is true for their other epoxy grouts). For 2000 IG, you want to mix it at a high speed (greater than 500 rpm). I used a corded impact drill for this instead of my mixing drill that I use for thinset. You want to mix for at least 2 minutes, but I did more. There is a yellow warning insert in the packaging that warns you to mix at high speed (I only found it after my tech support calls).

I also left out about 5% of the colorant as I they said that it makes the grout easier to work with and does not alter its color.

Cleanup of the tools with water was fairly easy, though you want to scrape excess grout off them first. I threw the sponges and microfiber cloths away.

The only mistake I made was not shaping the grout lines enough. They are not rough, but in some areas there are gentle slopes here and there (kind of like the surface of a relatively calm lake if you snapped a picture of it).

The Laticrete rep told me you can always go back later with fresh batch of grout and add to any bad spots or areas you missed. I guess it melts into itself and the color between batches is very consistent.

QUESTION: Has anyone ever added freshly-mixed epoxy grout to cured epoxy grout lines? Do you just apply it on top and let it melt in? If anyone could describe their experience with this, I'd appreciate it as I want to fix some areas in the grout I've already installed.

To sum things up, epoxy grout will be my first choice from now on. Even given that it costs more and is more difficult to install, it beats worrying about sealing and cleaning grout.
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Unread 10-12-2012, 09:48 PM   #2
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JD, the spectralock bible around these here parts is over here: http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/...ad.php?t=35153. That thread confirms that you can go right over the first unit with the second unit and colors should match once they cure.

A few things that might help next time are in that thread, besides having the third person with a float... Especially to keep the "pot" of mixed epoxy in an ice water bucket to extend the pot life, and maybe to keep a touch more in the freezer to touch up later.

Good to hear of your experience with the product as its a new one to me. But I always use spectralock after my first time using it on my kitchen backsplash... Still can't stain that backsplash even though I'm a messy chef and cook a lot of stuff with tomatoes in it! Can't wait to do a bathroom with it so that I never have to scrub grout lines again.
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Unread 10-12-2012, 11:18 PM   #3
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karlkatzke--

Thank you for the response. I understand that you can just put the grout on top of the old, but will it automatically just melt together and bond with what's there? How long does that take? I mean, do you add it to it and it instantly "melts" together?

I've read the thread you linked to. I don't think it contains a lot of information about 2000 IG, but I also think that a lot of the information is applicable. I've read in that thread (or others here) that the 2000 IG is much more difficult to work with. I haven't used the regular Laticrete epoxy grout, so I can't say. But the 2000 IG isn't that hard to work with.

I asked Laticrete about cooling the mixture while spreading it. They said it could affect the integrity of the grout, so I didn't want to risk it. I cranked the AC down to 70 a few hours before so the temperature was as low as they recommend (they don't recommend any lower).
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Unread 10-13-2012, 11:28 AM   #4
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Welcome, JDLee. Would you please add a first name to a permanent signature line for us to use? If you go by a couple initials, add that so folks'll know.
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Unread 10-13-2012, 10:32 PM   #5
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Hey JD,

I'm an epoxy grout specialist for my company (read as I am the only one willing to do it). 2000 IG is a great product. The cleanup is very simple. As far as shaping the grout joints, I only do that in areas that seem high after the initial wash. The vinegar is a great addition and will save you hours of elbow grease. One thing I might suggest to you, buy a scrubber pad used for a motorized floor scrubber. Home Depot sells them for about 8 bucks. Cut the pad into 8 pie shapes with a utility knife. Wipe the tile as you would with a sponge on the first wash with the pie-shaped pads. Dispose of as soon as you get tired of the pad. They are cheap, use em and lose em. They will absorb alot of your excess grout and give you a much easier cleanup with the sponge. Yes it does add an extra step, but when that grout starts to harden on you its nice to have a little extra hand. I use the red pads, they aren't very abrasive and are easy to find in a mucky bucket of epoxy water. I've talked to alot of other epoxy guys that swear by the black ones. Personal preference seems to be the difference. Other than that, it seems like you have a good handle on epoxy grout.

As far as will it melt in naturally, it won't look natural upon installation. It needs to cure out, but then it will look like you never added anything to it. It is alot like normal grout in the way that when still wet, it looks still wet. Good luck.
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Unread 10-14-2012, 06:53 PM   #6
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Hi MaskeoLad--

Thank you for weighing in, and for the tip on the floor scrubber. That is a great way to save some money.

I did another section today. It went easier than the first section. But I don't know if my grout lines look right.

Is the goal to get perfectly flat grout lines that are smooth like glass? Where there's a void here and there, I can go back with more grout and add to it, and that much is obvious. But I'm not sure what the grout lines should look like when finished. Given your considerable experience, could you describe to me what the finished result should look like?

Also, I'd like to divide up one of the mixtures. I can do it all by weight in covered plastic containers. The powder is easy enough and I'm sure it can be stored for quite some time once opened. But I asked a Laticrete rep about the liquid parts. He said dividing the liquids up into smaller batches was no problem and would be fine for a day or two. But I forgot to ask how long they could be separated and remain good in a covered plastic container. What do you think?

Thanks for any advice.
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Unread 10-14-2012, 08:34 PM   #7
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I always want my joints to have a small round to them. So it looks like your finger ran through them. Don't worry, the epoxy will naturally do this. As it cures it will contract to give you that look. When you're installing, just wash and spread as normal. It should start to look like a small divot in the grout.

As far as how long the parts will last, I wouldn't expect them to last more than a week at the most. The containers they ship in are air tight, but a plastic container obviously won't be. I expect after a week your part A will start to clump, and Part B will start to seperate. I have never tried this, but just what I think from seeing an old batch one time.
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Unread 10-14-2012, 09:02 PM   #8
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MaskeoLad--

Thanks for the further info. My joints just aren't flat/smooth. I wouldn't call them lumpy. But they just aren't smooth. I think I need to add more grout and go over them again. I'll try to get some pictures posted tomorrow that show what I'm talking about.
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Unread 10-15-2012, 11:51 PM   #9
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I spoke to a tech at Laticrete today who explained to me how adding freshly-mixed epoxy grout to a cured epoxy grout joint would work. I thought that it might soften the cured grout and blend in. He said that it will go in and bond fine to the existing grout lines, but it will not soften them.

Just filling in spots on some of my grout joints would work, but on others I really need to re-shape the grout that's there. I see on Laticrete's website that you can remove epoxy grout in a few ways, including a heat gun that goes to at least 500 degrees.

At 500+ degrees, the heat gun will soften cured epoxy grout joints, allowing it to be removed. Does anyone know if that ruins the epoxy grout that is heated? I mean, could I heat a grout line until it is soft and then simply reshape the heated grout and leave it? Or would it be damaged by the heat?

Any advice is appreciated!

(My mistake here was that the people helping me install the grout simply couldn't follow instructions. I was willing to pay someone to do this, but, when I talked to tile installers who claimed to be pros at it, they said a lot of things that Laticrete was telling me were wrong. So I decided to do it myself with help.)
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Unread 10-16-2012, 02:42 AM   #10
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JD,

The heat gun will make it so you can remove the cured epoxy, but it won't allow it to be reshaped. It will break the bonds enough that you can scrape it out. If you scrape too much, it will have to be filled with new grout. I warn you, using the heat gun is a slow process with alot of work involved. Make sure you know what look you are going for before you start scraping.
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Unread 10-16-2012, 07:33 AM   #11
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Hi Matt--

Thanks for the information. Yes, I will do that very, very little. There may be just a few spots I'd do that in. But even in those areas I might use my Multimaster with a carbide blade.
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Unread 10-17-2012, 08:40 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JD
I asked Laticrete about cooling the mixture while spreading it. They said it could affect the integrity of the grout, so I didn't want to risk it. I cranked the AC down to 70 a few hours before so the temperature was as low as they recommend (they don't recommend any lower).
Hi JD,

I want to add some clarity on the statement you made above. LATICRETE does not recommend freezing and/or cooling the grout mixture to extend bucket life (working time). If you had spoken to one of our reps this is probably what he was referring to. This does not mean your room temperature cannot vary from 70 degrees. The 70 degree temperature is the temp. we base all cure times off of. This means if you are applying 2000IG in a room that is 70 degrees your grout will fully cure in 5 days (this is specific to 2000IG). If your temperature varies your cure time will vary.

Hope this information clears this issue up.

Best Regards,
Danielle
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Unread 10-17-2012, 09:36 AM   #13
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Hello Danielle--

Yes, that is what I was saying. The rep at your company told me not to try to cool the mixed grout. He said it could affect integrity of the grout.

I think they did tell me not to apply the grout at temperatures lower than 70 degrees. But I might be wrong.
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Unread 10-17-2012, 09:58 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JD
I think they did tell me not to apply the grout at temperatures lower than 70 degrees. But I might be wrong.
Hey JD,

I've attached the SpectraLOCK 2000 IG Data Sheet which will have the most up-to-date technical information on the product. You can find data sheets on all products on our website. They are great for referencing.

You can definitely apply the grout at temps lower than 70 degrees. The data sheet for 2000 IG actually outlines different possible floor temperatures and the cure time associated with those temps. HOWEVER, there is a note in the data sheet that explains the product, SpectraLOCK 2000 IG, should be stored at 70 degrees 24 hours prior to use. This is noted because if the material itself is too hot or too cold it may have an effect when mixing the grout (i.e. if it is too hot it will set off too quickly).

I hope this information helps! I really don't want you to be cranking your AC to 70 degrees just to grout!!

Thanks!
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File Type: pdf SpectraLOCK 2000 IG DataSheet.pdf (295.3 KB, 892 views)
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Unread 10-17-2012, 12:29 PM   #15
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Danielle--

I'm still going to do that for a couple of reasons. It gives me more working time with the grout, and I like it cold when I'm working, anyway!
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