Without Sealant Grout Can Become Very Brittle
Dear Eric, I just want to say thanks for the great information on your site. My husband and I bought a previously owned house and have been living here for about nine months now. The grout in our bathroom looked fine when we first moved in, now however we are noticing it is beginning to crack and break up near the tub at the back of the toilet and under our pedestal sink.
We think it may be because water gets by our shower curtains and sprays on the floor and our toilet had overflowed about a month back flooding our tile floor. Any suggestions as what we can do besides tearing up the floor to fix this problem. Debora M, Austin Texas.
Hi Debora, thanks for the accolades, I think I’m actually blushing. I believe the majority of grout problems arise from either poor maintenance of your tiles or improper installation in the first place. If your tile is allowed to go through normal wear through the years without sealant, after a while the grout will become very hard, brittle and compacted.
This in turn will make it very difficult to remove the old grout for tile repair, not to mention because the grout is very porous it will inevitable absorb dirt and grime over time making your bathroom tile floor appear old and worn out. The solution is preventive maintenance. Apply a grout sealer either yearly or every couple of years depending upon your bathroom traffic and the type of grout that you used.
Ok so your tile is beyond the simple maintenance of cleaning your bathroom tile floors and now requires repair. One thing you should be aware of is the pressure of the tiles adjacent to the damaged grout area when you attempt to remove the old brittle grout.
Take your time. There are numerous grout removal tools on the market ranging from hand held chisels to drill driven attachments. Though the hand held grout removal tools may take longer, the trade off is that you have more control and you reduce the possibility of accidentally breaking your tiles.
The important thing to remember is to be careful not to damage your tiles in the process or you will have a much bigger job than originally anticipated.
Start With a Solid Foundation
Another important thing to remember is that you must completely remove the old damaged grout because your floor will be a lot sturdier and therefore it will last a lot longer than if you place the new grout upon the old unstable grout.
Its always a good idea to start with a solid foundation and don’t forget to chisel away from the good solid grout using either a hammer and chisel or rounded edge flat head screwdriver. Clean the crevices between your ceramic tiles completely by using an old brush and vacuum out any grout dust to ensure a clean strong bond with the surrounding tile when filling in new grout.
Have a bucket of warm water handy as well as a grout sponge and a rubber float that you will hold at about forty-five degrees for pushing the grout into the tile joints and for smoothing out and removing excess grout.
Once the grout is packed in, wait approximately twenty to twenty-five minutes until it firms up and then using a damp sponge gently wipe away any excess film of grout on the tile surface.
Wait about an hour then shammy off any grout dust that may still be on your existing tile. One thing that you should be aware of is that based upon color grout fundamentals, the new grout will have a slightly darker color than your existing grout but this will normally go away when the new grout is dry, which usually takes two or three days to complete.
Another thing I should mention is that when you are trying to match your grout color you should get some samples and let them dry completely then place the dried sample next to your existing grout to try to get a match. This is not an exact science and you may even have to mix and match batches to get the color just right.
Just as an after thought Debora, there are several reasons why your grout may have come loose. The most common problem is a poor original grout mixture, usually by adding too much water to the mixture or maybe the grout batch was just bad. Seasonal changes in humidity can cause the wood under your tile floor to expand and contract.
Though this may be miniscule, combined with wear and tear this could cause your tiles to shift and dislodge the grout. The other reason is improper maintenance, make sure you apply a sealant to protect your bathroom tile grout from the elements of your bathroom environment.
I hope this helps Debora with you tile repair solutions, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.