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RaeEllen 07-12-2008 09:46 AM

7 months pregnant and Nasty Bathroom Tile

We just moved into a ten year old place, and I'm in frantic nesting mode.

Currant project, the white ceramic tile floors in the baby's bathroom has some really nasty areas. Please forgive my lack of knowledge, I'll try to describe as best I can.

Major problems appear to be:

1) The areas between the wood baseboard and tile is blackened, cracking, and falling out in bits. Is this grouted with the same grout as between the tiles? Do I regrout it? Or is it some other substance?

2) The plasticy stuff sealing the tub and sink area in is very sloppy and extends gloppily a half inch or more in places onto the surrounding tile. Can I just clean this up? What sort of tool so I don't damage the tile? How do I make it neat without taking away too much and letting water get where it shouldn't?

3) In areas, the grout is really blackened. Is there a heavy duty way to bleach/clean it before we give up and regrout?

In my former life, I would have just paid someone to come in and take care of this, but my husband wants to do it ourselves. However, I'm the one with the 8 week hormonal timetable!

Termite 07-12-2008 10:06 AM

Congrats on the upcoming addition to your family!

1) Your tiles are attached to the floor or wall using thinset adhesive. That is sort of a concrete mix for tile. It is different from grout. You use thinset as the tile adhesive, and after it dries for a day or two, you grout between the tiles. I'd normally recommend buying dry thinset mix, as it is much better than the pre-mixed variety. Use a notched trowel to apply it. Grout is applied using a rubber grout float (a few bucks). Apply a big glob and rub it back and forth into the joints with the float. Use a bucket of water and a big sponge to clean up, which forms the grout's visible face in the joint. There's nothing to it. Use cleaner sponges and water as you go, which will minimize your work in buffing off the dry haze that is inevitably left.

Please understand that if your tiles are coming off, they're either very old or were poorly installed, or perhaps they are on a poor substrate. So, consider these repairs a band aid fix until you can totally re-do the bath tile areas.

2) The plasticy stuff is probably caulk. I can't think of what else you could be talking about. Remove all the old caulk to the best of your ability. Sounds like it is old and someone did a bad job. I would be careful using any metal tools around the tub, fixtures, or tile. Metal can sometimes leave marks. I'd get a couple of those cheap little plastic putty knives to use them as scrapers. It will take elbow grease and fingernails! Just peel and scrape as much of the old caulk out as possible. Once done, clean the surfaces.

Re-apply your choice of colors of SILICONE bath caulk. Look for something that is also mildew resistant. Use as little as is necessary to fill the void, and no more! Run a small bead, and then "tool" the bead a few inches at a time with a wet finger. That will form a nice edge on the caulk and it won't look goopy...And it might even look like a pro did it! Keep a lot of wet rags handy to clean excess caulk off your fingers. Since you're pregnant, I'll warn you that the stuff has a strong vinegar smell.

3) The blackened grout is probably mildew. There are a lot of cleaners on the market to help remove it. If you're able to get it clean, I'd recommend applying a quality grout sealer to the grout joints.

RaeEllen 07-12-2008 10:22 AM

thank you for the advice? I beleive I can handle all that! One clarifying question. For part 1), to be clear, its only the substance between the baseboard and tile that is cracking. The tile itself looks good. Should I pull it all and use thinset between the last tile and the baseboard? Is that covered with grout? I don't want to pull out all the crumbling stuff without knowing what I'm getting into!

Termite 07-12-2008 01:48 PM

Sounds like your grout is cracking if the tiles are still all intact. Any way you can post a picture to better illustrate the issue????

RaeEllen 07-12-2008 02:19 PM

Just posted an album. Just camera phone pics, but hopefully they can describe the problem better than I can!

angus242 07-12-2008 07:46 PM

Looks like that area was grouted. It shouldn't have been. Anytime you have a plane change in tile, you should CAULK the joint. Removing old grout is not the easiest task. You could try to pry or chisel the old grout out but that's a big maybe. Because it seems to be failing already, it may work. Using a grinder is more productive but VERY MESSY and I wouldn't recommend YOU doing it. It will be extremely dusty and you don't want to be breathing it in. Also, you would have to be careful not to damage the molding.
IF you can get the old grout out, I would apply caulk in that seam. Walls and floors expand and contract independently of each other. That's why grout in that joint will (and did) fail.

krankykitty 07-13-2008 03:19 PM

Rae- Depending how determined you are to do this yourself, I will mention the following. Grout can also be removed carefully using a dremel tool (not terribly expensive if you don't already have one.) There is even a little attachment for doing that, but I like using the little metal grider bits. You have to be very careful not to also scratch the tile, so start with the most inconspicuos area possible and go slow. I discovered it is easiest for me to deal with on a slower speed setting. I wouldn't try to do an entire bathroom that way, but for smaller areas it can work ok. Wear a dust mask (read the packages to determine which one is best) and eye protection (safety glasses or goggles.)

Or even better... if he is determined "to do it yourselves," hand HIM the dremel (or grinder or chisel, etc) and point out sweetly that in your T-minus-8-weeks state, it sounds like a great job for him. You can always offer to sweep up afterwards as a consolation.

Good luck!


jogr 07-14-2008 10:54 AM


I would start with a good scrubbing with bathroom cleaner designed for tiles and grout. The stained grout might take a lot of scrubbing with a small stiff brush. But let Hubby do this as you shouldn't be inhaling any fumes and all that bending will be hard on your back. He should carefully scrape off any degraded or excess caulking during this cleaning process too. Hopefully, after a good cleaning and old caulk removal you'll find that a careful recaulking is all you need. But if a little groutwork is needed that's not too bad either - just make sure the tile and subfloor are good and solid (no water damage) so it's not wasted effort.

The most important thing to remember is this: The baby will come when it's ready regardless of how the bathroom is going. And baby doesn't really need a bathrooom for quite a while so if it looks like the bathroom won't be ready before the baby it will still be ok. This is a stressful and joyful time so focus on the joy and don't create extra stress by trying to accomplish too much before baby arrives.

angus242 07-14-2008 11:10 AM

One of the best ways to attempt to clean grout is with an OXY cleaner paste (powder + hot water) and a brush (like a toothbrush). No harsh chemicals to deal with!

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