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Old 01-31-2007, 03:51 AM   #1
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Cracking floor grout - Ceramic tile


I originally posted this over in the Building & Construction area. I hope it's ok to post it over here too.....

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I'm having a problem with the flooring in a new home.

I decided to go with ceramic tile in the kitchen and bathrooms and while most of it looks great, there seems to be a real problem where the tile floor meets the walls, cabinets and tubs. The grout where the floor tile meets the tubs and the cabinet toe kicks keeps cracking, even though it's been 'repaired' several times in the four months since we took possession of the house.

A number of the cabinet toe kicks seem to be a little loose and there is a small place on a tub enclosure that flexes a little. I can understand that if there is movement, it can cause the grout to crack, however, I'm seeing cracking all along the master bath tub/shower enclosure, even where I can't find any flex. Also, it doesn't help that the last time it was 'repaired', it looks like they just slopped on more grout on top of the cracked grout and all it did was just flake off.

So, I'm looking for a solution. As far as I can tell, either everything has to be locked down so that it doesn't move or flex BEFORE the grout is repaired, or some kind of different material needs to be used instead of the grout that is being used to allow for movement. I have no idea what the latter would be. The grout that was used is sanded grout.

Thanks.....

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Old 01-31-2007, 08:14 AM   #2
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Cracking floor grout - Ceramic tile


The grout should be removed and a matching color caulk used in those areas, grout manufacturers make matching color caulks for their grouts, just for this.

If any grout starts to crack in the field tile, then you have other issues.

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Old 02-02-2007, 11:34 AM   #3
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Cracking floor grout - Ceramic tile


is your house on a slab. it sounds a little like the walls are moving. I've seen the same thing in restaurants, base tiles poping, cracks along the walls. or if the room cant support the weight, the floor mite be sagging

just a guess
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Old 02-04-2007, 02:20 PM   #4
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Cracking floor grout - Ceramic tile


The walls may or may not be moving but that isn't really at issue in this case.

The areas of complaint are areas that should have never been grouted to begin with hence the repeated failures of the grout.

One should always caulk when tile meets an unlike material or when there is a change in plane.
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Old 02-19-2007, 08:31 AM   #5
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Cracking floor grout - Ceramic tile


Thanks for the responses. Haven't been back in a while...
I think I can deal with the grout in the kitchen, as the baseboards are all pretty solid. And, after securing the toe kicks on the cabinets better, I'm down to just one small place that's giving me trouble on the side of a cabinet.

However, I am going to be redoing the areas in front of the tubs in the bathrooms with caulk. The builder offered to do it for me if I got the caulk, but he didn't mention anything about removing the old grout first, indicating that he would just apply the caulk over the grout. This didn't sound right to me, so I figured right there that I would probably end up doing it myself.

I had some questions though....

This is a grout line between the floor and the tub enclosure (90% to eachother). Can I just use a grout saw to remove the grout? How far do I need to go in removing the grout? Should I look for anything special when I get the caulk, or is it all pretty much the same (as long as it matches the color)? Someone said the big chains carry this caulk - I'm guessing Lowes or Home Depot will have it..?
Thanks again, all....
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Old 02-20-2007, 10:25 PM   #6
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Cracking floor grout - Ceramic tile


We don't have Lowe's but I know Home Depot stocks grout-matching caulks in a limited amount, mostly colors of caulk for the grout they also stock. They can order any color for you if they will, they are supposed to but so often some of the people that work there are mental dwarfs and they have to be led by the customer.

Remove at least 2/3'rds of the grout before caulking. Caulking over the existing grout is nothing more than a band-aide.

A grout saw will work but be careful not to scratch any adjacent surfaces.
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Old 02-22-2007, 09:15 AM   #7
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Yeah, I figured I'd have to remove a good amount of the grout (it's cracking and coming out anyway). Thanks.

While I'm here, I'll throw this question out....

Is there a standard depth for the grout? Some grout lines are so filled up that they are almost even with the top of the tile. Other grout lines are so under-filled that you can see the edges of the sides of the tile Which makes it look as if the tiles are sticking out, especially in the corners.

It's all pretty solid in the main field, there isn't any cracking, but it just looks a little funny because of what looks to me like different depths of grout. Maybe I'm just too picky and am not used to how a large area of ceramic tile looks.....
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Old 02-22-2007, 12:58 PM   #8
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Your not to picky. What you have there is a lousy grout job. It should all be uniform and the proper height. Call the builder back in there and get him to fix it.
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Old 03-03-2007, 04:55 AM   #9
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Well, the update is - After an inspection from by the contractor, they have agreed to get a color matched caulk (they called it a silicone grout, but I believe it is the same thing as he said it would flex like caulk), and fix the areas that are cracking. That includes by the tubs in the bathrooms and around the cabinets in the kitchen. They say they will do it as a courtesy, but doing anything other than just grouting every area is 'beyond the scope of their usual installation'. So, doing the job right is 'beyond the scope of their usual installation'? Go figure... The only thing that concerns me is that, the inspector said that they would just apply the caulk on top of the old grout and that it would work ok. This seems a liitle strange to me. Seems to me that the old grout should be removed, as much as possible out of that line. But, I'll let them do what they will. I'm going make sure that I clean out all of the loose grout that I can before they come over, and I guess the worst case is I'll have to redo it myself sometime down the line.

As far as the differing thicknesses of the grout lines - The inspector said that if it bothers us that they would try to fix it to our satisfaction. However, upon looking at the tiles closer, it appears that where the grout seems a little 'shallow' are on tiles that are sticking up a little higher than other tiles. Accoding to my book, a variation of 1/8" from tile to tile is considered acceptable for floor tile. I've gone all over the floor and can't find any tile that sticks up more than about 1/16", if even that much, higher than the lowest set tiles. So it looks like the grout is all pretty even but only looks shallow here and there where a tile may stick up a hair higher than others. Also, the thought of the installer just slapping on a little more grout to fill in those shallow areas makes me nervous. This is what the inspector said that they would do to make it look more uniform. He assured us that the new grout would bond ok to the old grout, but I don't know. It seems to me that a very thin layer of grout is going to just flake off. So, I'm leaving it the way it is.

The only thing I need to do now is get some grout sealer. I've got a few places on the counter top, (which is white ceramic tile), where the grout needs to be repaired. It was sealed, along with the fllor tile, back when we moved in. But once the grout on the counter top is repaired, I'd rather just hit it myself with some sealer. I'd also like to get a sealer for the floor grout in case I need to make repairs to the grout in the future. I believe that the installers used the same sealer for both the counter top and the floor. If I go to Lowe's or Home Depot, are the grout sealers pretty much the same, or is there one more recommended? Also, can the same sealer be used on floor grout and the grout on the counter tops?

Thanks.....
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Old 03-03-2007, 08:49 PM   #10
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Cracking floor grout - Ceramic tile


Lowe's now carries Aquamix, it's good sealer, use that.

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