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Termite 06-22-2008 06:04 PM

Grout application...Need an alternative method
I've just finished installing a huge amount of slate tile in my bathroom. The shower walls are slate (yes Angus, I waterproofed the backerboard first :wink:), as are the seat and the shower floor. The bathroom floor is slate, and the countertop backsplash is slate. It is looking really great.

Here's the problem...

The slate tiles vary greatly in thickness. So, it will be very difficult to conventionally grout the tiles with a float. I could do it, but I'd be smearing grout all over the thinner tile and essentially creating a grout curb between the the differing tile heights. It would give the appearance of a very wide grout joint, and would detract from the natural look of the slate.

I bought a rubber margin float, which might help me do a little more detailed job since it is small, but I'm looking for a way to dispense the grout to the joint and not all over the place. Something like a tub applicator or a squeeze bag with a tip like cake decorators use??? I could apply the grout to fill the joint, and then tool the surface of it to create a nice joint.

I'm applying a glossy wet look stone sealer prior to grouting, and will apply a second coat after grouting.

Maybe I'm trying to reinvent the wheel here. Just looking for an alternative to the mess that the conventional method of floating grout is going to make!

Nestor_Kelebay 06-22-2008 10:16 PM

Something like a tub applicator or a squeeze bag with a tip like cake decorators use???

It's called a "grout bag" and you can even buy them at Home Depot.

I've never used one, but they're commonly used for placing grout or mortar around natural stones (that are more round, say) or in your situation where the stone is so rough that you can't use a rubber float with any hope of success.

Also, Home Depot sells one marketed by QEP. Ask for the QEP model 76000 grout bag, Store SKU = 170174

I'd phone up any masonary contractor that works with natural stone and find out if there's any trick to keeping the grout plastic enough so that it flows smoothly out of the nozzle.

That first place sells a "grout bag twister" of all things!

angus242 06-23-2008 01:11 AM



But now the bad news.....I've never had any luck with a bag and tile. Bags are typically used in masonry applications where your joint is much larger. Trying to squeeze a sanded grout through the appropriate sized tip for a tile grout joint isn't easy at all.
Make sure the slate is sealed before grouting so you don't have an issue removing the excess from the tile itself. Now that the tiles are already set, you're at the mercy of the height differences. When you're installing slate, it's to your advantage to get the installed height as even as possible (lippage). But since you're past that, trust the float!!!!!

Nestor_Kelebay 06-23-2008 01:54 AM


For the horizontal joints on the shower walls and backsplash, and the whole shower floor, about the best idea I have is to tape off the joint on both sides with wide masking tape, set the grout on an ordinary plastering trowel (being used as a hawk) and pack the joints with grout using the narrowest joint trowel you can find.

My narrowest joint trowel is 1/4 inch wide, so you should be able to find the same where you live.

Packing the vertical joints could be done the same way, only using an outside corner trowel as the hawk.

I can see that doing it this way will require doing it one grout line at a time, tho.

Termite 06-23-2008 09:03 AM

Thanks guys.

My grout joints are pretty small. Most are 1/8", but the lack of perfect squareness of the tiles has lessened that in some places. I don't think I'll be using sanded grout for a joint that small, but I haven't sought guidance on that topic yet.

The inconsistency in the tiles' thickness is really pretty cool looking, but is the main challenge in grouting them. I used 6x6 tiles. The thickness of the same tile might be 1/4" on one side and 1/2" on the other side. Quite a challenge I'd say.

I will definately be sealing the tiles before grouting. Planned on that.

Thanks for the suggestions.

RippySkippy 06-23-2008 01:21 PM

I had the same thing in the mud room...and we just slathered on the grout and when removing the grout, we worked a small radius into the grout line...and unless you look at it very closely, you'd never know. It was however a PITA to remove the grout from the face with the small cracks and hairline steps.

Pictures dang it...we need pictures! :thumbup:

Termite 06-23-2008 03:07 PM

1 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by RippySkippy (Post 132975)
Pictures dang it...we need pictures! :thumbup:

Here's the only pic I have right now. The tile is all hung now, so I'll take more and post them!

Termite 06-23-2008 03:10 PM

Angus can verify my waterproofing installation in the above photograph. :wink:

angus242 06-23-2008 03:14 PM

That shower pan (mud bed) was inspected and passed, right? :wink:

Termite 06-23-2008 03:45 PM

Hey, I'm an inspector so I can pass my own work. :wink:

Seriously, there are NO jurisdictions in this city that require the shower pan to be inspected. It is buyer beware.

angus242 06-23-2008 03:51 PM


Originally Posted by thekctermite (Post 133058)
Hey, I'm an inspector so I can pass my own work. :wink:

I figured...I was just kidding :thumbup:

Termite 06-23-2008 04:02 PM

For the record, there is a City of Mission, KS building permit for my project! I can't be a hypocrite about permits...I make people pull them in the jurisdiction I work in, so I pull them for my own work in the jurisdiction I live in. :thumbsup:

Termite 06-23-2008 10:37 PM

4 Attachment(s)
Here's a few pics. A couple of them illustrate the challenge that will be involved in grouting this stuff.

Bud Cline 06-24-2008 08:53 AM

That won't be bad to grout. Dab it with a float and clean it as you go, no big deal.

What will be a big deal tho is what happens when the iron begins to leach from the stone and the residue builds everywhere. Then what?:eek:

Looks great (right now) by the way, nice job.:)

Termite 06-24-2008 10:29 AM

Thanks for the compliment on the work Bud.

Yeah, I have similar concerns about the suitability of the product for showers. I've heard both sides of the argument, and I know that this darn thing is going to be a maintenance nightmare. The wife gets what the wife wants, you know? For what its worth, I'll be applying two coats of a high-end penetrating sealer to the tiles, and hopefully that will help keep everything looking good. One coat will go on the surface before grouting, and the second coat will be after grouting.

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