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Old 10-17-2010, 04:43 PM   #1
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Can bad grout job be salvaged?


I made a real mess out of my bathroom floor grout. I've done a few DIY tile jobs over the course of decades, so each one was almost like learning for the first time. But my last job came out so bad that I publicly admit my grout mess only out of desparation and the hope for sound advice (and maybe the location of a local TGA...Tile Grouters Anonymous chapter). The attached photo shows a bathroom floor with 1-inch ceramic tiles and probably enough grout to have done the job twice. You see, I got distracted, the grout got too dry and, and...maybe I blacked out or something .

My first attempts to remove the excess grout on the tile surface were with a nylon scratch pad. That made some progress, but didn't make a dent in the grout between the tiles. Next, I tried the same process using acid. Very little progress, so I strengthened the acid and worked on it some more. (After the tile job, it is a wonder I even survived the attempted fix .)

What I end up with is not only messy grout, but grout so rough in places that the stain settles in and stays. Yes, after all of my ill-fated attempts, I used a quality tile sealant...twice. But no help.

So what do I do? Tear it all out? It would be quite a job to cut the grout between 1-inch tiles. Retile over top of it? Or is there a tool or substance that can put a smooth surface on the grout lines without destroying the tile?
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Old 10-17-2010, 10:12 PM   #2
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Can bad grout job be salvaged?


Either tile over it with larger tiles or rip it out.

How was it installed and with what? What type of substrate?

Jaz

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Old 10-17-2010, 11:25 PM   #3
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Can bad grout job be salvaged?


I ripped out bowing particle board and replaced it with plywood. Applied a layer of thinset over the plywood, let it dry, then more thinset when I put the tiles down.
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Old 10-18-2010, 10:07 AM   #4
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Can bad grout job be salvaged?


Dremel does make an attachment for their tools for removing grout. Still a tedious job tho, especially on one inch tile.

Maybe Bud will stop by with another alternative for you.
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Old 10-18-2010, 10:18 AM   #5
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Can bad grout job be salvaged?


Dude, I would just rip it out and start over…your subfloor is plywood I would get a skill saw, mark the depth of the tile and plywood and cut along the grout lines to remove the flooring making sure you don’t cut the joist. I did this sometime ago and it worked out well for me. Then I just reapplied a new subfloor and I was good to go.
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Old 10-18-2010, 10:46 AM   #6
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Can bad grout job be salvaged?


Epson, you may be right. But when I think of doing all over again what I already royally screwed up the first time, I tend to lean more toward a fixer solution like Blondie's Dremel tool idea. Maybe I could actually handle that skill level, even if rather tedious. Short of a better fix-it solution, I'll look into that approach before starting all over again...and risking the classic definition of insanity...doing the same thing twice and expecting a different outcome.
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:08 AM   #7
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Can bad grout job be salvaged?


If you decide to go that route then maybe you should look into getting a multi tool like the Fein multimaster. It has all kinds of attachments for all kinds of jobs and it is a much better tool than the dremel. Here’s the link to the tool: http://www.fein.ca/
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Old 10-18-2010, 08:45 PM   #8
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Can bad grout job be salvaged?


I think you need either a backer board or Ditra between your tile and that wood floor unless that dry layer of thinset is serving the same purpose.
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Old 10-18-2010, 09:12 PM   #9
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Can bad grout job be salvaged?


Yea....and the Fein is $300-400 plus you'll probably go thru several blades, so add another $100 or so. I don't think so.

Just rip out the tiles, leave the ply, if the subfloor system is adequate, which we don't know yet. The floor wasn't going to last long anyway. Who told you to do it that way? Thin set direct to ply is not such a good idea. Do you at least have two layers of ply? I asked before got a partial answer.

Type and size of joists
Species and grade
Spacing center to center
Span of the joists from supports to the inch
How many layer of ply and how thick

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Old 10-18-2010, 11:38 PM   #10
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Can bad grout job be salvaged?


Who told you to do it that way?
I don't recall. Might have been a little voice in my head.

Thin set direct to ply is not such a good idea. Do you at least have two layers of ply? I asked before got a partial answer.
That's right, two layers of ply.

Type and size of joists
Didn't see the joists under the job, but joists in another part of the house seem to be 2 x 10.

Species and grade
The joists? Dont' know.
The plywood? Whatever they told me at the hardware store is best for this purpose.

Spacing center to center
Joist spacing in another part of the house is 20 inches.

Span of the joists from supports to the inch
Don't know.

How many layer of ply and how thick
I put 3/4 ply down over original 1/2 ply.
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Old 10-19-2010, 03:46 PM   #11
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Can bad grout job be salvaged?


Yup...a mess it is.

I gotta tell ya my friend: There is so much wrong on so many levels I think the fastest and most cost-effective way to fix this is to take it out and start over.

How much tile (square feet) are we talking about here?
Is this a bathroom floor or what?
How long has it been there?
What did you use for tile adhesive? (Brand names please)
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Old 10-19-2010, 08:50 PM   #12
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Can bad grout job be salvaged?


Thanks for asking Bud. About 15 square feet. These are the 1-inch tiles that come stuck together in 12-inch squares. For tile adhesive? Well, Elmers glue, of course. Naw, just kidding. I used MAPEI Pre-Mix Thinset Mortar. And, yes, it is in a bathroom. I did the job about 8 months ago.

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Old 10-19-2010, 08:56 PM   #13
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Can bad grout job be salvaged?


An aside...my daughters are really enjoying this little bathroom floor episode. You see, when they were young I subscribed to Handyman Magazine. They caught on really quickly that it was not because I was a handyman or that I demonstrated the aptitude to become one. Rather I subscribed because I simply liked to think of myself as a handyman. They would flip through the magazine, find the little comics showing the guy doing something really stupid with a power drill or something and say, "Yep, that one is Daddy." I did not renew my subscription....End of aside.

Last edited by wlsmith; 10-19-2010 at 09:21 PM.
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Old 10-21-2010, 09:43 PM   #14
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Can bad grout job be salvaged?


Quote:
Thanks for asking Bud. About 15 square feet. These are the 1-inch tiles that come stuck together in 12-inch squares. For tile adhesive? Well, Elmers glue, of course. Naw, just kidding. I used MAPEI Pre-Mix Thinset Mortar. And, yes, it is in a bathroom. I did the job about 8 months ago.
Yup...start over would be my suggestion. It just isn't that much to do. Next time don't use that pre-mixed thinset crap, use the real thing.
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Old 10-21-2010, 11:23 PM   #15
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Can bad grout job be salvaged?


How does the "real thing" make for a better tiling job?

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