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Old 10-18-2011, 11:46 AM   #1
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Subway Tile Grout Question


About 2 years ago we remodeled a master bathroom and updated a shower. We tiled with small white porcelain subway tiles (3"x6") in a brick pattern. We used Polyblend Non-Sanded (max 1/8") Snow White grout and used some type of spray sealer after.

My wife said she wanted to minimize the grout lines so we butted the tiles right up against each other without spacers. The grout basically is held in the tiny beveled edges around the tiles.

The problem I am having is that every 6 to 9 months the grout has randomly cracked or fallen out in random spots, especially in the lower sections of the shower where there is more exposure to water.

Here are my questions:

Was it a big mistake to not leave gaps between the tiles? Is there a better grout to use? Should I be constantly resealing every 3 or 4 months to help the thin grout lines hold in place?

The shower looks really great when it is patched up, but when the grout starts popping out, it really stands out like a sore thumb on the pure white surface.

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Old 10-18-2011, 09:31 PM   #2
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Subway Tile Grout Question


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Was it a big mistake to not leave gaps between the tiles?
Yes it was.

Quote:
Should I be constantly resealing every 3 or 4 months to help the thin grout lines hold in place?
Sealer is not gonna hold anything together. It's made to slow down the penetration of moisture and stains. Typically grouts are sealed when new and in some cases every couple years or so. Many are sealed once, others are never sealed.

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Old 10-18-2011, 10:44 PM   #3
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Subway Tile Grout Question


The problem with most subway tiles in my thinking is the rounded corners/edges. The tiles are actually made to bump together because the back is wider than the front and that taper serves as a spacer, but only at the tiles surface. The problem with bumping them together is you get what you got.

The edges are tapered and create a grout joint wider at the front than the back and there is nothing to mechanically hold the grout in place. You need to space the tiles slightly so that the grout can get in between and behind the tiles and form a locking mechanism to help hold the grout in the joint. The slick rounded corners will, in a short time, simply release the grout, the grout can't get any traction to stay put.

Then add the daily abuse of the water pounding and splashing and wah-la, you have self-eliminating grout. Oh well, too late now, but there is a fix.

Boy that got long didn't it?

The grout is easy to remove. I would suggest that you take the time to remove all of the grout everywhere and re-grout that tile with a urethane grout. It will stick to the slick tiles (if they are clean) and it will also penetrate what small spaces do exist. It won't crack or chip and it won't release under the torture of the pounding water.
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Old 10-19-2011, 03:50 PM   #4
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Subway Tile Grout Question


Thanks. I will look into urethane grout as an option for a more adhensive penetrating grout.

I am sure my wife will tell me that I shouldn't have listened to her in the first place...
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Old 10-22-2011, 02:42 PM   #5
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Subway Tile Grout Question


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Originally Posted by atrestana View Post
Thanks. I will look into urethane grout as an option for a more adhensive penetrating grout.

I am sure my wife will tell me that I shouldn't have listened to her in the first place...
You didn't mention if the tile you had, had spacer lugs on them. If they did, that's the way you were supposed to install them, lug touching lug.
Check the extra tile you have and see if they have the spacer lugs. If they do, the issue may be a substrate that has movement.
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