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Old 06-13-2016, 10:55 AM   #1
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Wicking Grout?

Hey guys, (This is a bit of a novel so get yourself a cup of joe and read on)

Been a while since I've posted here but I've finally "finished" my bathroom remodel(only baseboard trim is left lol) but my wife and I have been using our bathroom now for the last 2-3 weeks. I love everything about our new bathroom and my new tiled tub surround. With that said I've noticed the bottom vertical grout lines in the shower are darkening. All the lines along the "long" wall and the back wall. Slight darkening as well on the very outside grout lines that hardly get touched with water during a shower(behind shower curtain). Oddly enough the "front" of the shower where the tub spout and mixer are do not look to be affected(wall tiles with a 10" mosaic strip down the middle)

Before I get too far I will go over how I constructed the shower so there are no questions on that aspect. Tub is a Kohler Expanse with a tile lip. 2x4 surround shimmed with furring strips to make flush with the tile lip of the tub. 1/2 Durock over hanging the lip, then 2 coats of C-Cure Pro Red waterproof membrane. I also installed 2 Kerdi Shower Niches. Outside niche seams were taped, mudded, and waterproofed around the Niches as well. 2 applications of Gundlach spray on grout sealer.

Now, after a little research it sounds like this is a pretty common problem and leads to quite a debate on what to use between the tub and tile intersection. Before this project I researched until my eyes bled on the proper install and almost everything I read was to caulk/silicone(2 completely different products btw) that transition. So that's what I did. I used a TEC sanded caulk in that joint but it seems the grout is wicking up any moisture that makes it behind the tiles. I punched a couple of weep holes through the caulk under each vertical grout line and did have some water seep out and the inside of the caulk was almost a paste like consistency.

So...that leads me to believe I am getting water behind the tiles somehow. Is this normal? I understand tile and grout themselves are not completely waterproof...and sealer is designed to keep out stains not necessarily keep 100% of the water out. The CBU surround is completely waterproof so I'm not particularly worried about water damage but I did notice part of a recessed inside corner of the Niche(which I grouted but I'm thinking I should have caulked) is cracked but it's up higher in the niche that really doesn't get wet. I installed the niche shelving with a slope toward the shower, and the water is definitely pooling towards the outside edge of the Niche and draining naturally down the outside of the tile.

So...my question to you DIY pros is what now? I will be tearing out the sanded caulk for now to try and let the lower grout lines dry out completely but I'm debating if I should use straight 100% silicone or grout that joint. I've heard arguments on both. Silicone is water stable and will not "soak up" the water to be later soaked up by the grout...OR grout and let the water pass through and evaporate but risk cracking due to tub flexing...

I can try and get some pictures up if need be.
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