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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We just finished building a new house with a tile shower in the master bathroom. The grout for the walls and floor are both charcoal. When the floor grout was installed, it was a much lighter gray than than the charcoal grout on the walls. I confirmed that the correct charcoal color was used. Since the installation, the grout has continued to whiten, which I attribute to efflorescence. Since the grout on the walls turned out fine, I'm assuming this is not an installation issue, rather an issue with the minerals in our water. My plan for fixing is this:

-Clean grout
-stain grout with "Aqua Mix Grout Colorant"
-seal grout
-install some sort of filter to remove mineral from water and prevent future issues

Can anyone confirm whether this is an effective plan? And if so, what kind of filter can I install?

Thank you in advance for any help. It's very frustrating to have a brand new shower that looks so awful.
Light Road surface Black Flooring Automotive tire
Brown Mesh Natural material Rectangle Grey
Rectangle Automotive design Hood Grey Flooring
 

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Welcome to the forum.

First off I’ll just say that I think the colours look fine, not “awful”.

The grout for the walls and floor are both charcoal. When the floor grout was installed, it was a much lighter gray than than the charcoal grout on the walls. I confirmed that the correct charcoal color was used.
That is a perception issue that humans have. In the graphic at the end of my post, both of the crosses are the same colour, but the background colour changes our perception of that (see where the X's meet at the bottom). Explanation here.
Since the installation, the grout has continued to whiten, which I attribute to efflorescence. Since the grout on the walls turned out fine, I'm assuming this is not an installation issue, rather an issue with the minerals in our water
Efflorescence is when the salts present in a material migrate to the surface. Often we see that as white crystals on the surface of concrete. I don’t think that you’re referring to that, coming up from the concrete floor underneath, but rather to mineral deposits that are forming from dried shower water.

Tile grout is rougher than tile, so it is the thing that gets discoloured by mineral buildup and other shower scum. And that scum is going to be more noticeable on the “lighter coloured” grout on the floor (again, even though it’s the same colour). With close inspection I anticipate that you’ll see a difference in the wall grout close to the floor vs up high, depending on how much water (and the stuff being carried by it) impacts it.

So, if the apparent colour of the floor grout bothers you then you’ll need to investigate grout colorant. The only one that I’ve ever used was also a sealant, so you might be able to skip that step in the process that you laid out. I suggest that colorants and sealers won't stop the problem of surface deposits building up.

Whether the water in your house needs treating is quite a bit bigger subject that you might want to start a new thread on. Most of us with water that causes minerals to precipitate out on plumbing fixtures have a water softener system. It’s quite a bit more involved than just a filter.



Triangle Slope Rectangle Material property Parallel
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Welcome to the forum.

First off I’ll just say that I think the colours look fine, not “awful”.


That is a perception issue that humans have. In the graphic at the end of my post, both of the crosses are the same colour, but the background colour changes our perception of that (see where the X's meet at the bottom). Explanation here.

Efflorescence is when the salts present in a material migrate to the surface. Often we see that as white crystals on the surface of concrete. I don’t think that you’re referring to that, coming up from the concrete floor underneath, but rather to mineral deposits that are forming from dried shower water.

Tile grout is rougher than tile, so it is the thing that gets discoloured by mineral buildup and other shower scum. And that scum is going to be more noticeable on the “lighter coloured” grout on the floor (again, even though it’s the same colour). With close inspection I anticipate that you’ll see a difference in the wall grout close to the floor vs up high, depending on how much water (and the stuff being carried by it) impacts it.

So, if the apparent colour of the floor grout bothers you then you’ll need to investigate grout colorant. The only one that I’ve ever used was also a sealant, so you might be able to skip that step in the process that you laid out. I suggest that colorants and sealers won't stop the problem of surface deposits building up.

Whether the water in your house needs treating is quite a bit bigger subject that you might want to start a new thread on. Most of us with water that causes minerals to precipitate out on plumbing fixtures have a water softener system. It’s quite a bit more involved than just a filter.



View attachment 700281
Thank you for the response. The pictures don't do it justice. It truly does not look good, it's not just a perception issue. I guess my first step is to test my water hardness, then consider a softener if necessary.
 

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The grout is not the same color and I note the wall grout is bleaching out to a degree, too, so you may wind up with lighter grout throughout the shower, which would not be a bad thing. I fail to see efflorescence, but a fading of the colors. It could have to do with high mineral content of your water, and softening it would definitely help.
 

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Grout is not waterproof, it is going to pass moisture. That's why it is critical to have a waterproof membrane somewhere in the construction.

The reason for the caulk in the corner ... it's bad practice to use grout at a change of plane ... that's the first place the grout will crack.
 

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The framing in the walls and floors will move in different directions as the seasons/humidity change. Grout will crack there.
Rule is "caulk, not grout at a change of plane"

Strange, you posted that it was a new house. Hard to imagine a pro would do that.
 

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Nowadays the caulk in the change of plane depends on other things. When everything was hard and not dimensionally stable, it was more true. Nowadays, it depends.

That does not look at all like efflorescence to me. It might even be simple soap scum or some other deposit.

Grout stain is just a bandaid. If you're going to add some water filtration or whatever, do that first. Then scrape out a section of grout and see if it returns to that section. If not, fix all the rest and you're done. The grout might or might not benefit from sealing depending on what kind it is.
 

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Nowadays the caulk in the change of plane depends on other things. When everything was hard and not dimensionally stable, it was more true. Nowadays, it depends.
Interesting.
Assuming one has 2x4 or 2x6 wood framed construction, in what situations would yo use grout rather than caulk on floor-to-wall edge ?
 

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Interesting.
Assuming one has 2x4 or 2x6 wood framed construction, in what situations would yo use grout rather than caulk on floor-to-wall edge ?
In my experience, there is enough play in Kerdi, for example, to nullify the need for caulk at the floor/wall edge. Both the wall boards and the shower pan have enough play in them to accommodate a little movement. In a sense, the same way that Ditra works, as an uncoupling membrane. You are in a sense decoupling the shower structure from the framing structure. This is not how it works in a traditional "brute force" structure where hard mortar beds or CBUs are applied to the framing. You had a dimensionally unstable material (wood) connected to a dimensionally stable but also hard and unforgiving material coupled to it. Therefore any movement was transferred directly though.
 
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