After years of being bombarded with water, cleaning agents, and scrubbing, your grout may have had all it can take. Grouting a shower or bathtub surround is actually quite a bit of work. All the old grout and caulk must be removed before the new grout and caulk can be replaced. We often come across jobs that were not prepared correctly and the new grout just fails. New grout cannot be floated or skimmed over old grout, it will just flake off in no time. However, we see this all the time, especially in today’s real estate market. Skim coating is common in properties for sale. It’s real hard to sell a house that has an ugly black shower, a quick skim and a bead of caulk to cover up all that black stuff might just be enough to pass it off to an unsuspecting buyer.
How to regrout a shower properly
Preparing the surface
This picture shows a properly prepared surface for the new grout. We used various grout saws, utility knives and lots of elbow grease to remove all the old grout and caulk. Many contractors or even homeowners use electric dremel type tools to do this, we prefer hand tools to reduce any risk of chipping a tile. It’s always best practice to wear safety goggles during this procedure. After all the grout and caulk is removed give the shower a good vacuum and wipe down with a damp grout sponge. If the tile had any build up of calcium or soap scum that would be cleaned real good before the grout removal, so excess water would not get between the tiles. The preparation of the shower is the most tedious and time consuming of the job, this next part goes much quicker but does require some skill level.
Installing the new grout
Floating grout can be a bit tricky for the newbie. Newly mixed grout is just a little thicker than pancake batter, but starts getting thicker and harder to spread as it starts to set up. That can be a problem for someone that does not have the speed of a pro. It’s important to never add water to the grout after it’s initial mixing, that will ruin it.
After working the grout into all the joints, It’s important to get as much of the excess grout off the tile by placing the float on an angle and wiping across the tile diagonally, as shown.
After the grout has been floated onto the walls, it is then wiped clean with a grout sponge. Sponging also helps even out all he grout lines for a nice even professional look. Now this is the important part, don’t over work the grout with too much water in the sponge or re wipe areas already wiped. Just wipe it once, and leave it. The tiles will haze over and will buff off easily with a clean white terry cloth towel in about 2 hours. While buffing the tile it’s advisable to wear a respirator, the fine dust produced is not good for you to breath.
The final icing on the cake is the caulk, I like to caulk around the base of the shower pan and up the corners as well. Most of the unsanded grouts found today have polymers in the grout and don’t need sealing. I do however recommend sealing sanded grout, usually found on floors.
Small spots of missing grout
The first picture shows a half inch of missing grout, more than enough to allow water to seep in and cause big problems.
This next picture shows a small piece of missing grout directly above the soap dish, After a short period of time the soap dish will be history. It is common to see these problems in the lower front corner of the shower, the area that takes the direct water assault every day.
The third photo shows how the caulk has separated from the tub, once this happens water gets trapped behind the caulk causing it to turn black from the inside out. This also creates the problem of the water running along the lip of the tub, behind the caulk and tile, finding its way to the floor outside the shower, ultimately causing floor damage as well.
Inspect your grout and caulk periodically
It is a great idea to inspect all your tile work from time to time as most of these minor problems can be fixed easily and inexpensively, but putting it off will surely result in thousands of dollars in repairs.
What causes these problems?
There are many reasons grout and caulk fail, the main reason is poor installation. Grout is a cement based product that has no elasticity at all, so if there is any movement in the wall, floor, or tub, the grout will crack for sure. It is common for the grout to crack along the corners and edges after installation, when this happens we usually caulk those areas. Caulk has the elastic properties needed to handle the expansion and contraction that happens in all homes. Just filling a bathtub can be enough weight to compromise the joints between the tile and the tub if the subfloor, floor joists or tub installation does not meet code requirements.
Other common reasons for failure is improper mixing of the grout, over working the grout with too much water, or not preparing the surfaces for grout and caulk. Caulk will not stick properly to surfaces that have moisture, soap scum, body oils, mold, mildew ect…
These additional reasons still fall under the improper installation category. The only reason that doesn’t fall under that category is faulty products. Bad grout and caulk is not common, but we do come across it from time to time. Just like grocery shopping, always check the dates on the product, I have come across many out of date products in the home centers across the Fredericksburg area. Never use grout or caulk that has been opened or laying around the garage for a long time. These products are inexpensive and it is definitely worth buying fresh sealed product for every job.
The last two photos show the same tub and shower I worked on, in Stafford County Virginia last week. Both were minor repairs that took less than an hour, and will save this rental property from big repairs and even worse…down time.
How we do it:
There are actually 4 components working together in harmony that allow us to achieve these superior cleaning results.
Emulsifier – We use a non toxic, environment friendly spray that is applied to the tile & grout floor to quickly loosen up the soil.
High Pressure – Our advanced patented equipment produces water pressure that can be adjusted between 200 and 1500 psi to penetrate even the toughest areas!
Heat – Our powerful truck mounted steam cleaner is capable of maintaining temperatures over 230 degrees throughout the cleaning process.
Vacuum – Our Vacuum process surgically lifts the soil and dirty water off your floor.
This was a great week at Pristine! Even after years of cleaning with our powerful truck mounted equipment I am still amazed myself at the results we achieve. Thanks to today’s technology I am able to snap some quick photos with my smart phone and share them with the world. In this particular post I am sharing photos from a concrete cleaning job, a tile & grout cleaning job, and a carpet cleaning job.
Concrete Driveway Cleaning
This photo is of a concrete driveway at a residence out in King George, Virginia. The owner stated that he has never had it cleaned in the 14 years he’s been there. Our concrete cleaning system is far superior to ordinary power-washing in many ways. It is a contained cleaning system with powerful vacuum, so there is no over spray or run off. This was especially important on this job because the homeowner had the driveway surrounded with some very nice plantings. If you’ve ever power washed, you know what happens when you hit that flowerbed with the wand, dirt everywhere!
Using powerful truck mounts also enables us to clean at temperatures well over 200 degrees, everyone knows heat is critical for achieving outstanding cleaning results. You can view great concrete cleaning video on our website.
Tile Floor Cleaning
This second picture is actually from the same home in King George, Virginia. It is obvious from the photo that the grout had turned completely black over the years. It is extremely difficult for a home owner to achieve these results from scrubbing alone. There are 4 components that work in harmony that give us this type of clean. They are heat, vacuum, pressure, and emulsifiers.
After this floor was cleaned we applied a sealer to the grout. In this case only the grout will benefit from a sealer, ceramic and porcelain tiles are non-porous and will not accept sealers. Sealing the grout protects it from permanent staining as well as makes it a little easier to clean. Our tile & grout cleaning footage on our site is quite Impressive.
Carpet Cleaning in a Preschool
This rug belongs to one of our great customers, it is a local preschool here in Stafford, Virginia. It is important for daycares and schools to have their carpets cleaned on a regular basis to avoid the spread of germs. Again, this is where the heat comes in. When you clean with steam you are enhilating the germs and bacteria that lurk deep down in the carpet fibers. Regular carpet cleaning is key for any carpet to keep it looking great for years.
After the carpet has been cleaned we do recommend Scotchguard protection to help the carpets resist permanent damage from spills and soil. We also offer deodorizers and odor treatments for folks that may have pets.
According to Shaw Industries you should have your carpets cleaned every 12-18 months, this will help keep the carpets looking new for many years and is actually part of the warranty requirements for the Stainmaster line.
This last shot is of a berber carpet in a rental property down in Lake Land Or. Another fantastic customer that counts on us to restore their carpets in their many rental properties as the tenants come and go. We were successful in removing several stains and spots as well as greatly improving the appearance of a noticeable traffic lane.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to visit us at Pristinepete.com to find out we can help you!
This travertine kitchen floor in King George Virginia was heavily soiled from dogs and years of foot traffic. As you can see there was no problem getting this floor to look new again.
Kitchen floor tile with white grout in Stafford Virginia, no problem for our advanced cleaning techniques.
Why are my tiles cracking and grout falling out?
There are many reasons why tiles crack or become loose. The most common reason is poor installation. There are many short cuts installers can take to save time or money, most may not be noticeable for a year or two, long after the job is done. By this time the installer is nowhere to be found. Before tile can be installed the floor should be prepared with a suitable cement backer board. The board should be layed in thin set, and screwed down as well as making sure all seams are taped.
After the sub floor has been prepared with backer board the tile can be set in thin set. For larger jobs there should be at least 2 installers to ensure the thin set does not start to set up be for the tile is placed on it. It is also advisable to butter the back of each tile, another step that is often skipped because it just takes more time.
Pristine highly recommends using a company that specializes in installing tile, not just a handyman or a family member. You will be much happier with your floor in the long run. Pristine has two personal favorites J & J tile and Marble or quality carpet and floor(Bob Mcdonald or Scott Busby can help you). Please trust me on this, I get call after call from folks who’s floor is failing because they tried to save money on the install.
So… after all that has been said, can we fix your floor?
sometimes… it depends on the severity of the problem. If it is just a few tiles or a small area that has become a problem we can carefully remove the tiles, grind down the old thin set and re-set the tiles, as shown in the photos. If the problem is widespread through out the majority of the floor, chances are, it was a really poor installation job and needs to be done over.
One last tip on installing floors…always, always, always save some leftover tile for repairs and even take note of the grout color and where it came from. This makes certain that any future repairs will look great! The biggest problem we face is that people have cracked or broken tiles and no spares. Once the floor is installed the tile will become obsolete and nowhere to be found in less than a year.
Many times we get calls for shower tile cleaning, but sometimes the caulk and grout are just too far gone for cleaning alone, as shown in the photos below from this home in Fredericksburg Va.
Yuck! who would want to get in that shower? (Sorry for the thumb)
It is always a great idea to inspect your showers, tubs, and sinks for signs of a problem, such as missing or cracked grout and/or caulk. Often small problems can be rectified before they turn into big expensive problems. In the case above it actually looked a lot worse than it was. The grout and caulk were in bad shape but miraculously the water had not penetrated to the wall board just yet. Pristine was able to go in and clean the tile, remove and replace all the old grout and caulk and make this shower look new and inviting once again!
Some folks are not quite as lucky and repairing or replacing often are needed. If the tiles are loose and the walls feel spongy you can bet damage has taken place. Sometimes we can cut out a bad section and make the necessary repairs, if the damage is not too extensive.
The photos below, believe it or not, are the same shower fully restored!
The picture below is of a counter restoration project we did in the city of Fredericksburg Va 22401,
Do I have to seal my grout?
The two main types of grout are sanded and unsanded, sanded is used in larger grout joints and unsanded in smaller joints. The sand is added to the grout to give it strength, but also leaves a rough texture. This porous rough texture absorbs spills, dirty mop water, outdoor soil and so on, making it difficult to clean. In no time the grout will be stained, discolored, and just plain ugly. Using a quality sealer on the grout will help prevent permanent staining, as well as make cleaning easier. The misunderstanding is… people think sealer will keep their grout clean. The fact is sealer will only provide a barrier, thus making cleaning easier and permanent damage less likely, soil will still find its way to the floor, if I had the answer to preventing that, I would be a hero, and probably out of business. The unsanded grout ussually found on walls, and in showers, is much less porus, but still can benifit from sealer especially in a shower. There are often minerals in the water that can even leave unsanded grout stained after time, especially white grout.
Pristine Tile & Carpet Cleaning
632 Forbes St
Fredericksburg, Va 22405