re-grout or not to re-grout
Hardware Guys answer the Question
grouting industry has gone cool on us while we weren’t looking (not
that anyone had a spy satellite trained on them or anything). But
they’ve come out with a whole bunch of new products that make
re-grouting a tub or shower stall relatively painless.
who have re-grouted a tub in a past life know what we mean. It is more
fun than a man should have – a phrase that, from time to time, bears
repeating. Before tools were made specifically for this task, one had
to improvise, which usually meant just shrugging when your wife asked
if you’d seen the butter knife.
even better news is that there are a three products on the market that
make re-grouting not necessary – under certain circumstances. Mike
Frentz is a big fan of these relatively new products because it means
his customers often don’t have to get into the whole mess of
re-grouting, which, if not done just so, can lead to retiling, a fine
way to blow back-to-back weekends.
take a look at your tiled wall.
the grout black with a green tint? That falls under the heading of
fairly disgusting, but it does NOT fall under the heading of
mold, mildew and soap scum
“Those are mold and mildew stains,” Mike says. “We recommend a
product called X-14®, a mold and mildew stain remover that acts
just like a bleach and really does work, but believe me, this is not
your ordinary Clorox.”
not. The list of chemicals on the label also recommends using rubber
gloves, in a well-ventilated area, and taking frequent breaks so you
don’t breath in too much of the resulting vapor at one time.
it’s important to use these things in the correct order. For
instance, the following two products – also designed for avoiding
re-grouting – are designed to get rid of the waxy soap scum that
builds up over the mold and mildew – kind of like a car wax
protecting the paint beneath. If you try one of these first, you
won’t get the results you’re looking for.
the grout has a dark brownish look, then it is wax residue from soap
and shampoo buildup "(SOAP SCUM), Mike says. One of two products will get
rid of that AND actually clean and brighten the grou and remove the
soap scum, something the
X-14® isn’t designed to do.
Helper® -- Ceramic Tile and Grout Cleaner,
does exactly what it says it will do. On the other hand, Mike says The
Works®, a very popular product, not only will dissolve soap
build-up, but a little bit of the mildew beneath, as well.
you use either of these products and still have a stain, then it was
the wax over mildew scenario, and that’s why it couldn’t be
cleaned. Now’s the time to hit it again with the X-14, which should
take care of it.
Mike says The Works does an excellent job of getting the ground-in
dirt out of fiberglass tubs. If you don’t know whether your tub is
fiberglass, Mike say to knock on it and listen. “Porcelain (metal
with a baked on finish) will sound solid and won’t give when you
knock on it. Fiberglass will sound hollow and will give.”
with any of these three products on a monthly basis will save the
problem of really having a job to do every six months or so “and
it’s horrible,” Mike adds. But if you’re at the stage where
cleaners just don’t work, then you’ve got one more shot before
re-grouting becomes a reality.
Tile Grout Coating
is, basically, a water-based paint that dyes the grout back to its
natural white color. “It really works. We sell a ton of this
stuff,” Mike says, but cautions that the label may a bit
overconfident, and the treatment lasts only about a year. There’s a
clear silicone sealer made by the same company – you put the Tile
Grout Coating on, wait until it dries and then apply the sealer over
it. The sealer, too, in reality lasts about a year.
you must re-grout
Assuming none of
the above will fix your problem, then it’s time to move on to
replacing the grout. If you have loose or cracked grout, it has to be
fixed or you’ll be fixing a much larger problem in a little while,
when water gets behind the tub and tiles.
the butter knife for digging out the grout. Try the Grout Rake,
a handy little tool with a cutting edge of roughed tungsten
carbide, an extremely hard alloy. No more digging – just drag
this up and down the grout line a few times and the grout will
turn into powder after a few
all the old grout is out (if you skip some, the new stuff will try
to bond to the old stuff, and you’ll be doing all of this again
real soon), try one of the following:
Wall Grout, and
specify that you want the waterproof mix. This is easy to
apply with a tool called a grout float, which looks exactly like a
trowel with a form-fitting sponge attached to it. You use the
grout float to sort of smear wet grout between the tiles. Don’t
worry about it spreading over the tiles. “Take a damp rag and
lightly remove the grout from the tiles, don’t worry about
getting all of it because the grout takes 8-12 hours to dry,”
Mike says. “Once it’s dry, then take a dry cotton rag and the
grout will buff right off the tiles.
favorite, though, is Polyseamseal Tub and Tile White Latex
Caulk. The brand name is important here. “When you’re
finished this stuff really looks like grout, unlike most of the
silicone-based products, and will last 2-5 years.
advantage with this is that it can be smoothed out perfectly as long
as you do something like wet your thumb or paper towel down and run it gently over
the grout line. This is the stuff contractors ask for, by name. It’s
been our experience they won’t work with anything else.”