Contractor Talk - Professional Construction and Remodeling Forum banner
1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Sawdust Sweeper
Joined
·
690 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am a carpenter that occasionally does some tile installs. Before going into business for myself I worked for several general contractors that did as much work as they could "in house". This included tile work. While by no means a master, I am a competent tile setter and limit the jobs I take to more simple installations. I am a stickler for details and follow manufacturers install instructions to the "t" in order to achieve consistent results and to cover my assets so to speak.
The last floor I did, about 63 square feet of porcelain 13x13's, all went well until the day after I grouted the floor in. (This was a house with 3/4 OSB subfloor, a secondary layer of plywood, sheet vinyl which I installed 1/4 hardiebacker and tile over.) I went back over to the HO"s house to reinstall the toilet and baseboards and lo and behold, instead of looking beautiful as I had left it the day before all the grout lines were covered in a thick white film/haze. Not good.... I had heard of efflorescence before but had never had any problems with it to date. I talked to the homeowner, told her what the problem was, told her that we would have to wait a week to ten days to wash the floor with sulfamic acid and everything should be hunky dory. The homeowner is a little perturbed but otherwise cool...
Fast forward nine days.... This past Friday.... I follow the grout manufacters reccomendations on the removal of efflorescence (the first time I have had to acid wash a floor) and after it is all done and dried it still has some white "haze" on the grout lines. Now this is where you the CT flooring gurus come in... if you have actually perservered through the reading of this lengthly post;) Any suggestions on what course of action I should take??? I have a solution that I have already discussed with the HO but I am open to your collective knowledge and advice....
Thanks,
Shane
 

·
Proprietor
Joined
·
1,847 Posts
First, what are you thinking installing over vinyl. Did you even try to remove it? As long as it was installed right it should pull right up.
I've NEVER had efflorescence on grout lines. Only on slate tile. What did you mix the grout with? Was it super soupy? Did you use an extreme amount of water to mix/clean?
Before I messed with any acids, as long as the grout was in good shape structurally, no cracks or low spots, I would try a vinegar wash and grout colorant before any crazy acids or concoctions.
What brand grout did you use?
 

·
bathroom guru
Joined
·
1,348 Posts
I am going to agree with Matt - Don't tile over vinyl.

That being said, if you still have issues after cleaning with acid, you may have to stain all the grout to achieve a uniform look.
 

·
Lack Of All Trades
Joined
·
1,232 Posts
not even sure that is efflorescence.

Could be just the way the grout sets up.

Efflorescence is related to problems with moisture seepage from, say, foundation leaks. If you tiled over a cement slab this could be a problem.

but vinyl? I dunno:whistling

I would just clean the tile once more, then apply a sealer. All drymix grout hazes up when it is dry.

Good luck.
 

·
Sawdust Sweeper
Joined
·
690 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
First off I did NOT tile over vinyl. I installed 1/4 hardiebacker over the vinyl as the vinyl and 1/2" ply that was installed over subfloor was put in before the vanities and the like when the home was originally built. Secondly, sulfamic acid is a very mild acid, a little stronger than vinegar and it is what Custom building products recommend for removing efflorescence.
As to the grout mix, I mixed 1 quart + a little to a half bag of grout (grout manufacturer always says 2 quarts to a full 25lb bag + up to a pint.) I mixed it with the HO's water which is from a community well (probably the source of the problem). I did not overwash the tile, and I changed out the rinse water frequently.
The best solution to my problem that I have come up with so far is Grout Renew. It is an epoxy paint that comes in all the polyblend colors. Apply it to all the grout lines and then seal the tile.
 

·
solar guy
Joined
·
1,917 Posts
sounds like you used a dark color grout. I have had this happen when the grout is old ( sitting around the suppliers for a couple of years until sold or sitting at ho's house. Check the manufacturer date on the bag if more than 2 years old may have to grind and re grout thats what I had to do last time.
 

·
Carpe Diem
Joined
·
20,742 Posts
First off I did NOT tile over vinyl.
This was a house with 3/4 OSB subfloor, a secondary layer of plywood, sheet vinyl which I installed 1/4 hardiebacker and tile over.)
Oh my friend, you DID install the tile over vinyl. Not directly but you didn't remove it before using Hardi. While there may be a few circumstances when this can work, you should have removed the vinyl.
If you feel you didn't over water the grout with mixing or cleaning, the well water could be the source of extra minerals that can cause efflorescence. If you've dealt with it and it's still there, I agree with Matt, grout colorant will be an easy fix:
http://www.aquamix.com/products/pg_detail.asp?pdid=25042&pgid=8374
Once on, it's sealed already so no use to further seal the grout. And why are you sealing porcelain tile??????
 

·
Tile Contractor
Joined
·
1,249 Posts
Be very careful getting advice from Custom Building Products Techies. They (Custom) will say every problem is the fault of the installer and there is never a problem with their products. Unless you really know what you are talking about and can counter everything that they say is your fault. They don't screw with me anymore but by God they used to. The only honest Techie they have out west is a guy by the name of Anthony.

OK, OK, OK, First thing is to verify the age of the grout as mentioned previously. Polyblend is a great product, IF IT IS FRESH. Two years is much too long to have Polyblend sitting on a shelf somewhere. Six months is my limit because of many past bad experiences with that product. ONE YEAR is the limit.

Polyblend is a Portland cement based grout. Any time you have Portland cement you have an opportunity to have efflorescence. Even tho the tile was installed over Hardi this doesn't mean the vinyl didn't play a part in this issue - I'm convinced it did.

Community wells (well water) can also be a problem due to the usual high concentrations of minerals, also previously mentioned. The two issues combined, (well water and Portland grout over vinyl) could be working together to destroy you.:):):)

The fact the Hardi is there means nothing, the vinyl would slow the cure enough to allow efflorescence if other conditions are also present. ANOTHER good reason NOT to install tile over vinyl. We keep saying it, been saying it for years, and still some guys just can't get it through their thick skulls.:)

Did anyone "mist" the grout for a time after it was installed?

I would drop back to the vinegar suggestion and clean the grout using a white scrubbie a few times. Personally I think you are dealing with grout-haze and not efflorescence. A picture would be dandy.

You can also explain to that customer that their water probably had something to do with this.

If you have pockets full of money and nothing but time on your hands then go ahead with that "Grout Renew" and see what that does to your disposition. You don't need it and it isn't likely the answer to this problem.:)

Remember: Use a white scrubbie NOT A GREEN ONE.

By-the-way, sealing porcelain tile can improve some grouting issues with some porcelain tiles but generally (99.9% of the time), sealing porcelain tile is futile.:) You would seal the tile before grouting not afterward.:)
 
  • Like
Reactions: carpentershane

·
Sawdust Sweeper
Joined
·
690 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks all for the advice and the tip on the aquamix... So I screwed up when I installed hardi over the sheet vinyl... I won't do that again... That kind of pisses me off, I like to do good work and I looked at Custom Building Products technical specs as well as James Hardie and it stated that it was alright to do so. As to sealing the porcelain, it is a surface art tile and I figured it wouldn't hurt and give the grout lines a little extra protection... On the vinegar, use it straight up or dilute it??? As to the grout renew it was not something I was looking forward too- I was upside down on this job before the grout lines went south, at this point I want the HO to be happy with the job and keep my reputation for doing quality work. I will take a pic and post it this week sometime
 

·
Tile Contractor
Joined
·
1,249 Posts
On the vinegar, use it straight up or dilute it???

I would go with 50/50. You don't want to pickle the damned floor just attack the Portland. Be sure to neutralize with clean plain water after a time. Let's see what happens! It may take more than one effort. The vinegar odor will dissipate in a short time.:) These things can sometimes be trial and error but I doubt there is a serious problem.

I looked at Custom Building Products technical specs as well as James Hardie and it stated that it was alright to do so.
I can sympathize. Those manufacturers make a lot of statements that really aren't in keeping with general consensus of the installation community. They want to sell to everyone pro and DIY alike and to maximize profits. To do so they must make one size fits all products that are all things to all people.

There is more to the "tiling over vinyl" issue but we won't go there right now.:)

As to sealing the porcelain, it is a surface art tile and I figured it wouldn't hurt and give the grout lines a little extra protection...
Sealing the grout is a good idea but sealing porcelain tile may be futile like I said. What is "surface art tile"?
 
  • Like
Reactions: carpentershane

·
Sawdust Sweeper
Joined
·
690 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks Bud for the info,

I have already washed the floor down with the sulfamic acid on Friday- will the vinegar do more than the acid did?? The HO is probably getting tired of seeing my ugly mug;) Surface Art is the manufacturer- it is a "cheaper" line of vitreous porcelain tile.

Quote:
"There is more to the "tiling over vinyl" issue but we won't go there right now.:)"

If you don't mind I would like to know more...
 

·
Tile Contractor
Joined
·
1,249 Posts
Surface Art is the manufacturer- it is a "cheaper" line of vitreous porcelain tile.
OK THERE YA GO RIGHT THERE!!!:mad:

If this is the case then we need to back up just for future reference. Typically a quality porcelain tile does not need to be sealed, in fact it won't really take any sealer anyway.

On the other side of that dollar-bill is the low budget porcelains. Those damned things are more trouble than they are worth as you have found out. The lessor expensive porcelains develop microscopic pores in their surface during firing. They must be sealed adequately to close the pores. If the tile doesn't get sealed before grouting, the microscopic pores will cause the grout pigments and Portland molecules to cling to the tile. It's kinda like drawing a line on a piece of fine sandpaper with a piece of chalk then trying to erase the chalk line.

I would stay with the vinegar. It is not as strong as sulfamic but that's what you want in this case I think. You want only to clean the surface of the tile and not keep digging the grout out of the pores. The tile will clean up (for the most part) in time. Doesn't matter how tired the customer is of seeing you - if they want it right it will take time and you should be paid for all that extra time due to their decision to buy the cheapest crap they could get their hands on.

OK, OK, OK, here's another little trick you can finish with. Once the tile is cleaned to a point that no streaking in visible, THEN use a penetrating sealer to seal the entire floor. Use a pump spray to spray it on then use a dry terrycloth towel to wipe it up after just a few minutes. DO NOT allow the sealer to sit or dry on the tile.

The sealer should bring out the original color of the grout and hold it, while at the same time hiding the grout pigments that are now in the microscopic pores of the tiles surface. The first application will be absorbed instantly. Additional applications should be applied after allowing previous applications to dry thoroughly.:)
 

·
Tile Contractor
Joined
·
1,249 Posts
Here's another lesson for ya!

TRUE first class porcelain tile will say "porcelain" on the box.

Lessor tiles will have only a variation of the word porcelain. They know better than to lie to you so they change the name slightly. It is nothing more than trickery but unfortunately it is legal.

For example: One of the better known so-called porcelain tiles is called porcelanato. There are many other variations of the word used.

AGAIN, if it doesn't say p-o-r-c-e-l-a-i-n, it is a lessor product and may well have plenty of microscopic surface pores.

Boy I'll bet I catch hell for this!!!
 

·
Sawdust Sweeper
Joined
·
690 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
OK THERE YA GO RIGHT THERE!!!:mad:
I would stay with the vinegar. It is not as strong as sulfamic but that's what you want in this case I think. You want only to clean the surface of the tile and not keep digging the grout out of the pores. The tile will clean up (for the most part) in time. Doesn't matter how tired the customer is of seeing you - if they want it right it will take time and you should be paid for all that extra time due to their decision to buy the cheapest crap they could get their hands on tile.
Thanks for the education on porcelain tile Bud. I think we have a little misunderstanding on my dilemma though- The tile looks just fine- it is the grout lines that are and were jacked up. The sulfamic acid took most of the white film off but now it looks splotchy and hazy.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top