Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Walk the line

...the grout line that is. Har har (sorry for the cheesyness, I couldn't resist). Our bathroom floor tile got a little grout makeover this past weekend, but I must first preface this post with a little story.

Every time I clean the bathroom Jens makes fun of me for my OCD tendencies and reminds me that no one is going to be performing open heart surgery in there so it doesn't need to be a perfectly sterile environment. I admit that I have a weird standard for cleanliness in a bathroom. I blame him and my experience once upon a time cleaning the bathroom in his college apartment he shared with three other guys on move out day so someone could get their security deposit back. Lets just say I coulda woulda shoulda rented a hazmat suit for that one. Ever since then, I have absolutely no tolerance for a filthy bathroom.

Our bathroom wasn't filthy, but the dingy dirty looking grout between our white tile floor really bugged me. (Especially in the spots where I had scrubbed it so hard with abrasive cleaner to get it clean that it revealed the dark gray mortar underneath - oops!). So it was time to redo the grout to bring it up to my odd bathroom cleanliness standards.

Here's the play by play:

Step 1. Remove old grout. For this painstakingly tedious task I borrowed my Dad's Sonicrafter tool. It worked, although not nearly as smoothly as I was first imagining. It could have been part user error, but I wasn't overly impressed with the quality of the grout removal attachments. After completing approximately the first third of the grout lines, the attachment was worn down to a little nub (sorry Dad - I'll replace it). In order to finish the job I needed to get a couple new attachments, which of course I couldn't find anywhere locally, so I had to buy two more online which with shipping where nearly about as expensive as buying a new Sonicrafter kit. It felt kinda like buying new print cartridges for a printer.

 Step 2. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum. Removing the old grout got grout dust everywhere in the bathroom!

Step 3. Reset tiles that accidentally came loose. There weren't a large quantity of tiles, but I got a little grout removal happy in a few instances and went a little bit to far through to the mortar holding the tile in place, so about a dozen tiny tiles came loose. I wasn't about to go out and buy a whole bag of mortar for about 10 square inches of tiles, so I just mixed up a little batch of old white grout that we had stored in the basement from our master bathroom project we completed about a year and a half ago. I just back buttered the tiles and popped them back into place, making sure i didn't goop up the grout spaces too much.

Step 4. Time to grout. After the huge undertaking that the grout removal process was, I wasn't about to just put any old run of the mill grout back in place only to have to repeat the process later down the road when that grout eventually become gross colored. So I searched the internet for recommendations on stain resistant grout and decided on spending a little extra moolah on Laticrete SpectraLOCK Pro epoxy grout (which is also low VOC GREENGUARD certified). I was able to get by with one mini size for regrouting my entire bathroom floor. Epoxy grouts are notoriously harder to work with than cement grout, but Laticrete claims SpectraLOCK is similar in workability to cement grout.Well it was... at first, but I obviously didn't work fast enough. It started drying out and by the end of installing the grout I was seriously sweating and grunting trying to get the grout packed into the grout lines with my epoxy grout  float. I even have some nice size blisters on my palm from all my effort.

Step 5. Follow cleaning instructions. Post grout installation required two cleanings of the tile to remove the excess grout that remained on the tiles and the grout haze. This process was pretty similar to what I had experienced with cement grout and was pretty easy peasy.

Here's a picture of the finished results. Time will now tell how 'stain resistant' it actually is, but I'm satisfied with the immediate results.

Psst - one additional nice thing about the epoxy grout I used is that it doesn't need to be sealed. Woohoo for getting to forego that additional step! 

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