how to repair grout in shower

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by Blumengarten, Aug 4, 2013.

  1. Blumengarten

    Blumengarten New Member

    Messages:
    56
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Hi All,

    I just bought a house that was built in the 1950's. A friend who is an architect (and therefore thinks he knows everything) says I need to completely gut the bathroom. He said the tile in the bathroom was placed on drywall, not concrete backer board. He said there has been leakage from the grout in the bathtub, and he showed me in the bedroom behind the bathtub where there is a very small, grey stain on the oak floor (it extends zero to 1/2 inch beyond the quarter-round). I hadn't noticed that. He said it comes from water leaking through the grout. Two owners ago, the tile was painted, which he says was an attempt to seal the grout, but it's not working. Is there anything that can be done to seal the grout without gutting the bathroom? I love the porcelain tile. I told him I'd rather just take off the tile, put in backer board, and replace the tile (he wants me to take it all out and put in a shower, which I won't do, because families need showers, even if men do not). But if there is some way to seal it without completely removing all the tile, I'd like to know. Could you grind out the old grout and put in new?

    Thanks,
    Blumengarten
  2. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,080
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    You have to remove the tile and the drywall behind it. After installing concrete backer, you need to waterproof the surface before laying new tile on it.
  3. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,183
    Location:
    New England
    FWIW, a properly built tub/shower is waterproof before the tile is installed, so any effort trying to patch it on the surface is unlikely to work. IOW, the tile is a wear/decorative layer, it should be watertight before that is even installed.

    Built in the 50's, it may be plaster behind, but may not be drywall. Ideally, it would be a mudded wall, but if that is not installed well, things can leak.

    Properly installed tile is unlikely to be able to be removed and reused...if it's been up about 60-years, it may resist any attempt to remove it in one piece, so forget about that. It's possible, if you are VERY lucky, but unlikely.

    A 60-year old tub has probably lost a lot of its shine, and is likely pretty small by today's standards - then, the valve probably does not meet today's safety codes, so a gut and replace may still be a good idea. The toilet, if it's that old, probably uses 6-8 gallons to flush, today's toilets use a max of 1.6g, and there are some that use as little as 1g that still work well at removing the waste (not all do!).

    So, no amount of caulk or grout sealant is likely to solve your problem. You may find some significant water damage if you open things up, or it could be pretty solid...there's no easy way to tell until you tear it apart. Well, if the tile can be moved and things are soft, that's a big red herring.
  4. Blumengarten

    Blumengarten New Member

    Messages:
    56
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I spoke with a friend who's a plumber, she didn't see it but she asked me some questions:

    Does the wall feel soft? No, it seems very sturdy.

    How do you know it's leaking? I told her about the black on the oak floor in the bedroom, and also there is some black around the faucets where they go into the wall.

    So she said, the problem is NOT the grout, but the plumbing, and I need to repair that where the plumbing is leaking. Glad to hear that, I like the tiles in there! I think she's probably right. My friend the architect just has grandiose plans about what I should do with the house, which is why he wants me to gut it, but there's no sense gutting it if it's only a faulty faucet!
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