Saturday, January 20, 2007

Tile grout repair preparation

With the old, failing grout removed from my downstairs shower stall, I can now proceed with what will hopefully be the repair that will stop the leak of water into my basement.

After removing the failing grout, my assumption is the leak is coming from the front corner of the shower stall, where the walls meet the floor. In that area I ended up not only removing the grout that was failing, but also was able to stick a small screwdriver into the corner about an inch-and-a-half. That’s concerning. (I cleaned removed as much as possible, then vacuumed the old debris.)

Since I know grout absorbs water, I didn’t want to just use grout to fix this problem. Therefore, I turner to a product that I’ve used for a couple of other watertight repairs around my old house: two-part marine epoxy.

PLEASE NOTE: This is only a short-term solution (maybe a couple of years) for a much bigger problem. Having done some research around the Internet, I’ve determined the pan under my shower stall is most likely failing and the only long-term fix for that is gutting the shower stall and installing a new shower pan. If you recall, I’m supposed to be working on the remodel of our upstairs bathroom right now. I only started working on these leaks out of necessity, because we had to start using the downstairs bathroom shower after I officially closed the upstairs bathroom during its construction. Thus, with the upstairs bathroom already torn up, I’m not in a position to tackle the proper repair for the downstairs bathroom. Hence this band-aid repair.

My mission here was to use the marine epoxy as a watertight base for the grout. By doing so, I hope to seal any leak that’s going to the basement. Before applying the two-part epoxy, I masked off the tiles in the area so I wouldn’t add to my clean-up headaches after the epoxy is down. If you do get it on any of the tiles, it’s best to let it dry and then carefully scrape it off with a sharp razor blade.

Now to the epoxy itself. I discovered this epoxy at my local Ace Hardware when I was looking for an alternative to caulk for our upstairs shower (where the tile from the shower stall meets the cast-iron tub). The caulk from the previous owner failed shortly after we moved in. I re-caulked; and that failed a few months later. I was officially finished with caulk. I discovered two-part marine epoxy (made by Power Poxy) and have never had another problem with the upstairs shower over tub. Over two-and-a-half years later and it’s still holding firm. (The only minor gripe is that it goes down brilliant white, but ultimately yellows a little.)

Since I wanted absolute control over where this epoxy was applied, I purchased a glue applicator at my local Ace Hardware (item number 254151, as shown in the photo above). After mixing the epoxy, I carefully moved it to the syringe with my stir stick (a popsicle stick).

With the epoxy in my applicator, I was able to carefully move along the grout line in the areas where the repairs were noticeably deep. It was the deeper areas of missing grout that I was concerned with, including the one in the corner. I did not apply this to the entire grout line along the floor, only the deep areas.

In the corner, I inserted the applicator’s tip in as deep as I could and injected epoxy until it started coming back over the tip of the applicator. It’s my hope that, when cured, this marine epoxy will serve as a solid, watertight base for the grout I’m going to install.

The photo above also illustrates how small this shower stall is. Enlarge the image and you’ll see that I’m working on one wall and my back is almost touching the other wall (while kneeling).

The photo to the right shows how the epoxy looked after it was in place. Notice that I kept the epoxy below the level of the floor tile so there would be adequate room for grout. Once the tile that came out is put back in place, I’ll have plenty of room for grout both under the tile, and along its sides.

I’ll let this dry overnight and then install the new grout tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. I found your blog when I searched for "tile grout repair". Thanks for sharing about the Marine epoxy. I look forward to browsing the rest of your blog.