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Thread: Grout Sealer?

  1. #1
    Terry Sandmeier's Avatar
    Terry Sandmeier Guest

    Default Grout Sealer?

    Good Evening,

    Does anyone check for sealer on the grout on a newly constructed house?
    I have not even thought too much about it, but during a conversation I had with one of my past clients, he had discovered water was seeping through the grout and on to the subfloor. Then the evidence showed the grout was not sealed. Now this is what he had said on the phone and I have not seen this condition in person. This just came up when I had called him during a follow up call on an inspection I did at the beginning of January.
    Does one check for sealer by simply applying water to the grout? This is my first thought.

    Any ideas would be appreciated.

    Similar Threads:
    Inspection Referral

  2. #2
    Brent Simmerman's Avatar
    Brent Simmerman Guest

    Default Re: Grout Sealer?

    I've never tested to see if they are sealed, but that would be the easiest way that I know of. You also should reseal the grout every couple of years I've been told.


  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Grout Sealer?

    My question is "How is the tile/marble/etc. laid on a wood subfloor?

    There should be something below the tile/marble/etc., either a membrane and a mud bed or something suitable for laying on the floor and then setting the tile/natural stone on it.

    Sealing the grout? Nope, never checked for it and have never sealed ours either. Does it get 'dirty looking' over time? Yes, but I've seen sealed grout floors which also got 'dirty looking' over time.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  4. #4
    Terry Sandmeier's Avatar
    Terry Sandmeier Guest

    Default Re: Grout Sealer?

    My question is "How is the tile/marble/etc. laid on a wood subfloor?

    There should be something below the tile/marble/etc., either a membrane and a mud bed or something suitable for laying on the floor and then setting the tile/natural stone on it.

    This is the first thing I said when he told me it was on the subfloor, and he knew what was supposed to be done as well.

    He had discovered this after his toilet had overflowed (His grandchild had apparently flushed a couple of toys down the toilet) and they pulled the toilet to snake out the line and noticed this condition. Without this happening none of these conditions would have been discovered.

    This makes me wish I could see through walls, floors, etc. I believe this entire house was built with these kinds of standards. The original report had couple dozen issues listed, after I submitted the report I found out the house did not have a CO yet.

    This is another reason newly constructed houses should also be inspected by a private inspector.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Grout Sealer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Sandmeier View Post
    He had discovered this after his toilet had overflowed (His grandchild had apparently flushed a couple of toys down the toilet) and they pulled the toilet to snake out the line and noticed this condition. Without this happening none of these conditions would have been discovered.

    Now wait just a minute there ...

    The only thing they should have seen, with the toilet setting on the tile, would have been what little openings there may have been around the floor flange and the tile, and ... that may have been from the toilet *not being sealed to the floor as required*.

    It is also highly likely that the floor was laid wrong, but that would be a different issue.

    Let's see ... plumber pulls toilet, homeowner sees water staining on the subflooring and comments 'That shouldn't be there, should it?', to which the plumber thinks fast and says (to himself) 'Oh-oh, this is my fault for not sealing the toilet to the floor, the builder *told me he would do it*, but it was *my job to make sure it was done* and I did not.', (then the plumber turns to the homeowner and says 'No sir, that should not be like that, must be the grout was not sealed.', thinking that gets him off the hook.

    You inspected that house in January and *that much* water "seeped into and through the grout" in two months? I doubt it.

    The toilet was most likely not: 1) sealed at the wax ring properly, and 2) not sealed to the floor properly.

    Also, this time on the plumber's behalf, when the grandchild flushed those toys down there, you know what Grandpa did, he got out the plunger and started plunging away, which (if there was a back up) *could have blown the wax seal* loose. Usually, though, the problem is not a backed up line by a stopped integral trap in the toilet, and that should not blow the wax seal out.

    Another thing (this just keeps getting worse the more I think about it), if the tile was laid a bit thick, or the tile was a bit thick, one regular wax ring would not have sealed it *if the floor flange was screwed to the floor and they tiled around it, that would have taken two wax rings, one with the plastic funnel (Kant Leak is one) on top of a plain wax ring. Of course, though the proper repair would be to raise the floor flange to rest on the tile so the top of the floor flange was high enough for the wax ring to seal against and still seat against the toilet bottom too.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Grout Sealer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Sandmeier View Post
    Good Evening,

    Does anyone check for sealer on the grout on a newly constructed house?
    the evidence showed the grout was not sealed. Does one check for sealer by simply applying water to the grout?
    I have a standard comment "clean and seal tile grout" for all tile work.
    I don't test for sealer, just assume it needs sealing or resealing unless the seller provides some info on the subject.
    I have sealed my own grout and it can still look wet when you spill water on it.
    Grout needs to cure for a time before it is sealed - that is why builders don't normally seal grout themselves. New home, the buyer needs to seal the grout, or live with unsealed grout.
    The area directly under the toilet would not be sealed anyway, you can only seal up to the edge of the toilet, a month or so after the floor was laid.

    John Kogel
    www.allsafehome .ca


  7. #7
    Terry Sandmeier's Avatar
    Terry Sandmeier Guest

    Default Re: Grout Sealer?

    The only thing they should have seen, with the toilet setting on the tile, would have been what little openings there may have been around the floor flange and the tile, and ... that may have been from the toilet *not being sealed to the floor as required*.

    It is also highly likely that the floor was laid wrong, but that would be a different issue.

    Let's see ... plumber pulls toilet, homeowner sees water staining on the subflooring and comments 'That shouldn't be there, should it?', to which the plumber thinks fast and says (to himself) 'Oh-oh, this is my fault for not sealing the toilet to the floor, the builder *told me he would do it*, but it was *my job to make sure it was done* and I did not.', (then the plumber turns to the homeowner and says 'No sir, that should not be like that, must be the grout was not sealed.', thinking that gets him off the hook.

    You inspected that house in January and *that much* water "seeped into and through the grout" in two months? I doubt it.

    The toilet was most likely not: 1) sealed at the wax ring properly, and 2) not sealed to the floor properly.

    Also, this time on the plumber's behalf, when the grandchild flushed those toys down there, you know what Grandpa did, he got out the plunger and started plunging away, which (if there was a back up) *could have blown the wax seal* loose. Usually, though, the problem is not a backed up line by a stopped integral trap in the toilet, and that should not blow the wax seal out.

    Another thing (this just keeps getting worse the more I think about it), if the tile was laid a bit thick, or the tile was a bit thick, one regular wax ring would not have sealed it *if the floor flange was screwed to the floor and they tiled around it, that would have taken two wax rings, one with the plastic funnel (Kant Leak is one) on top of a plain wax ring. Of course, though the proper repair would be to raise the floor flange to rest on the tile so the top of the floor flange was high enough for the wax ring to seal against and still seat against the toilet bottom too.
    All of this could be, I could not verify for or against. I did not pry further into how, what, when, why. Jerry, you could be very close or right on with what actually could have happened. I dont even know if the plumber was involved with the initail instalation.

    My conversation with my client was just casual and he was telling of one of his discoveries and in no way put me on the defensive for my services, so I was not trying to gather more information at this detail.

    My thoughts after the coversation was more on the shower enclosure and the tile not being sealed there. Then the question arised.

    I have a standard comment "clean and seal tile grout" for all tile work.
    John, good idea for a disclaimer, another one I can add to the list.

    Thanks for all of the feedback guys, much appreciated.

    I have to figure out how to get this quote thing right.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Grout Sealer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Sandmeier View Post
    Good Evening,

    Does anyone check for sealer on the grout on a newly constructed house?
    I have not even thought too much about it, but during a conversation I had with one of my past clients, he had discovered water was seeping through the grout and on to the subfloor. Then the evidence showed the grout was not sealed. Now this is what he had said on the phone and I have not seen this condition in person. This just came up when I had called him during a follow up call on an inspection I did at the beginning of January.
    Does one check for sealer by simply applying water to the grout? This is my first thought.

    Any ideas would be appreciated.
    If he has water leaking onto the subfloor, he has bigger issues than some grout not sealed. As mentioned prior by Jerry, there should be some type of membrane such as a vinyl liner present that should have prevented any water leakage onto the subflooring. Was this at a shower, tub or a toilet area?

    Most tile installers do not take the time to seal grout and I don't know that it is absolutely necessary. I've been told that the sealer is only to prevent mold and mildew from building up so easily on the grout surface. If you have ever read the labeling on the grout sealer, most recommend periodic re-sealing with the product.

    Personally, I have never sealed any of the grout on any tile project that I've done, and have not have any water seepage problems.

    rick


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Grout Sealer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Sandmeier View Post
    My thoughts after the coversation was more on the shower enclosure and the tile not being sealed there. Then the question arised.
    Terry,

    Not necessary to seal the grout there either.

    The tile installation is ... er, is *supposed to be* ... water resistant in its own right.

    First, there is either a mud set (the old way) or green board (which fails) or cement board such as Durock (the modern mud set) attached to the studs as a substrate for setting the tile on, then thin set (dry set) on the substrate to set the tile in and attach the tile to the substrate, then the tile, and finally the grout. The entire assembly is water resistant. Water will soak through grout, which is not a problem as the substrate will absorb the water and then allow the water to dry out.

    The failures and problems were with green board and other gypsum based tile backer boards, those products are not water resistant enough to be applied in those locations, but were anyway, for a couple of decades, and failures occurred because, yes, water goes through the grout and the installation was not water resistant enough.

    First there was the problem that the gypsum tile backer board had to have a skim coat of mastic/water resisting surface applied over the entire surface, allowed to dry (who on earth ever did that?), then another layer of mastic was applied with a notched trowel and was not supposed to be allowed to damage the skim coat protective layer (yeah, right, notched trowel = no damage, no way). Then as a result of the failures of the materials themselves along with the failures caused by installation of those materials, the paper facing gets wet, stays wet, and the paper facing separates from the gypsum core, there it the failure point.

    That's why green board and other gypsum tile backer boards are not allowed around tubs and showers (not in"wet areas), it is only as allowed as "tile backer board" in "dry areas", such as when you run the tile all the way around the bathroom, green board and tile backer board everywhere except around the tub or shower, there you should be using cement board.

    To my knowledge it sealer is not required, and as Rick said:
    Most tile installers do not take the time to seal grout and I don't know that it is absolutely necessary. I've been told that the sealer is only to prevent mold and mildew from building up so easily on the grout surface. If you have ever read the labeling on the grout sealer, most recommend periodic re-sealing with the product.
    That's why I've never bothered to seal any of our grout. Seal it once, it will still get dirty, that dirt does not all come off when cleaning, reseal it and now that dirt is there forever. In my opinion, might as well not seal it in the first place.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  10. #10
    Terry Sandmeier's Avatar
    Terry Sandmeier Guest

    Default Re: Grout Sealer?

    The homeowner understood the incorrect installation of the tile not being put on the backer board on the floor around the toilet and tub area; he believes the shower enclosure does have the proper substrate behind the title.

    He was thinking that a sealer would remedy the water penetration at the floor; I did believe it would help but it still did not address the issue of lack of the backer board. Since he had discovered this after he bought the house, unfortunately this is now an issue with the homeowner and the builder. I will pass on more information to him that the sealer might not be a cure all in this situation.

    Thanks for the replies.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Grout Sealer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Sandmeier View Post
    The homeowner understood the incorrect installation of the tile not being put on the backer board on the floor around the toilet and tub area; he believes the shower enclosure does have the proper substrate behind the title.

    He was thinking that a sealer would remedy the water penetration at the floor; I did believe it would help but it still did not address the issue of lack of the backer board. Since he had discovered this after he bought the house, unfortunately this is now an issue with the homeowner and the builder. I will pass on more information to him that the sealer might not be a cure all in this situation.

    Thanks for the replies.
    Offer him a warranty inspection (not for free) so that everything he has found and that you will find will be documented when he address it with the builder. Better, yet offer to come out to the home for "free" just to help him identify the hidden problems that have showed up since he has moved in. Then offer to document everything in a written report for a fee (hourly rate) to help him with the builder. Show him that you are concerned about "his" problem. Empathy is going to be your best friend on this.

    This is what he really needs. It will help him and protect you a little more. I'm betting that the home has major issues that have appeared since your inspection.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

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