HOW I RE-GROUTED A SHOWER FLOOR
How I re-grouted a shower floor for the first time is a story that I thought would benefit some of MrElectrician.TV’s visitors who want to learn how to re-grout their shower.
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Re-grouting a shower floor is not something I would normally do for someone other than myself. I am only set up with tools and materials to do electrical work.
This particular shower floor re-grouting project was initially intended to be done by a tile installation contractor. However, it was tough to find one who was available.
A highly recommended handyman who does re-grouting was called, but he was unwilling to re-grout this particular shower.
The handyman’s reason for not wanting to re-grout this particular shower floor is because the specifications called for the installation of Laticrete Spectralock Premium Epoxy Grout. He only had one experience with it, and according to him, it did not go well. He was willing to remove the old grout and gave a ridiculously low price.
COMPONENTS OF EPOXY GROUT
Laticrete Spectralock Premium Epoxy Grout is unique in that it consists of three components that must be mixed together and must be used within a limited time frame.
The Laticrete epoxy grout also requires household vinegar mixed with water for clean-up.
The grout bucket with parts A & B is packaged with latex gloves, a tile sponge, and two packets of clean-up powder to be mixed in with your clean-up water. Also included are instructions on how to mix and apply the grout properly.
Part C is the colored sand that gets mixed in after parts A & B are mixed together. It must all be thoroughly mixed to a cake batter-like consistency.
For the 36-inch x 60-inch shower floor, I needed two Spectralock 0.2 US gallon (0.7 Liter) mini kits that contained Parts A and B. In addition, I needed two part C’s 2 pound (.9 Kilograms) colored sand packages. The color chosen is called mushroom.
NOTE: On their website, Laticrete shows part C as being 2.25 pounds (1 Kilogram). Maybe the batch that I received was older.
Click here for an estimating tool to calculate how much grout will be needed for your tile.
GROUT REMOVAL FROM A SHOWER FLOOR
It turned out that the handyman’s low price only called for removing the loose and broken grout. It was an extra hourly rate for another hour and a half of labor to do the whole 15 square foot floor (3′ x 5′). Even then, he was not able to remove the grout from the tiles next to the wall because his power tool could not get close enough.
The handyman used a small cordless circular saw with a diamond blade to cut out between the tiles. It did an excellent job of removing the old grout, but he also nicked a few tiles with it. The 2″ x 2″ matted tile had 3/16″ wide grout joints; however, the installed tile joints were slightly closer together due to the shower floor slope.
So I had to do some additional grout removal myself before proceeding to the grout installation.
My first step as part of the planning process was figuring out which grout removal tools to use. I already owned an electric Dremel rotary tool, and a RotoZip rotary tool with a circular saw attachment.
In addition, I have an electric oscillating multi-tool.
I decided to purchase a hand grout saw and a grout removal tool with a triangular metal piece on the end.
I also bought a grout removal blade for my oscillating multi-tool and a 1/16″ (Dremel #569), and an 1/8″ (Dremel #570) sized grout removal bits for the Dremel rotary tool.
The grout saw was helpful for grinding the old grout out of the joints, but it was a lot of work with my hands. I wore leather work gloves when I used the grout saw.
The handle with the triangle on the end was not very useful for removing the old grout. Due to the triangular shape, it has a limited depth range, and care must be taken not to scrape the tile edges.
I did most of the grout removal close to the wall using the Dremel rotary tool with the 1/16″ grout removal bit. I kept it at the lowest speed and used two hands to steady it. The Dremel grout removal bit quickly ate right into the old grout.
I would do short bursts of grinding out the old grout and then switch to vacuuming the dust and debris. I wanted the joints as clean as possible.
I used a Bucket Head vacuum with the Ridgid Car Cleaning accessory kit for sucking up the old grout dust. I also used a painter’s tool to scrape out the loose debris inside the tile joints.
The grout saw was used to smooth over the rough spots on the old grout joints after using the Dremel.
I placed small, cordless portable work lights on the floor so that I could see what was going on.
I also wore a headlamp, but the Duracell portable work lights illuminated the work area well.
There was moisture where the old grout was removed, so I waited a week for the shower floor to dry completely before installing the new grout.
After a week passed and the shower floor was dry, I scraped the previously ground down grout joints with a painter’s tool to remove any remaining debris.
I also used a small wire brush to loosen any stuck particles. I then vacuumed the entire floor and joints.
HOW I RE-GROUTED USING SPECTRALOCK EPOXY GROUT
I had worked with Laticrete Spectralock Premium Epoxy Grout several years before when I remodeled a bathroom of my own. I liked that it is maintenance-free and that no sealing is ever necessary after installation. The epoxy grout is stain and mold-resistant and is very durable.
I mixed and applied the epoxy grout. I spent about six person-hours (In addition to the eight for grout removal), prepping, mixing, applying the grout, wiping the excess grout, and doing a complete clean-up.
The epoxy grout is a little different to work with than regular grout. It has less working time, and you need to use the wash packets or some vinegar in your rinse water to keep the epoxy from gumming up the tile sponge.
A grout float made for epoxy grout must be used. Inside the mini-unit plastic bucket kit, the manufacturer furnishes gloves, a sponge, instructions, part A and part B epoxy packets, and two cleaning solution packets. The grout color comes in another separately purchased carton (Part C).
Parts A and B mix together very quickly as two liquids. The part C colored sand that is added for body and color requires a little more effort to mix into the epoxy base.
I did all of the mixings by hand using a margin trowel and did not feel the need for a power tool to do the mixing. However, I only mixed one small pail at a time. With a larger bucket, a power mixer would be needed.
The working time for the grout is 80 minutes with a room temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Shorter working time if the temperature is warmer.
In addition to what was inside of the epoxy grout kit, I had on hand a bottle of vinegar, goggles, canvas drop cloth, a margin trowel, dust mask, portable work lights, three plastic 5-gallon buckets each with two gallons of water, clean rags, and one large tile sponge of my own.
I also had to buy an epoxy grout float tool for pressing the epoxy grout into the tile joints. I used my finger to smooth the corners with the latex gloves on.
If you plan to do a re-grouting job yourself, allow enough time to do it right. Between the handyman and myself, the grout removal took about eight person-hours.
If you are not used to it, this is back-breaking work. You are mostly on your hands and knees. You need knee pads.
Not only does the grout have to be loosened from the joint, but the dust and debris have to be removed before new grout can be installed.
If the old grout and floor are wet, wait several days for everything to be completely dry before installing the new grout.
You must begin applying the grout to the tile immediately after it is mixed. I recommend that you have all preparations made ahead of time so you can immediately start grouting after mixing. That includes having the buckets of water ready for the clean-up part.
Have everything set up on a canvas drop cloth or plastic tarp to avoid damaging the prep space floor.
Working in a small, confined space on my knees was uncomfortable and sometimes painful. I had a folded-up canvas drop cloth on the shower floor to soften the human-to-tile contact points.
A furniture pad would have been more comfortable but difficult to work with since I had to keep moving around to get into the grout joints with the tools and vacuum.
I wore my Skillers pants with the built-in knee pad pockets during the old grout removal and the new grout installation process.
I found that having the knee pads inside the pants pockets is more comfortable than wearing separate knee pads around the outside of my pants. I also never have to readjust them during the day, though my pants require occasional readjusting.
I don’t think Skillers work clothes are sold in North America anymore. I know they are sold under a different brand name in Europe. However, Amazon does have an assortment of other work pants with built-in knee pads.
The curing time for the Spectralock Pro Premium Epoxy Grout is fourteen days at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Shorter cure time if warmer. For the 2-inch square floor tile 3 feet wide x 5 foot long, 1.5 buckets of grout were used. Tile thickness was 1/4,” and the grout joints were 3/16″ or slightly less due to slope.
I used two mini-units consisting of 0.2 gallons (0.7 liters) part A & B buckets of Spectralock Pro Premium Grout and two 2 pounds (.9 kilogram) part C cartons.
When looking at grout removing blades and bits to purchase, consider the grout joint thickness. Get a blade that is thinner than the grout joint. You do not want to be nicking the tile while trying to remove grout.
While shopping in the store for grout removal bits, I found that details such as blade thickness are in tiny print or not available at all on some of the tool packaging.
TOOLS USED FOR RE-GROUTING A SHOWER FLOOR
Dremel Rotary Tool
Dremel Grout Removal Bit
Bucket Head Vacuum
Epoxy Grout Float Tool
Canvas Drop Cloth
Five Gallon Buckets (3)
Tile Sponge (2)
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT EPOXY GROUT
I saw this question about epoxy grout someone had posted on Fine Homebuilding Magazine’s website and thought you might be interested.
I found this unique item worth sharing during my online search for Dremel accessories: multi knife for Dremel oscillating multi-tool for cutting asphalt roof shingles and broadloom carpet.
If you have problems with your bathroom fan, see my blog post about bathroom fan repair and placement.