Your bathroom is supposed to be a relaxing oasis. But if you start to notice the grout of your tile cracking, chipping, or crumbling, the bathroom can cause you more stress than serenity.
There are many causes of cracked grout, most commonly due to poor installation or movement of the surface beneath the tile. If the cracking is contained in a small area, it may be possible to patch the grout – otherwise, the tile will need to be removed and reinstalled.
What is grout?
Grout is a mixture of cement, water, colorant, and sometimes sand that is used to fill spaces between tiles. While grout plays some role in holding the tile in place – whether on the wall or floor – it is different from the material that is applied behind the tile, which is called thin-set mortar. Grout requires sealing or cleaning to prevent the grout lines from collecting dirt or mildew.
What causes grout to crack?
After the grout is applied and dries, it becomes hard and rigid, and can develop cracks over time. A few common causes of grout cracks include:
- Improper mixture – If the grout wasn’t mixed properly before installation, such as having too much or not enough water, the application won’t be as strong as intended.
- Foundation settling – It’s normal for a home’s foundation to settle into the ground and shift ever so slightly over time. A common sign of this is small cracks in the wall, which are not always a cause for alarm. Likewise, the small shifts can put extra pressure on tile grout, causing it to crack.
- Unsealed grout – Grout is a porous material. So if it’s used in a bathroom (especially a shower), it needs to be sealed. If left unsealed, moisture can work its way into the grout, which can cause cracks or water damage beneath the tile.
- Inexperienced installation – While ceramic tile is a durable surface, it requires a number of installation steps, from preparing the sub-surface to carefully placing the tile. If any of these steps are off, the bathroom tile may fail.
How to fix cracked grout
When the grout of your bathroom tile is showing cracks, there are two routes you can take to fix it.
- Patch – If the cracks are only in one or a few areas, it could be possible to repair those specific sections and leave the rest of the grout. You may need a grout saw to remove all of the affected pieces. Vacuum out small pieces and dusty before applying to grout into the lines.
- Full replacement – In the event that the grout has significant cracks or is crumbling, it’s a sign that there’s a larger problem with the tile. Patching it up will likely be a temporary fix, and the underlying issue will cause the grout to crack again. Unfortunately, you may need to remove the existing tile and have new tile and grout installed by a professional.
Bathroom renovations in Northwest Houston
If you have to repair or replace the tile in your bathroom, now may be a good time to also update some old plumbing fixtures. For help turning your bathroom back into the spa-like experience it should be, call Rooter-Man Plumbers today at 281.351.4422.