We’ve been having some tile drama in our laundry room. But that’s not the only place where tiles are giving us trouble in this house. I’m talking about out master bathroom. (And check out this old picture! Still carpet in the hallway, bleh!)
Sure, seems nice enough if you look past the odd choice of pedestal sinks (who uses those anywhere but a powder room?) and the lack of a door. But what you don’t see in that picture are the dozens of places where the grout is badly cracked. Like here:
Is that a hair dryer in the shower you ask? Isn’t that dangerous? Yes and yes, but we’ll get to that in a later post. For now, take a good hard look at our cracks.
They are pretty severe. And they are EVERYWHERE.
This is most likely because of the foundation work done last December. The house gradually settled, the previous owner reno’d her bathroom, and then the foundation was fixed, everything got jiggled around, and all the corners in here developed fault lines.
One of our tiles near the shower entrance was so cracked it actually wiggled. That’s not a good sign because it’s susceptible to water getting back behind it (well, all our tiles with cracks are susceptible, but this one was particularly bad). So we decided to fix it. But it wasn’t a matter of just re-grouting. It had literally become detached from the thinset (the mortar-like concrete-y glue that holds tiles in place) that used to hold it to the wall, so we had to actually pop the whole thing off in order to get new thinset and put it back on correctly.
We knew things could get messy so before we did anything, we turned our bathroom into a Dexter kill room to keep the
blood spatter dust at bay.
Then we busted out our Dremel, flat head screw driver, and rubber mallet. There are a lot of tools you can use to pop off a tile but we decided to use what we had. We got the big chunks of grout off using the flat head as a chisel, banging it with the mallet. For the corner though, every time we chiseled we just forced the grout backwards into the crack. So Evan grabbed the Dremel and ran it up and down along the grout line until it gave way and loosened enough for us to detach the tile.
On a side note, definitely wear a mask and protective eye gear when doing this. We did not, and Evan (who was closer to the action) ended up with a scratchy throat and itchy eyes by the end of the night. To minimize dust, I held our little Dirt Devil right by the Dremel where he was working and that helped a little.
When we finally got the tile off, it was quite a mess back there. The green your seeing is green board, a type of drywall with a waxy film over it (the green part) that makes is slightly more water resistant. But it’s not really meant to be fully waterproof. Which is why when our crack let water in, it pretty much dissolved most the drywall behind this tile. Awesome. Also the orangey dots your seeing are rusty nails with rust-dyed drywall stuck to them. Double awesome.
The good news is the tile to the left (the one facing the shower entrance that the glass attaches to, you can see the side of it in this picture) looks like it’s stuck onto hardibacker. We think. We’re noobs at this so we’re not 100% sure, but we took a chunk of it to Home Depot and they said that’s what it was.
I scraped off the remaining drywall with a putty knife and here’s what I was left with. It was starting to look a little better.
So we got the tile off… now we just have to figure out how to put it back on. Hmmm. Should be interesting.
To make things even more interesting, we figured we might as well work on patching all our cracked grout and caulk while we’re stuck showering in the guest bathroom anyway! (Obvious tip… if you’re doing to try something like this don’t shower in that bathroom for a while or you’re just asking for a huge mess. The place needs to be bone dry).
So we started chipping away at the grout a bit. We bought this grout saw that’s supposed to help. To re-grout, you need to grind away 2/3 of the thickness of the old grout so that the new stuff has something to hold onto.
They make it sound easier than it is, like you just swipe it a few times down the grout line and you’re done! It takes a little more elbow grease than that, but eventually you do wear the grout away.
And for bigger chunks of grout we used the flat-head-as-a-chisel technique again. (We have varying thicknesses of grout everywhere. Whoever was hired to grout our bathroom did a sloppy job).
So we’ve made a bit of progress but we have a loooonnnnnng way to go. This project is turning into be quite a handful and time drain. But we’ll keep you posted!