Biggest Contractor Mistake When Grouting

by Michael Lam | Jul 07, 2015


Often times, general contractors have many things on their plate. They worry about the bigger scheme of things and final presentation. What separate high quality contractors from the average contractors is the detail. Does the contractor really care about the quality of the work? There are many areas in general contracting to look out for. This article will focus on the most common mistakes I’ve seen with contractors when it comes to grouting tiles.

There is that common saying that “you get what you pay for” and in most cases it’s really true. But in other cases you can get the same value paying less. Everyone shopping around for best prices is looking for just that: Getting value out of what they pay for without being ripped off.

Below is an example of a finished job from a contractor. This contractor would be considered “average” in pricing in the area we had this serviced.

Grout Issue_Resize_Before

On the surface it looks great. And if you’re the client inspecting this work, you might be inclined to sign off, pay what is owed, and be done with the project. However, there is something you can’t easily tell with the naked eye. Ask yourself, “What’s the durability of this completed job?” Durability primarily depends on how tiles are laid but it is also just as important how they are “protected”.

To protect tiled work, you have to put grout sealer. A grout sealer provides resistance to liquids penetrating the grout and deteriorating it. Deteriorated grout will then cause open holes to manifest between tiles. This then opens the door for moisture to penetrate underneath the tile and cause molding or other issues that come from moisture untreated.

A very quick and simple way to test if your grout has been sealed is to do a quick water test. A lot of times you don’t even need a lot of water. If you want to do a quick test, use a faucet and wet your index finger and touch the grout. The below image shows what happens after you touch unsealed grout with a wet finger.

Grout Issue_Resize_After

You will notice immediately that the grout changes color and darkens. This tells me that the water penetrated the grout. To further test you can take a spray bottle and spray over larger area of grout to see if beads of water drip down or if it penetrates the grout. What you’ll find out with untreated grout is that any liquid that touches the grout gets consumed by the grout. This deteriorates the grout over time and allows for cracks to appear must faster and earlier. does a good job of discussing in details about testing grout sealer:

What to do?

The good news is that this can easily be fixed. All you need to do is go to Home Depot and buy a sealer I’ve used for years renovating homes, called 511 Impregnator.


Need help on how to put on sealant? Not a problem. There will be video shortly to show you how to do this. You can know immediately when this video is up by subscribing to Real Estate Whisper newsletter. Subscribe by clicking on the floating “Subscribe” bar to the right of screen or entering your email below.

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