Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I hate grout and so should you

I had a choice: go outside and start planting seeds, or stay inside and grout the bathroom tile. I chose... poorly.

See, last week I was stuck at home for a day when my car went kablooey. So I decided to start The Great Grouting Project in our upstairs bathroom. The grout and caulk was getting icky in places, so we had decided to be responsible homeowners and fix it all. Thus, last Wednesday I got out my shiny new grout scraper thingie and scraped out all the old grout, just like my Reader's Digest Home Repair box told me to. It was time consuming, but otherwise an easy job. My confidence level grew.

The caulk was not willing to go so easy into that good night, however. I had thought it would just peel right on off. I was mistaken. In fact, I gave up for the day and moved on to other things. Yesterday, however, I returned to the task after work, and between me, the utility knife, a giant screwdriver, and the paint scraper, I managed to get the old goo off. Huzzah! Another triumph of home repair.

Now the fun part (paraphrased): "Spread the grout on the tile and work it into the spaces, scraping off the excess with the grout trowel thingie, then wiping off the residue with a damp cloth." Reader's Digest even provided a photo of a big clean hand applying grout to tile, and a second photo of the same big clean hand wiping away the practically invisible residue.

Maybe I should have known better. After all, wasn't Reader's Digest famous for its condensed books series? Perhaps I should have anticipated that they might "condense" their home improvement instructions as well. In any case, Reader's Digest certainly left out some critical information in their step-by-step instructions. For instance, they failed to mention that:
  • Grout absolutely does NOT want to be applied to a tile wall. 
  • Grout wants instead to drop in giant glops into the bathtub and onto your feet to escape such a fate as being applied to a tile wall. 
  • Grout that does stick to the tile wall will resist working its way into the spaces between the tiles.
  • When you use your grout trowel thingie to scrape off the excess grout, grout will cling to the tile for dear life.
  • The "residue" that you're supposed to wipe off with a damp cloth ends up being a pretty thick layer of grout, and your damp cloth will be immediately covered in it. And still leave a substantial layer of grout behind. 
  • Which is hardening just as fast as it can. 
  • You better get some wet sponges fast or your tile wall is going to be permanently stuccoed.
  • Also, it looks like you were mixing cement in the bathtub.
Luckily for me (and unluckily for him), Mulch Boy got home just as I was ready to declare the bathroom ruined forever, and between the two of us (and several buckets of water and sacrificial sponges), we managed to get the mess cleaned up before everything really WAS ruined forever. So that's good news.

The bad news is: I have to grout that third wall in the tub tonight.


  1. I've been considering a re-grouting project myself. You've now firmly talked me out of it. Go plant some seeds!

  2. Tiling _looks_ like it should be fun.

    It's not.


  3. @Susan: It is SO not fun!

    @Cherry Lane: That is my plan once this suddenly cold weather blows away, and now that I finished the grouting job last night.