Bathroom 101: Why Does Grout Crack?

Gray tile grout in a home shower that has broken apart and needs repair. Cracked and split grout in a house shower corner between the wall and floor that needs fixing.

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If you are the type of homeowner who pays close attention to even the littlest of details, you might find that there are some sections of your bathroom grout that do not look as good as they once did. You might even find a crack or two, especially in joints where the wall meets the shower, tub, or floor. Cracks usually develop as a direct result of age, but they can also be a result of some problems during tile installation or while mixing the grout.


The Root Causes of Grout Cracks

When you do see grout cracks in joints, the root cause is usually the movements between two surfaces. Houses are constantly moving in tiny increments and this is a result of foundation settling, temperature, humidity and other factors. If the grout used in a bathroom is an inflexible material, cracks are likely to develop when a bathtub moves one way and the tile wall moves a different way.


There are also ways in which installation can end in cracked grouts, underscoring the importance of putting bathroom tile installation projects in the hands of trained, qualified installers. For instance, if grout is improperly mixed with too many additives or too much water, it could definitely leave air pockets once the grout has dried completely. These make the grout brittle and weak, leading to cracks.


Grout can also crack if there is too little adhesive used to install the tiles. Also, if a tile pulls away from the wall once the adhesive dries, it is up to the grout to hold it in place – that stress is now liable to cause more cracks.


Patch It Up

If you only have a few isolated areas of cracked grout, then you might be able to repair them yourself. The first step is to remove the old grout from the affected areas. If the grout is truly crumbling, then this might not take much effort. If, however, the grout is not coming out easily, you may use a grout saw or grout removal tool to help you with the job.


Then, choose a replacement that is less likely to crack such as silicone caulk. During the application process, make sure to follow the caulk’s directions down to the smallest detail. If you are in doubt, it is always best to call a professional.


A Fresh Start

Not all grout problems are easy to fix. If the cracking you are experiencing is widespread, too severe, or is caused by a major underlying installation problem, then you should call in a professional to have your situation assessed. If you are planning on having your bathroom remodeled, then our experts here at Hayes Plumbing can definitely help you out! Give us a call today!

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