Should cracked or loose grout be replaced?

Most of the time cracked or loose grout signals a problem with your substrate or adhesive failure. Rerouting will not solve the problem. You need to look further in to how firmly the tile is bonded to the substrate

 Should Epoxy Grout or Cementitious Grout be used?

Epoxies are more costly but offer stain resistance, durability and color uniformity. Epoxy grout never needs to be sealed therefore requires less maintainance, unlike cementitious grout that needs to be sealed. For Kitchen Floors and Back splashes, Epoxy grout should be considered as the joint filler

Is it Normal for the joints in my shower stall to turn to powder?

If this occurs soon after the tile work is completed, it is most likely contributed to faulty material or installation. If the tile work is older, it may be due to harsh cleaning agents , especially bleach used over a long period of time.

 I purchased ceramic tile for my home recently and was told that it had a 3 rating. What does that mean?

Tiles have a PEI rating. The Porcelain Enamel Institute scale is an abrasion rating ranging from 0-5.

PEI 0 = No foot traffic- for use on walls only

PEI 1 = Very low traffic- master bath

PEI 2 = Light Traffic- bathroom areas, bedrooms

PEI 3 = Light and Moderate Traffic- entries and kitchens

PEI 4 = Moderate to Heavy Traffic- residential entry, kitchen, and light commercial

PEI 5 = Heavy Traffic- commercial or institutional floor

  What is the best material to use when applying tile?

Different substrates are used for different functionality.

If tiling over plywood you will need a minimum of 2 layers of 5/8 “exterior plywood for a base. Many contractors are now using OBS plywood which is most often used outdoors because of it s resilience to the elements. But because of this treatment there can be a bonding issue when used for a base for tile. SO before you proceed you need to be sure that your adhesive will bond with the substrate material used.

If tiling over cement board this substrate will provide you with a denser floor that is water resistant. This is the right choice when installing ceramic tile or natural stone in high moisture areas such as the bathroom or shower. The cement board should be secured with 1/8 “gaps between each sheet and screwed every 6 inches . Modified thinset should be applied to the subfloor before applying the cement board.

 What is the best substrate to use for shower walls?

The best substrate for a ceramic tile or natural stone shower stall would be a cement type board which is water resistant and will stand up to the high moisture conditions found in the bathroom

When framing your shower make sure your corners have enough surface for attaching the substrate material. If not placing your substrate and trying to fasten it to your studs your will mushroom the edge of your board. This will create a bump and not secure your substrate properly to your studs.

When fastening your substrate use screws versus nails . They fasten your substrate better and more securely.

When using any fastening material that is not suitable for moisture the material should be painted with a waterproof material. This is a precaution taken to make sure there will be no bleed from the fastener through the stone finish. This is sometimes a factor in a shower curb which is a horizontal surface.