Our subway tile wall in the kitchen/dining is complete and I can’t wait to share with you how it turned out.
While the tile guy was here I asked him to pop out a tile in our master bathroom shower.
In the past two years I have had about 6 tile “experts” over to give me their opinion. Every single one of them had a different scenario. A couple of them said, “Marble does that, I’d just leave it alone.” Others told me I wasn’t keeping up on sealing the tile properly (guilty). But most had really never really encountered it before. So we never were really sure what to do about it. My fear was that water had gotten behind the tile and mold was growing (eek). To my own defense, we take extra precaution with our showers. We squeegee after ever shower and towel down ledges. We decided to stop showering in that shower to see if it eventually would dry out so for the past four months we’ve been showering in the main bathroom. Nothing changed.
The other thing we noticed when the shower had a chance to fully dry was that the grout in the perimeter of the shower at the 90 degree angle had cracked. I don’t know why but this wasn’t as obvious when the shower was wet. Not even one of the six tile experts had noticed the cracked grout either (see, I wasn’t crazy). There are lots of different school of thought as to what kind of grout should be used at a seam or 90 degree angle. Some think it should all be sanded-non-sanded grout (that didn’t work), some say you should use siliconized acrylic grout in a tube (tried that and it eventually dried up and cracked), others will grout then up a layer of clear caulk over the top (I’m favoring that school of thought).
The other thing we discovered…
Natural stone has natural fissures. You have to look really hard because they disguise themselves as the natural gray veining. I literally had to get my face 6 inches from this tile to see that what looked like a vein was actually the tiniest of hairline fissure. Over time, water seeps through through. One reason I will NEVER use natural stone in bath or shower again. I will say that had this been ceramic or porcelain we wouldn’t have ever known there was a water issue happening because those materials don’t discolor. That’s the only silver lining here.
It took the tile guy about 30 minutes to pop that one tile out.
He wanted to be extra careful to not break any of the other surrounding tiles. No easy task.
What he uncovered was this.
Fortunately there was no mold growing however, everything was wet, even the insulation. We’re not sure if things were installed to code but at any rate, it looks like some of the materials were a bit cheap. Right or wrong, we’ve got a bigger problem on our hands that we didn’t anticipate. I believe the problem stemmed from the cracked grout at the 90 degree angles which allowed water to seep through and wick up the back of the wall.
Public Service Announcement Alert: If your grout starts cracking, repair it immediately. I actually wrote a whole post about this here.
Back to the problem…
Remove the bottom layer around the whole perimeter of the shower only and have it replaced.
Problem: We’re still left with taking a gamble on the marble which has proven to not be the best material for a shower.
It’s the best financial option for now but what if we have problems down the road again?
Rip everything out and start over with a different material. Marble is lovely but it’s soft, pourous and has natural fissures. If money were no option I’d do this and choose a shower pan that doesn’t mess around with grout. But who has a few thousand around to throw in to a shower again?
In all likely-hood, the shower will probably stay like this until we make a decision and the money tree in the backyard starts growing again in the spring. Argh. I’m done with being a grown up.
Anyone else have any issues with their marble?