Common Tile, Stone and Grout Problems

White residue, stains on tiles

Efflorescence-treated-by-tile-rescue

Known as ‘Efflorescence’ white stains appearing on the surface of tiles is caused by water penetration underneath stone or tiles. The minerals in the water crystalise, which results in white residue appearing on the surface of tiles. Efflorescence is generally a porous tile issue, however it clusters of the crystals often appear on grout joints due to grout being a highly porous substance. The source/cause of the efflorescence needs to be identified and addressed by a leak detection expert, or tile and grout specialist, before spending the time and money on the removal of the calcium deposits. Using the wrong products on tiles and grout can be costly and disastrous.

Milky, cloudy surface on tiles

A cloudy appearance on tiles often means the wrong cleaning product for that type of tile has been used. In more serious cases, a milky appearance on tiles can be the result of the incorrect sealer being applied to tiles, or a sealer has been applied to non-porous tiles. In these situations, the offending sealer must be stripped by an experienced operator. Serious, permanent damage can be caused to tiles and grout by using the wrong products!

Stained, dirty floor grout

All grout is a porous, and stains instantly and often permanently. Believe it or not, stained or dirty grout is often caused by the cleaning process. As the grout joints sit lower than the tiles, dirt and other contaminants are pushed into the grout joints during the process or scrubbing or mopping tiles.

In damp or wet areas, such as showers and bathrooms, the penetration of grime into the porous grout joints becomes a breeding ground for mould and bacteria. The solution is to have the grout sealed by a professional, who can advise of the right sealing solution for your tiles and situation. In general, local hardware sealing products are not a long term solution, and are often applied incorrectly. Before any grout sealant is applied, grout needs to be ‘prepared’, and the product must be compatible with your tiles. Applying the wrong sealer to tiles can result in costly, often irreparable damage.

Mould in shower

Shower and bathroom mould growth is probably the most common, annoying and frustrating tile-related problem. Mould is a product of it’s environment. Wet and high humidity areas with poor ventilation provide the perfect breeding ground for mould. Soap residue and body oils also create a food source for mould to grow.

Many people don’t realize that mould growth in showers is often caused by a leak somewhere in the recess. Even a small hole in the grout, or cracks in the shower corners quickly lead to water build-up and mould ingress.

Once mould develops in porous grout joints, no amount of scubbing with caustic chemicals will resolve the problem – at least not any longer than a week. In fact, the use of mould-killing chemicals actually damages the grout by disintegrating or ‘eating’ it which makes matters far worse. Showers with frequent growth of mould spores need to be assessed by a leak detection or shower repair expert. The source of the mould needs to be identified, and rectified before you can adopt a new mould management strategy! See Tile Rescue’sHot Tips’ page for tips on minimizing mould growth.

Shower is leaking

Leaking showers are one of the most common issues found in both new and older homes. Natural building movement is the primary cause, however there are several other common causes, such as a failed waterproofing membrane, aged or damaged grout, cracks in corners, failed seals, loose tiles, leaking taps/shower head, and leaking pipes etc.

Bottom line – never ignore a leaking shower! Even if you ‘suspect’ your shower is leaking, call an expert to assess the shower. Neglecting leaks inevitably leads to serious and costly damage to your property both internally and structurally.

Visit our Leaking Shower Repair page for guidance.

Visit our Hot Tips page for how to identify a leaking shower.

Hairline cracks in tiles

Small cracks, also known as ‘crazing’ can sometimes appear in the glazed surface of tiles, and is considered an inherent property of ceramic tiles. Aside from the visual effect, crazed tiles are not prone to more serious problems – unless they need to be removed, or the grout needs to be removed/replaced. Grout removal can cause a crazed surface to crack further, or easily break if the tiles fall. Generally speaking, a crazed tile surface does not mean there is a crack through the tiles.

Loose, drummy floor tiles

‘Drummy’ or hollow tiles is generally an often an installation issue. It generally means the tile adhesive does not have a good bond between the tiles and the wall or floor, or there are gaps where adhesive is missing under the tiles.

Drummy or hollow sounding tiles will inevitably break, crack or lift from the surface. If there has been excessive movement of the wall or floor, this should be identified and taken into account at the installation stage – not after! In some cases, drummy tiles can be rectified by having an experienced repairer inject adhesive under the tiles, but in many cases, the only way to fix the problem is to re-tile.

Stained, dirty tiles

Spots, stains and dirty tiles a occur in many different scenarios. If the tiles are porous, they will always stain – often permanently. Textured tiles will often retain dirt particles in the surface of the tiles, however certain cleaning products and processes can assist with managing the problem.

Porous tiles must be sealed, however it is crucial that an experienced tile and grout expert is engaged to determine the best solution. Never seal non-porous tiles. Unless you are certain if your tiles are porous or not – call an expert to advise you. Using the wrong products on stone, tiles and grout is very common – and very costly!

Visit our Tile & Grout Sealing page for more information.

Shower tiles changed colour

All tiles can absorb moisture, and how much absorption is dependent on the structure of the tile. If water penetrates behind shower tiles, it soaks into the ‘biscuit’ and changes the colour of the tile. There are several causes of water penetration and build-up behind tiles, with the most likely cause being a leak in the shower, due to damaged corner joints, leaking taps and/or missing grout.

A Leak in the shower is a serious problem, and can quickly get worse. The longer a leaking shower is ignored, the greater the damage to the property both structurally (timbers, flooring) and internally (walls, carpets). Once repaired, the tiles dry naturally and the tile colour will return to normal.