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Al's Column: Restoring porcelain’s luster

March 27/April 3, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 21

By Donato Pompo


Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.39.49 AMHere at Ceramic Tile & Stone Consultants (CTaSC) we field a lot of questions from retailers and consumers alike about restoring the surface of porcelain tile products, which are growing in popularity. Following is a customer’s recent inquiry about how to remove common grout haze from unfinished porcelain tile:

The grout haze and residue was allowed to cure and dry on the porcelain tile for 11 days before any attempt for removal of this product. After three days of cleaning the floor, I still have a dull residue and dripping spots on a large portion of the tile. (Do you think the grout haze and residue remained on the porcelain tile too long to affect the cleaning process? If so, what would be considered an adequate time frame to start removing the grout haze and residue from the tile?)

All materials were installed on a concrete slab—1,030 square feet tiled, three bedrooms with closets and a living room. The tile—Crossville Moonstruck Series Luna and Juno 12 x 24 unpolished with cross-sheen product—is a rectified tile and porcelain installed over Laticrete Fracture Ban 40 mil membrane with the recommended floor primer. The mortar used for the installation of the tile was Mapei Ultraflex 1.

The grout width is 1⁄8 inch thick and the brand used is a Bostik TruColor rapid cure grout. The grouting process was completed on Feb. 17, 2017, by the installers.

On Feb. 28, I first attempted to remove the haze and residue with Bostik Blaze. But there is still a dull residue and shiny dripping spots on the tile.

I would appreciate your advice on fixing this issue.

Dear homeowner:
It’s important to note there is always a grout haze after grouting a tile. For cementitious grouts, the haze should be polished off with a dry clean cheese cloth soon after the tile surface dries. If you wait too long the haze can be very difficult to remove.

Sometimes the haze could be a latex residue from the polymers in the grout or thin-set mortar. There are special removers of latex haze that can be bought from the various tile and stone cleaning and sealing manufacturers. Check the CTaSC Resource Directory at

However, it isn’t clear what the drip marks are. If you used a very corrosive acid to try to clean the tile it could possibly etch the surface. If it is etched the only thing you can do is get a professional stone restoration company to hone the surface.

If it is a cementitious haze, you can use some diluted vinegar or diluted phosphoric acid and scrub it with a 3M pad to remove the haze. In situations where the haze is more difficult to remove, use a scrubber with water and detergent with silica sand. Note: This can only work if the product is an unglazed or unpolished porcelain tile. You can never perform these steps on a polished tile, so it’s important to know what you’re working with. Always test the scrubbing method in an out-of-the- way spot before you apply it to the floor.

There is a condition called optical haze that can occur on some polished tiles that gives it a sort of cloudy appearance when the light shines on it at a certain angle. But that isn’t known to happen on an unpolished tile.

If all else fails, there are stone restoration companies that can deep clean and refinish stone and some tile floors. Make sure they are credible and qualified with a lot of experience.


Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.38.38 AMDonato Pompo, CTC CMR CSI CDT MBA, is the founder of CTaSC and a leading stone forensic expert and consultant in North America.






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Custom enhances mobile access to product information

custombuildingproducts-logoHuntington Beach, Calif.–Custom Building Products recently unveiled a “made for iPad” version of its interactive mobile app and optimized its website for all mobile devices. The increased availability of product and service information through mobile technology allows Custom to effectively and efficiently accommodate the needs of tile installers, contractors, specifiers, architects, designers, distributors, retailers, homeowners and other customers.

Built for use on iPhones, iPads and Android tablets and smartphones, the free Custom mobile app provides a robust menu of interactive options that are helpful for installing, protecting and maintaining tile and stone. The Custom Building Products mobile-optimized website features navigation that directs contractors, distributors, architects, designers and homeowners through a customized user-experience. Both mobile resources feature the following elements.

  • Products: descriptions with features and benefits; technical data sheets and safety data sheets that can be downloaded or e-mailed to the user or shared with an associate
  • Color Selector: color options for all of Custom’s grouts including Fusion Pro, Prism, CEG Lite, CEG-IG, Polyblend and SimpleGrout
  • Material Calculator: helps users determine the correct amount of surface prep material, setting material and grout based on surface area, tile and stone dimensions, and grout joint thickness
  • Videos: Custom’s video library including its Top 5 Tips series
  • Where to Buy: geo-targeted locations that sell Custom and Aqua Mix products
  • Contact Us: one-touch access to customer service and technical support by phone and email
  • Search: product identification and access based on key search terms

Visit Custom Building Products’ website to learn more.

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Bostik re-introduces Hydroment Vivid at KBIS 2017 and Surfaces 2017

bostikWauwatosa, Wis.—Bostik will re-introduce Hydroment Vivid, a rapid curing, premium grade, cement-based grout for the most demanding kitchen and bath projects, at The International Surface Event on Jan. 18-20 in Las Vegas (booth #4506), and at KBIS 2017 in Orlando, Fla. (booth #S5246).

Hydroment Vivid offers consistent color technology with enhanced stain and efflorescence protection. It is fiber reinforced for increased crack resistance and non-sag properties. Hydroment Vivid’s rapid curing trait makes it ready for foot traffic in just four hours. Additionally, Hydroment Vivid exceeds requirements of ANSI A118.7 and contains Bostik’s patented Blockade Antimicrobial Protection.

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Latest grouts help facilitate faster application for professional mechanics

September 12/19, 2016: Volume 31, Number 7

By K.J. Quinn

Choosing the right grout is a critical element of any ceramic tile and stone installation, experts say. Technological advances are triggering the development of products that last longer, enable faster installation and help ensure easy maintenance over the lifetime of the surface.

“Today’s tiles are larger, grout joints are smaller and end users expect higher grout performance,” said Tony Pasquarelli, director of marketing, Custom Building Products. “Stain-proof, color-consistent grouts that are easy to install and require no sealing are quickly becoming the new standard.”

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-3-35-59-pmAs tile sizes get larger and joints become narrower, grouts need to be more fluid in consistency for ease of installation and deeper penetration to avoid shrinkage. “Ardex grouts have a different type of polymer technology than what has been typically available in North America containing very fine aggregate but still deliver outstanding strength,” noted Russ Gaetano, marketing manager, tile and stone installation systems. “Stain resistance and color consistency are very important components, and they have self-contained sealers that don’t require a grout sealer.”

Finding tile grout that withstands the test of time is an ongoing challenge for installers. While the basic functionality of the product remains largely unchanged—filling in joints between floor and wall tiles, preventing the edges from chipping or cracking, and maximizing the beauty of tile—suppliers continue tinkering with formulations to keep up with ever changing tile formats. New polymers and chemistries are allowing manufacturers to design rapid-setting grouts with enhanced performance characteristics while maintaining ease of installation.

“Premium grouts are more color consistent than ever before allowing a more worry-free installation,” said Michelle Swiniarski, market manager, ceramic installation systems, Bostik. “They offer enhanced stain, crack and chemical resistance making them easier to maintain and more aesthetically pleasing during the life of the installation.”

Ease and speed of installation are critical components for any tile contractor, especially in markets with high labor rates. This has helped accelerate introductions of more single-component grouts, where grouting and cleanup are measurably faster, industry members say.

“These materials have greater performance and colorfastness than their traditional cementitious counterparts and offer a kind of half-step between cement and epoxy grouts,” said Ryan Fasan, technical consultant, Tile of Spain.

Custom’s Fusion Pro Single Component Grout is warrantied to be stain proof and color perfect, making it ready to use from the get-go. “The single component grout is factory mixed, so there is no need to add water, mix on site or allow for slake time,” Pasquarelli said, adding it is easy to spread and does not require sealing. “Plus, you install then clean immediately, which is a huge benefit on typical jobs.” Fusion Pro comes in 40 standard colors, and eight Fusion Pro Designer Series options offer reflective color accents.

High performance, pre-mixed grouts reportedly combine the strength, durability and suitability attributes of cement-based and epoxy grouts for use in commercial spaces. “Premium, fast curing pre-mixed and cement-based grouts are the largest growing trend,” Bostik’s Swiniarski said. “End users are looking for premium performance characteristics, and contractors are looking for speed and ease of installation.”

These products are easy to use and attractive to the growing influx of installers new to the tile trade. “All pre-mixed grouts are polymer resin-based or urethane-based,” said Tom Plaskota, technical support manager, TEC. “Pre-mixed grout tends to be resistant to stains, cracks and shrinking.” TEC InColor Advanced Performance Tile Grout, available in 17 colors, is a high-performance, pre-mixed product applicable for residential or commercial usage, inside or outdoors.

Dimension RapidCure, a glass-based, pre-mixed grout, conveys a reflective appearance.
Dimension RapidCure, a glass-based, pre-mixed grout, conveys a reflective appearance.

Grout comes in various colors, and specification often is determined by the width of the tile joints. For example, unsanded grout—made from a blend of Portland cement and powdered pigments mixed with water—is recommended for floor and wall tiling projects with joints spacing from 1⁄16 to 1⁄8 inch. Sanded grout is typically used for larger joints and consists of a cement-based mortar with small sand grains added to it to help when setting.

“There are even grouts that offer atomized glass beads of different colors, and even metallic, specifically for glass mosaic installations,” Fasan pointed out. “Some of the finer aggregate grouts are even safe for glossy finishes, depending on the hardness rating of the glaze. [This] helps alleviate the necessity of using non-sanded varieties that can be much more difficult in cleanup and frequently have shrinkage issues if too much wash water is used.”

In the cement grout category, new, higher performing cement grouts are growing rapidly in popularity. “They are rapid curing and more color consistent and efflorescence resistant than a standard cement grout while remaining easy to clean during the installation process,” Swiniarski said. “They also offer enhanced stain resistance. Their drying speed allows the installation to be opened up to traffic much sooner than a standard grout and are easier to maintain.” Bostik’s Hydroment Vivid, a rapid curing, premium-grade and cement-based grout, offers consistent color technology with enhanced stain and efflorescence protection for demanding commercial and residential projects.

Epoxy grout, considered a premium product and available in sanded and non-sanded formulations, offers water-resistant properties and can be utilized for virtually any tile application. Ardex WA is marketed as the easiest to apply and clean epoxy grout available.

“It has a very creamy consistency unlike any other epoxies and cleans off with only water, leaving minimal or no haze for the final cleaning,” Gaetano explained. “Ardex WA can also be used as tile adhesive for use in pools and other difficult environments.”

Indeed, grout is becoming much more specialized. Vendors are making them lighter in weight and easier to handle. And in the case of cementitious grouts, advances have been made to all but eliminate color inconsistencies. “With our new Permacolor Select, we can now offer thousands of custom colors within two weeks at a very small minimum, allowing designers no limit to their creative juices,” said Ryan Blair, product manager, grouts and sealants, Laticrete. Sealing of the cementitious grout is not required, thanks to new sealer technology incorporated into the base material, which saves on installation time and labor costs.

In reformulating their products, producers are mindful about the impact grouts have on the environment and meeting sustainable building design requirements. Manufacturers publish a list of low-VOC setting materials to aid in occupant health and safety concerns. “More and more grouts are exhibiting zero or low VOCs,” Plaskota said. “In addition, ready-to-use grouts allow grout to be resealed and used for future jobs, which reduces product waste.”

There are grouts that incorporate partially recycled content, if that is a consideration for a project. “We are currently looking into renewable resources as a large basis of our raw materials for many of our products,” Laticrete’s Blair said. “This change will happen in the near future.”

The use of recycled content adds a green component to these traditional products. For instance, Custom’s Prism Grout contains up to 15% post-consumer recycled content by weight. Prism is part of Custom Building Products’ Build Green and Emerald programs, which promote sustainability.

“To an installer, this lightweight component makes Prism easy to work [with],” Pasquarelli said. “Design professionals and end users find it ideal when they are seeking environmentally conscious installation solutions.”




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H.B. Fuller Construction Products introduces TEC Power Grout RTU grout

H.B. Fuller Construction Products recently launched its latest innovation, TEC Power Grout RTU grout. The ready to use, ultimate performance, premixed grout has many of the benefits of epoxy and urethane grouts without the installation challenges.

In one easy to use premixed version, Power Grout RTU grout’s innovative formulation yields high chemical, UV and stain resistance and strong, color-consistent joints. Its rapid cure allows water exposure within three days and full water submersion within seven days. The product can be installed in saunas and steam rooms and within submerged areas like swimming pools and fountains. Continue reading H.B. Fuller Construction Products introduces TEC Power Grout RTU grout

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Today’s ceramic glues are better, more efficient than ever before

“It’s not your grandmother’s linoleum” is a line that has become quite prevalent in recent years as the offerings in resilient flooring have evolved into fashion-forward, state-of-the-art, high-performance products. It can also be applied to ceramic tile, as technology continues to play a major role in advancing the segment, as well as tile adhesives. Continue reading Today’s ceramic glues are better, more efficient than ever before