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Help! Pebble Tile & Grout Problems

Cheryl Bush
4 years ago
last modified: 4 years ago

We spent a small fortune having our master bath totally remodeled two months ago. The entire room was gutted down to the studs and made larger. We had a shower constructed with marble walls and a sliced pebble floor.

We had our contractor follow the tile suppliers instructions about using unsanded grout and sealing before & after grouting. Once it was done it took about a week of washing to get the chalky dust off everything. It was only then that I could then see near the drain a little of the blue rubber liner and a few bits of black thread from the backing the pebbles were also showing up through the grout.

At the time, I thought maybe they were just a few long stray bits. He also left quite a bit of grout haze on the tile & stones and pencil arrow marks, which only went away after I had a professional natural stone cleaning service come out a couple weeks ago. I know they only used ph neutral, enzymatic cleaners meant for stone and everything was done by hand with a soft pad, nothing highly abrasive or using machinery. That company literally only does natural stone so they are experts on how to deal with it. They also resealed it to be on the safe side. The pebbles finally look nice, but the grout is still a problem.

While the contractor did slant the floor towards the drain, we still get a good deal of water between some stones that doesn't drain away. We've been wiping it down with a squeegee and a chamois after every single shower to try to keep it dry, but we're still getting pink Serratia marcescens on the grout in various spots.

I tried dish soap, which did nothing, then a "for natural stone" deep cleaner and nylon brush just once, which helped a bit, but it just keeps coming back. It's almost impossible to get every drop of water between the stones. Now I'm also seeing areas on the floor by the walls where the grout has worn away and cracking, despite not even having brushed around there.

I also noticed more of those backer threads have appeared.

This doesn't seem normal to me in such a short span of time. Did our contractor not put enough grout? Do I need him to come back and re-grout the whole thing? I don't want him to just patch some spots if this is going to continue to happen everywhere else.

I'm feeling super frustrated because you have to be able to clean a shower floor that gets daily use, yet it seems like literally everything damages either the stone or the grout. I've been very careful using only the things recommended for caring for these stones, but either the install is the issue or even these "safe" methods aren't. We literally waited a decade to have a shower in there, so all these issues right out of the gate are driving me crazy. Would really appreciate some advice on what to do about the grout and what to clean with going forward.

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