Removing Grout Haze on New Carrara Marble Tile Installation

QUESTION:

I just had my bathroom remodeled with white Carrara Marble with the grey veins running through. We accented it with the opposite, black tile with white veins. We put in on the shower walls, ceiling, bathroom floors and 1/2 up on some of the walls.


It looks absolutely gorgeous. The tile installer is supposed to come back this Saturday morning and seal the entire room. He told me to wash the walls down with 1 part white vinegar and 5 parts warm water before he comes by to remove all the residue of the grout. Is using vinegar correct or is there anything else that I should use?

ANSWER:

Ahhhhh.... NO! It is not correct and I'm amazed that a marble tile installer is telling you to put vinegar(a damaging acid) on your marble AND that he wants you to clean off the grout haze when it's his job to complete the install.

Vinegar would be okay to use on ceramic or porcelain for this purpose because it is acidic like most "grout remover" products.

But acidic foods/products like vinegar will etch marble and shouldn't be used for cleaning marble.

Etching is corrosion that eats at the marble destroying the shiny polished layer and exposing the more dull marble underneath so you get dull and light discolored spots.

Now if the marble tile has a rough honed or tumbled finish you wouldn't notice the etching as much as on a polished surface, but you still shouldn't use vinegar or any other acidic product on it.

I imagine that most of the marble tile you installed is polished though... correct?

You need to get a non-acidic grout remover product. I recommend using Soap Scum / Hard Water Remover, which is safe for use on marble as are all the products we recommend.

And I'd make the installer do all the work and don't make final payment until you are satisfied that the job is done correctly and
without damage.

Regarding sealing...

Marble tile is not very porous or absorbent and often does not need sealing especially polished marble, which often cannot be sealed because the sealer simply won't absorb.

This is a good thing. Means the marble will not readily absorb anything else either and will be very difficult to stain.

A couple other considerations:

1. You should wait at least 2-3 weeks before you seal any stone installation on a wall or floor to allow plenty of time for all moisture to evaporate from the stone and grout.

Not an issue with countertops since their underside is exposed.

2. Typically bathrooms aren't at much risk for staining, so sealing isn't that necessary especially in the marble shower.

The common wisdom is that you shouldn't seal stone in a wet environment like a shower since moisture could get trapped in the stone leading to degradation of the stone.

Plus, do you drink a lot of coffee and wine in the shower? Probably not and not many if any personal products stain and with all that water washing everything down the drain your risk of a stain in the shower is near zero unless you leave say a leaky bottle of an oily product in there.

The only surface I'd really consider sealing is the countertop, but remember it may not need or be able to take a sealer.

All you need to do is perform the water test to determine if you should or shouldn't seal the marble vanity.

Also, I'd consider sealing the marble flooring if honed and/or if testing says it should.

But you shouldn't apply a sealer "just to be safe." If you try to apply a sealer to a stone that doesn't need it, you often end up with a streaky haze (much like the grout haze) that must be stripped off... not fun.

If you do seal anything I'd recommend using recommended marble & granite sealers. They're the best for long-term marble maintenance.

Comments for Removing Grout Haze on New Carrara Marble Tile Installation

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How To Remove Grout Haze - Sealing Before Grouting
by: Anonymous

From what we were told is that the sealer is supposed to be done before the grout so the stone does not absorb the grout.

We did not do this and now the tile looks dull because we can't get the haze off. Any ideas on what to do next?

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

Yes, as the above article suggests you need to use the non-acidic Hard Water and Soap Scum Remover which also works great to remove grout haze.

Grout haze and hard water deposits are similarly stubborn and difficult to remove. You need a special formulation.

However, most grout haze removers are acidic and acids and other harsh cleaners will dull and damage the finish of your Carrara marble (or any marble).

The above product is made specifically for use on marble. It's very effective and safe (non-damaging) for use on marble.

The "applying the sealer before grouting" trick can be helpful and sometimes works, but it is more difficult to apply without the grout and then your grout is not sealed.

Sealing before grouting is smart when using a dark grout color with light-colored marble tile.

The edges of the tile are much more absorbent and if the grout color is dark, then the dark water from the grout will absorb into the edges of the tile and create a "picture frame" stain.

But when using a grout color similar to the tile color this is usually not an issue. But as for sealing to avoid grout haze...

It's debatable whether this method is worth the extra effort as the grout is not actually absorbing into the marble. At least not into the face of the marble tile.

If it did it would create a stain (as described above) and surface cleaning methods would not work at all with any product.

No... the grout haze is simply adhering very tenaciously to the surface and you need a particular type of cleaner to remove it.

The theory is that a sealer helps release the grout or doesn't allow the grout to stick to the surface. Again, it may help a little in this regard, but the best method is to diligently clean the grout residue from the marble tile surface while still wet.

It's impossible to remove the residue entirely, but if you wash the surface as well as possible (without ruining your grout lines) then the haze you do get is, generally, easy to remove since it will be a very thin layer.

But if a lot of grout haze remains, then cleaning with the above Hard Water product will remove it. You may have to apply it a few times letting it sit and soak for 10-15 minutes for a heavy haze but eventually, you'll get it all off.

If you have some of the product left over, it works great as a regular shower cleaner since soap scum and hard water are the primary cleaning issues in every shower.

Please read regarding sealers
by: Syrina

First, yes you do not want to use vinegar on natural stone, and your installer should know better and should do the work for you-that's what they get paid for!

As I read I began quite concerned regarding the info that is inaccurate.

I work as a designer and trainer for a major stone distributor and the info given regarding marble and sealing is inaccurate.

Polished vs honed marble, there is no absorption difference, only slight surface tension difference in the polished.

Sealer does not block the pores, it lets the stone breathe, what it does is gives the consumer a barrier.

If your surface comes in contact with a stain producing material, the barrier is not a guarantee but should in most cases block the immediate absorption.

Of course clean up any spills immediately. There are many shampoos and body washes that have concentrated coloring (thank you Bath and Bodyworks) in them, so using the sealer in the shower is still very helpful.

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

Thanks for your comments Syrina. The above article isn't meant to discuss every possible point to be made about sealers or marble, but we can discuss it more here.

Sealer technology is changing and you are correct that now some sealers do work by forming a molecular barrier that repels liquids.

But that is not the case with all sealers and for a long time sealers did basically work on a mechanical level by clogging the pores. Many still do.

Standard impregnating sealers are composed of a resin
dissolved in a solvent or water. The type of resin
determines the quality, durability, and cost of the sealer.

The water or solvent "carrier" of the resin evaporates after application leaving behind the resin, which hardens and clogs the pores.

This happens below the surface and no film is created.

The solidified resin blocks liquids keeping them on the
surface much longer giving you more time to clean the mess and prevent deep staining of the stone.

The stone can still breath because the resin does not completely block the pores and/or does not fill all pores allowing vapor to pass.

This is also why a stone can still stain if a liquid (like an oil) remains on the surface a long time. The pores are not completely blocked.

But as noted some newer sealers do work by creating a molecular repellant barrier. This repellant barrier increases the surface tension and is more effective but liquids can still pass given enough dwell time.

Regarding the absorbency of polished vs. honed marble...

It's well-known in the stone world that a polished stone surface will not absorb a liquid nearly as fast as the same stone with a honed surface.

Sometimes a honed travertine or marble that does absorb liquids will become nearly non-absorbent after it is polished.

We can argue the molecular dynamics if this is due to an increase in surface tension or whether the act of polishing the stone simply closes down the pores some.

Whichever it is you can easily test it for yourself and see if water or any liquid absorbs faster on a polished Carrara marble vs. a honed Carrara marble for example.

About sealing a shower...

True many shampoos and personal products used in the shower can stain. It's just that stains don't often occur in the shower. Water washes all those products and coloring down the drain.

Usually, a stain in the shower happens from a leaky bottle and not from normal use.

The point is simply that the risk of staining in a shower is much less than a countertop or floor so sealing a shower isn't as necessary. And there are situations where sealing shower tile can actually cause a problem.

But, in most cases, it's fine to do so and certainly it can be helpful as you point out especially on seats and shelves where products sit and liquids may dwell and potentially stain.

Grout haze removal
by: Anonymous

How long do we wait to use the haze cleaner on our Carrera marble?

=== Countertop Specialty comment:

Note that you should not be using a standard "grout haze remover" on Carrara marble or any marble. Most grout haze removers are acidic and will etch the marble dulling the surface and ruining the finish.

However, you can use the Hard Water and Soap Film Remover which works very well to remove grout haze and is made for use on marble and all stone. It won't harm your Carrara marble at all.

You don't have to wait at all to use it. You can start cleaning it right after the grout lines dry.

Grout Haze on Carrara Marble
by: Anonymous

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

We just had our Carrara marble backslash installed three days ago and we were told to use cheesecloth on day four to EASILY remove the grout haze film.

I tested a small area today with a regular cloth and it wasn't going anywhere!

I called the installer and he said to try the cheesecloth, but was concerned since he hadn't installed Carrara marble before, but I don't think its going to work.

I honestly thought we were going have to tear it out. Glad to know this isn't that major. I will definitely pick up your Hard Water / Soap Film / Grout Haze Remover product.

Marks on tiles after sealing
by: Anonymous

We recently installed granite countertops with a subway tile backsplash. While sealing the grout, a lot of sealer has marked the tiles. What can we use to remove the sealer from the tiles without
harming our granite countertops?

=== Comment:

Well, it depends on what you mean by "marks".

What can occur when sealing is a hazy film develops if the sealer is allowed to dry on the surface (which you should not do).

I'd test a leftover subway tile first, but clean the backsplash with acetone and a soft scrub brush. This will often remove sealer residue.

Sealing honed Carrara marble shower before grouting
by: Anonymous

Greetings,
What if you have used honed Carrara marble for the shower and bath floors? Should you seal before grouting? Thanks in advance.

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

Sealing marble tile prior to grouting doesn't guarantee that you won't get grout haze stuck on the surface.

It can often help, but not always successful, so not a great reason to go through the much more troublesome process of sealing prior to grouting vs. after.

Now, if your grout is a dark color, then it can be advantageous to apply a sealer before grouting to keep the grout color from absorbing into the edges and discoloring the marble. But most likely, you are using a light or white color grout.

Sealing a shower is typically not needed or recommended. The one exception would be Carrara marble (or other white marbles) that can often have embedded iron deposits.

If these deposits are close enough to the surface, they can be oxidized by water absorbed during a shower creating a rust stains.

Water absorbing during a shower is not an issue for any other stone. This water will evaporate, so sealing against it isn't needed. But, when occurring repeatedly on white / Carrara marble water absorption will corrode any iron deposit causing a yellow-brown rust stain.

Polished marble usually is too dense to be sealed and doesn't need it, but honed marble is more absorbent and will take a sealer.

In this case, I'd suggest applying a stone sealer after grouting (unless using dark grout) and you'll be fine.

If you do get grout haze, then use the SCP: Bath & Shower Soap Scum / Hard Water Remover recommended in the article & comments above (see links above).

This will remove the grout haze and you'll want to use this product as your regular marble-safe shower cleaner as well.... so double-duty from the same product!

removing urethane grout
by: Anonymous

Will this grout remover work on the residue left behind by urethane grout on polished marble?

Thanks.

==== Admin Comment:

Urethane grout is relatively new product and the grout remover has not been tested on it. It may work, but may not since urethane is a much different component than found in typical tile grout.

Removing Marble Haze
by: Anonymous

what if the marble was sealed to soon and there is a haze how do you remove that?

=== ANSWER:

The applied sealer is not an issue since it absorbs into the stone and does not form some type of coating over the surface (common misconception).

So, just like if it wasn't sealed use the Grout Residue / Hard Water / Soap Scum Remover, which is made specifically for use on marble tile (vs. typical "grout removers" that are acidic and will damage/etch marble).

Good Luck!

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