Grout or Caulk: Tile Backsplash Solutions | Ep. 106

Ceramic tile backsplash with granite countertop in a modern kitchen
StudioLightAndShade (DepositPhotos)
  • [1:33] What to know when painting an old house
  • [8:56] Tips for re-grouting in the kitchen
  • [13:03] Home Depot Best New Product – Lifeproof Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring
  • [14:52] Can you re-stain or paint hardwood flooring?
  • [20:28] Which insulation is better: open cell or closed cell?
  • [28:28] Simple Solution: How to cut vinyl siding or thin plastic with a circular saw
  • [30:38] Question of the Week: How do you take masonry paint off a cement block foundation and replace it with surface bonding cement?

A lot of homeowners notice grout separating from the wall between the tile backsplash and their countertop. And they’re left wondering how to fix that separation: with grout or caulk under the tiles.

That’s the case for Gary in Ohio. He had his kitchen remodeled 15 years ago, with granite countertops and a ceramic backsplash.

With time, along the length of the counter, the grout has separated from the tile. Now, Gary wants to know whether to repair the gap between the granite and tile with grout or caulk that matches the present grout’s color.

Granite is a very heavy natural material, and it’s sitting on wooden cabinets, so there’s bound to be some movement and settling. Especially when you add heavy pots with lots of water.

The separation in Gary’s kitchen occurred on an exterior wall, which is particularly vulnerable to the usual expansion and contraction that occur with changes in humidity.

Whenever two different materials — in this case, granite and ceramic — meet, you should usually use caulk, not grout.

In Gary’s case, first, he needs to use a power tool, such as a grinder or an oscillating multi-tool with a carbide grit blade, to remove the hardened grout.

Then he needs to find countertop caulk that matches the backsplash or the countertop.

Listen to the Today’s Homeowner Podcast for more home improvement tips!


Simple Solutions

Clean Cuts in Vinyl Siding—Next time you cut vinyl siding with a circular saw or other thin plastic, try this trick: Put the saw blade on backward, so its teeth are facing back toward you. Now, when you cut the siding, the blade will produce a clean, chip-free edge.

Spot Cleaning Tip—Remove stubborn stains from upholstery and carpeting by making a spot cleaner from oxygen bleach powder (such as OxiClean). Put one tablespoon of oxygen bleach in one cup of hot water. Stir well until the oxygen bleach powder is completely dissolved. Dip a toothbrush into the spot cleaner and scrub the stain. Repeat, keeping the area wet for at least five minutes. Blot dry with paper towels and let dry.


Question of the Week

Q: I have an outside cement block foundation, and I had put masonry paint on it. Now, I want to take the paint off and replace it with a surface bonding cement. Any suggestions as to the easiest way to take the masonry paint off and then put the surface bonding cement on?

Also, what may be the best surface bonding cement? Or, should I just leave the paint on, and when I go over it again with paint, just scrape the loose stuff off and paint it again? The house is over 50 years old.

A: Danny suggests scraping the paint off and re-painting it again if you aren’t having a lot of failure with the paint. Joe points out that surface bonding cement is great for strengthening old block walls, but he would try to remove the paint first.

When you paint any kind of masonry, especially cement blocks, the paint soaks into the pores, making it hard to sufficiently remove. Removing outside wall paint would be easier than an inside wall because you could try to power wash the paint off, but you shouldn’t put surface bonding cement over paint because it might prevent it from adhering properly.



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