Cleaning and caulking shower tiles is potentially a big money saver if you follow a regular maintenance schedule. Showers are exposed to regular moisture contact and as long as the grout between the tiles is complete, no water will penetrate through to the drywall behind. The moment that even a small pin hole is created, moisture starts to penetrate through the pin hole, causing the drywall to swell and once it penetrates the drywall behind the tile, this also expands as well. We have added a couple of pictures to show the kind of damage that can result from just a little bit if water getting behind the tiles and causing the drywall behind the tiles to expand.
Expansion of either the grout or the drywall will cause the tiles to begin to shift and be pushed outward, which may cause them to crack or to even fall off the wall in particularly bad situations. Once this happens you are into a major repair which can cost thousands of dollars. This is why it is so important to check your tiles and the grout between them at a minimum of once every 3 months. Look for small areas were the grout is loose or has fallen out and replug with new water proof grout. Patching like this will prevent water from penetrating behind the tiles causing damage to your shower walls. Consumers can patch these small holes with a show patching compound sold at most hardware stores. It only costs a few dollars and yet it can save you thousands of dollars in repair costs.
This is an easy job and only takes a few minutes to check your shower. I use a toothbrush to rub any suspect areas and also clean the grout if needed. Most times there is nothing to do, since the grout is solid and there are no observable gaps. But every once and a while, I have found areas were the grout has actually fallen out from between the tiles. They can be as short as a quarter inch long, while others are as long as an inch. Either way you must plug these immediately to avoid long term expensive damage.
I use a tube of silicon grout that I squeeze into the hole were the grout is missing. It is the same color as the existing grout, however because it is silicon, it does have a different texture from the existing grout. I am ok with this, since I am mainly worried about the leaks more than the look. Besides there is not that much difference in the grout that is there from the silicon grout that I put in. You can pick up a tube of this silicon grout from most hardware stores as well as plumbing stores. A $5 tube is infinitely better than many thousands it will cost to repair a shower. Of course once you start the shower, it usually means that you redo the entire bathroom, tub, sinks, toilet, mirrors, flooring and paint.
Delaying this huge cost as long as possible is a no brainer as far as I am concerned! Follow the instructions on the tube, making sure that you dislodge any grout that is loose between the tiles first. Let it dry for 24 hours and you can use your shower again.
Let’s assume that you don’t bother to perform this routine check and repair every 3 months. Your tiles are dislodged and about to fall off. It looks really bad and there is also black mold forming on the grout and even in the tiles. Your spouse decides that not only do they want the shower fixed, they are going to update the entire bathroom! What will this cost.
Of course the cost will be design dependent and also dependent on whether you do the work or you hire professionals to do the work for you. My neighbor is the type that does not do the 3 month check ever! He also does not do anything himself, so he is forced to hire people all of the time. He has estimates for updating his bathroom that are in the range of $25,000 to $30,000! Can you imagine spending this much money on a bathroom?
Get off your chair and check the bathroom shower tile right now and make the repairs immediately. You will save many thousands of dollars by doing this simple activity!
Comments are welcome about this subject and others.