February 18th, 2012

This is part of an ongoing series to help educate both consumers and trade professionals with real answers to every day challenges in the tile industry.

Q: My tile installer recently installed a brand new tile floor with in-floor heating. Now I notice my grout is blotchy and some tiles seem loose! HELP!

A: Sorry to hear that you are having these problems. There is a good chance that when your tile was installed your in-floor heating was turned on, either during or shortly after the installation process. Even in winter, it is not recommended to have your in-floor heating system turned on for at least two weeks after your tile is installed. However, you must maintain the room temperature at 50 degrees or above.  The heat from the system will prematurely dry the setting materials so that it is not able to bond properly. That same heat will also cause the grout to dry unnaturally quick, causing blotchiness.

While it is possible to use grout sealers to essentially paint and seal a new grout color, there is no way to cosmetically repair  tile that is loose. If it is only one or two tiles, you may be able to repair those, but there is a great chance that others will loosen over time due to the unsound bond. It is possible you may have to replace the entire floor.

If you are installing in-floor heating systems, it is wise to understand the installation process. We recommend using high quality heating systems like Nuheat. Not only do they offer the longest warranty in the industry, but they also have great documentation and tech support. Additionally, the Tile Council of North America sets the industry standard for installation practices. Each year, they release a comprehensive handbook detailing installation procedures. Please consult their web site for more information or call your Kate-Lo Tile & Stone oncall sales rep to discuss your project.