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Our house has a stone tile kitchen floor installed by a previous owner. Since we bought the home 15 years ago, we've had a problem with the grout between the tiles crumbling in certain places. I learned shortly after we bought the house that the grout had been recently repaired in spots. There were issues within the first few years we owned it, which I repaired myself with sanded grout. It crumbled again, so I brought in a professional to do it a few years back. Once again, there are portions of the floor where the grout has crumbled and worn away.

Since these repairs were done by different people with different materials over the years, I'm thinking that the problem is with the floor itself. Perhaps it shifts just enough in certain places to cause the grout to break up.

Is that a reasonable hypothesis? If so, how would I go about making a repair that will last more than a couple of years? Can (or should) I put some kind of metal separators between the tiles to keep them from shifting?

Kitchen floor tile grout damage

Subfloor

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    What's the subfloor construction? Is the floor accessible from below? That looks like classic flex damage. The tiles aren't moving--the subfloor is. – isherwood Feb 24 '17 at 17:40
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    I would bet the floor didn't get proper prep done. Subfloor not correct thickness or no underlayment used. You will only be able,to tell this by pulling up a tile if it is loose enough. – Jeff Cates Feb 24 '17 at 18:49
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    That's not true. A person could carefully drill from below to determine subfloor thickness. It's probably visible through gaps and knotholes whether there's a second layer, too. – isherwood Feb 24 '17 at 21:16
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    I suppose another way to determine subfloor setup, is if you have a transition to another floor. You could look there. But I suspect the subfloor is not thick enough, allowing the tile to move, causing the grout to crumble. You could try a non-sanded grout, or a siliconized grout. – Jeff Cates Feb 25 '17 at 7:11
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    @Jeff Cates you should make your comment an answer so the OP can accept it. + – Ed Beal Nov 17 '17 at 17:34
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I suppose another way to determine subfloor setup, is if you have a transition to another floor. You could look there. But I suspect the subfloor is not thick enough, allowing the tile to move, causing the grout to crumble. You could try a non-sanded grout, or a siliconized grout.

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I think that your problem is that the grout was not sealed. Gout is just like sand that is held in place, and it can be quite vulnerable especially on floors. Sealing the gout lines is done by just painting on. Think of this as "laminating" the sand...

here is video that explains it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK7v8nbkff0

You can also get epoxy grout that is sort of like grout mixed with a sealer. see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaOSmC_pUBo

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Your floor is in bad shape. You need to have the entire thing resurfaced. Basically remove the old sealants and clean the whole floor. This will also pull out any more loose grout. After it has been clean properly grout will stick the floor can be polished and sealed. Nothing you try will last without it being properly cleaned first. If your floor is expanding and contracting and the grout begins to sseparate or crack run a thin bead of silicone along all the grout. Use your finger to evenly distribute the silicone into a thin layer covering the grout. Clean any silicone off tile after it dries. This should keep it in place for the long term. Do not put metal in place of the grout.

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