Ceramic Tile
Photos: Merle Henkenius
Glazed ceramic tile is an ideal material for tub and shower walls. It's impervious to moisture, easy to clean and durable enough to withstand a lifetime of hot, sudsy soakings. Tile isn't maintenance-free, however. Every tiled wall is only as strong as the thin grout joints between the tiles. Once the grout starts to soften and crack, it's only a matter of time before water seeps in and damages the mortar and drywall behind the tile. Don't wait for an entire wall of grout to fall out before taking action. The best way to avoid major wall repair is to regrout any joint when the first crack or stain appears. When it comes to maintaining grout joints, an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure. It's also easy and inexpensive. Restoring a tiled wall requires only a few hours' work and about $35 for tools and materials. The four main steps of the tile repair are: regrouting the tile; recaulking between the tub and tile; caulking around the shower handle and tub spout; and protecting the grout joints with silicone sealer.

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