Hello all! Hopefully all of you are doing well. I, myself, have been sick this past week, so I apologize for not posting. I promise I will crank out those missed posts in double time! Even though I was sick, my husband and I got started tearing out my son’s bathroom. Well, I was sick so my husband and his father did. Thanks Denny! You’re the best! However, I was not idle in my sickened state – No! I decided it was time to re-seal the upstairs bathroom that we had remodeled last year. It should have been that simple but I get diverted easily sometimes…….
Here’s the story. We remodeled that bathroom upstairs last year and it looks great! When the tiles were laid, I was really excited to see the 24 X 12” gray tiles we had selected for the floor and the river rock-ish stone tiles for the shower floor. They looked really great. This was good because I wasn’t positive that we had knocked one out of the park with the 24 X12” white tiles on the shower walls or the linear glass accent tiles. Let me share this with you, don’t rush the judgement on these things. EVERYTHING looks totally different when grouted!
When we applied the white grout to the white wall tiles and the accent tiles, I realized that I was completely wrong. It looked even better than I had imagined. It was difficult to picture that accent tile grouted in white, but it created the best contrast. The right grout can make all the difference! So, next we installed the gray grout on the floor and in the shower and……..hmmmm. It still looked good, but it lost something when we grouted it. It matched too much. From across the room, the rocks didn’t really stand out and that stinks because we paid extra for those suckers. When the shower was wet, it really looked dynamic but it would dry again and hmm. So, what do you do right?!
It’s not an option to remove brand new grout and I wasn’t going to use grout stain or paint to cover new grout either. Those are great options when trying to revive an older tile job, but not what I was looking for. I was beginning to think that I would just have to accept that I made the wrong call on that grout. It was my first bathroom remodel, but you hate to have regrets. Then I found it. I was on the internet one day and stumbled upon some discussion on a message board about trying to darken existing grout. One of the professional tile guys that was on the board was talking about this stone enhancer he used to darken grout. PERFECT! I have some stones on the shower floor that could use some enhancing too!
So, I looked this stuff up. Aqua Mix Stone Enhancer. For full disclosure, there is no affiliate advertising going on here. I paid for the product and this is an account of my experience with it. There are other types of these enhancers from other companies, but the reviews were very mixed on some of these. I’m not sure if it is not following the directions or possibly the stone they were treating. Who knows, but I was going with the Aqua Mix! It is a penetrating enhancer and sealer so it doesn’t leave any coating on top. Nor does it make everything shiny. I had to order this stuff from Home Depot because no one in my area carried it in stock, but it was worth the wait. It is a bit pricey, (around $40-$50 per quart) but I only needed like 2 cups to complete my job. I have plenty left over for a couple of re-seals when the time comes. Aqua Mix says that is every 3 years but we will see about that.
I was so excited when this arrived at my doorstep. I was slightly nervous as well because this product is truly meant to be applied before sealing the grout or stone. As my shower is almost a year old, it has already been sealed. This can really affect the absorption of the enhancer so I was a little nervous and tested it in a small area first. Also, let it dry for a day so you can see the real result. Important to mention that this enhancer cannot be removed once it is applied. Since it soaks in, it can’t be removed with a solvent or anything like that, so be sure you like the result. Once I was convinced that this would work for me, I set into the task.
Ideally, you would address this issue a couple of days after grouting the tile but before sealing it. Those are the ideal conditions for getting the biggest WOW! It really sinks in there and makes the natural color of the stone and grout come alive. Alas, this is not my reality but I am still pleased with the outcome. Note: this can also be used pre-grout to keep the grout from sticking to the stones. I would have used this for our stones but I didn’t know about it at the time. The sealer we used worked pretty well. I saw some pictures of people using this stuff on some natural slate and it looked awesome! They were even using it outside for patios and stone walls. There’s another project. See how I get diverted?
Applying the stone enhancer was not difficult at all. I poured a couple of cups of enhancer in a plastic cup and used a 1 1/2” paint brush to apply it. Some people from the internet used rags, sponges, or sprayers. They all seemed to work. I used a paint brush so I wouldn’t waste any and it worked great. You just brush a thin layer on the stone and grout. You should NOT let this sit more than 5 minutes on the stone or it will get sticky and form a weird residue. No problem, I just set my timer and did it a square foot at a time. I had to brush in every direction to make sure the grout got coated because mine has some nooks and crannies. When it has been on for 4 minutes, you wipe it off with a paper towel or rag. I then took a cleaner towel and really scrubbed that stuff off so I wouldn’t have a residue on my tile. Really scrub it and get in the cracks. Have plenty of rags on hand and don’t get this on anything else. That’s all there is to it. If you want a second coat, just wait 30 minutes and do it again. I did 2 coats on mine because I thought it made it look more even. I did my shower floor a square foot at a time but it doesn’t take that long because it only needs to soak in for 5 minutes max.
For the grout in my floor outside the shower, I applied this just to the grout. The tiles are 24 X 12” so I didn’t want to waste the enhancer by putting it on porcelain tile. It doesn’t penetrate porcelain and I would still have to scrub up all that enhancer. No thank you! I used a small watercolor sized paint brush and painted the enhancer onto the grout. This isn’t as time-consuming as it sounds. It would be much quicker than trying to scrub the enhancer off the tiles. You don’t have to stay in the lines since it doesn’t harm porcelain but you do have to get in on in an even coat. This part was much quicker than the stones in the shower floor. Much easier to scrub up as well. When you are done with all your coats, I would recommend getting a clean towel and making sure the enhancer isn’t remaining anywhere. Finished! The result will lighten some as it dries. The bottle says to avoid traffic for 12 hours and it takes 48 hours for full cure.
Warning: This stuff stinks! It is a petroleum-based organic and it smells like one! Lots of ventilation. I had horrid sinus congestion and it still drove me out of the bathroom. I found a mask so it was all good. Make sure you do the same. It’s not a good story to tell about the time you damaged your brain to darken your grout. Not. A. Good. Story.
I’m so glad I found this stuff. It really delivered what I was looking for. I wanted a pop to the grout and stone we had installed without covering it up. It was perfect for my problem so I wanted to share it with all of you in case it can solve your’s as well. Like anything, it is dependent on your situation but I hope my pictures help you to see what exactly this does. Post your before and after pics in the comments or send them to me. I would love to see them! Contact me if you have any questions and I will be happy to help. You can find me at [email protected] as always. Join my newsletter list so you I can keep you posted about my newest projects. The sign-up is in the sidebar that way ->. Thanks for your time and have a good one!