I’m having my bathroom remodeled. I just bought a 1975 brick built one level house in town. I let the bath and closet go to accommodate a four foot wide shower and bidet. The contractor, who is fitting my project in between others, sent a guy to grout the newly tiled area surrounding the bidet and paint the bathroom. I was lucky that the previous owners left spare ceramic matching tiles. I supplied him with paint and grout I found in the garage which I thought would match, but the color was not quite the same and the ready mixed grout had dried a little, so he left while I was out, leaving a polite note that he’d gone to another job.
So I thought I’d have a go myself because it’s such a small job and when I was younger I did all my own decorating. I bought new paint, “Antique Lace” just a tone darker than the existing pale yellow, so the whole bathroom will need repainting, but the parts I could reach with a two step ladder and a brush look fine. And I bought powdered grout in biscuit color for the new tiles.
Hoping to save the not very experienced builder time (which is costly) when he arrives, I searched the packet cover for instructions on powder to water ratio for the grout. It told me in three languages in a print so fine I had to squint, how to clean the tiles, grout with a sponge, cautioned about the carcinogens in the powder and so on, but nowhere did it mention the grout to water ratio.
However, there was a website to consult and I consulted it. Pages of beautiful pictures of vast tile installations in public buildings dazzled me, with products galore associated with their use and maintenance. I read about effervescence and cleaning fluids, techniques for repair and troubleshooting, but the grout/water ratio was still a closely guarded secret.
Wandering from one website to another with casual clicks of the mouse, I searched for information. The website designer was bent on selling me products I wasn’t looking for. I filled in an application with multiple choices about the size of the job, the materials in question and so on. The grout/water recipe I yearned for was not on their lengthy options list. It was almost tearing-my-hair-out time. I gave up and left the site. I longed to enlighten the manufacturer about the glaring omission on his packet. If necessary I was ready to grab him by his lapels and speak to him through gritted teeth.
Ask.com was a lot more helpful. I found the water/ratio issue quite quickly and they didn’t try to sell me anything. Here’s what it said (contributed by a blogger, not a manufacturer): “There is no formula for the mixing, just stir it in to a creamy consistency like cake mix.” Ah. That I can understand, but how many builders are cake makers?
I used to use a filler that advised on the packet “two scoops of powder to one scoop of water,” using anything from an egg cup to a bowl as the scoop, depending on your project. I didn’t need to consult a website or spend any time at all searching the packet in three languages with graphic illustrations, to no avail. Should life be this complicated?