Our Failed Sealants

I’ve shied away from talking about our fiasco that was our Ardex Feather Finished Countertops… if you want to read more about what I have already wrote on that, I suggest looking back through the blog… and here you go here (that’s the post where I burst everyone’s bubble and whine a lot.. but there’s also some progress shots elsewhere in the blog).

I thought I’d share what sealants we used and that didn’t work.

Sikagard 1 Gal. Natural Look Sealer

Sikagard 1 Gal. Natural Look Sealer

First off, we tried Sika Sikaguard Professional Natural Look Clear Sealer from Home Depot.  We did NOT try to wax this.  It did not work at all for us.  We put coats and coats and coat after coat of this stuff on and the water would still soak through. We put some MIO in water to make the water colored, and it stained the crap out of it.  I thought I had pictures of these stains, but apparently I didn’t take any while in my blind rage?

Side note – this was the ONLY concrete sealer I could find at my local Home Depot.  I thought that was odd.  The sales associates looked at me like I was nuts when I told them what I was looking for.

Sakrete Gallon Cure'n Seal Concrete Repair

Sakrete Gallon Cure’n Seal Concrete Repair

Next, I tried a sealant I got at Lowe’s instead.   This time I picked up Sakrete Concrete Cure N’ Seal.  I flipped over my ‘test’ concrete (As previously mentioned, I applied some to an old MDF shelf), applied more feather finish and then again coated until I thought for sure anymore would be overkill.  Around eight coats if I remember correctly.  THEN I waxed it..twice.  I spilled everything all over the tester and it didn’t soak in.  Everything was great.

As for the wax, I just bought kit carnuba wax from Amazon.

So what went wrong with the main installation?

I have no idea.  We did exactly to the countertops that we did to the tester shelf.  The only thing I can think is that these countertops were actually used, not “tested.”  We prepped meals on them.  We sat dishes down on them.  No matter what we did, we had to do whatever the equivalent is in this situation as “walk on eggshells” with them.  Don’t let your glass sit too long.  Don’t let your raw veggies touch them lest it comes off on the veggies.  Do not let grease splash on them because it’ll stain before you can even exhale.

I’ll post some aftermath photos asap to show the damage.

In the interim, does anybody know where we went wrong?  Or did we do everything we were supposed to and these were just an absolute disaster in the making no matter what we did?

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Gross Grout

5 people read my blog on a regular basis.  Five.  I spell it out so you know that’s not a typo.  You, one of the five.  So it’s really silly that I type this like it’s some sort of big shot blog, but I like to cover my bases.  With that said, nobody paid me for this post or any other (seriously though, where do I sign up for that?  Cash money.)   Not a dime is made from this blog.  I actually make negative money when you think about the time I put into it means time I am not getting paid for my actual real job.

Rejuvenate White Grout Restorer Marker Pens

Rejuvenate White Grout Restorer Marker Pens

You may have heard me say the word gross..or disgusting.. or dirty before in reference to our house and specifically in reference to our kitchen.  We love our little first home.  It gets more perfect everyday.  However, it really was filthy when we moved in and some things refuse to come clean.  Like the white grout in our kitchen.  So one day early on after moving in I was in our Second Home (Depot) and discovered these bad boys right here.

They’re about $6 for two of them and I love them.  I should tell you I ruined the first one.  Completely utterly destroyed it trying to grasp a technique that works well.  If you have ever used a paint marker, you know something about these.  In fact, I can’t specifically say these aren’t just paint markers marketed for a specific purpose.  I don’t have any inclination of what makes them special to use on grout.  But I bought them and love them and would totally buy them again.

Let me tell you about some tips I picked up while ruining the first marker.

The package says to press in the tip to get the paint flow.  Yes, that’s a great idea.  But a bad idea is to press it into the grout to get the paint to flow.  That will eventually destroy the tip and you will end up like I did with a 3/4 of the way full marker and no tip to use it with.  Luckily I had enough with my second pen and I never ruined it, but learn from me just in case you have much more grout than I do.

I eventually worked out a system.  It consists of finding something that you can stick the pen into when you are using it to store it point down.  Mine was a fancy trivet thing that I don’t use as a trivet.  It has a little hole in it that the capped marker fit perfectly in.

Got your trivet like thing?  Great.  Now, start by cleaning your grout.  Always clean everything.  It sucks, just do it.  I hate cleaning and I did it so you can manage.

Once you’re clean and dry (and so is your grout), then get your pen and some sort of rag you don’t mind ruining.  I happen to have a gigantic pack of lint free cloths that we bought when we painted the cabinets, so I used one of those.

Grab your pen and shake it like a salt shaker shake it like a salt shaker shake it like a salt shaker (I know not a single other line from that song).  Once you are convinced your paint is flowing well, press the tip into the rag gently.  I’d say gently as if you were popping a pimple (just keeping it real) or squeezing a grape, but not like you hate the pen or it threw a drink in your face or perhaps works for Fox News.   You’ll see the paint start flowing out on your cloth.

Once you can visibly see the paint, run the marker gently (don’t press too hard – just hard enough) over the grout either until the paint stops flowing or you’ve done about a square foot of grout.  You don’t want to do too much painting at once because if it dries, you can’t get it off.  As far as running the marker over the grout, I found that dragging it down the tile so that the fibers in the tip weren’t pushed against themselves worked best. To say it another way, if you look at that picture of the hand holding the pen in the product picture – holding the marker like that, drag down, DON’T PUSH UP – NEVER UP, so as to maintain the pen tip.

Now you’ve got your square foot of paint done or however much you just did (hey maybe you don’t listen and you just read random blogs to not follow their advice), put your marker cap back on and place it in your little trivet hole so that the ink can follow gravity towards the tip.  Take your throwaway towel and wipe off the paint that got everywhere but your grout.  I found that if I put light pressure on the rag and just ran it on the grout lines, the paint genuinely stuck to the grout but came off of everything else.  Every once in awhile, I had to focus in and really detail get the paint off the tile. Generally tho, the quick wipe was all I need.

Once you get the paint off the tile, pick the pen up again and give it a couple shakes and then run it over more grout.  You may need to press the tip into the rag every once in awhile, but once I got into the rhythm  I really did not do that often.  I found letting it rest tip down while I cleaned up the excess paint was the most helpful at keeping the process rolling.

Also, I am 27 years old and I still can’t spell rhythm.  Thank god for spell check.

So here’s the side by side I snapped while I was doing the worst part (directly above the st0ve).  The black thing to the top of the pic is our exhaust fan.  The grey is the cabinet to the upper right of the stove.  And just in case I have to point it out, the gross orange is how the grout started out before the paint and the white is the after.  It’s not perfect brand new looking white in these really awful parts like the area in the picture, but I think it still looks pretty incredible.

Grout Side by Side

Grout Side by Side

Not bad for $6 and a couple hours of work.  Granted it’s work that some people would find tedious.  But I think the after makes it gratifying.  I don’t know if I have any parks & recs fans out there in the 5 of you that read this, but if not, really get on that.  Its incredible.  Anyhow, there’s a scene where they have to stuff envelopes and Jerry finds out he’s really relaxed by mundane repetitious tasks.  Me too, Jerry, me too.

I still have a small part of the grout to do in the back corner behind the sink. I just can’t reach it comfortably.  So when we take the sink out (again) to redo the countertops (again), I am going to pop myself up in the sink-hole and get that back part.  Why endure the back and neck pain to do it before then?

So all in all, I seriously seriously recommend these pens.  It’s really gratifying and worth the time.  It’s very easy.  Very affordable.  Just do it!

I’d add the kitchen list & update it.. but this was never on the list so.. bonus! ha