Your Place: Anchor subfloor to avoid problems

Posted: March 16, 2013

Question: I live in a condo and recently had my carpet pulled up, plywood put down, and then tile on top in my master bath dressing room.

After six months, the grout in the upper area began to crumble and came out. The tile man came back and re-grouted the area. He does not know why it is happening; there was no water leakage.

Now it is happening again in the same area. The tile man has 25 years experience and came highly recommended.

Can you offer some advice?

Answer: I'd probably blame the plywood used as the underlayment. If it wasn't properly anchored to the joists, there might be enough give in it that when you walk on it, the grout gets loosened, even if the tiles are in solid.

I put down exterior plywood once as underlayment for tile, but I used drywall screws to anchor it to the joists and the flooring underneath.

I prefer Durock or other kind of cement board as underlayment - again properly anchored.

Q: A few months ago, you mentioned cleaning shower stalls and referred to a "shower spray," but I don't believe you mentioned what exactly it was.

I have tried everything on the market, as well as homemade concoctions to get the film off of the fiberglass walls (they are sort of a ripply plastic material on two sides and then tile on the other two sides), with no luck.

What did you use?

A: It is something called Method Daily Shower, and I found it at Target.

The trick to keeping anything clean is to do it every day - something I picked up when I interviewed Don Aslett, the "Don Juan of the John" - back in 1997, when he appeared at the Suburban Home Show in Fort Washington.

"The biggest secret to cleaning is the word 'now,' " Aslett told me. "But most people wait till Saturday. Men won't do the dishes. They'll let them pile high in the sink until they run out of them."

Then they buy paper plates.

"You know why the restrooms at Santa Anita Racetrack are cleaner than most home bathrooms?" he asked. "Because the cleaning people are at it all the time. They get in there and wipe the toilets and the sinks and disinfect, and they're out in no time."

The point is that when you let cleaning the shower glass and tile go for a month, you have to spend a lot of time and energy cleaning it when you get to it.

Spray every day. If you don't, and the shower stall glass won't respond to the Windex variety of cleaners, try a lime scale remover.

Q: Could you please tell me what to use to seal my granite? You have mentioned you seal your granite every year but did not mention how to do this or what products to use.

We have had our granite for a few years now and never have sealed it since it was installed.

This information would be very helpful.

A: Apparently I've been lax about giving you the whole story. So here goes:

It's called Goddard's Granite and Marble Polish, it costs $3.49 for a 240 ml bottle, lasts for years, and is available at the hardware store.

You do it every year. Not only does it polish, but it seals and protects against stains and water spotting and doesn't yellow.

I've been using it for 11 years, since I bought the house, and the granite looks as good as the day we moved in.

Goddard's also works on other surfaces.

Remember, I'm not into free advertising nor recommending products, contractors and repair people. Your experiences with them might not be the same as mine.

Time has taught me to limit advice to the kinds of products that might work for you or types of professionals you should contact who might be able to help solve your problems.

Questions? E-mail Alan J. Heavens at or write him at The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia, PA 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies.

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