Preparing for the overhaul...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Word On Mortar

I had a horrendous experience the other day, with a so-called mortar product.  Previously, I'd always used plain old mortar--you know, for full-sized people.  In fact, my favorite brand has always been plain old Home Depot store brand pre-mixed grout.  I favor "Delorean Gray" as a color.  So-called "dollhouse grout" tends to be too sandy for me.  

However, the house I'm working on now is the nicest thing I've done in awhile, so, as I was preparing to grout the walls, I began to wonder: am I selling myself short, here?  Will plain old store brand grout make my project look less than exciting?  Is there a better product I could be using?

I did a little investigating, and it turns out that Greenleaf stucco powder can also (supposedly) be used to create grout.  I mixed the powder with a little gray paint and--breaking one of my own cardinal rules--slapped some on.  Luckily, I'd begun this miserable experiment on a movable piece.  I spent the next ten minutes running it under the faucet, trying to scrub off the horrible goo with a toothbrush.

First, the stucco powder turned my gray paint blue.  I realize that's not what's supposed to happen, but oh well.  Second, it was like tar.  It absolutely would not release from the bricks--which had been properly sealed, and which I've never had any trouble with before--no matter how hard I scrubbed.  Second, it was shiny!  And I don't mean shiny because it was wet, either.  The surface was all wrong for grout; honestly, it looked and felt like plastic.  Whatever applications this supposed "grout" may have, they're not among the traditional.

So, after letting everything dry--and there are still a few areas on the fireplace I'll need to touch up, most likely after it's installed--I returned to my old standby: real grout.  I must say (and I'll be posting pictures shortly, if anyone's interested) I'm extremely happy with how it's come out.  It seems a shame to muck up something as painstakingly realistic as Richard Stacey bricks with a grout that doesn't pass muster.  Incidentally, Richard Stacey sells their own line of mortar, but I've never tried it.  I actually began using Richard Stacey bricks years ago, after purchasing a packet at a local store.  The carry costs were too high, the store owners had concluded, so they were selling off the last of their stock at a cut rate.  I took it home, made a fireplace, and was overjoyed.

Since, at the time, I was unaware of Richard Stacey's complete line of products--indeed, the only association I had was rather negative.  A teacher of mine, a real wank, possessed the same name.  Having no notion that other types of grout existed--but knowing, from previous experience, that so-called "dollhouse grout" was all awful--I used the regular stuff.  And I was pleased!

So there you have it.  Maybe some of you have had good experiences with this product, in which case I'd like to hear about it.  What sorts of grout do you favor--and why?

4 comments:

Michelle said...

It all sounds horrendous! So glad that you managed to get the goo off!

I used Richard Stacey grout only on real bricks/tiles. It's very fine and very strong. You must seal your bricks/tiles with 50/50 PVA glue (white glue) and water prior to grouting and leave to dry completely. This mixture protects your tiles and allows you to remove the excess grout more easily. You clean up your bricks/tiles with a warm wet cloth 'as you go/work'.

I've also used a wood filler that you make up from a white powder, but I added PVA to the mix for added strength. Again, a very fine mixture. I used this as a grout when I made my own large stone slabs for Dumbledore's office floor.

Michelle :o))

C.J. said...

That's what's so odd about this so-called "grout": I sealed everything beforehand. Indeed, I over-sealed it. I generally use more of a 2/3 mixture than a 1/1 mixture, as I'm rather particular about grout haze.

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Michelle said...

C.J.,

It is odd then if you sealed your bricks prior to using that other stuff. Maybe it wasn't compatible in some way, or maybe it wasn't meant to be used as grout. I can only suggest that you try Richard Stacey's next time. You have to have a bowl of warm water to rinse out your cloth and you have to work fairly fast to remove the excess. I try and work as cleanly as I can to cut down on the clean up bit! :o) I used more glue in my sealant than what is recommended...it works better!

Michelle :o)