Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
A backsplash in your kitchen, bathroom, or shower mainly protects the wall from grease and water damage, makes the surface easy to clean, and adds style and color to your home. Sometimes, you notice cracks on your ceramic, porcelain, glass, or marble backsplash grout. So, why is it cracking?
Your backsplash grout could be cracking due to wear and tear, water damage, or structural movement. It could also be cracking due to the grout’s low quality or improper installation. Cleaning the backsplash grout with harsh chemicals could also lead to the grout cracking.
In this article, I’ll discuss some common reasons that cause the cracking of your backsplash grout. I’ll also discuss some problems caused by cracked backsplash grout and how to deal with the situation.
Common Reasons That Cause Cracking of Your Backsplash Grout
The backsplash tiles in your walls can be made of different materials, including ceramic, porcelain, glass, or marble. The backsplash tiles are sealed and held together by a material called grout. Sometimes, your backsplash grout may crack due to the following reasons:
Normal Wear and Tear
The areas with backsplash in your home are probably in heavy use daily. Like everything else, the backsplash grout in your home can crack over time due to normal wear and tear. The pressure of heavy use of the backsplash areas can cause the grout to gradually weaken and deteriorate, leading to cracking.
Water Damage to the Grout
The areas where you have installed the backsplash tend to come in contact with water and other liquid splashes regularly. When water and other liquids splash on the backsplash, they can build up on the grout and gradually eat away the grout. One of the end results of water damage could be grout cracking.
Your backsplash grout could be cracking due to structural movement. Interestingly, albeit slightly, your house moves constantly due to structural movement. The causes of structural movement include the following:
- Temperature fluctuations
Since the magnitude of structural movement is so tiny, you don’t usually notice it. You only see it when things like cracks in your backsplash grout or other distortions happen to your house.
Quality of the Grout
The quality of the grout used to install your backsplash could cause the cracking of your backsplash grout. Different types of grouts are in the market; some are better quality than others. Some low-quality grout is highly porous and thus allows air, water, and other liquids to pass through.
If the backsplash grout is of low quality, it’s just a matter of time before it starts cracking.
Improper Installation of the Grout
One of the leading causes of cracking of backsplash grout is improper installation of the grout. If the grout is not installed correctly initially, it could lead to backsplash grout cracking even in a new structure.
The causes of improper installation of grout on your backsplash include the following:
- Adding too much water: Adding too much water to the original grout solution can cause air pockets that weaken the grout structure. As a result, the backsplash grout can easily crack.
- Water interference during the drying process: After a new installation, if the backsplash comes into contact with water before the grout sets and dries completely, it can weaken the grout. This could cause the grout to degrade quickly, leading to cracking backsplash grout.
- Improper sealing of the grout: If grout or any other type of material isn’t sealed properly, it can be susceptible to cracking. Improper sealing allows moisture into the grout leading to deterioration and eventual cracking of the backsplash grout.
- Insufficient adhesive: When installing a backsplash, you use an adhesive such as Thinset to keep the tiles and the grout on the wall. If you use too little glue, air pockets could occur under the tiles, causing them to pull away from the wall. When this happens, tension builds on the grout leading to cracks.
Use of Harsh Cleaning Detergents on the Backsplash
It’s a given that the grout on your backsplash can become dirty and stained. Cleaning the grout is no mean feat – it may require some powerful detergents and elbow grease. Some chemicals in commercial grout cleaning detergents are too harsh and can weaken the grout.
When the grout becomes weak, it becomes fragile, leading to cracks in your backsplash grout.
Some Problems Caused by Cracked Backsplash Grout
Suppose your backsplash grout cracks. In that case, you can face several issues. Some of the problems caused by cracked backsplash grout include the following:
- The backsplash looks unsightly: One of the reasons you install a backsplash in your home is to make the place beautiful. A cracked backsplash grout makes the area look unattractive and downright dreary.
- It can cause breakage of tiles: Cracked backsplash grout could lead to tiles loosening. When the tiles become loose, they could crumble away from the wall and break, thus needing replacement.
- It can cause health issues: Water enters behind the backsplash tiles if the backsplash grout cracks. This could cause mold growth, leading to an unpleasant mold smell in the home and even health issues.
How To Deal With Cracked Backsplash Grout
If your backsplash grout is cracking, it’s best to deal with the problem immediately before it escalates and causes the issues I mentioned earlier. How you deal with cracked backsplash grout depends on the extent of the damage. Here’s how to deal with cracked backsplash grout:
If the backsplash grout cracking affects one or just a few tiles, you can fix it using caulking. A caulk is a flexible material that fills or seals gaps less than ¼ inch (6.35 mm) wide. Caulking involves applying the caulk material on the cracked backsplash grout.
For best results, following the manufacturer’s instructions when caulking is essential.
Use the Services of a Professional
You may require a professional’s services if the backsplash grout cracking is widespread. The professionals inspect the cracked backsplash grout, determine the cause of the cracking, and come up with the best solution to the problem. In addition, they can advise you on how to prevent your backsplash grout from cracking in the future.
Backsplash grout cracking is a common problem caused by normal wear and tear, water damage, and structural movement. It can also be caused by low-quality grout, improper installation, and harsh cleaning detergents.
It’s best to deal with your cracking backsplash grout immediately after you notice the problem, as it could lead to broken tiles and mold growth. You can fix the cracking backsplash grout by caulking or hire the services of a professional if a large area is affected.
- Country Floors: What is grout?
- Building Conservation: Structural Movement
- EPA: What does mold smell like
- Department of Energy: Caulking
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