Tile and Grout Sealing Tips
By Troy Cantini
The Fein Supercut and Fein Multimaster tools have always been marketed as ideal tools for removing grout. While the Fein Supercut is a powerful tool for regrouting tile it does have one serious design flaw that you should be aware of when using this tool for removing grout.
The Fein Supercut is over twice the price of the Fein Multimaster. The Fein Supercut costs over $800 and for this price you should expect an exceptionally rugged tool that will last an extremely long time. The advantages of the Fein Supercut over the Fein Multimaster are a more rugged build and a stronger more durable motor. The stronger motor is particularly useful when removing grout from large areas of tile.
If you are a professional tile contractor and you will be doing a lot of regrouting work then the Fein Supercut is a must have tool. Settling for the cheaper Fein Multimaster will not cut it for a few reasons. In addition to the more powerful motor in the Fein Supercut there are specially designed 3/64 inch thin diamond coated grout removal blades that are only available for the Fein Supercut. Fein manufactures 5/64 inch wide diamond coated grout removal blade for the Fein Multimaster and the Fein Supercut but these 5/64 inch wide blades are too wide for removing grout in most showers with unsanded grout. The edges of the tiles will chip when using a grout removal blade that is too wide.; Most shower regrouting jobs will require using the 3/64 inch blade to remove the narrow unsanded grout in standard ceramic tile showers.
The Fein Multimaster's motor will bog down and slow when grinding out grout and the tool will also heat up and can burn out when used too aggressively. The Fein Supercut on the other hand will not slow down when removing even extremely large areas of grout. It is only after an hour or two of continuous use that the Fein Supercut may heat up and need to be set down and cooled for a while. Usually after a couple of hours of use your hands and arms will need a rest so this is usually a good time to take a break anyways.
There are various other brands of oscillating tools on the market today from Millwaukee, Makita, Rigid, Dewalt etc. None of these other oscillating tool brands have been tried and tested like the Fein oscillation tools. More importantly none of these oscillation tools supplies the diamond coated grout removal blades necessary for removing grout. The carbide grout removal blades that some manufactures supply are ineffective and will quickly wear down when removing large areas of grout. Fein is also the only company that offers a 3 year warranty on its tools and your are definitely going to need this warranty if you are a professional regrouting contractor.
Fein supplies both the corded and cordless versions of its oscillating tools. Going cordless is not a good option when you will mostly be using this tool for regrouting. You will need a lot of continuous power when removing grout in most regrouting jobs. Running out of battery power will definitely leave you in a bind and could cause you to have to come back to a job site multiple times to finish the job.
A simple extension cord is all that is needed in most if not all situations where grout needs to be removed. Additionally the cordless tools are heavier and more awkward to use in tight corners. This increased weight will be a curse on your arms and hands when trying to remove grout in large areas of shower tiles. Also trying to remove the grout in tight corners where the cordless battery gets in your way will also make regrouting tile that much more difficult of a job.
The quick release blade system of the Fein tools seems like a great idea on paper but it is really the Achilles heal of the Fein Supercut tool. The Fein Multimaster also has a quick release blade holder that is similar to the Fein Supercut so it probably has similar issues as the Fein Supercut tool. The quick release blade holder system allows you to quickly remove and replace the blades without having to use any tools to remove it.
The old style Fein tools required you to use a hex driver to unscrew a blade holder screw for replacing the blades. This old system was not perfect and periodically the blade holder screw would loosen and need to be retightened to keep the blade firmly in place. The screw in blade holder system did not present too many problems and did not ever break down and need to be repaired like the new quick release blade holder system.
The problem with the quick release blade holder system is grout dust will inevitably get lodged inside the quick release blade holder socket. This causes the blade holder tool to get stuck in the quick release blade holder's socket. When this happens the blade holder tool is impossible to remove and the tool must then be repaired at an authorized Fein repair shop.
The quick release problems become evident over time as grout dust inevitably gets into the quick release socket. Over time the blade holder will become continuously more difficult to remove until finally it becomes stuck in the socket and impossible to remove. At this time you must take it in to the nearest Fein service center and have the entire tool head replaced. It usually takes a couple of weeks to get the head replaced and the Fein 3 year warranty comes in really handy when the tool head needs to be replaced.
While it would be good to have a professional grout removal tool that does not need to be periodically repaired it seems like this tool is still the best available option if you are a regrouting professional. The 3 year warranty ensures that you will have a professional regrouting tool available to you for 3 years minus the time that it sits in the shop for repair. How often the blade gets stuck depends on how many regrouting jobs you have and how carful you are in not getting grout dust in the blade holder socket. There is no sure fire way to keep grout dust out of the blade holder socket so inevitably the blade holder will get stuck. A regrouting professional can usually do about 5-10 shower regrouting jobs before the blade holder gets stuck.
Remember to register your tool online to get the full 3 year warranty. The standard warranty for Fein tools is just one year but by registering the tool online you get the warranty extended 2 more years to 3 years.
Try to be careful when changing blades to keep grout dust out of the blade holder socket. By keeping your shop vac nearby and vacuuming around the head and tool before removing the blade you will be able to minimize the amount of grout dust that gets stuck inside the blade holder socket.
Try to not leave an expensive diamond bit grout removal blade in the quick release system when it locks up. You should be able to feel how difficult the blade holder is to remove as it continually gets more difficult to remove over time. If the blade holder gets stuck with an expensive diamond bit grout removal blade still attached then it is usually impossible to save the blade.
Keep track of your warranty period. If the three year warranty period is approaching and the blade holder is getting stiff and hard to remove then try to get one more repair done before the warranty period expires.
The Fein Supercut can help a regrouting contractor earn a lot of money over the three years time that the Fein tool is under warranty. It may even be beneficial to own two Fein Supercuts so if one goes in for repair the other tool will be available to use. Taking care of the tool and being aware of its flaws can help you get the most value out of this tool.
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