Ceramic Tile – Routine Care

Contaminants and spills on a glazed ceramic tile are, generally, easier to clean than most other unglazed ceramic and porcelain surfaces. Glazed tile products should be cleaned routinely with an all-purpose, low VOC household or commercial cleaner. The product chosen should also be grout joint cleaning compatible. The type of product may vary depending on the tile application and use. A multipurpose spray cleaner, which removes soap scum, hard water deposits, and mildew designed for everyday use, can be used on wall tile areas in residential baths and showers.

The entire area should be cleaned and scrubbed with cleaning solution through the use of a cotton mop, cloth, sponge, or non-metallic brush. The entire area should be rinsed with clean water to remove any cleaning solution residue. Routine cleaners should never contain hazardous or polluting products including, but not limited to acids or ammonia. Acids can damage the grout and the glazed surface of the tile, and ammonia can discolor the grout.

Unglazed tile should be cleaned routinely with concentrated tile cleaners that have a neutral pH for safe regular use. These cleaners are better suited for removing grease, oils and normal spills from unglazed products. Again these products will vary depending on the application and the use. The product chosen should also be compatible with cleaning the grout joints at the same time.

 

Glass Tiles – Routine Care

For routine cleaning, use any non-abrasive cleaning compound recommended for either glass or tile.

 

Ceramic Tile – Grout Care

Grout is the material used to fill the spaces between the individual tiles. Grout comes in many colors. While color is important to the final finished look of the tile installation, it has little effect on the functionality of the grout. The purpose of grout is, simply, to fill the joint between the tiles and becomes a permanent, integral component of the finished installation.

 

Penetrating/Impregnating Sealer:

Most tile installations use cementitious grouts. This type of grout should be sealed after installation to prevent the color from staining. The grout should be sealed with a penetrating/impregnating sealer (often called grout sealers) which does not contain silicone, as silicone can shorten the useful life of the sealer. Epoxy grouts, conversely, are chemically cured and acid resistant and, as a result, do not require a sealer. The application of a good quality penetrating/impregnating sealer into the grout joints of a cementitious grout will not change the natural color of the grout but will prevent the penetration of moisture, simplify maintenance, and help prevent staining or discoloration. Only the grout needs to be sealed, not glazed tiles. Grout can be sealed seventy-two hours after installation.

There are different grades of penetrating/impregnating sealers, therefore the useful life and price will differ between a low quality and high-quality sealer. You may need to reapply the sealer on an annual basis depending on the sealer quality, and maintenance routine. Some sealers have multiple year warranties for useful life. Refer to the manufacturer warranty, technical & product information for specific details on product installation, useful life, and product applications (including any warnings) before use.

 

Grout Maintenance:

Neither sealing the grout nor using a 100% Epoxy Grout will guarantee against surface build-up or discoloration of the grout. Grout needs to be cleaned on a periodic basis to remove any surface build-up. Routine grout cleaning can be done with a daily concentrated household or commercial cleaner depending on the application. When heavy duty grout cleaning is required, you will need to use a professional strength Tile & Grout Cleaner that is capable of removing grease, soap scum, body oil, mildew stains, algae, and synthetic or acrylic waxes from the grout joints. However, such a product should contain non-polluting chemicals and low VOC levels. This type of product can be purchased from most Home Centers.

 

Post-Grout Clean-Up:

Grout haze is a film that has been left behind on the surface of the tile as part of the final grouting process. Usually, this is buffed off the surface after the grout has achieved its initial 12 to 24 hour cure. Cementitious grout haze can be successfully removed with “Sulfamic” acid, which is a mild acid that attacks and breaks down cement smears. There are several products on the market called grout haze removers, which usually contain Sulfamic acid. Sulfamic acid can also be purchased in powder form and mixed with water to different strengths by qualified professionals. Similarly, 100% Solids Epoxy Grout haze can be removed with an Epoxy Haze Remover. These removers are formulated to safely and quickly remove cured epoxy haze from new tile installations. Their unique formulation will soften most epoxy hazes for easy removal without damaging the grout or tile, usually in one application.

 

Disclaimer

Lauderdale Tile does not manufacture installation products or tile cleaning or maintenance products. Lauderdale Tile provides the information contained herein to its customers as an information source only. The products identified in this website may have chemicals that cause reactions in certain individuals. Lauderdale Tile strongly recommends the use of safety glasses, respirators (masks) and gloves in handling any materials that contain chemicals.

Lauderdale Tile, in keeping with healthy planet objectives, recommends the proper disposal of any scrap tile installation and/or maintenance products discussed herein.

Please contact the manufacturer directly, PRIOR to usage, to obtain proper handling instructions, application instructions, and warnings concerning potential health hazards for any product contemplated for use.  Lauderdale Tile also strongly recommends that you ALWAYS test a small area PRIOR to the usage of any installation/tile/cleaning/maintenance product to determine whether the product you are about to apply serves its intended purpose.