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 every day use, can be used on wall tile areas in residential baths and showers.
The entire area should be cleaned and scrubbed with cleaner 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. Remember that you should sweep or vacuum floor areas prior to cleaning to remove any dust or debris. 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 at removing grease, oils and normal spills from unglazed products. Again these products will vary depending on the application, amount of traffic and the use. The product chosen should also be compatible with cleaning the grout joints at the same time.
Removal of Sealers/Waxes/Floor Finishes:
If you need to remove a topical sealer or floor wax from a ceramic tile you should use a Tile Sealer & Adhesive remover. Always test a small area first. Apply a liberal amount of undiluted sealer & adhesive remover to a manageable area. Allow setting without drying until coating or residue softens. Reapply if necessary until sealer softens and can be removed. If necessary, agitate with white nylon scrub pad. Wipe up the residue with a cotton towel or sponge. Rinse thoroughly with clean water. Do not use on natural stone products.
For routine cleaning, use any non-abrasive cleaning compound recommended for either glass or tile
Metal Signatures/Metal Ages/Urban Metals:
To clean, use a liquid non-abrasive household cleaner.
DO NOT use scouring pads, steel wool, sandpaper or other abrasive products.
Avoid cleaners containing ammonia, bleach, abrasives, or other hazardous/polluting compounds.
Always test in small inconspicuous area while using a new cleaner to ensure compatibility.
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.
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 floor or wall tiles. Grout can be sealed seventy-two hours after installation.
There are different grades of penetrating or 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, traffic patterns, 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.
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, or through your local professional Floor Covering Dealer.
Grout Color Restoration:
When grout has been stained to the point that it cannot be maintained or returned to its natural color, you can return the grout back to its original color or any other color through the use of a "grout stain". Grout Stains are epoxy-based products that are specifically designed to penetrate into the grout and seal the surface with a permanent color. Once the grout has been stained there is no need to seal it any further with a penetrating/impregnating sealer. Prior to staining, the grout joint should be cleaned thoroughly to remove any dirt, oils, grease or sealers with a professional strength Tile & Grout Cleaner. This can be purchased from most Home Centers or through your local Professional Floor Covering Dealer.
Saltillo Tile - Routine Care
Soft clay tiles are categorized as specialty use products, and as such they are generally not governed by the same requirements as glazed or unglazed ceramic tile. These products will require some type of topical sealer protection. These sealers are designed to provide stain resistance and a durable finish to protect clay tile against wear. Pre-sealing the tile prior to grouting will act as a pre-grout sealer, provided it is applied over a clean tile surface. An additional final coat over the grouted floor will complete the sealing process along with providing the final grout stain protection.
There are two common types of sealers used today for sealing specialty tiles. The first is a water-based blend of acrylic polymers. This product allows for moisture vapor transmission, and it can be reapplied over itself, without stripping or removing the old sealer when the original application has become worn. The second type is a solvent-based sealer. Solvent-based sealers are not as forgiving after they have become worn, they must be stripped and removed prior to reapplication. Both types should be UV stable, which means the ultra violet rays from the sun should not break them down. You should always follow the manufacturer's instructions for use, maintenance and precautions.
The expected wear of the topical sealer will vary depending on the hardness, surface texture, type or area, usage, and type of maintenance products used. However, the average expected use life of the sealer, when properly prepared, is a maximum of 3 years. Harsh cleaning methods, high-alkaline or solvent-based cleaners can significantly lower the expected life of the sealer. Concentrated tile cleaners are recommended for routine cleaning.