Many people have tile floors somewhere in their homes. Due to being quite impervious to moisture, tile is frequently found in potentially wet places such as entryways, bathrooms and kitchens. In warmer climates, it can be found throughout living spaces and even bedrooms. Tile is easy to maintain and can take a lot of abuse. Read on for some tips to keep your tile in top shape.
Know Your Tile
The first step to keeping your tile floors looking good is to confirm what type they are. Tile is available in many different varieties, the most popular being ceramic or porcelain, and natural stone. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are both made from clay, which is glazed and fired. The glaze prevents moisture and stains from absorbing into the tile. Natural stone, such as limestone, marble or slate are porous and can absorb both moisture and stains if they are unsealed. Each type of tile material has its own care guidelines so it’s important to know your tile.
Clean Your Grout
Regardless of the type of tile you have, the first step is to use a soft brush to sweep any loose dirt from the tiles and the grout lines, so you don’t scratch the floors. Pay close attention to your grout, noting any cracks or loose pieces. Cracked grout can expose the unglazed parts of tile, where water can potentially absorb. Grout that is cracking should be removed and replaced.
Provided your grout is in good shape, you can then apply a grout cleaner with a scrub brush to remove stains from the lines. There are many on the market with good reviews, or you can make your own, but be sure to spot test any cleaner you choose on a small, inconspicuous place. Natural stone is sensitive to harsh chemicals so take care with any cleaner that contains bleach or vinegar, which could damage the tiles.
Clean Your Tiles
Using a solution of water and mild soap, such as dish soap, wipe your floors with a soft cloth or microfiber mop. Excess water should be absorbed so it doesn’t penetrate grout or natural tiles and leave water marks as it dries. If there is any streaking, repeat the process and dry the tiles by hand.
There are many cleaners on the market; be sure to get one that is designed for your particular product and spot test before use. For natural floors, select one that is “safe for stone” to avoid damaging the floor.
Seal Your Grout or Stone Tiles
After cleaning, select a sealer designed for use with your type of grout or tile. If you have glazed tile, select a grout sealer and apply the sealer to the grout lines, then wipe any excess from the face of the tile before it dries. Allow the sealer to dry for about an hour, and then repeat the process. For natural stone floors, work in sections to apply the sealer over the entire floor, being sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Once sealed, avoid using the space for at least 24 hours. While inconvenient, properly sealing your floors simplifies cleaning routines for a year or longer by preventing the penetration of liquids and stains and will be well worth the sacrifice.
With some love and care, tile floors can last a long time and look great! For more help, or to talk about all things tile, connect with the helpful staff at Bud Polley's Floor Center. We can direct you to products and processes designed for your floors, or advise you on repairing or replacing flooring.