Ceramic and Porcelain Tile Care
Routine maintenance for ceramic and porcelain tiles is fairly simple. Never use harsh chemical agents or abrasive cleaning instruments like steel wool on your tile. Wipe glazed wall tiles periodically using a cloth or sponge dampened with a non oil-based household cleaner. Vacuum glazed floor tiles regularly to remove dirt and particles, then damp mop or sponge with an all-purpose, non oil-based cleaner. Do not use ammonia, as it will discolor grout. Clean unglazed wall and floor tiles in a similar manner using a solution of water and soap-less detergent instead of an all-purpose cleaner.
Shortly after installation, once the tile has been cleaned and dried, grout joints should be treated with a silicone sealer. Grout, the material that fills spaces between tiles, is porous, and sealing it at this time will simplify maintenance in the future (Epoxy grouts do not require a sealer). You can purchase such a sealant at your local home or floor covering store. We recommend you apply a sealer at least twice a year for maximum stain protection.
Tiles that have been neglected or that are walked over frequently may require more intensive cleaning. Regular cleaning and the application of sealant will help keep your tiles looking clean and new, and hopefully they will never require intensive cleaning. However, if your tiles get very dirty, use a scouring powder or an all-purpose cleaner. For unglazed tiles, apply powder or cleaner to tiles and grout with a non-metallic pad, like a Dobie pad. Scrub with special attention to the grout lines. Rinse and dry. For glazed floor tiles, use a commercial tile cleaner, or apply a strong solution of an all-purpose, non oil-based cleaner or scouring powder paste. Let stand for five minutes, and then scrub it with a brush or pad. Then rinse with clean water and wipe dry.
For heavy-duty cleaning of unglazed wall tiles, make a paste of scouring powder. Apply to surface and let stand for five minutes. Scour with brush, rinse and wipe dry. Unglazed floor tiles can be cleaned in the same manner. Though a small brush is suitable for most floors, you may want to use a scrubbing machine for large areas.
Heavily soiled counter-tops should be cleaned by the application of a solution of scouring powder and very hot water. Let the mixture stand for about five minutes, then scrub with a stiff brush and rinse.
Purchasing Maintenance Products
Ceramic tile and Natural Stone cleaning products and sealants may be purchased at your local home center or floor covering store. Consult the manufacturer of your tile for more specific information about the kinds of treatments best suited for it.
Natural Stone Tile Care
To maintain the appearance of your natural stone tile and to maximize its longevity, regular maintenance is crucial. Natural Stone products are porous by nature and require a different maintenance program than ceramic tile. Many of the cleaners recommended for use on ceramic tile can stain, damage or dull stone. Dirt and dust will scratch the surface of stone. Therefore, stone floors should be vacuumed or dust mopped frequently to remove abrasive agents from the stone surface. Natural stone should be cleaned with neutral cleaners. Stone cleaners should never contain acid or bleach. Acids, even a light solution of vinegar and water, will etch and eventually damage natural stone. Only use cleaners that are explicitly manufactured for natural stone. Such cleaners are acid free and have a neural PH and will not be harmful to existing sealers or finishes that may be present on the stone. The cleaner should be diluted with water and applied to the stone’s surface with a sponge or mop, or according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Walls or counter-tops should be treated with a spray bottle. Allow cleaner to stand approximately three to five minutes. Scrub with a soft sponge, wipe dry.
Sealing is strongly recommended for newly installed marble and other natural stone to provide maximum protection against stains that can penetrate below the surface. A non-sanded grout is recommended for natural stone installations due to the narrow grout joints customarily preferred. This type of grout has many fine particles of cement and pigments, which can penetrate the microscopic pores of the stone surface, appearing as a stain in the stone. All unpolished natural stone tiles (travertine, slate, tumbled stone and honed/flamed/unpolished granite) should be sealed prior to the grouting process to protect them from staining. The tiles and grout should then be re-sealed after installation.
A penetrating/impregnating premium natural look sealer is the normal choice for polished or honed natural stone. Such sealers are water or solvent based and typically promise to protect the stone for a minimum of ten years. A stone enhancer sealer is often used on tumbled, antique stones or on slate where a darker, enriched or highlighted character is desired. Enhancer sealers generally protect the stone for a minimum of three years, and will darken and rejuvenate the look of your stone. When choosing one of these types of sealers, make sure the brand you have chosen is formulated to provide maximum stain protection for stone products. Contact the manufacturer of the sealant if you are unsure that you have chosen the correct product. If you are choosing an enhancing sealer for a new installation, we recommend that you spot-test your natural stone or pebble tile to ensure that it results in the color tone that you want.
Polished natural stone floors can be treated with a stone floor finish. These types of finishes are not intended for unpolished, honed, or tumbled stone surface floors. This type of product will help enhance the shine and provide a protective coating for polished granites or marbles. Verify that your finish is wax-based and designed to add luster and enhance the beauty of sealed and polished natural stone only. Wax based finishes may change the appearance and performance of your stone, so always test a small area first. Application of topical sealer or wax should never be done as an attempt to add a shine to a honed, scratched or non-polished stone product. This will only create maintenance and/or slip resistance problems. Consult the manufacturer of any surface-altering product for more detailed information about the product’s impact on safety, maintenance or appearance of your stone.
Metal, Glass, and Specialty Tile Care
Glass and metal tiles are non-porous and typically very easy to clean. Wash them with soap and water. Many ceramic tile cleaning products will work for glass tiles as well. Do not use abrasive or chemical cleaners on metal tiles. Use an all-purpose cleaner that states that it is suitable for metal. Consult the manufacturer of the product if you are unsure. You do not need to seal glass tiles but you should seal the grout as you would with a ceramic tile installation.