Tile Maintenance

The life of the tiled surface depends on how well it is cared for. The user must do his/her part to ensure that a tiled floor or wall keeps its technical characteristics and conditions to look beautiful.

 

  • Cleaning products – use appropriate detergents, or tile-care products, avoid using acid based detergents that could damage cement based grouting.

  • Cleaning methods – avoid using highly abrasive materials such as metal pads.

  • Abrasive dirt – sand or powder aggravate abrasion caused by people’s feet, provide doormats at entrance.

  • Precautions and protection – prevent heavy objects from dropping on tiled floors, protect with mats areas at high risk (in front of refrigerator, sink, oven)

 

Cleaning Methods.

 

Cleaning should always begin with the gentlest means possible, which may be as simple as warm water. Regular maintenance should include sweeping (nylon-bristled brooms), or preferably dry or damp mopping or vacuuming to reduce grit.  Tiles can usually be cleaned with a non-soap-based household floor cleaner, such as one of the commercial products intended for cleaning ceramic tile floors available in the market.

All cleaning and stain-removal products should always be tested on a small, inconspicuous area before using.  Abrasive cleaners (including powdered cleansers and even "mildly" abrasive creams) and mechanical equipment can damage and wear away the protective surface, as well as the decorative design on the tiles, and should not be used on ceramic tile floors. Generally, acid-based cleaning solutions should also not be used on ceramic tile floors because they can damage the complex silicates in a glaze.  However, there are some acid-based cleaners specially formulated for cleaning and removing coatings from ceramic tile floors that may be acceptable, but even these must be used with caution.  Sometimes an acid-based cleaner may, in fact, be needed to remove discoloration or staining caused by lime or cement mortar. But, it should be tested first, used with caution, and applied only to a thoroughly wetted tile floor from which excess water has been removed. Pre-wetting a ceramic tile floor before cleaning is a good policy to observe with all cleaners.  The water saturates the porous tile and prevents chemicals or other cleaning agents from penetrating into the tile body. Floor tiles should be always rinsed thoroughly after cleaning

 

Plastic pot-scrubbers may be effective in loosening and removing superficial dirt without abrading the glazed or vitrified surface of the tiles.  Stubborn asphalt or oil stains, scuff marks, or soiling can sometimes be removed with ammonia or one of the household spray products intended for cleaning kitchen or bathroom tiles.  If necessary, a solvent may be applied carefully to pre-wetted tiles, but it should not be left on the surface for an extended amount of time as it may cause discoloration.  If possible, a stain should always be identified first in order to select the material best-suited to remove it.

 

Organic growth, such as mold or mildew, can be eliminated with a dilute solution of household bleach and a neutral household detergent, or a dilute (5-10%) solution of trisodium phosphate (TSP).  After applying either of these solutions, it may be necessary to scrub the floor with a natural bristle or nylon brush, and then rinse with clear water.  Even a dilute bleach solution should not be left on a ceramic tile floor for more than a few minutes, since the alkali in the bleach can lead to the formation of a white efflorescent deposit.  Efflorescence (a whitish haze of water-soluble salts) may stain and streak the tile, or may even cause minor spalling around the joints.

 

Regular maintenance of a ceramic tile floor should always begin with vacuuming to remove loose dirt and grit.  Then, a mild cleaning solution may be applied and left on the floor for 10-15 minutes, without letting it dry on the tiles.  Heavily soiled areas may be scrubbed with a natural bristle or nylon brush to loosen dirt from the tile surface.  Finally, the floor should be thoroughly rinsed with clean, clear water, preferably twice, and dried with terry cloth towels, if necessary.  Any proprietary cleaning product should always be used in accordance with the manufacturer's directions.