Monday, January 17, 2011

Maintaining Your Ceramic Tile

MOSAIC Group Guest Blogger: Janice Howell, vice president, MODA Floors & Interiors, http://www.modafloorsandinteriors.com/
Janice Howell
Sooner or later, time, traffic, life and living will take its toll on any floor covering. Ceramic tile is no exception. Understanding the best methods to care for your ceramic flooring will help maintain its beauty and keep it close to its original condition. Plus, knowing what’s expected of you regarding upkeep can be a determining factor in which type of ceramic tile to purchase.
Ceramic tile should be swept and not beaten:
It’s important to sweep a tile floor regularly. Dirt can adhere to the surface of tile, particularly styles with a textured surface. Regular sweeping loosens and removes most of this dirt. Feel free to use a vacuum cleaner to sweep, but be sure to use one without a beater bar to avoid dulling and scratching the tiles. However, the attachments that accompany vacuum cleaners are useful to collect dirt along edges or in between tiles.
Don’t let dirt have its way:
Use walk-off mats to minimize and contain dirt being tracked in at entryways. And shake them often. This reduces the amount of dirt being tracked across the tile floor, and reduces the wear to the finished surface. Ceramic tile floors should be damp-mopped regularly using the manufacturer’s recommended grout and tile cleaners.
For heavier soil, you can spot clean the floor with a sponge or clean cloth using the recommended cleaners. Rinse well and wipe dry for more shine. Textured tiles may require mild scrubbing with a soft brush or electric polisher/scrubber. After cleaning with a mild detergent, rinse thoroughly with clean, warm water to help remove any leftover residue. If needed, wipe dry with a clean towel to remove any film.
For soft water situations you may need to use an all-purpose cleaner. Apply to the floor, let stand for three - five minutes, lightly scrub with a sponge, rinse well and you’re home free – dirt free too. For heavier cleaning tasks there are cleaning products available that can be used to remove soap scum, hard water deposits and mildew stains. You’ll want to consult the instructions to make sure the product is compatible with your type of tile. After cleaning, rinse well and wipe dry for optimum shine.
Cautions and considerations:
Avoid using steel wool, scouring powders or other abrasives that can scratch the finish of the tile. Don’t use bleach or ammonia based cleaners, as these products can discolor your grout if used too often. Also, do not clean glazed tile with oil-based cleaners.
Try to clean up spills as quickly as possible so that the grout or tile doesn’t become stained. While ceramic tile is considered very durable, it’s not indestructible and may crack or chip under extreme force. Take the proper precautions when moving heavy objects across your tile floor. Cover furniture and table legs with protectors to guard your floor against damage.
Keep in mind that if a repair is necessary in the future, the replacement product may be a slightly different dye lot and/or texture than the initial installation. With time and usage, the repair will blend in with the original product.
Two measures for prevention: caulking and sealing:
Once the tile has been laid and grouted, it’s your responsibility to maintain areas exposed to water by caulking. Caulking will prevent expensive subsurface damage, as well as keep the tiled areas looking their best.
Depending on your lifestyle, sealing new tile and grout may be an option. After the installation process is complete and the grout has had ample time to cure, sealing the grout and tile can provide protection from dirt and spills by slowing down the staining process.
Knowing how to care for and maintain your ceramic floor will help keep your investment beautiful, durable and a source of pride for years to come. For more maintenance information specific to your ceramic tile flooring, remember to consult the manufacturers’ recommendations.