How to Care for Ceramic and Marble Tiles
Ceramic tile and marble are natural products and, with proper maintenance, will last the lifetime of your home. Here are a few basic tips in keeping tile beautiful throughout the years.
Once the installation is complete, we recommend cleaning your ceramic tile with a pH balanced neutral cleaner. This is designed to clean any grout film or soil that may have been left on the surface during installation. Using water and neutral cleaner, sponge the area throughly in a circular motion. This process will clean the tile and grout, leaving the grout color for vivid and sanitary.
After the tile has had sufficient time to dry (approx. 72 hours or more), apply penetrating sealer to the grout lines. This sealer is a below surface sealer and will not allow soil or moisture to penetrate into the grout joint. Penetrating sealer should be used every five years in low traffic areas, and every two years in high traffic areas such as countertops, shower and tub areas. Grout is porous and will take on soil; therefore, it is necessary to seal only the grout to keep it sanitary and clean. Keep in mind that most of our ceramic tile are glazed (either with a matte, semi-satin, or gloss surface), you do not seal a glazed tile -- merely the grout.
(Always follow directions on the packaging for best results.)
All marble tiles are porous and most cleaners will harm the polish of marble. A neutral cleaner is rcommended for cleaning marble without harming its surface.
Once the installation is complete, clean your marble tile using a neutral cleaner and water. We have found that a clean sponge mop works the best. After washing the marble with a neutral cleaner, rinse the surface with clean water. This will pick up any residue. Allow the surface to dry 72 hours or more and pply a penetrating sealer on the marble surface as well as the grout with a clean sponge. It is very important to follow the directions on the packaging. Only seal a small area at a time, wiping up any excess sealer off the marble surface with a dry paper towel. In the event the excess sealer dries on the marble surface, a white milky film will remain on the surface. Therefore, follow the directions to the letter and seal small areas at a time.
If your tile encounters a lot of foottraffic, consider a daily sweeping. Beyond that, most tile applications require only periodic cleaning with a neutral cleaner and water to remove dirt and soil build-up. Grout may occasionally require a little more attention because it is more porous than tile. To remove ground-in dirt from the grout joints, use the same cleaner and scrub brush. Change your cleaning water often -- most dirt build-up is caused by mopping dirty water onto the tile surface.
If tile has been neglected or improperly cleaned, heavy-duty cleaning may be necessary. A heavy-duty, phosphoric acid cleaner will remove synthetic waxes and grease from the tile surface. After heavy-duty cleaning has been accomplished, the penetrating routine maintenance should be started to avoid repeating the problem. Sealer should be re-applied.
Do's and Don'ts
Do treat cracked or crazed glazed tiles with a pre-grout coating finish. This will prevent the grout pigmentation from penetrating the cracks in the tile. (Generally, glazed tiles do not require sealing.)
Do remember that unglazed tile usually required pregrout sealing. Penetrating sealer should be used for all areas.
Do use a grout additive and a grout release product when installing porcelain tiles -- especially rustic finished products.
Do use phosphoric acid for heavy-duty cleaning of your grout. Grout will need to be resealed with a penetrating sealer after this cleaning.
Don't use phosphoric acid on any natural stone or marble.
Don't use high-solids coatings (wax) on glazed, porcelain or quarry tiles since they tend to peel and will not bond as effectively.
Don't use vinegar and water for cleaning tile. Vinegar is acidic and will damage grout and bleach its color. Bleach has the same effect on tile. A neutral cleaner is a better choice.
Don't use muriatic acid -- it is dangerous to people, tile and grout. Phosphoric acid is a much safer alternative.
Don't clean the surface of the tile with abraisive cleaners or cleaning powders. They will wear down glazed and unglazed surfaced prematurely.
Where to Find Maintenance Products
The best place to find the products needed to keep your tile looking great is Tile Superstore & More. We make it our business to be knowledgeable in all areas of tile. Many products can be found at other venues; however, useful advice and guidance on how to maintain your tile installation may be limited.