Ceramic Tile Floor Maintenance Guide
As many people know, caring for a tile floor is different from other flooring surfaces. For one, tile typically
has a very delicate finish which can be scratched by brittle bristle brushes, scouring pads or steel wool and
harsh abrasive chemical agents. Another area of quandary is the grout finishes on tile floors; how do you
get stains out of grout? The answers to these questions coincide with one of tile floor’s nicest qualities: its
resiliency to staining. And while the grout may be porous and slightly more susceptible to staining, a few
procedures can make your floor almost totally stain proof.
When your floor tiles leave the factory, they have been through a barrage of treatments. In their initial
stage as molten clay, aluminum powder may have been added to strengthen the tiles. Next, they may have
been treated with a glaze to add a layer of protection and enhance their appearance. From there, your tiles
were fired to immensely high temperatures, essentially cooking the tile, and further sealing the glaze.
Finally, your tile is treated to a sealer which will protect it, both in transit to your home and then again
once it’s set in place in your home.
All these steps have been put in place to insure that your tile floor looks its best for as long as possible.
Now it’s your turn to continue that maintenance, and prolong the life your floor indefinitely. A solution of
mild soap and water applied the surface of the tile on a regular basis is generally enough to keep your floor
clean and looking its best. But from time to time, depending on the level of household traffic, it may be
necessary to spruce your floor up with a few readily available treatments.
Removing Stains from Tile Floor
Some people complain about stains on their tile floors from kitchen mishaps. These stains can imbed
themselves in the porous finish of some manufactured tile. Bleach can be used in most cases to remove
some of the nastier, deeper stains, but where bleach does not reach, what can you do? Many household tile
cleaners make great claims about removing deeply saturated stains or hard water marks from tile. The fact
is, most miss the mark when compared to the time honored method of diluted muriatic acid.
Muriatic acid has been carefully used by trade professionals for decades to treat and remove industrial
stains from tile and stone surfaces. When used in the home, it is important to thoroughly ventilate the area
and protect yourself extensively from this corrosive agent. Heavy gloves, mask and eye protection are
imperative, but if you exercise reasonable caution, this tool can be just the trick to removing those
stubborn stains. Dilute the acid to a 60/40 acid/water solution. Then with a toothbrush or other soft
bristle brush, apply the mixture and scrub the area clean. Once the stain is removed, quickly wash the area
down and discard the remaining mixture in a safe and proper manner. Refer to your local constabulary
regarding regulations for disposal of acid products.
Cleaning the Grout on Tile Floor
If a stubborn stain emerges in your grout, follow the same steps described in the procedure above to
gently work the stain out. If a situation arises in which the stain cannot be removed, it might be necessary
to replace that particular area of grout. Grout can be removed quickly and effectively by using a small
grout remover, inexpensively bought at any home improvement retailer. Work the stained section of grout
until you are beneath the stained area and clean grout is present.
You are now left with an indentation in the grout that needs to be filled. Bring a grout sample, if possible,
to your local tile store or home improvement retailer, and try to get the closest match you can. Once you
have obtained the material, pour the dry mixture into the cavity you created. If the color matches to your
liking, vacuum the dry mixture out and follow directions on the box to make a small batch. Use a rubber
glove and a finger to firmly apply the grout to the damaged area. Blend the mixtures in to the best of your
abilities, and clean the area with a clean, damp sponge. Verify the joint composition is a match to the
Tile Floor Sealers
There are several good quality tile sealers available. These are great tools to keeping your tile and grout
looking fantastic, and with installation intervals of four years and beyond. Applying a tile sealer is a very
simple process, and relatively affordable. Once applied, the stain resistance of your floor is dramatically
increased, and the overall finish is kept to a factory high standard. Begin with a general and thorough
cleaning of the floor surface; inspect the grout especially for any staining or discoloration, as this is the
ideal time to address those issues. Next walk the floor briefly and watch for any for objects or debris that
could interfere with the application of the sealer. Then apply the sealer to the floor surface evenly, mop it
back towards the opening of the room, and allow the sealer to dry. Some products have you completed at
that point, while others suggest a general buffing of the area. Use a clean soft rag and buff the floor using a
Take the time to go through these steps, as tile provides a resilient, durable surface that, if treated
properly, can bring a great element of design to your décor. For questions on products, be sure to speak
with your local home improvement store professional for suggestions on your specific applications. Before
using any acid products, consult with your local township regarding any regulations, and keep children
and pets clear of the treated area until it has been washed appropriately.