Tile Careand maintenance

The best method for caring for and maintaining your tile installation depends primarily on the composition of the products used. After the types of materials used are determined then the best products and methods can be employed to keep any tile installation in the best condition for many years.

See explanations of the most commonly used materials in tile installations:

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Ceramic & Porcelain

Ceramics and porcelains are fired at very high temperatures and often glazed during the firing process. For this reason it is not necessary to apply a sealer to ceramics and porcelain, as their surface will not accept the sealer. Cementitious grouts often used with ceramics and porcelains will accept a sealer. There are essentially no cleaning products available to the public that could harm the surface of these types of tiles. The most important consideration when selecting a cleaning product is to select a cleaner that won’t leave an unsightly film or harm the more porous and stain-prone grout. In most instances a ph neutral and colorless product is the most desirable.

Marble & Limestone

Limestone and marble are composed mostly of calcium carbonate. Limestone is a sedimentary stone formed by two methods. Living organisms produce shells and bones; these are eventually compressed under extreme pressure to form limestone. It also forms from the evaporation of water from a calcium carbonate rich solution which is deposited as sediment and eventually compressed into limestone. Marble is limestone which has been exposed to extremely high temperatures and pressures causing a change in the crystallization of the calcite. These stones are particularly sensitive to acids. These materials are porous and vulnerable to staining. A penetrating sealer is recommended after installation and periodically thereafter for the life of the installation. Even mild acidic solutions (such as vinegar and water) should be avoided for cleaning. A neutral ph or slightly alkaline cleaner, ideally containing some amount of sealer, should always be used with these stones.

Travertine

Travertine is a sedimentary rock, formed by the precipitation of carbonate minerals from solution in ground and surface waters, and/or geothermally heated hot-springs. Travertine can be identified by it’s high porosity. Like marble and limestone travertine can easily be damaged by acid cleaners. The high porosity of travertine demands a very high end sealer applied regularly to avoid staining. Colorless, ph neutral cleaners should be exclusively used on travertine installations.

Granite

Granite is a very hard igneous rock identifiable by it’s granular texture. Granite is more dense than other stones such as travertine and limestone, but it is still somewhat porous and susceptible to staining. Highly acidic cleaners should be avoided with granite. The lighter colored varieties with higher degrees of variation are the most prone to staining and etching. The surface of polished granite can easily be etched by even mild acidic solutions such as wine and citric juices if left to dwell for an extended period of time. A penetrating sealer should be applied to granite immediately following installation. Ideally a cleaner containing sealer should be used for regular maintenance.

Glass Tile

Glass tiles are tiles composed entirely or primarily of glass. Glass tiles come in a variety of compositions, colors and size formats. Glass tile can be opaque or completely translucent. Many glass tiles are composed entirely of partly of recycled glass. Glass, like other fired products is very stain resistant as it’s surface is non-absorbent. The primary concern with glass tile is not use a soapy solution that may leave a film. It is also important to avoid cleaners that may harm the cementitious grout used in the joints. A ph neutral tile specific cleaner is the best option for glass tiles.

Quarry Tile

Quarry tiles are made by an extrusion process by forcing clay through a die and then hard-firing, thereby creating a durable, dense and low-porosity tile. Quarry tile has a water absorption rate of 5%, making them ideal for use in commercial kitchens and bathrooms. Quarry tiles are manufactured with a smooth surface or with a slip-resistant surface to increase safety in high-traffic areas. Quarry tiles will benefit from a penetrating sealer. They can be cleaned very aggressively especially when used in conjunction with a high performance type grout.

Epoxy Grouts

Quarry tiles are made by an extrusion process by forcing clay through a die and then hard-firing, thereby creating a durable, dense and low-porosity tile. Quarry tile has a water absorption rate of 5%, making them ideal for use in commercial kitchens and bathrooms. Quarry tiles are manufactured with a smooth surface or with a slip-resistant surface to increase safety in high-traffic areas. Quarry tiles will benefit from a penetrating sealer. They can be cleaned very aggressively especially when used in conjunction with a high performance type grout.

Cementitious Grout

This is the most common type of grout used in tile applications. It is composed primarily of portland cement, silica aggregate (in sanded grouts), pigment and in most cases a polymer additive. Cementitious grout can be either sanded or unsanded. All cementitious grout is very porous and prone to staining. A penetrating sealer should be used and regularly applied especially in high traffic areas. Ideally a cleaner containing penetrating sealer should be used for regular cleaning. Bleaches and highly acidic cleaner will discolor the grout.

Improved Cementitious Grout

Also referred to as high performance grouts, these products have higher density and are more stain resistant than standard grouts. These types of grouts are still somewhat porous and will accept a penetrating sealer after installation. Highly acidic cleaners and cleaners containing bleach can still harm this type of grout especially when used in higher than recommended amounts. A ph neutral tile specific cleaner should be used regularly.

Cleaning Materials

We carry a full line of cleaners, sealers and maintenance solutions for all the products we carry. We are proud to offer Mapei’s line of Ultracare products. If you have any questions about a product or method for maintaining your tile installation please feel free to contact a member of our knowledgeable staff.