10 tips to care for ceramic tile

September 15, 2015

Glazed ceramic tile is durable and requires little care. The grout in the joints is more likely to give you grief. But the following tips will keep both the tiles and the grout in great shape. 

10 tips to care for ceramic tile

1. Wipe down your tiles

  • Wipe the tiles regularly with a damn sponge. If you wash the tiles, use a commercial tub-and-tile cleaner and avoid soapy or oily cleaners.

2. Keep the grout clean, too

  • Keeping the tiles clean will keep the grout clean, but if it does get dirty, clean it with commercial grout cleaner.
  • After applying the cleaner, leave it on for a few minutes; then scrub it off with an old toothbrush.

3. Bleach grimy grout

  • For grout that stubbornly resists standard cleaning methods, mix 250 millilitres of household bleach in two litres of water. Scrub it on with an old toothbrush, and let it soak for 10 to 20 minutes before rinsing with clean water.

4. Grouting tools

  • If you are replacing a lot of grout, there are a couple of tools that can speed the process.
  • To remove a lot of old grout, cut it out with a small, handheld grout saw.
  • To re-grout a large area, use a special rubber-bottom grout float.
  • When sealing grout and porous tiles, dry the grout, then apply a silicone sealer (available at home centres).
  • If you have porous tile, seal the tiles and the grout at the same time by applying a combination tile-and-grout sealer.

5. Cleaning solutions

  • Never use abrasive scrubbers or scouring powders like Comet and Ajax on ceramic tiles. They will dull the finish. Never use steel wool to clean grout; it's much too abrasive.

6. Matching your grout's colour

  • You may need to mix two different colours together. Make up a few sample batches, varying the amount of each colour. Let the samples dry at least overnight and choose the closest match.

7. Finding matching tiles

  • Then take a large scrap to the tile store and try to match it. If you can't find a perfect match, choose a contrasting accent colour and replace a couple of other tiles to make it look like the whole thing was done on purpose.

8. Replacing cracked tiles

  • You'll need a hammer, a cold chisel, a notched plastic trowel, a grout saw and premixed latex tile adhesive. Wear work gloves and goggles.
  • Start by cutting out the grout around the tile with a grout saw. Then break up and remove the damaged tile and the old adhesive under it with a cold chisel and hammer.
  • Apply adhesive to the back of the new tile with the trowel and press it into place. Let the adhesive dry for at least 72 hours; then apply grout.

9. Touching up chipped tiles

  • You can use appliance touch-up paint or the polyester resin, but it's tricky to find a match. You may be better off staining the chipped area with a matching-colour marker or paint; after it dries, coat the area with clear nail polish.

10. How to replace crumbling grout

  • Start by removing loose old grout with a grout saw. Vacuum out the debris and wash the area with tile cleaner.
  • Pack new grout into the area with a grout float. Hold the float at an angle to the wall and sweep it across the tiles. Remove excess grout with the float.
  • After 20 to 30 minutes, wipe the area with a damp sponge.  Let the area dry until a cloudy haze appears, then polish with a clean rag right away. If you wait too long, the hazy residue will become difficult to remove.
  • Wait a week, until the grout is thoroughly hardened, and then seal it.

A few colourful ceramic tiles and some freshly-applied grout is all it takes to give any room everything it needs to look fresher than ever! So don't hesitate to give it a try!

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