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Maintenance Recommendations for Ceramic Tiles, Porcelain, Grout and Natural Stone Flooring

Tiles and stone are a popular choice for flooring as they can provide a practical and aesthetically pleasing floor-covering that is easy to care for and can last a long time. Caring for them is easy if you know how.

By following the basic principles described below you will help to maintain your floor in good condition, consequently, the floor should provide you with many years trouble-free service.

Note: the following list is provided in suggested order of most frequent/least aggressive, to most aggressive/least frequent

1. Eliminate Grit

Grit is the #1 enemy to all hard floors; it is the grit carried in on foot-ware that will abrade, scratch and wear any hard surface. There are a couple of things you can do to keep dust and grit to the minimum:

  1. Place a good dust mat by the door, ideally one inside and one outside if possible.
  2. Clean the dust mats regularly as they will soon be full of grit
  3. Sweep or vacuum the floor at regular intervals to keep the floor’s exposure to grit down to a minimum. Use of a large micro-fibre mob makes easy work of removing surface dust.

2. Attend to isolated spillages as they occur

Even though your floor may be protected by a glaze or perhaps a seal of some kind, liquid contaminants should be removed as soon as they occur, the longer they are left to dwell on grout or unglazed materials, the more likely they are to create to a stain.

Also, some contaminants may contain acidic compounds (for example, red wine or vinegar) in addition to potentially causing a stain; they can also etch the surface of some acid-sensitive materials so speed is of the essence.

Use absorbent paper towels or similar to absorb as much of the spillage as possible. Let any remaining stain dry and then wash lightly with a neutral detergent (see Routine Maintenance below).

3. Regular Washing – Routine Maintenance

For routine cleaning use a mild, neutral detergent (the use of ‘off the shelf’ high alkaline cleaners should be kept to a minimum, and avoid using bleach). A good example is Ezy Clean by All for Stone Ltd. Follow the on-bottle instructions and rinse the floor well with clean water.

Quite how ‘regularly’ you will need to do this will depend on the type and frequency of the traffic, some floors will require washing more frequently while others less so, but for a guide, once per week should be sufficient.

Floors with light traffic that are swept regularly and that have isolated spills picked up promptly may not need washing very often at all.

A note on steam cleaners and steam mops: Since I first compiled this list, a number of companies have begun selling steam mops at much more affordable prices, making them more attractive to homeowners. 

These new, relatively inexpensive steam mops can help in regular maintenance but they are not really suitable for thorough cleaning as the mop heads become dirty quickly and need frequent changing, also they are not great at pulling dirt from grout joints.

However, they do make a useful addition for giving floors a quick damp wipe, helping to remove grit/dust and minor marks like footprints etc. For this reason, I would place them at #2a in this list.

4. Periodic Deep Cleaning

From time to time it may be necessary to give the floor and in particular the grout joints, an intensive or deep clean. This may be just once per year, again depending on individual circumstances.

For this, we would generally recommend an alkaline solution such as Xtreme Clean by All for Stone Ltd. (to be effective in removing built-up grease and grime). Again, follow the instructions on the bottle paying particular attention to the dilution recommendations; the recommended ‘dwell time’ and even more so to the rinsing of the floor with clean water.

For some polished surfaces like marble, it can be a good idea to polish the floor dry with a towel to prevent watermarks (as might be done for cleaning windows). Deep cleaning with strong cleaners will, over time reduce the effectiveness of any sealer applied.

They can dull or remove altogether some topical (glossy) sealers and so reapplication may be required as part of the periodic deep clean process.

5. Periodic Re-sealing

If your floor or even just the grout was sealed then depending on the situation and the type of sealer used, it will from time to time, require re-application.

You can test the integrity of your sealer occasionally by conducting a water test: drop some clean water onto the tiles or grout and let it sit for a few moments then wipe dry. If the water has penetrated the tile/grout and left a significant dark patch that takes a while to dry out, then it may be time to top up the sealer.

If, however, the water leaves nothing, or just a faint shadow which dries to leave no mark within a few minutes (this is called Surface Wetting and is normal for most impregnating sealers) then it is fine. Visit our store to see our full range of sealers here

If you do need to re-seal then we would generally suggest carrying out a periodic deep clean as described above first.

Furthermore, we would normally advise using the same sealer as was used originally, if in doubt, consult your installer, he/she may also be able to undertake the work for you.

These recommendations are intended as general guidelines for the care and maintenance of ceramic tiles, stone tiles and grout.  The actual product dilution ratios and maintenance requirements may vary depending on the use and contaminants common to the area.  READ PRODUCT DIRECTIONS THOROUGHLY PRIOR TO USE.  ALWAYS TEST FIRST.  


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