Monthly Archives: March 2014

If you work in the janitorial field and frequently find yourself cleaning ceramic tile floors in commercial bathrooms, there are a number of tips you should keep in mind to ensure that the floors get the most out of your cleanings. Below are the best ways to keep the ceramic tile floors found in commercial bathrooms dirt-free.

Clean the Floors Every Few Days

Depending on how much traffic cycles through a particular commercial bathroom, you may have to engage in cleaning the ceramic tile floors as frequently as once every day or as infrequently as once every week. For a commercial bathroom that serves as host to an average amount of daily traffic, cleaning the floors once every two or three days should suffice. While ceramic tile floors are quite resilient, excessive dirt buildup and stains are particularly noticeable on this type of flooring.

Use Basic Cleaning Tools

One of the great things about cleaning ceramic tiles floors is that you don’t have to spend top dollar on pricey commercial cleaning products. In fact, you are strongly advised against the use of such products, as the bleach and assorted chemicals found therein can damage ceramic tile floors with repeated use. Instead, a mixture of warm water and liquid soap should suit your needs perfectly. Alternatively, if the floor has come under fire from mold or mildew, use a mixture of vinegar and warm water. Also, while the bulk of the flooring should be scrubbed with a mop, you will need to use a toothbrush or soft-bristled scrub brush to purge any filth from the surrounding grout.

We were asked to restore the Terracotta tiled floor at an old cottage in the village of Wing which was way overdue for a good deep clean and re-seal. In fact the tiles were so dirty they were black in some areas, which you can see for yourself in the photograph below.

Terracotta Tiles in Wing Before Cleaning

Cleaning Terracotta Floor Tiles

Fortunately this sort of work is bread and butter to a Tile Doctor and the process is relatively straight forward. The first job was to apply a reasonably strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which is an industrial strength alkaline Tile Cleaning product that is safe to use on Tile, Stone and Grout. This was left to dwell on the tile for a while and then scrubbed into using a rotary machine fitted with a black scrubbing pad, a stiff hand brush was used on the grout where the scrubbing pad struggled to reach.

The next step was to wash the floor using a Rotovac machine which applies water at a high pressure and also removes it to a storage tank using it’s built in vacuum. This finishes off the cleaning process and also washes the floor down with clean water to remove any remaining cleaning solution and neutralise the tile to remove any trace of cleaning chemical before sealing.

Terracotta Tile Sealing

The floor was left to dry overnight and when we returned the next day when the floor was completely dry to seal using seven coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go which works well on Terracotta providing on-going stain protection as well as adding a nice shine to the tile. As you can see the floor cleaned up really well and now looks like a Terracotta floor should.

Terracotta Tiles in Wing After Cleaning
Source: Terracotta Cleaning Advice

These photos are from a newly installed Polished Marble floor in the kitchen at a residence in Irthlingborough Northants which had been left covered in grout haze. The customer called the builder back as they were unhappy with the finish but he could not rectify the problem, so the customer contacted Tile Doctor to see if anything could be done.

This is a problem we often come up against where a builder or tiler does a good job of laying the tiles but for some reason doesn’t remove all the grout from the tile and we have even seen some jobs where the grout smears have been sealed over which makes it even more noticeable especially on a polished floor. Fortunately for the customer we are able to resolve such problems and after agreeing the process we set about solving the problem.

Marble Tiled Floor In Irthlingborough before cleaning

Burnishing Polished Marble Tiles

To protect the kitchen units from any splashing etc. all the kick boards were removed and plastic sheeting fitted to protect new doors and panels before any work was undertaken.

Polished Marble is a very hard surface that has to be burnished with diamond encrusted pads to restore the finish so we set about this task using a set of Tile Doctor Burnishing Pads. The pads come in a set of four, you start with the coarse pad together with a little water and this cut’s through and removes surface grime, surface seal and in this case grout haze as well. You then progress through the other finer pads one by one until you get to the final polishing pad which provides a high polish. The pads did the trick and had the surface polished to a high shine which was the look the customer was hoping they would have had in the first place.

The floor was looking great but I was concerned about the grout, most people don’t realise but the top layer of grout is actually slightly porous and will attract dirt and discolour over time, this is especially the case in a bathroom or kitchen. After discussing this with the customer we sealed the grout with Tile Doctor Ultra-Seal which provides a natural look whilst preventing contaminates reaching the grout.

All in the job took two days and the customer was extremely happy with the final result.

Marble Tiled Floor In Irthlingborough after cleaning
Source: Polished Marble tile maintenance tips.

The color of ceramic tile grout that you use can make a big difference on the overall look of the floor when it is finished. Many people like to use a color that blends in with the tile and is light. However, you may want to consider using a darker color with your ceramic tile so that you can make a statement. Here are a few things to consider about using dark grout with ceramic tile.

Attention Grabbing

When you use a dark grout with your ceramic tile, you can significantly increase the attention-getting properties of the tile. Dark grout lines will jump out at you and will be a focal point of the room. Many people like to draw attention to their beautiful new tile floor and this is one way to do it. Instead of the floor blending in with the room, the dark grout lines will be pronounced and you will see each individual tile.


Another benefit of using dark grout is that it will be easier to keep looking good. With dark grout, you do not have to worry about it changing colors with dirt. It will still look the same after an extended period of time.

One of the best and most beautiful ways to decorate your kitchen or bathroom is definitely by the installation of ceramic tiles. You may need to sand the ceramic tiles if they are old. You will be giving your tiles a newer and brighter look.

1 – Wearing Protective Eyewear

Before you start your sanding project, make sure that you are wearing protective eyewear as a precaution for your health and safety. This should be done in order to avoid sanded ceramic tile pieces from entering your eyes.

2 – Sanding The Tiles Manually

Sand the ceramic tiles with 220-grit sandpaper. Sanding should be done especially if the tiles were installed more than 50 years ago. You can choose to paint the ceramic tiles after you sand them as well. Remember that your goal is to sand away the superficial glaze but let the tile retain the smoothness of its surface.

If you decide to sand your ceramic tiles manually, keep in mind that the rougher the surface of the tile, the lower the grit of your sandpaper should be. In case you find a chipped tile, it is a much better idea if you utilize 60-grit or 80-grit sandpaper to smoothen the sharp edges. After you have sanded the edges, you can refine them a bit more with 400-grit sandpaper. Make sure that you go up the grit scale slowly. Do not use 400-grit sandpaper immediately after you have used 80-grit sandpaper.

Keep in mind that sandpaper should be used to sand the surfaces of ceramic tiles, as well as to smoothen any sharp edges than the tiles may have. However, if you need to change the size and shape of a ceramic tile, you are advised to make use of a diamond wheel or a tile saw because they are more appropriate tools than sandpaper.

3 – Using Power Sanding Tools

If you do not want to sand your ceramic tiles manually, you can still obtain excellent results if you utilize power tools. Remember that the type of sanding tool you should use depends on the type of edge that the ceramic tiles have. Keep in mind that a rotary sander should be utilized if the edges are curved, whereas a belt sander should be used if the edges are flat.

You need to be much more careful when you sand ceramic tiles with power tools. This is because the tools will sand the tiles at a greater speed than when you are sanding them manually. Hold the tools with gentle hands and inspect the edges regularly. After you see that the edge of the tile has been smoothened completely, you can finish with 200-grit and 400-grit sandpaper, either through the use of power tools or manually.

4 – Using Handle-Mounted Files

If you choose to use a handle-mounted file, you can put your mind to rest because these files give you more control over the job than if you are using a power sanding tool. Use a handle-mounted file in case your ceramic tiles have curved edges.

Removing tile adhesive thoroughly is important before installing another type of floor. When performing this task, many people make mistakes that create more of a mess. Here are a few common mistakes that occur when removing tile adhesive.

1. Underestimating the Job
The most common mistake with removing tile adhesive is underestimating the job. Some people may think that this is going to be a simple job, and because of this, they think that they will be able to get it done quickly without any help. However, in most cases, taking up tile adhesive is going to be one of the most difficult jobs that you can do. Tile adhesive is a lot like concrete, and it is just as hard to chip up. If you are removing a large area of tile adhesive, you could potentially spend several days just on this one task. It is very difficult work, and you need to be able to handle a lot of physical labor in order to complete the job. Most of the time, you are going to want to have two or three people working on this task at once.

2. Not Having the Proper Tools
You could potentially remove the tile adhesive with a hammer and a chisel. However, this is going to be extremely hard, and it is going to take a long time to complete the job with these tools. When you are doing this type of job, you want to bring some more powerful tools with you. For example, you will want a small jackhammer that is designed to take up flooring. You might also want a power scraper. Renting the proper tools can go a long way towards helping you get the tile adhesive off your floor quicker and more efficiently. It might seem like an unnecessary expense to rent all of these tools. However, when you start doing the job, you are going to be grateful that you went to the trouble to get them.

3. Chipping Too Deep into the Subfloor
Another mistake that many people commonly make is that they chip too deep into the subfloor when they are stripping the adhesive. Since the tile adhesive is so similar to concrete, many people keep chiseling down into the concrete. This could potentially cause damage to the floor. When you are installing the new flooring afterwards, you may have to smooth it out with self-leveling compound. This is going to add extra expense and time to the job. If at all possible, you need to stop chiseling when you get to the bottom of the tile adhesive. You need to be very careful so that you can more easily determine the difference between the concrete and the tile adhesive. Otherwise, you could cause some serious damage to the floor and then spend hours trying to correct your mistakes.

This customer had recently moved into a house with a Terracotta Tiled Floor in Thame, Oxfordshire and decided she did not like the colour of the floor grout and also was unable to clean off some back marks in the corners. When I went to view the property I performed a test clean on a sample area to show her that the black marks could be removed and also stripped back the tile show how much cleaner they could look. The work was agreed and I was booked to come back and completely strip the floor tile, reseal it and also change the grout colour.

Terracotta Tiled Floor Thame Before Cleaning

Cleaning Terracotta Tile

On the first day I carefully taped up all the kitchen cupboards and skirting board to protect them from any splashes or damage. Once this was done a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which is a multi-purpose cleaner and stripper was applied to the Terracotta floor tiles and left to soak into the tile for a while before being worked in with a rotary machine fitted with a black stripping pad and then a floor scrubber.

Once the whole floor had been treated in this manner the now soiled Pro-Clean solution was removed from the floor using a wet vacuum and then the floor rinsed with clean water using a spinner tool attached to the wet vacuum. The spinner tool has been a great investment for us, it applies water under pressure to the floor and at the same time removes it via an adjacent suction connection saving loads of time; it’s also a versatile tool that can also be used for Carpet Cleaning which incidentally we also do.

The Terracotta tile was now stripped of all sealer so the next step was to cleaned the black grout with Grout Clean Up which is a mild acid cleaner that can remedy a number of grout related issues, after this I rinsed the floor again with fresh water. At this point I noticed some of the grout joints had loose or missing grout so the loose grout was removed and new grout applied to the affected areas, I then had to wait overnight so the floor could dry.

Sealing Terracotta Tile

On the second day I set about sealing the floor using two coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which as well as protecting the floor also brings out the natural colours in the Terracotta tile. For added protection and to enhance the shine on the floor I then applied a further five coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go, the combination of the two compatible sealers provided the effect the customer wanted. I then had to wait overnight for the sealer to dry hard.

Grout Colouring

If you recall from the start of this post, the customer also wanted to change the grout colour to a light grey so I came back for a third day to complete this. With the original grout colour being black I was concerned that the dark grout may show through the lighter grey and so I first let the customer know that it might take two coats of Grout Colourant to achieve this. However once I got started colouring the grout using an applicator I noticed that the light grey was consistently covering the black grout and therefore one coat would be sufficient.

Terracotta Tiled Floor Thame After Cleaning and Sealing

When I had finished she was very impressed by the colour of the tile and grout and remarked on how much brighter her kitchen looked. She also asked me to come back later to do the hall floor which is a multi coloured Victorian floor.
Source: Terracotta Floor Cleaned and Sealed in Oxfordshire

Installing a ceramic tile underlayment is essential because the ceramic tile floors are stiff and somewhat fragile if not properly positioned. An underlayment provides a sturdier base foundation, preventing cracks in the tiles. Underlayment refers to the layer sandwiched between your wood subfloor and your ceramic tiles. Follow the instructions below to make an inexpensive yet strong underlayment.

What you’ll need
Mesh drywall tape
Galvanized drywall screws (1 1/2 -inch)
1/2 -inch cement board
Screw gun
Mortar trowel with notches along one side
Thinset mortar
1/2 -inch cement board for enough sheets to cover the floor

Step 1 – Mark the Cement Board

In the corner of the floor, lay down the first sheet of cement board and using a pencil mark its edges. This marking will be used as a guide for the next step. You may remove the cement board and proceed to the next step which is to spread thinset mortar on the area to be covered. Use the mortar trowel with the notches along one sire to scrape the on the area and put lines in it.

Step 2 – Screw the Cement Board

Place the cement board back and using the screw gun and galvanized drywall screws fasten it down. Let the screws sink right through the cement board every 6 to 10 inches, and make sure that you bury the screws’ heads just below the surface. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for the next board cement sheets, spread it out by rows and make sure that there are no 4-way intersections. Use the jigsaw to cut the ends of the boards.

Step 3 – Finish the Underlayment

To finish this ceramic tile underlayment process, apply mesh drywall on the joints of each cement board sheets. Using the flat side of the trowel, proceed to apply thinset mortar over the taped joints and leave it for a day. Once you come back, the ceramic tile underlayment is completed and can now be filled with ceramic tiles.

Mosaic grout is used to fill in the spaces left between the tesserae, which are the small pieces of glass and stone used to make the mosaic. Grouting keeps the mosaic clean, improves the overall design, and holds the mosaic together.

What you’ll need
Grout powder/readymade grout
Weldbond glue (or any other similar adhesive)
Mixing stick/Spatula
Grout sponge and float
Dry cloth
Dusk mask
Latex gloves
Safety goggles

Step 1 Choosing the Right Grout

When it comes choosing grout, the rule of thumb is to use sanded grout for spaces wider than 1/8 of an inch, and unsanded grout otherwise. You can buy either ready-made grout or grout powder. Grout is available in many colors, so pick the one that is most suited to your design and color scheme. Light colors are preferably avoided when making floor tiles. You can also make your own color by acrylic paints to your grout mix.

Step 2 Mixing the Grout

Mix the grout powder in a bucket, following the directions on the label. Add some Weldbond glue to this mix to improve the adhesive properties of your grout. To check consistency, use a mixing stick or spatula to scoop up a bit of the mixture. Next, turn over the spatula/mixing stick, if it drips, it needs more grout powder, and if it begins to crumble, it needs more water. You know you have the right consistency, when the mix sticks to the spatula/mixing stick. If you are making your own color, this is time when you add color to the mixture. It is always better to make more grout mix than needed.

Step 3 Prepare Your Workspace

If you are working inside, line the floor with newspapers. Also, before you begin applying the grout, keep the grout float, grout sponge, and a bucket of water handy.

Step 4 Applying the Grout

Apply the grout mix onto the mosaic, using the grout float. You can also use your hands (gloved) if you are more comfortable without the float. Push the grout into all the spaces between the tesserae and the joints. Use the grout to cover up any exposed edges. While applying grout, remove the excess grout as well. Make sure to check from all angles before you consider the application finished. Next, let the grout set for at least five minutes. You can always check for readiness by moving your hand over the tile. If it smears, it needs to dry more. If it powders, it is ready to be sponged.

Step 5 Wipe Off the Excess Grout

Use the grout sponge to wipe the tile and clean off the excess. Keep the sponge wet by dipping it in the bucket of water, albeit squeeze out all excess water before applying the sponge to the tile. Once you have wiped the entire area, there will be a slight haze left on the surface. Let it sit for five minutes and then buff with a dry lint-free cloth.

Step 6 Apply the Sealant

To ensure that your mosaic retains its color and shine, apply a sealant after the grout has completely dried, approximately after 48 hours. Apply the sealant using a brush according the label instructions.

You can purchase colored grout at your local home improvement center. In many tile projects, you will need to use grout in between the tiles you lay and you will need to apply a layer of caulk to the sides and edges of the tiled surface. One would sometimes think that you can only find grout in whites and grays and that caulk can only be found in the same types of shades, but with the improvement in technology, there are many different color solutions that will allow you to match your grout with your caulk. Below are a few tips to remember when you are going to match the two different products.

Whites and Grays

The simplest and easiest way to match the grout with the caulk is to keep with a standard color solution. Whites and grays tend to be the most frequently used and readily available products on home improvement shelves. You will not need to worry about running out of a supplied color, either with the caulk or the grout.

Browns, Tans and Neutrals

Another increasingly popular choice in the color wheel for tile projects are neutral colors. If you pick a tile that will work with a neutral brown caulk or grout, you will have several different options to choose from. You should not have any trouble finding a color that will match or compliment the tiles you lay.

Reds, Yellows and Other Brights

If you are instead looking to create a tiling project with many different colors or with colors that are not as widely used, you will have a more difficult time finding a caulk and a grout that will match perfectly. With the advent of additional coloring techniques, it is not as difficult as it once was. The big box home improvement stores usually only carry the standard colors. To find something that will match well, go online to a caulk and grout supply store. You can also look for a tile supply store, as they sometimes carry the types of products that will give you the ability to match two material colors. Colorfast, as an example, carries a wide variety of grout, caulk tubes and kits. The caulk usually comes in a tube and will need to be mixed before application.

Sheen and Shine

When you look to match the caulk with your grout, consider the type of shine you wish to use. Grout is usually a non-shiny material that is applied in between the tiles. Caulk tends to have a wet look. If you add a sealer to your grout and tile, you can use a shiny type of caulk to match the shine. If you instead intend to leave the tile natural in look, you should consider finding a caulk that does not shine as much and that has a low luster appeal.