Monthly Archives: August 2014

This Shell Slate tiled floor was installed in the kitchen of a house in Lytchett Minster and had not been sealed after its installation over twenty years ago and had now become deeply ingrained with dirt which the owner could not remove however hard she tried.

Cleaning Shell Slate Tiles

To clean the tiles I used Tile Doctor Pro-Clean diluted one part cleaner to five parts water, the solution was applied it to the floor and then left to soak in for ten minutes before working it in with a Numatic buffing machine fitted with 17″ medium firm brush. Next the tiles were steamed using an Earlex steamer and stubborn stains cleaned by hand using sections from a cut-up black buffing pad and a Spid brass-coated wire brush where necessary. Being riven slate the floor was too uneven to successfully clean using a black buffing pad fitted to a rotary machine as the sunken parts of the tile would have been missed and so cleaning tile by tile was the only option to ensure the slate was returned to the best possible condition. A stiff brush was also run along the grout lines before thoroughly rinsing the floor to remove any trace of cleaning product.

Shell Slate at Lytchett Minster Before Cleaning

Sealing Shell Slate Tiles

The floor was left to dry overnight and I returned the next day to seal using two coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow sealer which is a penetrating sealer that occupies the pores in the tile preventing contaminates from lodging there and enhances the many beautiful colours of the Slate as well as leaving a subtle shine to floor.

Shell Slate at Lytchett Minster After Cleaning

The customer was very pleased with the result and said that she hadn’t before seen the true colour of her floor.
Source: Slate Tile Maintenance Advice

When a homeowner thinks about building or remodeling a bathroom or kitchen, often the floor is the most significant component in the room being considered. An inexpensive design touch that is not seen, but certainly felt, is radiant floor warming.

For floors, ceramic, slate or marble tiles are attractive and durable alternatives to wood, carpet or vinyl. The eyes appreciate the beauty of tile floors, but the feet only notice the cold. And what a shame to hide a beautiful floor under a throw rug!

Most people feel comfortable with air temperatures of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit, and tend to feel uncomfortable if there’s more than a 5 degree difference in the surface temperature (80-85 F) between the head and that of the feet. A bare foot gives an immediate indication as to the comfort level of a given floor. For this reason alone, tile may not be used.

Consider: With just a tiny amount of heat drawn from a foot, carpet fibers warm almost instantaneously to “foot” temperature. A ceramic tile can’t compete in this foot race; its mass needs more body heat for a longer amount of time. It’d take approximately half an hour for each step taken on a 68 F marble floor to warm the 15 degrees between it and an uncomfortable 83 F bare foot!

This concern is eliminated with a radiant floor warming system.

The two most common radiant floor warming systems are hydronic, usually a whole house heating solution used not just for floors, or electric. Electric systems are inexpensive enough for single room applications when compared to hydronic floor warming systems that use pricey boilers and tubes to generate radiant heat.

Suitable for new construction or remodeling applications, electric floor warming systems include a network of cables, occasionally mounted to rectangular mats, installed in the mortar just below the tiles. These cables gently warm the tiles, operating on ordinary house current. While using a professional electrician is advised for those not comfortable working on electrical installations, these systems are generally easy to install. The use of a system will not compromise the integrity of the tile installation.

Designing a floor warming installation first requires a determination of the area to be warmed. Calculating the total square footage will require collecting information from the blueprints of the room or actually measuring the area itself. It should be noted that areas under vanities or cabinets, under plumbing fixtures or inaccessible areas should not be included. When making the calculations it is advisable to design a layout that considers actual use and traffic patterns in the area to be warmed. It is very important to calculate the square footage precisely. Using caution in measuring and calculating the area will help ensure a proper installation.

Using the square footage calculated above, the homeowner or contractor selects the appropriate product application. Easy Heat’s Warm Tiles cables are available as an off-the-shelf purchase in a growing number of distribution channels, reducing time in the purchase and installation process. Mat manufacturers can take several weeks creating custom-made mats for a particular application.

A complete system often can be installed using an electric drill and other ordinary hand tools. The installation process can be completed in three phases that will likely correspond with the construction phases of your home or building.

Phase One

During the electrical rough-in, the components of the installation kit will be installed. The outlet box should be located in the wall directly above the area to be warmed. Consideration should be given to the location of other electrical devices when installing the box. The appropriate power feed should be brought to the box in this phase.

Phase Two

After finishing the drywall and immediately preceding the tile installation, the cables should be installed. To simplify this procedure, a special template is provided with each cable to ensure correct spacing. Each cable also includes an appropriate amount of clips and screws to properly affix the cables to the floor.

Phase Three

The last phase calls for the installation of the control and connection to the power source. Complete wiring instructions are provided with each thermostat. Once completed, the circuit can be energized.

Several options exist for controlling a floor warming system. A system can be wired with an appropriately rated switch for manual on/off control, though the use of a thermostat for maximum comfort control and energy conservation is recommended. Thermostats usually have built in on/off switches to allow the system to be turned off during vacations or at other times when the floor warming system is not needed. Today, a homeowner can find floor warming thermostats, such as Easy Heat’s FTS-1, with sophisticated programming features as well.

Using a thermostat, a typical floor warming system may be inexpensive to operate. Homeowner can visit the US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration’s Web page at to determine typical electrical usage. Using Easy Heat’s Warm Tiles square foot operating cost for 40 square feet, results in a price of $0.008 — less than a cent per square foot per day, or 32 cents a day for the 40 square foot floor.

A ceramic tile cutter is an important tool for cutting border tiles during floor tile installation. A ready-made tile cutter with base, clamp, and cutter in one unit can cost a lot of money. To lessen the cost, make an improvised ceramic tile cutter unit with a table base instead.

What You’ll Need
Handheld Tile Cutter
Table (2-3 feet in width and at least 3 feet in length)
1×1 or 2×2 Wooden Board
Meter Stick
Two C-Clamps

Step 1 – Setting up the Table

Determine which side edge of the table to work with. For right-handed people, the right side edge is best. On the back length of the tabletop, secure the meter stick on the edge with the scaled markings, rising up and facing toward the tabletop. Half of the width of the meter stick should be rising from the tabletop and the scales should be in centimeters (or in inches depending on one’s preference). The end of the stick should be flush with the right side edge of the table. At the back of the meter stick, on the lower half of its width, pre-drill screw holes 2 inches apart. Set the screws and tighten them.

Step 2 – Installing the Fixed Straight Edge

Cut two 1×1 or 2×2 wooden boards exactly the same width as the table. Position one on top of the table with the tip exactly on the starting edge of the meter stick and the length perpendicular with the meter stick. The other board will serve as the straight edge guide for cutting the tile.

Step 3 – Positioning the Tile on the Table Base

To prepare a tile for cutting, position it on top of the table with one side flush with the fixed wooden beam and the other side flush with the meter stick. The meter stick and the beam will ensure that the tile is positioned at a right angle. Position one of the C-clamps on the back length of the table and use it to clamp the left side corner of the tile. Tighten the clamp, but make sure not to put too much pressure to avoid breaking the tile.

Step 4 – Marking, Scoring and Cutting the Tile

Using the scales on the meter stick, determine where the tile will be cut. Use the straight edge wooden beam as a guide; mark the tile with a pencil. With the straight edge in position, use the other clamp to secure it on top of the tile. Take the hand-held tile cutter and position it on top of the marked line. Place the tip of the cutter exactly on the marked line, apply pressure and score the entire line downwards to the bottom edge. Remove the clamps and the straight edge, move the tile towards the right side edge of the table until the scored line is in line with the edge. Press the left side of the tile with the left hand and push the right side of the tile slightly downwards until it snaps off.

Occasionally I get a call to pop down to Sandbanks on the Dorset Coast which is well known for containing the most expensive property in the UK outside of London. This particular residence had a Travertine tiled hallway which was badly in need of renovation, it had become very soiled and dirt had become trapped in holes that has opened up in the stone over time and now needed cleaning and filling.

Travertine Tiled Floor Sandbanks Before Cleaning

Cleaning and Filling a Travertine Tiled Floor

I began by applying a dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which was left to soak into the floor for ten minutes before being worked into the tile and grout using a Numatic buffing machine fitted with a medium brush. I then dried the floor using a hot air gun and filled the holes with Harbro Stone Filler which is an epoxy filler as hard as the stone itself. I carefully scraped off the excess filler before leaving it to set overnight.

Burnishing Travertine Tiles

The next day I used 17″ wet and dry paper to remove the excess filler and to cut out some of the deep scratches in the travertine. This I followed by honing and polishing the floor using Tile Doctor burnishing pads which are diamond encrusted and come in a setup of four pads which are applied one after the other from Coarse, Medium, Fine and then Super Fine to restore the surface polish.

Sealing Travertine Tiles

On the third day I returned to seal the Travertine tiles using Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is a colour enhancing impregnating sealer that soaks into the pores of the stone occupying them and in doing so preventing dirt and soil from becoming ingrained into the stone. Colour Grow is also a colour enhancing product that brings out the colour in the stone

Travertine Tiled Floor Sandbanks After Cleaning

Unfortunately I didn’t remember to take a photo of the floor until after the initial clean but the effect of the filling and burnishing pad treatment should be visible.
Source: Resolving problems with Travertine tiles

Sanded grout is a special type of grout that has small particles of silica sand in it to make it a lot stronger than regular grout. Grouting ceramic tiles may do well with regular grout, but there are some instances that require the use of stronger and more durable sanded grout. This type of grout is best to use in between tile slates, glass blocks, or any other material that has wider spaces in between. If regular grout were to be used in wide areas in need of grout, the grout will simply crack afterwards because of shrinkage. Therefore, it is important to use sanded grout in these instances. Below is a set of instructions on how to mix and apply sanded grout properly.

What You’ll Need
Sanded Grout
Rubber Float
Grouting Sponge
Grout Mixing Knife

Step 1 – Mixing the Sanded Grout

The grout should match the color of the tile in order to create a good blend. For glass blocks, use white color. Open a bag of sanded grout and pour half of its contents into the bucket. The reason for not pouring all of the grout is to have ready supply of grout in case too much water is added into the mix. Put a small amount of water into the bucket sufficient enough to make a pasty mixture. To get the right grout consistency, follow the instructions carefully on the grout powder bag. Use a mixing knife to mix the water with the grout powder. Make sure that all the grout is made wet. Scrape the sides of the bucket to make sure. If the mix is too watery, add more grout until a consistent mixture is made.

Step 2 – Applying the Grout

Make sure that the tiles or blocks to be grouted are clean enough before applying the grout. Scoop a good amount of grout and spread it on the sides of the tiles or glass blocks. If the grout is of good consistency, it will not fall down easily when spread onto a wall. Do not put too much grout on the wall or the floor at once. Work on a portion of the floor or the wall one area at a time.

Wet the rubber float to make it easy to use. Wipe off the excess water. Use the float to go across the tiles or the blocks while pressing firmly. This motion will drive the excess grout into the large spaces in between the tiling materials.

Wet the sponge and squeeze off all the excess water. Use the sponge to go over the tiles or blocks as lightly as possible. This will remove the excess grout on the surface of the tiling materials. Rinse the sponge, squeeze off the water and go over the tiles or blocks all over again until most or all of the excess grout is removed from the surfaces. Continue in this manner until all spaces are grouted. Afterwards, allow the grout to cure.

Grout between kitchen floor tiles can loosen for many reasons. The grout will crack, break up and eventually cause tiles to shift.

Faulty Sub Floor

If your sub floor, that is the wood the tile is laid on, is loose or gives, it can cause the grout to crack and also possibly the tiles to break up.

Old Grout

Most people don’t realize that not all grout jobs will last for the life of the floor. Very often they have to be scraped up and replaced. Sealing the grout will help keep this job to a minimum.

Improperly Mixed Grout

Grout that was mixed with too much or too little water will tend to disintegrate and fall apart. It can actually turn to a sand-like material and be swept up when you clean the floor.

As well as bathrooms and kitchens we also cover swimming pools which usually have a tiled pool surround and this was certainly the case with the photograph below which was taken at a property near the small market town of Sandy in Bedfordshire where the tile and grout around the pool had discoloured over time.

Cleaning Mosaic Pool Tiles

To clean the tiles we used a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which left to soak into the tile and grout in sections before being scrubbed in using a stiff brush. You have to be careful with machinery around swimming poos as you don’t want any cleaning products draining into the swimming pool water.

Mosaic Pool Tiles Cleaned near Sandy Bedford

The pro-clean and scrubbing action loosened the dirt and we were then able to use a Rotovac machine to finish the floor off and get the results you see above. The Rotovac which is also known as a Spinner tool is a really useful piece of equipment for a Tile Cleaner as it directs a jet of high pressure hot water onto the tile whilst simultaneously removing the water through a separate suction feature. The tool needs a lot of power so it runs from a high-pressure cleaning and extractor unit fitted into our van which can delivery water pressure between 500 and 3000 PSI. Another feature of the tool is the side skirts around the spinner head which along with the high suction prevent water from being splashed around making it ideal for this job.
Source: Help with Ceramic Tile Cleaning

The ceramic bathroom tile is considered to be a durable and long lasting finishing material. Bathroom accessories and fixtures are usually drilled on previously untouched surfaces, therefore creating unsightly holes that ruin the overall look of the finish. It is easy to repair a hole in a ceramic bathroom tile and all you need are simple materials that can be purchased at any hardware store. Auto body repair filler is the preferred material of choice in covering holes in ceramic bathroom tiles. You can also use silicon caulk or pre mixed grout to cover the holes on ceramic tiles.

What You’ll Need
  • Auto body repair filler
  • Silicone caulk and caulk gun
  • Pre-mixed grout
  • Putty knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Sponge

Step 1 – Preparation

Inspect the holes and remove any debris that may hinder the bond between the filler of choice and tiles. Use a vacuum cleaner or pressurized air to remove any dirt that may remain inside the holes.

Step 2 – Apply the Filler of Choice

When deciding to use auto body repair filler, it would be best to follow the instructions stated on the packaging. Mix the resin with the hardener until achieving a smooth, even consistency and apply immediately using a putty knife. You may also use pre-mixed auto body repair filler to take off the guesswork in the mixing process. Fill the holes and press firmly with the putty knife to ensure the holes are completely filled. Let dry for a few minutes until a rubbery consistency is achieved. Scrape off excess material using a putty knife or razorblade. You may need to sand the area to achieve a smooth consistency.

When using silicone caulk, it would be best to use a caulk that is of the same color as the tile. Attach the cartridge to the caulk gun and press the trigger firmly to dispense the caulk and fill the holes on ceramic tiles. Press on the hole firmly with a putty knife and wipe off excess caulk using a wet sponge. Let dry.

The same procedure applies when using pre-mixed tile grout. Similar to silicone caulk, you can buy pre-mixed grout in the same color as that of the ceramic bathroom tile. Fill the hole with grout with a putty knife and wipe off any excess with a wet sponge.

Step 3 – Clean Up

Remember that auto body repair filler can prove extremely difficult to remove when completely dry. Sanding the surface is the only way to remove any excess filler.

Silicone caulk and pre-mixed grout should be immediately removed on unaffected surfaces. Wipe clean with a wet sponge before the mixture gets a chance to dry completely.

Bathroom fixtures and accessories that come with suction cups will help prevent the accumulation of holes in your ceramic bathroom tiles. Purchase bathroom accessories that negate the use of screws and drills during installation. There are a lot of available bathroom accessories that use suction-type devices to facilitate installation.

Regrouting ceramic bathroom tile may become necessary when the grout is severely discolored from mold and mildew, or when it dries and begins flaking off between tiles. Follow these steps to easily regrout the ceramic tile in your bathroom.

What You’ll Need
  • Portable power grinder with grout wheel
  • Metal-bladed putty knife
  • Soft brush with long bristles
  • Replacement tiles
  • Tile mastic
  • 2 tubes of tile grout, with gun applicator
  • 1 large tube of waterproof silicone sealant
  • Lint-free clean rags
  • Wraparound safety goggles
  • Large rubber tub mat
  • Face mask for dust protection

Step 1: Choose the Grout Color that Suits Your Tiles

You need no longer live with either white or gray grout between your tiles. Many home and building centers offer bathroom tile grout in up to 20 colors. Two tubes of grout should be sufficient for the average shower enclosure around a tub. Purchase 4 tubes of grout if you are regrouting a freestanding shower stall.


Step 2: Ventilate the Bathroom

Turn on the ceiling fan and open the window to get maximum ventilation into the space to remove dust.


Step 3: Sand the Old Grout

Use the power sander with the tile grout wheel to sand down the old grout and pulverize it. Be very careful not to grind over the tiles, as their surface will get scratched and may chip.


Step 4: Remove the Old Grout

Remove as much of the old grout as possible from between the tiles using the putty knife. The tiles should remain attached as long as you avoid prying at the edges of the tiles with the putty knife.


Step 5: Clear the Grout Channels of Dust

Use the long-bristled brush to get into the grout channels and clear them of any dust or grout residue. Wipe off the tiles with a soft, damp, lint-free clean cloth to remove surface dust, so the grout channels are easy to see.


Step 6: Attach New Tiles If Needed

Attach new tiles to replace stained, cracked, broken or missing bathroom tiles if needed. Apply tile mastic with the putty knife, set the new tile in place, and check it is aligned with the tiles around it and the grout channels. Press the tile firmly into the spot. Apply new grout around all tiled areas of the wall before grouting the new tile to give it time to adhere properly.


Step 7: Apply New Grout

Apply the new grout slowly and carefully into the grout channels using the grout gun. Keep a damp sponge handy as you apply grout, to wipe excess off tiles, faucets, taps, tubs and sinks. Fill the grout lines completely and smooth down each grout line with the putty knife. Wipe away grout from all areas where it is not wanted when you finish.


Step 8: Allow the Grout to Firm Up

Allow 72 hours for the grout to firm up between the tiles. Keep the shower area completely dry during this period.


Step 9: Apply Waterproof Silicone Sealant

Once the grout has dried, apply waterproof, clear silicone sealant to the grout. Ensure you put a thick bead of this sealant around the faucet and taps, and along the edges of the tub where it meets the tile, to form a waterproof shower enclosure.

These grubby looking Textured Ceramic Tiles were in a bathroom of a house in the old village of Narborough near Leicester. As you can see from the picture below they were overdue for a deep clean and the customer has been struggling to do that. On inspection it was clear that the textured surface which was designed to prevent slipping has become ingrained with dirt making them difficult to clean and therefore lose appearance. This can be a problem with a rough surface and so to prevent dirt building up the surface is sealed, however sealers do wear off after a few years depending on use and I suspect this is what happened here.

Narborough Cleaning Textured Ceramic Tiles Before

Cleaning and Preparing Porcelain Tile and Grout

To remove any remaining sealer from the less worn areas and clean the tile and grout a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean was applied and left to soak in to the surface for around ten minutes before scrubbing it into the tile with a rotary machine fitted with a black scrubbing pad and also a stiff hand brush along the grout lines. The floor was then rinsed down with fresh water which was removed with a wet Vacuum. This stripping and cleaning process was repeated until the tile and the grout was looking new again after which the floor was given a thorough rinse in order to remove any trace of product and then dried as much as possible using the wet vacuum.

Sealing Micro Porous Porcelain

We left the floor to dry and then came back two days later to seal the floor, testing it first with a damp meter to ensure it was dry. The two days was enough time to dry it out so we moved on to seal the floor using two coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is an impregnating sealer that occupies the pores in the tile providing strong stain protection as well as lifting the colour.

Narborough Cleaning Textured Ceramic Tiles After

I think you will agree the floor tile and grout look much cleaner and the new sealer will make it much easier to clean going forward.
Source: Help with Porcelain Tiles