Tile & Grout Cleaning and Sealing

VCT flooring (Vinyl Composition Tile) must be laid on a perfectly smooth surface. So if you intend to lay your new VCT floor over an existing floor, be certain that the surface is prepared properly to receive the tiles. Additionally, if you opt to use a backer board to level the surface, remember that doors will need to be adjusted accordingly.

What You’ll Need

  • Wax stripper (if required)
  • Grout leveler (if required)
  • Vinyl embossing leveler (if required)
  • Vinyl composition Tiles
  • Adhesive for VCT
  • Notched trowel (size as recommended by manufacturer)
  • Utility knife

Step 1 – Floor Prep
Remove all finish carpentry (doors, doorframes, baseboards, etc.). If the existing floor is vinyl, thoroughly clean and strip polish and wax, then coat with vinyl embossing leveler to even out embossed design. To prepare existing VCT flooring, use a grout leveler over the floor. For an existing epoxy floor, sand the entire surface with a walk-behind sander, and apply a coat of floor preparation to seal and level, then one final sanding and cleaning.

Step 2 – Layout
If the room is a simple layout (square or rectangle), finding the center is just a matter of snapping a chalk line from the centers of opposing walls, forming a “+” on the floor. Where the lines intersect, is the exact center point of the room. Using 1 tile, darken the lines at the center with a pencil to assure perfect placement (lines will be 2-tile widths each direction). It is essential that the first tile be laid perfectly because every other tile lines up to it. Should you prefer a more elaborately VCT flooring design layout, transfer the tile layout to the floor with a pencil. The adhesive dries translucent and will allow you to see the marks.

Step 3 – Setting Tiles
Pour adhesive onto the floor. Spread adhesive over the entire floor with a trowel, notching the adhesive once desired thickness is achieved. Let adhesive dry. Tiles can be set when you can touch the adhesive and it is tacky, but not wet. When you can touch the adhesive with your finger coming up clean, its time to set the VCT flooring. Starting in the center carefully lay the first tile, with the corner even with one of the corners formed by the “+” in Step 1. You will not be able to move tiles once they are laid.

Step 4 – Cutting Tiles
After you have placed all whole tiles, you must make the cuts required to finish the room. For wall cuts, place the tile to be cut (be sure orientation is correct) on top of the tile that will be adjacent to it (first row from wall). Take another unused tile, line it up to the wall, and over the tile to be cut. Using this as your straight edge, score the VCT flooring tile where they overlap. Remove both tiles (one to be cut and overlapping guide tile) and snap strip off at scored line. It is best to NOT have glued the perimeter of the room until all cuts have been made. As you make your cuts, lay the tiles on their appropriate adjacent tile. After all cuts are completed, glue the perimeter, allow it to dry and then place tiles. To cut at openings (doorjambs, etc.), line the tile to be cut even with the wall, make a 1 inches scribe at 90 degree to the jamb, where it hits the tile. Keeping the same orientation, move tile around to inside the jamb, even with the adjacent tile, scribe a 1 inch mark 90 degree to where the jamb hits the tile. Use another uncut tile as a straight edge, scribe the depth of the second mark across to the first mark, and carefully snap strip (do not break off tail) the VCT flooring tile.



Although you may think that putting up your own self adhesive wall tiles can be a hard process, it is actually quite easy. It can be a lengthy process because you need to take your time and if this is the first time you are doing this then you will want to be extra careful. When you are using tiles that are self adhesive for the wall, you are going to find that the process is very different from the traditional method except, that you need to prep the wall before you begin.

What You’ll Need

  • Hot dipped galvanized fasteners
  • Joint compound
  • Self-adhesive tiles
  • Fiberglass tape
  • Cleanser
  • Sandpaper
  • Drywall compound
  • Mud easel
  • Green board
  • Trowel
  • Tiles spacers
  • Grout float
  • Tile cutter
  • Grout
  • Sponge
  • Caulking
  • Grout sealer

Step 1 – Level the Walls
The first thing that you need to do is make sure that your wall is level. You can do this using a carpenter’s level so you know that you are accurate. If you find that the wall is uneven, you can even it out with a thin layer of drywall compound using the trowel so it goes on evenly. You can use the mud easel to put the compound on to make it easier.

Step 2 – Prepare the Walls
If your walls are located in an area that is prone to moisture, use the green board as a barrier since it is water resistant. Attach to the wall using the galvanized fasteners. Next you will need to make sure that your walls are clean and sanded. You need a rough surface for the backing of the tile so use the sandpaper for this step.

Step 3 –Seal the Joints
You will need to use joint compound to seal the joints between the boards and them use the fiberglass tape over top. Once that is done, you can then place a thin layer of the drywall compound over the boards. If your walls are in a dry zone, you can skip this step.

Step 4 – Place the Tiles
Now is the time to start placing the tiles on the wall. Measure your wall first to see if you are going to need any partial tiles and if so you will want them at the foot of the wall. To cut the tile, use the tile cutter. You can then remove the backing, place the tiles across the wall and use tow tile spacers so that you have expansion joints that are needed for the tiles. Start working from the bottom and work your way up. If you would like you can have a row of edging tile as a finish.

Step 5 – Remove the Spacers
Once all of the tiles are in place, you will then want to remove your tile spacers so that you can now grout the joints. Use the grout float for this. There may be some grout that is in excess on your tile and you can wipe that away using a damp sponge. If you think that your surface may be prone to getting wet, use some caulking between the tiles to protect the joints. Now you can wipe down the tile with a cloth that is lint free and then apply your grout sealant. Allow drying and then you are good to go.



River rock tiles are one of the durable materials used in different parts of the house, including the shower floor and walls. This particular type of tile is non-porous and is waterproof, thus it is the perfect material for the shower tile. Moreover, it also gives your shower a natural look. Installation of river rock tiles requires little tiling experience, so if you are a DIY enthusiast, you will be able to do this task easily.

This project requires the following tools:

  • Notched trowel
  • Thinset mortar
  • Sealer
  • Sponge
  • Rubber float
  • Stiff bristled brush
  • Waterproof membrane
  • Concrete
  • Tile adhesive
  • Rubber mallet

Step 1 – Prepare the Area where the Tiles will be Installed
Using a stiff bristled brush, clean the area where the river rock tiles will be installed. Make sure that the base or sub-floor is free from any cracks. If cracks are present, patch them using concrete or a cement fiber board. Moreover, make sure that you install a waterproof membrane on the shower walls and floors to prevent moisture from seeping towards the sub-floor or wall.

Step 2 – Spread the Adhesive Evenly on the Sub-floor
Spread the tile adhesive evenly on the sub-floor using a thinset mortar and the trowel. Make sure that the adhesive is spread evenly on the surface of the shower floor and wall. Make sure that you apply only 3 square feet of the tile adhesive to prevent the adhesive from hardening prior to the installation of the tiles.

Step 3 – Press the River Rock Tiles onto the Adhesive
Place the tiles closely together on top of the tile adhesive, then press the tiles gently on the adhesive to set it. You can also use a rubber mallet to evenly set the tiles on the tile adhesive. Leave the tile to set for a few hours to dry.

Step 4 – Seal the Tiles with a Sealer
Using a sponge, spread the sealer across the tiles. This will seal the tiles to prevent moisture leaking on the sub floor. Once the sealer is applied, make sure that you remove the excess sealant that adhered to the tiles before you let it dry. Use a slightly damp sponge for this procedure.

Step 5 – Apply Sanded Grout on the Tile
Use a rubber float to apply sanded grout on the tile. Let the grout dry for 30 minutes before removing the excess grout from the tile.

Step 6: Remove the Excess Dry Grout that Adhered on the Tiles
To remove the excess dry grout on the tiles, make sure that you use a stiff brush to dislodge the stubborn grout that adhered on the tiles. You can also use a wet sponge to loosen the remaining grout.

Step 7 – Apply a Second Coat of Sealer
Once the grout has been removed, apply a second coat of the sealer evenly on the tile surface by using the sponge. Let it dry for several hours before using the shower.



Installing tile over a wood floor is a project that is a little more difficult than installing tile directly to concrete. However, this project can be done if you are willing to do a little bit of hard work. Here are the basics of how to install tile over a wood floor.

What you’ll need
Concrete board
Tile spacers
Grout float
Tape measure
Wet saw
Seam tape
Chalk line

Step 1: Determine How Much Tile You Need
The first thing that you need to do is determine how much tile you are going to need for the job. This can be done by getting the dimensions of the room with your tape measure. Then you will need to multiply the two dimensions together in order to get the exact square footage of the space. You will then need to add between 5 and 10 percent to that value so that you will have enough to make cuts.

Step 2: Prepare the Room
You will now need to prepare the room for installation. Take up the baseboards along the side of the wall. You will also need to remove any carpet, tile, laminate, or hardwood that is currently on the floor. If there is vinyl on the floor, you can leave it. If you try to take a vinyl that is glued down to wood, it is most likely going to damage the floor.

Step 3: Install the Concrete Board
Tile cannot be installed directly to a wood subfloor. In order to install the tile, you are first going to have to install concrete board. Concrete board typically comes in 3′ x 5′ sheets and can be attached to the wood subfloor in order to provide extra strength. You need to adhere the concrete board by using tile adhesive and nails or screws. You can drill or hammer them into place. Then cover the seams with seam tape.

Step 4: Chalk Line
At this point, you’ll need to snap a chalk line in the center of the room in both directions. This will provide you with a place to start laying the tile so that it will be centered in the room.

Step 5: Laying the Tile
When you are laying the tile, you want to make sure that you use extreme care. If you get out of alignment, it can throw off the entire floor. Spread out some of the adhesive with your trowel and then press one of the tiles down into it. Using spacers to guide you, place the next tile directly next to it. Continue laying tiles in this manner until you get to a wall or cabinet.

Step 6: Continuing
When you get to a wall or cabinet, you are going to need to make a cut. You can do this by measuring the appropriate distance and then cutting it with your wet saw.

Step 7: Finishing Up
After you allow the tile adhesive to dry for 24 hours, you can install the grout. Using a grout float, you can apply the grout to the grout joints. You will then need to clean up with a sponge and some water.



The surfaces of homes and businesses are what guests and clients see when they enter the space. Dirty or dull surfaces can under whelm clients and make guests uncomfortable. They can also be unhealthy for people living in homes and working in businesses. Therefore, it is very important not to only clean surfaces, but to care for them as well. With simple tools, such as the various types of floor machines and carpet cleaning machines, the surfaces of homes and businesses can become pleasing to the eye and healthy for those using them.

Caring for Bare Floors

Bare floors have no protection from walking traffic, busy children, crawling babies, pets, etc. They also have no protection from the discerning eye of guests and clients. To impress clients, keep guests comfortable and children safe, bare floors should be clean, shiny and free from dangerous imperfections, such as splinters and cracks. Regular washing, buffing and polishing will make bare floors look good, be safe and protect them from floor destroyers, such as spills, heels and rolling chairs. A good floor buffer can do all of the cleaning, polishing and protecting any bare floor needs.

Keeping a Clean Carpet

Carpets, while protecting bare floors and small children, are easily damaged by traffic and spills. Furthermore, failing to deep clean a carpet can leave it stained over time. A dirty carpet inside a business looks sloppy. Businesses want to present themselves as competent. A dirty carpet says the opposite. Inside the home, a dirty carpet can be unhealthy for children and pets. It can trap dirt, allergens and even parasites, like fleas. That is why it is important to vacuum carpets frequently and use a carpet cleaning machine whenever a carpet starts to look a little dingy. This will stop usage stains from setting in.

Clean Countertops for Good Health

Countertops are typically the place where people put their food, their hands, their personal belongings, such as keys and purses. If these surfaces are not cleaned regularly, they can transfer bacteria and other illnesses between people when food or hands touch them. Countertops are also typically below eye level and draw attention. If a business or home has dirty countertops, people will notice. Care for countertops by using disinfectant cleaners and keeping grout clean and complete. For example, if the grout is coming up, fix it, or the problem will only get worse.

Don’t Forget Walls and Doorframes

Walls are often neglected when people care for surfaces in their homes and businesses. People focus on the surfaces where we place items or on floors, which become obviously dirty. Walls should have the same kind of care, but typically
do not require it as often. As any parent with young children can testify, people lean on walls and touch walls with their hands. They may leave behind greasy, dirty fingerprints and germs. Neither a home nor a business looks good with dirty walls. Care for walls by keeping the paint fresh and using paint that is easy to clean. From there, it is a simple matter of using a mild spray cleaner and soft rag to wipe down the walls.

Doorframes are another largely neglected surface of homes and businesses. Like walls, people often lean on them and touch them. Items brush up against them as people pass through as well. Keeping up with doorframes is the same as keeping up with walls. Make sure the paint looks fresh and is easy to clean. The use of a mild spray cleaner or a bucket of soap and water to wipe them down are all that is needed when they need cleaning.

Keeping surfaces clean is not difficult. Caring for them is simply a matter of maintenance and sufficient washing or vacuuming with the right products. This can help eliminate odours and bacteria/allergens in homes and businesses. It can also make the room in question look more presentable, homely or professional, and ensure people enjoy their stay and want to come back.



Almost any new DIY task comes with a sense of being overwhelmed and not knowing where or how to begin. Rather than becoming disheartened and throwing in the towel before you even begin, read these tips before starting a floor tile project.

Type and Size
There are three types of floor tile you can choose from: soft, hard, and wooden. (Carpet is an example of soft, and is often self-adhering.) Ceramic is a great example of the hard variety and these will require specialty adhesives and/or sealants. The type will also determine how much prep work you will need to do before starting a floor tile project. Most will require you to tear up any old materials and thoroughly clean the area.

The size of the pieces you will be using will affect the difficulty level. You will need to pay more attention to detail and time with smaller pieces than with larger ones. The same is true of patterns.

How Much Is Needed?
People often underestimate how much material they will need to cover a given space. Sometimes it seems like regardless of the effort put forth to get exact measurements, you wind up just a tad bit off on your calculations. It’s better to err on the side of caution to ensure you will not need to make repeat trips for more product.

You will also need substantially more adhesive than is recommended. It’s not a bad idea to get extra sealant and grout as well before you start your floor tile project.

Tools Required
Not everyone realizes how many tools are required for a project. A tape measure and level are somewhat obvious tools you will need, but don’t forget a chalk line for marking the layout and spacers that will leave room for grout. A notched trowel is used for the adhesive, grout float for the grout, and a sponge for cleanup.

You also need to cut your pieces for things like doorjambs. A material like ceramic is going to require a wet saw. If these are things you do not currently have, you need to look into the cost-effectiveness of doing this yourself before starting your floor tile project.

Kneepads are allegedly optional. However, if you are going to be kneeling on a hard surface for an extended period of time, you will not think of them this way. You might not need them if you are doing soft materials, or have a small room like a half bath.

The Layout
Even if you are not doing a pattern, you will still need to consider how you want the layout to look. Even with an average square piece, you can create straight rows and columns or stagger the rows. With rectangular pieces you can create a herringbone effect.

Where to Start
There are two ways to approach the actual tiling process: starting in the middle or in a generally hidden area of the room. While it is easy to start in a corner, you will get a more symmetrical look by starting in the middle. This will prevent you from having disproportionate sizes on each end of the room. It can also be a good idea to start in an area that will be hidden, or that is not drawing in the eye. Think about it: you always get better further into your work, so by starting somewhere less visible, the areas that are in the spotlight will look the best.

The spacers will also make it easy to do a practice row before you use the adhesive. You can also use this to practice and better visualize the layout before actually starting your floor tile project.



Squeaky floors can be incredibly annoying. Fortunately, they’re also relatively easy and inexpensive to fix. Most of the time floors squeak because the plywood subfloor is no longer resting on the joists in some spots, so every time you step on a loose spot, the plywood then rubs against a popped up nail. If you’re working on a squeaky floor that’s on the second floor, you have to find a way to silence it from above. Below are some suggestions for how to accomplish that task.

The easiest way to silence a squeaky floor on the second story is to drive a 1 5/8” self-tapping screw into the joists where the squeaking plywood is. This might require you lifting up any carpeting or removing any other layers of flooring that are in the way.

To do this, you’ll first have to find the location of the squeak by walking around on the floor until you hear it. Then you will have to find the joists, which is easier than you may think. Turn on a stud finder, put it on the floor, and then move it slowly in one direction. The stud finder will either beep or flash once it locates the joist. Once you’ve located the joists, you can then drive the screws into the joists on one side of the squeaky area. Repeat this on the other side of the squeaky area.

Hardwood floors are a little easier to fix, as you can put the nails in as needed until the squeaking stops and then putty the holes with a putty stick.

If you have access to the floors from underneath, this makes your job even easier. Have someone walk around upstairs until you hear a squeak. If the problem ends up being a gap between the joist and the subfloor, you can insert a shim into the gap. Once you’ve wedged it in and the squeak is gone, apply some wood glue and secure the shim until it’s snug. This will keep the floor from bouncing when somebody steps on it, and therefore it won’t squeak any more. If the gap is a lot longer than just one small spot, you can add a bunch of shims along the entire joist and then run a bead of construction adhesive. This adhesive should be worked into the gap to stop the squeak.

Warped Joists
Other times, the joist might actually be warped. Joists can twist or deteriorate over time, resulting in a space that’s opened up between the joist and the subfloor. An easy fix for this problem is to nail a block of wood alongside the warped joist. Then apply a bead of construction adhesive along the top so it’s snug against the subfloor. Once that’s done, you can nail or screw the board right into the joist.

When wooden floorboards are squeaky, you can add a lubricant to that area. Powdered soapstone, talcum powder, and powdered graphite can be poured between the floorboards. To really work the lubricant in, place a cloth over the boards and walk on it. Once that’s done, vacuum up any remaining powder. This will help reduce squeaks caused by wood-on-wood rubbing between planks.

Another easy solution to eliminate squeaks from above is a kit that includes a tripod tool, bit, stud finder, and screws. These screws are wax-coated to drive through carpet without snagging it. The tripod is used to drive the screw through the floor covering and subfloor into the joist.

These kits can be used for carpet, vinyl, linoleum, and wooden floors. While it’s easy to hide through carpet, wooden floors will need to be filled with wood filler to hide the holes. Linoleum and vinyl will actually expand to partially cover the hole, but it won’t be completely hidden. This means you have to decide if you prefer to live with squeaks or a tiny hole.