AMA - "How to care for tile?" Expert Breakdown
The second instalment of our AMA (ask me anything) which serves as an FAQ of sorts for concepts, ideas and best practices we hear questions about frequently from clients.
If you missed the first instalment on porcelain & ceramic, you can find it here.
This instalment is all about how to care for your tile installation so that it provides that lasting ROI you're expecting from your project. Truth is, when amortized over the lifespan of a building (a paltry 50 years as estimated for North American buildings... don't even get us started on how silly that is to someone that knows Europe well...) tile is the lowest cost option by any metric. Link showing TCNA research papers and data 2020 showing tile's cost and environmental burden impacts vs. competitive materials.
Q1: Do we need to seal our tile?
There are VERY few tiles that require sealing due to the nature of glaze. Glaze is a thin layer of micronized silicates that sinter in the kiln to form a glass-like surface that is impermeable. Literally zero porosity for a sealer to permeate. Most tiles that you find in showrooms are fully glazed and therefore do not require and should not be sealed.
In some vintage-style ceramic wall tiles, you'll find a crackle glaze with small spider-veins in the surface. These glazes actually sinter or harden before the body, so that when the tile's body hardens, it physically cracks the glaze in a desirable way. These glazed products like our Dynamic Collection should be treated with a deep penetrating sealer like our Impregnator Pro from Stonetech.
Unglazed tile, even highly dense products like porcelains should be sealed as well. Especially polished formats! When polishing porcelain, the surface is abraded with successively finer aggregates, much like sanding wood. This process actually opens micro-pores in the surface of the tile which should be filled with a penetrating sealer like our Quartz & Porcelain Tile sealer from Stonetech.
Q2: Do I need to seal my grout?
CT-Team: Depends on the grout that you're using and the area that you're addressing. There are multiple grouts on the market but if you're shopping with us and using Laticrete's premium grouts, the answer is no in many cases. The baseline cementitious grout called Permacolor is an enhanced polymer-modified grout that has improved stain-resistance over most competitors. That said, for kitchens, entryways or even showers that might frequently experience hair dye fiascos... our grout sealer or even the admixture that goes in with the water during mixing is a good idea. If stepping up to our Permacolor-Select range of grouts, the admixture is already included in the formula so the step of sealing your grout is taken care of during installation. The Spectralock and Spectralock-1 line of performance epoxy and epoxy-like performance grouts are impervious once cured and do not require sealing.
Q3: What about Haze and efflorescence that can occur?
CT-Team: Difficult problems like these require more targeted solutions and should not be the norm. Haze is one that is easily identified and handled in most cases with a ceramic installation. Usually any haze or dulling of the surface is left over from the grouting of the installation. This often doesn't mean your installer has done a poor job, but more likely that the lighting during installation is not at the best and the haze may not have been visible during the installation process. Fortunately, this is an easy fix usually, even days or weeks down the road. Because most ceramic surfaces are resistant to acidic treatments, Epoxy Haze Remover and Stripper from Stonetech applied with a white epoxy grout scrub pad and a little bit of elbow-grease can take care of that easily.
Efflorescence is another common occurrence, especially in exterior settings or with traditional concrete tiles. This happens when minerals of calcium or lime from the mortar bed (or cement tiles themselves) are carried to the surface by capillary action as the assembly dries out. These are best cleaned off quickly before they can fully harden with a stiff brush, but in the cases where time inevitably slips away from you, a product like Kleenzall from Stonetech can be a life-saver.
Q3: What's the best way to clean my tile regularly?
CT-Team: Honestly, the quickest and most effective way to clean a tile installation is with a small steam cleaner like those made by shark. Using something environmentally friendly and benign when you really want to deep clean, like Stonetech's Quartz and Tile cleaner is a great way to handle your bi-weekly or monthly deep cleans.
If you've spent the time and effort to select a premium, European tile solution with us, we want to make sure it's still looking beautiful and around for your grandkids to enjoy... there's no reason why it couldn't be with expert advice from us and a premium line of aftercare like Laticrete's Stonetech Protect | Clean | Transform collections.
Hope that helps clear up a few things. If there's any other topics that you appreciate seeing us address, please reach out and ask!
- The Centanni Tile Team