A well maintained tile and grout floor in a commercial setting.

All About Maintenance For Tile and Grout

Ceramic and porcelain are popular choices for tile flooring in commercial settings.  Both types of tile are attractive, versatile, and durable.  However, even the toughest of floors still need to be maintained. In this post, we’ll explore the reasons why floor maintenance for tile and grout should not be overlooked.  These floors may appear to be indestructible, but they’re no match for the undefeated father time.  Floors like these are an investment.  At Business Cleaning Solutions we’ve successfully used these tips and tricks to help our customers get the most our of their investment. We’ll dive into a few methods to help you keep your floors maintained for years…or even decades to come. 

Before diving into maintenance options, here is what you need to know first. Porcelain tiles are created from a denser grade, fine kaolin clay.  They are fired at extremely high temperatures for a longer period of time.  As such, they’re less permeable to water and moisture.  Ceramic tiles are cheaper in cost.  They’re manufactured from a course clay and are slightly more susceptible to water absorption.  The use of ceramic tiles are generally limited to indoor settings.

All about the grout.

Penetrating sealers protect the tiles, but most importantly the grout from water absorption. Unsealed grout can cause water penetration, which can lead to damage in the sub-flooring. Sanded grout is most commonly used in conjunction with ceramic and porcelain tiles. This is a mixture of Portland cement and sand.  It’s semi-porous by nature and needs to be sealed using an impregnating, penetrating sealer. Proper sealing prevents the grout from becoming compromised due to water seeping in, creeping in, and getting underneath or in between the tiles (Oh, the horror!) Ideally you’ll want to have the sealer applied shortly after the tiles are set and the grout is cured.   Sealed grout will also prevent any discoloration that can occur when dirt and grime gets pushed into it.

Dirty grout lines surrounding ceramic floor tiles.
Neglected grout has become discolored and stained.

Make sure your newly installed tile floor is properly sealed.

After you’re done admiring your newly installed flooring….don’t forget to have it sealed.  Maintenance for tile and grout is vital, even for a brand-new floor. Keep in mind that many flooring installers do not seal them due to the amount of time it takes for the grout to cure. Depending on humidity the grout can take up to 3 days before it’s fully cured and set.  Be sure to talk with the installing contractor about this.  Your commercial cleaning company can also seal the floors for you as well!

Properly sealed floors are easier to keep clean on a nightly basis.

An experienced commercial cleaning company should actively mop the tile flooring in your kitchens and bathrooms each night.  When these floors are sealed, they’ll be less susceptible to discoloration.  Light colored grout lines can darken overtime, especially in high-traffic areas, or areas underneath toilets, sinks, and urinals.  Regular wet mopping on a nightly basis will be that much more effective with properly sealed floors.  This is because the dirt and grime just lives on the tile/grout surface and is easier to remove.

The look of penetrating floor sealers.

Penetrating sealers are a protective measure that allows the natural look of the tile to stand out and remain the focal point.  Aesthetically, these sealers don’t have as much immediate impact because they are generally matte finish (low to no shine). Penetrating sealers are very durable and can be more expensive.  Be sure to get your floors as clean as possible before applying them.    

Top sealers, or wax.

Generally speaking, water-based wax or surface-sealers are not as effective for ceramic and porcelain tiles specifically.  While these products are bright and shiny, with a high-gloss,  be aware that they are also not as durable.  Overtime, these wax coatings are slowly chipped off with regular foot traffic.  As a result, your floor can have duller, bald patches in high-traffic areas.  As such, we do not recommend high gloss wax applied to these types of floors.  

Old, dirty tile and grout floors.

Regular wet mopping can only do so much as the process involves a microfiber loop or flat mop paired with a PH neutral floor cleaner; some industries are more demanding and tougher on floors.  Examples of these include manufacturing, warehouse, and restaurants.  To supplement mopping, it would be ideal to have dirty floors machine scrubbed on a periodic basis. For these challenging older floors, your commercial cleaning company can deploy the use of a floor machine for rigorous scrubbing and degreasing.  These rotary scrubbers are outfitted with different pads and the machines are weighted down, giving the floor a semi-aggressive cleaning.  For grout lines and edges, stiff-bristled grout brushes are used.  If your floors are in bad shape and you’re unsure what to do next, considering talking with one of our service consults for help.

Aggressive scrubbing of the grout lines can be a great way to brighten dirty, old grout.
Aggressive scrubbing with grout brushes, paired with machine scrubbing can help restore the original look.

Acid washing of discolored tile and grout floors.

Chipped and/or missing pieces of grout can sometimes happen in old floors.  This sometimes occurs in high moisture environments such as gym or locker room settings.  It’s vital that you get your grout repaired in order to avoid further water damage to the tile, grout, or it’s backing underneath.  If your older grout lines are intact, but are discolored, then in some cases a light acid wash can be utilized to restore their original look.  This process chemically emulsifies and breaks up the dirt, grime, and other foreign bodies that have been ground into the grout.  After a rinsing and wet vacuuming, the floors are then resealed using a penetrating sealer.  This process can be more labor intensive, and therefore be higher in cost. 

We hope this information can help serve as a guide on where to begin in assessing the condition of your tile floors.  As always, our service consultants are available to answer any additional questions you may have, or provide service estimates at no cost.  contact a Service Consultant today to find out what we can do to make sure your investment is preserved and protected.