Written by Jennifer Noonan
Durable, easy to clean, and available in many colors and shapes, it's easy to see why tile is such a popular option for kitchen backsplashes, bathroom walls, and floors throughout the home. But before you get carried away on your next reno, make a note that tile, while a relatively low-maintenance addition, does require some attention. Read on to learn some of the most common tile maintenance mistakes, and how to avoid them.
Applying sealant to tile
Whether your tile is on the floor, countertop, or backsplash, there's one installation step you should never skip: sealing. Sealing will protect the tile from wear and tear and bestow extra stain protection on the grout. Consult your tile manufacturer for the appropriate sealer and schedule for your tile.
Don't use abrasive cleaning products on tile
Do not use abrasive cleaning powders or substances like steel wool to scrub your tile. It will only serve to damage the finish, leaving the surface susceptible to pitting and staining.
Clean spills from tile to prevent stains
Because tile is made of porous material, it can stain easily—even when treated with a finish and sealer. And that goes doubly for grout. Any spills—especially dark beverages like red wine and coffee, or acidic substances like tomato sauce—should be cleaned up immediately to maintain a clean appearance for years to come.
Damp mop on tile floors
Of course you need to clean your tile, but be careful how you do it. When mopping tile floors, do not over-wet the surface area or allow tile to air dry, which can lead to a dull and dingy appearance. Tap water contains minerals that can discolor tile, and damp grout encourages mildew growth that can cause permanent stains. Instead of wet-mopping your tile, use a damp mop, and then buff the area dry with a soft towel to bring out the shine.
Bleach or ammonia on tile floors
You should not apply cleaners with bleach or ammonia to tile, as it can discolor the grout over time. A mild all-purpose cleaner should do the job nicely. Or, use a cleaner recommended by your tile manufacturer.
Effect or colored cleaners on tile
Be careful about using cleaners that contain dyes. Grout, and natural stone tiles, can absorb the color of your cleaning products, leaving you with an inadvertently rainbow-hued wall.
Sweeping tile floors
In and of itself, dirt poses little injury to tile floors—but add foot traffic into the equation, and it's a different story. Walking on dirt and debris can grind those tiny particles into the tiles, causing scratches to form. Just like hardwood floors, tile floors need to be swept regularly to slow the process of regular wear and tear, and keep them looking nice for the long haul.
Vacuum cleaner tile floors
It’s a great idea to sweep your tile floors with your vacuum’s hardwood floor attachment. But it’s a big no-no to use the beater bar, which can nick or chip the finish on tile.
Recaulk tile around tub
Tile that is exposed to water, especially in the kitchen or bathroom, should be recaulked from time to time. If water is allowed to get behind tiles it can loosen them and cause the grout to crack, and damage the surface underneath the tile.