Cleaning Grout Lines in Tile Floors

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Cleaning Grout Lines in Tile Floors

Tile flooring is attractive and endlessly durable, but some people are nervous about tile floors, because grout lines can stain and hold dirt and mildew, detracting from the look of the tile.

Cleaning grout lines in a large tile floor may sound like an overwhelming job, but it does not have to be, if the tile is properly sealed and maintained with simple cleaning products.

By properly sealing grout with a commercially available sealer shortly after it is installed, and then using simple and safe cleaning products, grout lines in tile floors can keep their original luster for as long as the tile itself.

Sealing Grout and Tile Floors

Tiles are attached to the subfloor with an adhesive or set into a bed of mortar. As the tiles are set in place, a gap of approximately 1/8 inch is left between each tile and its neighbors. After the adhesive or mortar has had time to dry completely, grout is worked into these gaps, creating the finished floor.

Grout is a type of mortar, and mortar is a mixture of fine sand and cement. Grout comes in a variety of colors. Often, white grout is preferred because it makes an especially attractive border around tiles. But colored grouts are also an aesthetically pleasing option, contrasting and highlighting the colors in the tile.

The surface of porcelain and ceramic tiles are hard enough not to require a sealer. Marble and other types of stone are more susceptible to staining and generally do need a protective sealer along with the sealing of the grout. Grout is relatively soft and requires a sealer for preventing it from absorbing dirt and mildew and changing color.

Grout sealers should not be applied until the grout is completely cured, and this can take as long as 30 days. When your floor is installed by Accent on Floors, you will receive information about properly sealing the grout lines and whether or not the tiles themselves also need a sealer.

Once the grout is sealed, it becomes highly resistant to absorbing dirt, stains, and mildew. As the years go by, grout lines and tiles many need a reapplication of sealer to keep both looking their best.

Cleaning Grout Lines in Tile Floors

If tiles or grout become stained by an accidental spill, bleach mixed in equal parts with water can be used for cleaning. A soft scrub brush should be used to avoid scratching the tile surface or rubbing away any of the grout. Thoroughly rinse the area with clean, warm water when done.

A simple and environmentally safe cleaner for grout is a mixture of white vinegar and water. Mix equal parts of water and vinegar in a clean bucket and use a soft to medium stiff brush, rubbing the grout lines gently until dirt and grim are washed away. Then rinse the floor with clean water.

However, some types of soft tile can be stained by vinegar. Check the vinegar mixture on a small section of tile where it will not be visible, or ask the tile manufacture or supplier for their recommendation first.

Baking soda is another inexpensive household product with a gritty texture which can be used for cleaning tough stains on grout. Mix the baking soda with water until you have a medium thick paste, then use a soft brush and gently scrub the grout lines until they are clean. Rinse the surface with warm, plain water when done to wash away all of the cleaning solution.

A one to one mixture of bleach and water can also be used for removing heavy mildew and really tough grout stains. Heavy deposits of minerals on grout can also be removed with sandpaper. Cut a strip of sandpaper the width of the grout line. Wrap the sandpaper over a pencil eraser and gently sand the deposits. Be careful not to rub too hard, or you may remove or damage the grout. A reapplication of grout sealer should be placed on grout lines which have been sanded, because the sanding will remove the old sealer.

There are also many commercially available grout cleaning products. Inquire with the tile supplier or manufacturer for their recommendation about which type of grout cleaning product is best for the tile and grout you have.

For more information about sealing and cleaning grout in your Tri-Cities, Virginia home, contact Accent on Floors in Hopewell.