Spring Cleaning Tips to Get Your Tile and Grout Looking New

As winter breaks in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin, spring cleaning is a great way to get your home and flooring looking like new before warm weather brings busy schedules.

Following a regular maintenance schedule, taking proactive steps to protect your ceramic floors and tiles, and knowing signs of larger problems to watch for will help keep your floors looking new, and prevent costly repairs down the road.

Tiles and Grout Lines Don’t Look Clean — Even When They Are

At some point, everyone has scrubbed and scrubbed their tile and grout with every chemical on the market, only to find that nothing seems to return that new “shine” that they once had. And if spring cleaning doesn’t make your tile and grout shine, there could be a few reasons for that.

Ceramic tiles are made from clay, which is a very porous material. But tiles are coated in a glaze sealant and fired in a kiln, much like pottery. Over time, that glaze can begin to break down. That’s especially true if the original tile contractor installed the wrong type of tile for a room.

There are two main types of subtle surface damage that can leave tiles looking dingy, even when they’re clean: wearing and scratching. Wearing occurs when normal “wear and tear” from dirt, salt and sand breaks down the surface of the glaze, causing it wear thin in areas. Scratching occurs when a tile’s surface glaze is physically damaged, maybe from sliding a heavy appliance across it.

Here are a few tips to prevent, and correct, both types of tile wear:

  • Protect it. Use doormats, throw rugs or runners to prevent repeated damage in high-traffic areas like entryways and hallways.
  • Clean it. Regularly cleaning the surface of tiles prevents a buildup of an abrasive dirt film that can breakdown the glaze over time; calling in professional tile and grout cleaners for deep cleanings will also help.
  • Replace it. Calling in a tile contractor to replace tiles with bad wearing and scratching can return the new “shine” to a room without breaking the bank.

It’s important to remember that ceramic tile is incredibly reliable and durable — but they’re not indestructible. And not taking simple steps to keep tile clean and looking new on a regular basis will make tile wear out faster.

Watch for Signs of Water Damage to Your Tile and Grout

Spring cleaning often means moving around furniture and appliances to clean those hard-to-reach areas that usually slip through the cracks. This is a great opportunity to look for signs of water damage that could be causing big problems beneath the surface.

Much like carpet, it’s not uncommon for ceramic tiles and grout lines in high-traffic areas to appear darker than other areas. Grout is very porous material, so it’s easy for dirt to become embedded below the surface — especially when grout sealant wears off over time. But if grout lines and ceramic tile edges darker than usual, especially under appliances or near toilets and tubs, it could be a sign of water damage.

Left untreated, water damage will rot plywood sub-floors beneath tile

The area can have a “springy” feeling when pressure is applied, or sound hollow when you tap on a tile with a coin. The good news, however, is that water damage is a quick and inexpensive fix if caught early on. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Source. Locate where the water is coming from. Old appliances are often the culprits in kitchens and laundry rooms. A failing wax ring can cause water damage near toilets, and cracked caulk lines can be the source of damage near tubs and showers. Locate and eliminate the source of water.
  2. Reach out. A tile contractor can identify the scope of the problem and come up with a plan to fix it. Subfloor, tiles and grout near the the water leak might need to be replaced. Luckily, your tile contractor can help find tile and caulk to match your existing floor, shaving time and money off repairs.
  3. Be proactive. Calling in grout experts to clean and seal grout regularly will help prevent water from seeping in from the surface, and it’ll help identify early signs of water damage. Also, getting your tubs and showers professionally caulked and regrouted will prevent future water damage.

When it comes to water damage, the best advice is to be proactive. Be on the lookout for early signs of water damage like failing grout lines and dark discoloration. And stay on top of regular maintenance like caulking and grout sealing.