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Tiled flooring, as compared to natural wood or marble flooring, is no doubt easier to maintain, but that doesn’t mean it requires no maintenance. Ironically, sometimes, it is the cleaning process that damages the tile instead. Vincent Lee of Floor Medics has seen many cases of damaged tile flooring due to the use of unsuitable cleaning solutions, throughout his 20 years in the industry. His company was set up in 2008 as a specialist in the cleaning and maintenance of stone and tile flooring, as well as grouting. Besides solving issues with tiles in residential properties, Vincent also provides training to the staff of commercial projects such as hotels to make sure that the proper maintenance is done on their flooring. “There are a lot of people around who don’t know anything about tile care,” says Vincent. We sat down with him to outline the tile care basics that every homeowner should be aware of.
1. Make sure the tile is suitable for the area it is used for
The type of tile installed will affect the level of maintenance needed for the flooring. Homeowners should bear in mind that textured surfaces will need more maintenance compared to polished surfaces, as the former is more porous and traps more dirt, says Vincent. Polished porcelain tiles have almost zero porosity and are easy to clean, but they are potentially dangerous in areas such as the bathroom and kitchen. An example of textured tiles is timber-inspired ones. Get advice from riceLAB’s Material Planners and Consultants on which tiles are more suitable for certain areas in your home.
Flooring used in the kitchen will get oily and greasy, and Vincent advises using an alkaline cleaner to degrease the surface first before regular cleaning. Textured flooring is usually matched with a coarse-textured grouting, so more care has to be taken to clean the grouting as well. A finer-textured grouting is usually used with glossy porcelain tiles, and that is easier to clean.
2. Do not use abrasive cleaners
These discoloured tiled floors were caused by the use of chemically-abrasive cleaners.
Photo: Vincent Lee/ Floor Medics
Most of the time acid-based solutions are used to clean tile flooring, but if the concentration of acid is too high, it could cause damage such as discolouration of the tile and hairline cracks. “I’m not saying all acids are bad, but the majority of stain removing cleaners sold commonly on the supermarket shelves are too harsh and unsuitable for tile flooring,” says Vincent. They contain highly corrosive acids such as hydrochloric and sulphuric acid in high concentrations and will damage flooring and even grouting if used. The grouting might fall out, for example.
3. Seal tile grouting to prevent mould
Tiled surfaces that are constantly wet, such as those in the bathroom, are great breeding grounds for mould. Make sure the grouting is sealed to make it less porous to mould. But this grout sealer has to be reapplied depending on level of usage. To clean grouting Vincent suggests using bleach. “It would kill the mould but weaken your grouting.” If all else fails, and you can’t remove the mould, call a specialist he says. For other bathroom surfaces such as glass partitions, homeowners can use a mild acid solution to dissolve soap scum, as glass is similar to glossy porcelain tiles.
Due to the realism of porcelain tiles these days, it might be hard to tell if flooring is marble or tile, so you can apply the right cleaning solution. Vincent has this method: Leave a little lemon juice or vinegar in a small unnoticeable corner of the flooring. If an etch mark is left after some time, the flooring is made of natural stone. Regular acids will not leave etch marks on tiles.
His company is able to restore natural stone flooring if damage does occur, but restoring damaged porcelain tiles is a more expensive process he says. So to avoid a hefty bill (either from cleaning or replacing), make sure you use the right methods to care for your tiled floor.
Consult with our Material Planning team at riceLAB for your tile selection. Make an appointment to visit by emailing them here or by calling 6692 1199. riceLAB is at 213 Henderson Road 01.03 Singapore 159553. They are open from Mondays to Fridays 10am to 7pm, and Saturdays from 10am to 6pm.
(This is not a sponsored article by Floor Medics.)