Do's and Don'ts - Caring for your Tile
Can Do's
  1. Hydrogen Peroxide can be used straight from the bottle on some grout stains such as ink or rust (caused from potted plants).
  2. Liquid Bleach can be used to remove some stains from polished marble. Apply full strength and cover stained area with a dampened paper towel. Allow to sit overnight.
  3. Rainex (about $4.00 and sold almost everywhere for auto glass) applied to new or newly cleaned shower glass or tile will prevent hard water build up. Too slippery for tiled shower floors.
  4. Do seal newly installed grout- white grout will darken from food and grease in kitchens. Use a sealer that states oleo phobic here to repel grease. Darker grouts in showers can turn white from calcium and minerals found in water. A less expensive silicone sealer is best here.

Tile Don'ts

  1. Never let anything acidic get on polished marble as it will etch or burn the surface. Examples: vinegar, lemon juice, hairspray.
  2. Don't use Comet or other colored cleansers on colored grout or it can be permanently damaged.
  3. Never apply grout sealers on tile or stone. Follow instructions on the product completely. Grout sealers are for grout only.
  4. Don't wash down your tile with the same dirty water that you did your dishes with- this will put food and grease stains right into your grout. Always use a clean cloth with clean soap and water.

Home Remodeling Helpful Hints
The issue: Preventing costly maintenance problems

The Tile Lady Company ... Specializing in restoring your existing tile & grout or sealing your newly installed tile and stone. Also offering cleaning products for the do-it yourself homeowner with on-line answers to your tile and stone care questions. Email or visit the website at: 

In this business we deal with the maintenance problems that usually result from choices made during the installation of the tile. For starters the proper preparation of the surface to be tiled is the most important consideration to prevent future costly problems from occurring. Checking the slab for slab cracks and applying the right membrane prior to the installation will prevent the tiles from cracking by allowing movement, which is caused by the building settling. Double sheet rocking a shower especially when there is a window is just asking for trouble. A mortar bed will far outlast this installation. Tiling over wood takes special precautions as well. Once the grout starts to crack throughout a job there is good reason to suspect a costly problem but to know for sure you must take up a tile or two to see what could be going wrong. The underlayments that are so commonly used today are not always being installed properly which can cause an entire tiled floor or kitchen counter to fail before the end of the first year. You can easily check this yourself by knocking on the tiled floor and hoping you don't hear any "hollow" sounds that are in the same area as the cracked grout.

The right grout for the right area is also important if you care about how much work you will have to do to keep the job looking good. Especially where is hard water problems. Dark grout should not be considered for a shower area because it can turn white from minerals and soap scum and this cannot be cleaned off. It will be permanently damaged. White grout on floors or a kitchen counter will require sealing and still a lot of elbow grease to keep it white. Sealing the new grout or natural stone surfaces with a good product won't stop the area from getting dirty but will help stop it from staining as long as the spills are picked up rather quickly, and sealing will also help slow down the mildew and mineral deposit problems that are so common in showers.

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Ask The Tile Lady

Do you really have to seal natural stone ? What it will and won't do.
The answer is yes ! Sealing with the right stone impregnator creates a below-surface barrier, preventing penetration of water which can destroy the stone when installed in a shower or over a slab. It will also prevent most stains like grease & dirt and allows for easier maintenance. Topical sealers (actually considered coatings) do nothing to protect the stone from pulling in the harsh chemicals and minerals found in some water. What a sealer won't do is stop grout or tile from getting dirty. If you have polished marble the sealer cannot stop the stone from becoming "etched" if anything acidic is spilled on the surface, you must still be careful.

Problems that can occur from setting tile in a shower with mastic vs. mortar. How to make that less expensive job last longer when it is set with mastic.
Today a lot of tile jobs are given to the lowest bidder and though this isn't always a bad thing the tile contractor must cut his costs somewhere to get the job. The use of mastic and even double sheet rocking is becoming more popular and though the job is installed good the entire thing can fail within a year or 2 if the homeowner isn't aware of what needs to be done to prevent water damage. We see missing or cracked grout every time we do a repair here. Silicone caulking on the wall seams and top of the soap dish are a must! Mastic set jobs have considerable movement, especially during the season changes and especially on the exterior walls. If water is allowed to get behind the tiled walls for any length of time the job will fail. Especially if the tub to the tile area has been caulked. This just traps water in. This is most common where there is a fiberglass shower pan. If the sheetrock was not held up off the pan when installed the tile and sheetrock will have to be replaced, double sheetrock or not.

Tiling over wood will work if effort is put into the subsurface.
The use of mortar is the best when installing tile over wood, but if you are a do-it-yourselfer and don't know how to "float" a mud floor there are several good products that you can substitute for a mortar bed. To list a few there is; Profloat by Laticrete, Hardibacker board or wonder board. Though they are similar by comparison the instructions for the installation needs to be followed completely if you want the job to last.

How do you care for that new tile job?
Seal the grout. Us the right cleaners for the right type of tile and grout. Polished Marble and other Natural stones need to be cleaned with a "Stone Soap". These are neutral cleaners that won't ruin the finish. We carry both the "no-rinse" daily maintenance Stone Soap and the intensive cleaning stone soap. The intensive cleaner will remove the hard water spots from the polished marble showers without damaging the stone. For the darker colored grouts don't use comet, vinegar or bleach or the grout color will be removed and it can turn white or blue. This is permanently damaging. Mildew removing cleaners are good in the showers but don't take grease off kitchen counters. Identify what you are cleaning then choose the best cleaner. In a shower you must first get the soap scum off and then get down to the hard water spots with a different cleaner. There isn't one cleaner that can do all this. But once you get this all done then be sure to use a soap that doesn't have a lot of wax, cream or oils. That green bar that so many men like is 1 of the worst for leaving residue on the tile. Wipe down the shower with your bath towel a couple times per week and the tile will stay looking great. One more thing Rainex, sold really for auto glass, when used on the tiled shower walls or glass will stop hard water from building up. It creates an invisible shield and is very inexpensive to use. However it would be too slippery to apply to a shower floor.

Choosing the right grout color for the right area in your home.
The right grout is important if you care about how much work you will have to do to keep it looking great! Dark grout should not be used in a shower area because it can turn white from the minerals, calcium and soap scum and this cannot be cleaned off. It will be permanently damaged. White grout on floors and kitchen counters is very popular but requires sealing and still a lot of elbow grease to keep it white. As mentioned before the sealing of the grout will not stop it from getting dirty but will stop stains and make it easier to keep clean.

Replacing cracked tiles so they won't crack again
Cracks are caused from stress and so when you replace the broken pieces they should be set with a "flexible" adhesive like Silicone caulking or mastic. This will allow movement from below the surface and prevent the tiles from cracking again. You must get full coverage on the back of the tile without having the stuff come oozing out the sides. This gives strength to the entire tile so it can be stepped on without breaking. Slab cracks never seem to stop moving and without the flexibility the tiles will usually crack again.

Why is my grout cracking?
If you have an older tile job and the grout keeps disappearing you may have a problem. You can easily check this yourself by knocking on the tiles and hope you don't hear any hollow sounds in the same area. This would mean the surface below has deteriorated and the tiles have lost there bond. You may need to call in a professional. Occasionally tiles can be reset either on a kitchen counter or over a slab floor with a silicone caulking or with mastic made for tile. You can find this in very small containers at hardware store for doing these small repairs. Allow the freshly set tile to dry overnight before grouting it in.

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