Ceramic tiles don’t have the charm of natural stone, but they are very easy to keep clean; grout on the other hand has a porous top layer that can become stained. This was the problem with a customer of mine who lives in the small rural village of Childs Ercall in the North of Shropshire. The customer had moved in about two years ago and they said that they can keep the floor clean and their main problem was the grout.
I went to take a look at the problem and gave the grout in one section a good scrub with Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which is a strong alkaline tile and grout cleaning product. The result was good and although the grout returned to its original colour they wanted it to be changed.
Cleaning and Preparing the Ceramic Tile and Grout
Before colouring the grout, it made sense to give the Ceramic tile and grout a thorough clean by scrubbing in a weak dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean with a floor buffer fitted with a scrubbing pad running at slow speed. Once done I rinsed the floor with water and extracted the slurry with a wet vacuum.
With any grit and dirt removed from the floor the next step was to prepare the grout for the colourant. Tile Doctor have an acidic pre-treater cleaner for this which cleans and microscopically etches the grout giving the colourant a superior bond with the colourant. The solution is applied to the grout and then scrubbed in with a stiff brush before being rinsed off with water as before.
Applying Grout Colouring
With the tiles clean and the grout prepped I left the floor to dry for an hour before moving onto grout colouring using a colour of their choosing. There are ten colours in the Tile Doctor range and they are easily applied using a small brush wiping off any excess as you go, it was a large area with a lot of grout lines to cover so took the rest of the day to complete
I have to agree with the customer, changing the grout colour was a good move and I think you will agree the floor now looks much improved. The grout colourant has the additional advantage of providing a barrier over the grout which will protect it from further issues and make it as easy to clean as the ceramic tiles.
One of the first issues people have with shower rooms is the Silicone needs to be replaced, even a good quality Silicone like Mapei Ultra-seal which is fully waterproof and stain and mould resistant can still succumb to persistent damp issues. In fact it can get so humid in these areas the warm atmosphere is akin to a tropical rain forest.
To avoid the build-up of mould I recommend you rinse the wall tile and silicone down with plain water from the shower head after every shower and then leave the tiles to dry. Open the window and door to let out the warm condensation and after 5 to 10 minutes partly close the window (to the security setting) and then partly close the door, this then normalizes the room temperature thus inhibiting mould spores from blooming, as mould wont start to Spore on a cold room.
The pictures were taken from a shower room at a house a few miles up the road in Kendal where mould had caused a lot of staining to the silicone sealant and to the tile and grout both inside the shower cubicle and in the bathroom itself. There were also a couple of loose tiles around the base of the shower cubicle which needed to be re-fixed.
Cleaning Ceramic Tile and Grout
We started by spraying the tile and grout down with Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which is a strong alkaline cleaner, spraying it on mixes it air which helps it to stick to Vertical surfaces allowing it to get to work on the dirt. We left it to dwell for ten minutes before scrubbing it in by hand using a stiff grout brush; this process certainly improved the grout but unfortunately it had become too badly stained to be satisfactory so we decided to recolour the grout using a white grout colourant.
Once the shower tile was dry the loose tiles were removed and the damp plaster board behind chopped out and replaced. The tiles were then cleaned up, fixed back into position, then grouted and the silicone sealant around the base of the shower cubicle was stripped out and replaced with new.
One to two coats of white colourant were applied to the grout throughout the shower cubicle and shower room in order to get a uniform appearance and this final touch completed the transformation.
The other advantage of these particular colourant products is that they are epoxy based and form a barrier of the grout preventing future staining and making it very easy to clean going forward.
I think you will agree bathroom now looks like it was recently installed.
This customer from Greenhithe, Kent contacted Tile Doctor to have the tiles in her bathroom refreshed; the tiles which were looking tired and poor ventilation had caused her grouting to go black. This is not uncommon in the UK due to the inclement weather and tighter building regulations designed to promote draught proofing and insulation leaving moisture trapped in the house.
Bathroom Tile and Grout Cleaning
I first started off by cleaning all the tiles down with a weak solution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which is a multi-purpose cleaning product; there wasn’t a large amount of grime on the tiles and just general wear and tear on the floor with Limescale and water marks on the wall tiles. I then set about cleaning up the blackened grout with a steam cleaner followed by Tile Doctor Grout Colourant Pre-Treat cleaner, an acid based cleaner that etches the grout in order for it to accept the grout colourant. After cleaning and etching the grout joints they were rinsed down with plenty of water to remove any trace of chemical and then dried them out to receive the grout colourant.
Removing Grout Haze from Quarry Tiles
The grouting to the wall tiling in the bathroom was white, and the customer wanted it looking the same only fresher, so white grout colourant was applied. The grouting to the kitchen floor was originally a sand colour, but the customer wanted something more contrasting this time, so natural grey was used. Once the grout colourant was applied, it was allowed to set for 30mins before the edges were cleaned up. I finished by renewing the mastic sealant around the edges of the bath.
The job took a day and as you can see from the photographs made a huge difference to the bathroom and kitchen, needless to say the customer was really happy with the end result.
The surface of grout is porous and as a result it can get so dirty it becomes impossible to clean it successfully, even our most powerful cleaners struggle if it gets to this stage. If you get to this point you could use the flat end of a screwdriver to scrape out the grout and re-grout the whole floor to ensure a consistent colour, naturally this is arduous work and can be time consuming however there is a second option and that is to apply a Grout Colourant instead. The grout colouring products we use not only change the colour but it also provides a protective barrier that seals the grout as well ensuring it keeps it appearance well into the future.
Preparing the Grout
Before applying a Grout Colour it’s important to ensure the grout is clean of grease and any sealer that may have been applied to the adjacent tile; Tile Doctor Pro-Clean is a strong alkaline cleaner that’s good for this purpose, for best results you should allow the cleaner to dwell for a while and then get into the grout joints by hand with a stiff brush. Last step is to rinse the floor down with clean water to remove any chemical that might upset the colourant, I recommend the use of a wet vacuum at this point to remove liquids from the floor.
Applying the Grout Colour
Once the grout has dried you can start applying the colourant which is a relatively straightforward process of squeezing the product onto a toothbrush and running it onto the grout. Don’t be tempted to use an old toothbrush for this purpose as it may contaminate the colourant leading to discolouration in the finish. The product sets in a couple of hours so I was able to do the whole floor in a day.
This job was completed to resolve an Insurance claim for a lady who lives in Warlingham whose bathroom tiles and grout had been damaged from smoke and soot. A building company had attempted to clean the tiles however the lady was not satisfied and told the insurance company it was to be done properly. On inspection the grout was still a bit dirty but I told her it was possible to clean it up, but could not guarantee it would be a uniform finish. I suggested that she could have the grout re-coloured at the same cost and gave her a small demonstration, she was happy with this and contacted the insurance company to get the go ahead; a week later she called me to book it in.
Preparing the Tile and Grout for Re-colouring
When I started the job I went over it with the lady to make sure she was happy with the colour and if there were any other issues. She pointed out that on the border tiles had discoloured and on closer inspection I found that they were a marble tile and the builders had put a topcoat seal on them to make them shiny but because it was the wrong type of seal and it had started to peel.
As a result it was necessary to the sealer as so I put a coat of remove and go on the border tiles and left it to dwell; I also sprayed a solution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean onto the ceramic wall tiles and scrubbed the tiles and grout before washing then down with warm water. By this time I could then scrub the border tiles in order to remove the old topcoat sealer. I dried the border tiles using my heat gun and the applied a coat of Ultra-Seal; the marble tiles had to be sealed before I could colour the grout.
Applying Grout Colourant
Once everything had been rinsed and the grout had dried I was able to apply the grout colourant using my colour applicator (toothbrush). Its meticulous work so it took a couple of hours to apply and by then I could go round to remove any excess colourant by spraying plain water and scrubbing with a white pad. I use a white pad, because if I used a coloured pad I could transfer the dye from the coloured pad to the seal.
Once I had completed the whole room I checked to make sure everything was okay and found I needed to touch up a couple of areas. I then buffed all the tiles up and cleaned the bath, sink and floor and asked the lady to check it all before putting all my equipment and dust sheets back into the van. The lady was really happy with the result (see comment below) and has asked me to do the same work in her kitchen.
Bill worked continually throughout the day without a break. He was very polite and courteous He was full of knowledge and yes I would use again.