Cleaning and Sealing Tiles

This story shows how to clean and seal tile floors.


Although regular cleaning will keep your ceramic tile in good condition, some surfaces, especially in kitchens and family rooms, may require stain removal.

When you need to remove a stain, start with the techniques outlined in the chart below right. If these solutions don't work, ask a tile supplier for a commercial stain-removal agent made for your tile. Stubborn stains often can be removed with a cleaning agent mixed with baking soda, plaster of Paris, or refined clay. Deodorant-free cat litter works well. Mix the ingredients into a wet paste and apply it to the stain. Tape a plastic bag over the paste and let it sit for a couple of days. Then brush off the paste and rinse.

Unglazed tile usually requires a sealer, and even presealed tile may need periodic stripping and resealing.

Penetrating sealers soak into the tile bisque and preserve the natural color of the tile. Topical sealers lie on the surface of the tile and may lighten or darken the tile colors or change its sheen. Topical sealers wear off and can require yearly reapplication. When tiles look dull it could be time to strip and reseal them.

Prestart Checklist

About 45 minutes to vacuum and damp mop a 15x20-foot kitchen, 90 minutes to strip it, about the same time to seal it

Stripping: scrub brush and mop or scrubbing machine, vacuum Sealing: vacuum, applicator, buffer

Vacuum and clean surface

Materials Stripper, sponge, sealer, bucket, rags, wax if needed

Stripping tiles: Step 1

To remove old sealer flow stripper on surface with a sponge or mop in an area that you can clean before the liquid dries (about 25 square feet). Scrub the area with a brush or with a floor-scrubbing machine. Do not let the stripper dry on the surface.

Stripping tiles: Step 2

Remove residue with a sponge or rags. Some water-base strippers allow removal with a wet-dry vacuum. Rinse with clean water and wipe dry.

Applying sealers: Step 1

On newly tiled floors wait 48 hours before sealing. On existing floors vacuum the surface thoroughly to keep dirt and dust from becoming embedded in the new sealer.

Applying sealers: Step 2

Clean the tile with a commercial tile cleaning product following the manufacturer's directions. Rinse with clear water.

Applying sealers: Step 3

Apply sealer with a sponge applicator, paint pad, brush, or mop, as required by the manufacturer. Do not let sealer puddle or run on walls. Some sealers can't be overlapped. Some may require wiping with a clean rag. Allow time to dry between coats. Apply one or two additional coats.

Working with waxes

Many unglazed tile surfaces lend themselves to waxed finishes. Some waxes contain pigments that enhance the color of the tile.

To properly renew a waxed floor, strip the old wax and wash the surface thoroughly with a mild detergent. Rinse with clear water and let it dry completely. Wax the surface in successive thin coats with the applicator recommended by the manufacturer. Allow each coat to dry and buff in between. Repeated thin coats leave a brighter shine than one thick coat; they also reduce wax buildup.

A dull shine doesn't necessarily call for rewaxing. Clean the floor with a soap-free cleaner and buff with a cloth or rented machine. When using a buffer start in the middle of the floor with the brush level. Tilt the handle up or down slightly to move it from side to side. Don't push the machine. Buff across the surface.

Comments (2)
sgfsd wrote:

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6/9/2016 01:37:48 PM Report Abuse
lynnpatty1 wrote:

I have slate tile in bath, kitchen & utility room that looks like rock with ebony black grout. The grout hasnt looked black for a while, looks faded or dirty. I would like to know how to get the dark black color back. the house is 2 or 3 years old. Dont know if it wasnt sealed right or what happened. Please help, give me some advice. Thank You

1/23/2011 04:04:05 PM Report Abuse
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