Stone & Tile Cleaning Basics
When cleaning and restoring Stone, Tile and Grout the success of the job is going to be in direct proportion to the amount of effort put into the preparation of the area beforehand.
Identify the type of stone or tile you are dealing with. Natural stone like the travertine tile pictured to the right can be etched by many acidic cleaners and should be cleaned with a neutral or alkaline cleaner such as Heavy Duty Pro Clean.
Measure the area to be cleaned and treated to ensure both adequate product as well as accurate billing.
Investigate the area thoroughly before you begin cleaning. You will want to carefully note any “hollow” tile which can indicate a lack of adhesive or mastic beneath and can be easily dislodged during cleaning with high pressure.
A broom or groomer handle works well for this. Gently tap the tiles with the handle. Tiles not secured properly will sound “hollow” when compared to the others.
These tiles will need to be cleaned with care when using high pressure for cleaning.
Include everything in your written estimate. Note hollow tiles as well as cracked or broken tiles. After you clean the area your customer will be extremely sensitive to the appearance of their floor. A cracked or damaged tile that may have gone unnoticed before will become more evident.
A well written estimate will ensure that your customer knows you were not responsible for the tile being broken and he or she will appreciate your thoroughness and professionalism.
Pretest any products to be used someplace inconspicuous. They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In this case it’s even more true.
Apply a few drops of your cleaner (in this case Heavy Duty Pro Clean) and allow it to sit for at least 10 minutes. After this dwell time wipe away the product. If all you see is clean tile underneath you’re ready to go.
If you see any etching or other damage immediately stop and use a more neutral product like Clean and Protect. Just as with the alkaline cleaner repeat the pre testing process in an inconspicuous area.
Sweep the area thoroughly. Some of the equipment used will be susceptible to picking up small rocks and debris. Potentially scratching relatively soft tiles like travertine and saultio.
While you're doing this you also going to be carefully examining the baseboards looking for gaps between tile and baseboard.
Some baseboards are made from particle board. This particle board can absorb moisture through any cuts or unpainted surfaces. When it absorbs moisture these baseboards can swell to several times their original size.
Caulking any gaps between floor and tile will prevent moisture from being pushed under the baseboard to be absorbed.
The next step will be to protect the baseboard, carpet, any stainless steel appliances.
Again, we’re adding this additional level of protection for the baseboards to prevent them from absorbing any moisture and swelling.
Newer nylon carpeting has protector that is applied while still at the mill. Your alkaline tile cleaner can remove this protection if allowed to dwell for an extended period.
Stainless steel isn’t quite so stainless when dealing with tile and grout cleaners. Many will have protective coating that gives the stainless a glossy appearance that can be removed by tile cleaners giving them a blotchy appearance that will not please your customer.