How Do I Clean Grout?

Cementitious grout is porous – it can absorb a stain. Looked at under a microscope, there is a large surface area to absorb stains. For this reason, many owners choose to seal their grout – usually the better the sealer, the more the grout joint is protected. Even better, if epoxy grout is used, it is virtually as stain proof as the tile.

Removing stains from cementitious grout is similar to removing stains from clothing. The same cleaners you might use on clothes to get out a stain should also work on grout.

Keep in mind though, that grout is based primarily of cement and sand. Sand, like glass, is unaffected chemically by most cleaners. Cement is not – rather it is alkaline based and is dissolved by acids. As baking soda and vinegar react, so do grout and vinegar.
Accordingly, it is better to clean grout with an alkaline cleaner (Spic and Span, Mr. Clean, etc.) than an acid based cleaner. There are also specialty cleaners available at most tile retailers that are designed for tile and grout. There are also cleaners with enzymes that attack stains similar to enzyme pre-soaks for laundry.

The same cleaner that works on the grout generally will work well on the tile. In fact, since the tile is usually so easy to clean, the tile can often be cleaned with water.
Just a few more important points: As the grout can absorb the soap as well as a stain, do not clean with oil or wax based cleaners (Murphy’s Oil soap, Pine Sol, etc.). These products will leave a waxy or oily film in the grout. Even good alkaline cleaners, if not properly rinsed, will leave a sticky soap film. This usually attracts dirt. In fact, truly clean ceramic tile without any sticky soap film will stay very clean as tile does not tend to hold an electrostatic charge (which can attract some kinds of dirt).

The absolutely best way to clean grout is to apply the cleaner and then vacuum (“shop vac”) up the dirty water. This lifts the dirt off the joint. Apply rinse water and vacuum that water up. This lifts off any remaining soap film.

Just to mention it, there are tile installers that remove very stubborn stains on grout with an acid (like straight vinegar or a stronger acid). There they have elected to dissolve the top layer of grout molecules so the stain is no longer attached to anything. While this works, it is not recommended by the grout manufacturers – needing to regrout is sometimes the result. Also, extreme care should be used when handling any acids.

Should you be unable to get your grout clean through conventional methods, you may also want to try steam. Some stains that do not respond to conventional cleaners will come clean when subjected to pressurized steam. As a last resort, some installers elect to cut out the grout and regrout. This is possible although care must be taken to not damage or loosen the tile. Generally it is not possible to grout directly over the old grout without cutting the old grout out. The same contaminants that made the old grout dirty may prevent new grout from sticking properly.
Source: The Tile Council of North America

Why is White Subway Tile Popular?

Photo: daltile

Photo: daltile

You can’t watch TV for five minutes without seeing white subway tile in a commercial or on the set of your favorite sitcom. It’s so prevalent that some people are beginning to think that white subway tile will date kitchens and baths from this era.

The beauty of plain white is that it’s versatile. It can be the focus of the room or it can become the background. You can turn it into something unique to your kitchen or bath or you can go with the timeless classic. It suits classic designs just as well as it suits modern designs.

Consider the Material

Subway tile is available in several materials. Ceramic, of course, is the most popular. But if you are looking for something a littlet different, think about natural stone. Marble, limestone, and travertine make a positive impact on your design. The natural veining and graininess create a warmth and texture that elevate it.

Decide on the Finish

Classic subway tile is glossy, but you might want to try something a bit softer depending on the style of your bathroom or kitchen. If you want your tile to be the focal point of the space, gloss can draw attention. If you want to highlight other elements of your space, a softer finish (matte or semi-glossy) might work better.

Keep in mind that the finish you choose should be part of the overall plan for your design. Too much gloss in a space can be overwhelming and serve to make your tile fade into the background. Your tile is only one element that needs to fit into your scheme. Make sure it will play nice with everything else in the room.

Try a White Variation

Pure white makes for a bright, clean space. If you are going for something a little softer, one way to get it is to adjust the color ever so slightly. Creamy whites can change the feeling of your room.

You could stick one toe over the line and go with a tile that’s the slightest bit beige, gray or yellow to introduce a hint of cooling or warming color to the space.

Experiment with Grout

The color of grout you select has a huge impact on how the finished product looks. White grout with white tile makes the tile blend together in harmony—your guests might have to look twice to appreciate the subway design. Black grout will make your subway pattern pop out unmistakably. A gray or beige grout will add a slight accent that will bring out and harmonize the accent colors in your space.

Think through this decision carefully. It’s pretty permanent.

Source: daltile