Let us show you why Ponte Vedra homeowners rely on Fabric and Tile Masters to handle their tough tile and grout stains.
Fabric and Tile Masters is located in Atlantic Beach Florida.
Most of the Grout Cleaning we do extends from there, south to Ponte Vedra. We are grout cleaning in this area every day. Our grout cleaning work comes to us by referral from satisfied customers, tile distributors and retailers and interior designers. In Ponte Vedra we have so many grout cleaning customers that we have worked with that are satisfied we can provide a reference to you usually within a mile of where you live.
We are A+ rated with the Better business Bureau as well. We love doing this work, and our prices are a tremendous value because of the commitment we have to providing a great grout cleaning job. This blog post details how we go at grout cleaning.
Grout Cleaning Made Simple
Any discussion of Grout Cleaning should begin with a brief description of how the stuff between the tiles works. There are basically two kinds of grout: epoxy and cement based. The cement based is either sanded or non sanded. The purpose of grout is to fill in the gap between the tiles, thus inhibiting water from reaching the back of the tile.
Residential tile flooring is installed using either sanded or non-sanded grout. The determination of which grout to use is based on the width of the space between the tiles, a gap, often referred to as a grout joint. From the Tile Council of North America website “For cementitious grout, joints smaller than 1/8″ generally should only be grouted with unsanded grout, and joints of 1/8″ and larger should only be grouted with sanded grout. Joints larger that 3/8″ usually need a more heavily sanded grout to accommodate the large joint.” Grout Cleaning is what we do at Fabric and Tile Masters.
Looking for More Proof of Our Grout Cleaning Expertise?
Here’s more information about our processes:
Sanded or Non Sanded
Sanded grout is found most of the time as it is easier to lay tile with a little bit more of a gap than it is to lay them close together, pure and simple. The closer the tiles are installed, the greater the potential see a difference in tile height. The sanded grout is more durable as well and is not subject to some of the difficulties we see with non sanded grout. Remember if your grout joint is over 1/8″ wide it is almost always sanded grout. When we are grout cleaning, the sanded grout almost universally can be returned to a like new, pristine condition often matching the grout nearest to the edge of the floor near the wall that never gets soiled or stained.
Non sanded grout is used for the following reasons:
- natural stone tiles – because the tiles are soft, the sanded grout can scratch them when working the grout on the tile surface, non sanded is necessary
- when a customer demands the thinnest grout joint possible
- on a wall where the installer needs the grout to be sticky to make it easier to work with.
- the tile manufacturer will suggest a grout space width in some cases and there are certain industry standards for different size tiles.
The nonsanded grout is subject to staining that is permanent, more so than sanded. Non sanded is also more likely to go missing than the sanded. The wall grade non sanded grout can have particulate soil (sand, clay, feldspar) ground into it, and when this happens there is no way to clean it out. The grout will need to be removed and regrouted in order to return it to a like new condition.
Grout Cleaning – Cleans and Removes Soils
The soil we see on tile and grout will run the gamut from lightly soiled to heavy imbedded soil that changes the color of the grout uniformly. The grout in a house we once owned was black. After grout cleaning, the color was a light sand. There were places where some tiles had been replaced using black grout because the homeowner before us forgot the color of the original grout. The chief enemy of grout is dried oily residues. Regardless of the sealer used, if there is oil pressed (suntan or massage) into the grout, or spilled (cooking) or dripped (a leaky motorcycle) onto the grout, the staining can be permanent. Greasy oily stains are a major reason for grout cleaning.
The other soil are typically combined: mineral deposits from hard water and residual buildup of household alkaline cleaners. These soils are visible on many shower walls. On floor they are present as well, but are typically combined with the oxidized soils described above.
This has been mostly a discussion about residential grout cleaning, but a short mention of commercial soiling is necessary as well. The soil depends on the industry, but the soil is still divided between these two categories: oxidized (sometime not so oxidized) oils and mineral deposits and residual commercial cleaner buildup. The oil in a restaurant may never dry completely, with the floor becoming slippery from the grease build up. The best way to remove this soil is by using caustic chemicals designed to break the grease. The other side of the pH scale would of course be found in commercial washrooms. The tile in these facilities almost are always sealed with an acrylic floor sealer and are routinely stripped and resealed as part of an ongoing maintenance plan.
On natural stone tiles, some of the surfaces can become imbedded with dirt, sand and other particulate soil. Here in Northeast Florida, we see sand scratch and become attached to (usually with oily residues) the natural stone tile surface.
Grout cleaning chemistry
Grout cleaning requires application of an alkaline or acid cleaner. The nature of the soil dictates the pH of the chemical that will be best suited. Grease and oxidized oils require alkaline. Mineral deposits and soap build up requires acid. The outcome of the cleaning depends on the nature of this soiling and which chemical the technician decides to use to clean the tile. In this video we are using a high pH alkaline cleaner that loosens the oily residues and breaks down the acrylic sealer. A low pH or acid cleaner would have done absolutely nothing to remove the built up oxidized oily residues. Sometimes the technician needs to test the soil using pH strips or a meter. In that case there would be certainty as to which cleaner you would use.
The exception to using low pH (acid) chemicals is found in natural stone, especially the polished variety. Due to the presence of calcium in marble, the surface will etch and form a permanent water mark. Drip marks and glass rings are revealed when looking across the stone surface to a light source. In some cases if the homeowner uses an acid based cleaning product the polish will disappear completely except for areas near the edge of the floor or counter in question.
Grout Cleaning Videos
This video is a demonstration of a sanded grout joint being cleaned using a single jet tool called the gekko. It is time to make one thing clear about this subject. When we are grout cleaning , we are typically expected by the customer to clean the grout. The tile can be cleaned in many cases using home based DIY cleaners, but grout cleaning is a different story. So when Fabric and Tile masters are doing this work we see the grout cleaning as what we are being paid to do. The tile in the video had a build up of sealer that required using this tool to clean the gout. We had to use another tool to clean the tile. It is the spinner seen in the next video.
These videos are not the highest quality, and are taken with a handheld camcorder sometimes as I am doing the work. I am on these jobs and actively work in the field with my crews every day. Our company provides other services, but as a team we all enjoy working on tile and stone jobs the most. There are other companies that provide grout cleaning services, but none have the commitment in methodology, experience, equipment and supplies that we do. This should become evident in these videos.
The grout must be detailed the Geiko tool provides a constant single jet pressure of 800-1200 psi. This concentrated blast of water is necessary in rare cases, and when called for can remove all but permanent stains. Permanent stains are mainly from oil based residue that penetrate the grout.
The grout in this job was discolored because of every day soiling. It also had been coated with an acrylic sealer of the type most commonly associated with vinyl floor sealers. The acrylic became dull and yellowed but was impossible to remove by normal maintenance methods of mopping and spot removal. Fabric and Tile Masters had to apply a water based stripper, scrub the grout and then let the slurry dwell for a proper amount of time before removing with the Geiko tool.
The next video shows a grout cleaning where the tiles and grout are returned to a like new condition. This is not a result that is easily obtained by most cleaners using portable or truck mounted equipment. We use a 190,000 but burner to heat the water to over 250 degrees to activate the chemicals we are using. Both the floors in these videos were cleaned by several other local cleaners with marginal success. The true test of a tile and grout cleaner is if the floor has been cleaned professionally by several cleaners and your cleaning works better than any of them. The grout after all is subject to more staining and becomes harder to clean as time passes.
We are using mechanical agitation to release the built up soil prior to heated extraction with the turbo. The turbo has two spinning jet sprayers as well as suction to remove the dirt / detergent slurry.
After the grout cleaning, the application of a sealer is almost always necessary. The tile itself (unless it is a porcelain tile) does not require a sealer application, and the sealer should not be applied to the tile. Ceramic and many porcelain tiles are not porous and if sealer is applied to the tile it will remain on the tile surface leading to rapid resoiling. Below is a video of how we apply the sealer, taking every precaution to keep the sealer off the tile. The purpose of a sealer is to prevent the penetration into a porous mortar oil and water based stains. This presupposes the willingness on the part of the customer to clean the spill up as quickly as possible, because gravity, especially with oil stains, will eventually cause the oil to penetrate the grout. The sealer will not prevent the grout from tracked in outside dirt.
Sealer comes in solvent or water based formulas. We use a water based sealer on grout because a solvent based sealer often has a stick residue and can attract soil to the tile surface. On natural stone tiles we apply the sealer to the entire tile because it is porous and has the capability to absorb the sealer.
The best way to avoid this soil is to remove shoes at the door.