In my last article I mentioned the coatings that certain factories are applying to their porcelain tiles. In truth there are lots of different types of coating being used. Their purpose is to afford some protection to the tiles during transport, handling and of course, installation. Why are they doing this? Well, many newer porcelain tiles are not being manufactured to quite the same exacting standards that they once were, particularly, those emanating from the Far East.
They are intended to be removed before, during or after grouting. Many of them use standard, paraffin-type waxes which are relatively easy to remove but others however use more modern, polymers that can be much harder to remove and each can require a different chemical.
For standard waxes, the easiest and safest way to remove them would be to use a product designed specifically for this job, such as MicroscrubTM by All for Stone. We have talked about this product (and its many other uses) before, but this is the task it was actually designed for. The process is simple; just pour some MicroscrubTM onto the tiles, add a little water and scrub with a white nylon emulsifying pad, rinse and you’re done.
For the more difficult types, it could involve a bit of trial an error I am afraid. Some respond well to strong alkaline cleaners, while others really require a solvent-type product. You have to be careful with solvents- not just for the obvious reasons but also, because some of them can darken the tiles or leave behind an oily residue themselves. You may be forgiven for thinking, “well I will go straight to the solvent, just in case the alkaline does not work” but it does not always work like that; coatings that respond to alkaline cleaners do not always necessarily respond to solvents, and visa-versa. A useful tip is that MicroscrubTM can be added to either to boost its performance.
The last type of coating issue I am going to discuss is the new wave of so-called nano-sealers that are also factory applied. The word nano is being used a lot these days; – all that the ‘nano’ technology is doing (both in these sealers and also in MicroscrubTM) is reducing surface-tension, this allows for a greater and easier penetration of both the cleaner and in this case sealers, into the small (but very problematical) pores of many polished Porcelain tiles. It does not indicate if the sealer is good, poor or mediocre. The problem we have seen is that the factories, due to the speed of production and less than scrupulous quality control, do not always remove the sealer residue, this then dries to form a haze. Some of these sealer residues can be removed with one or a combination of the types of product we have talked about, but for some, unfortunately, at this point there would appear to be no effective solution – it is still a work in progress!Copyright Ian Taylor and The Tile and Stone Blog.co.uk, 2013. See copyright notice above.