Given the number of questions I have received recently, about ‘how to get the wax off porcelain tiles’, I thought I would write a brief article on the subject. Many porcelain tiles these days come with a transit wax; a coating that is intended to offer some protection to the tiles whilst they are in the boxes, during transit (they can scratch each other as they are stacked so closely.)
This wax though can be a problem, as I have covered elsewhere in the blog. It can sometimes help to prevent grout staining but, in my experience, it does not always do this successfully. Moreover, it is NOT a sealer and if the porcelain is one that does need sealing, then this wax will need removing.
Should you remove the wax before or after grouting? – This is a common question and a recent poll amongst Tilers showed that the consensus is ‘before’ but you can do a quick test; put some grout on one of the tiles, preferably a spare one, and leave it to dry, then clean it off – look to see if the wax helped or not. In general (certainly here in the UK) we tend to take it off – In fact it might be useful to detail the procedure like so:
1. Lay tiles
2. Remove wax
5. Seal again.
Why seal again? – Well, it makes sure that you have done a through job of sealing the tiles and not missed anything, but perhaps more importantly, it also seals the grout, and the grout, I would argue, will be significantly more in need of sealing than the tiles (just make sure to leave the grout a day or two to fully dry AND more importantly, CURE).
So, how do we remove the wax? – Well that can depend on the wax; some waxes respond better to alkaline cleaners while others need a solvent-type stripper. However the vast majority can be removed using a safe abrasive product designed for the job, such as Microscrub. I have outlined the process we use below:
1. Pre wet the floor/tile
2. Shake the bottle of Microscrub well, to remix the contents as they may settle
3. Apply the Microscrub to the tiles and agitate using a white nylon scrub pad (hard enough to do the job, without damaging the tiles)
4. This can be done by hand, or with a rotary machine
5. Check your progress by pulling the slurry back with a squeegee, scrub some more if not the wax is not yet fully removed.
6. Pick up the slurry, for best results use a wet-vac, but a mop and bucket will do.
7. Now add fresh water and rinse well, take special care to rinse the slurry from the joints, agitate again if you like
8. Pick up the rinse water with a wet-vac
9. Optionally, dry the floor with a towel
ALWAYS TEST FIRST ON AN INCONSPICUOUS AREA TO DETERMINE RESULTS.