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What Is The Best Sealer To Seal My Porcelain Floor Tiles?

What is the best sealer to seal my porcelain floor tiles is one of the most frequently asked questions I hear. The answer can depend on the finish of the porcelain; for example, it could be a standard, smooth finish, it could be slightly textured (like a faux slate) or heavily textured, perhaps for anti-slip purposes. However, by far the most common question I receive is in relation to ‘polished’ porcelain.

There are still some high-quality porcelain tiles out there that do not require sealing. If you are lucky enough to have one of those then you are not going to need to do too much to keep it clean and looking good. Unfortunately, more and more of the porcelain sold here is of a somewhat more unpredictable quality, at least in terms of porosity and susceptibility to sub-surface staining. If you suspect that your porcelain might need sealing there are couple of ways you can check:

1. Do a water drop test – put some water on the tile and leave it for about 20 minutes then wipe off. If there is any darkening of the surface, showing that some water has penetrated the tile, then it will benefit from being sealed.
2. You can do the same thing with oils (warm engine oil off your car’s dipstick, cooking oil etc)
3. Or, for the ultimate test, use a highly penetrative chemical like a solvent; a permanent ink marker pen is perfect – needles to say, do this test on a spare off-cut, not on your floor!

Having determined that your porcelain needs sealing, which sealer should you use? First of all, the ‘type’ of sealer you will need is known as an ‘impregnating sealer’, as the name implies, it is a sealer that penetrates the tile and lies just below the surface, acting like a safety net to contain contaminants and keep them at the surface until they can be cleaned.

There are many impregnators out there and the old adage of “you get what you pay for” is certainly applicable here. Next question is what is best, solvent-based or water-based? Well this is one of the very few situations nowadays where I would still favour a solvent based one, not because water based is not up to the job, quite the contrary,  some modern water-based sealers can out-perform the best solvents, but simply because porcelain has a very dense surface and a solvent-based impregnator will penetrate it more easily.

So, having decided that a solvent based sealer is required, ideally we are looking for a high performance one that is as kind to the user and the environment as a solvent sealer can be, so check the labels, there are some better products available these days with less pungent odours than in days gone by. However make sure work with plenty of ventilation..

What if I want to use a water-based sealer? – No problem, you can, go for a premium water based sealer; just adapt the application a little: allow a liberal quantity of the sealer to dwell on the surface for a little longer. Then rub in the sealer with absorbent cotton or paper towels, leaving the surface of the tiles dry and free of sealer residue as per normal.

Is there anyway of darkening the porcelain? – This question sometimes arises, in particular with polished black porcelain. In some cases, solvent-based impregnators do darken the tile, but only marginally. There are some enhancing sealer s that can do a very good job, provided they can get into the porcelain, I have had some success with Enhance ‘N’ Seal on black polished porcelain, making a slightly greyed-out looking tile pure black. It won’t work on every tile, so you will need to be prepared to test, and it is expensive, but you will not need much of it as it goes such a long way.

I will come back to this topic later and discuss how to pre-seal a textured porcelain to aid the grouting process.

Copyright Ian Taylor and The Tile and Stone Blog.co.uk, 2013. See copyright notice above.

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  1. Anna Sammon | Mar 1, 2009 | Reply

    hello i would like to know how often do you have to seal the floor we are a family of five and we have a lot of foot trafic so if i where to use any type of sealer do i have to seal it from time to time.as someone told me you seal it once and its done for life no need to repeat the sealer which i find hard to belive if you can answer my questions i would be gratefull thank you anna sammon

  2. Chris Rayner | May 21, 2010 | Reply

    Hi, I have a big problem. My tiler has just started to grout the lovely porcelain tiles in my new kitchen using dark grout on the pale tiles. But the grout has stained the tiles! On close inspection the box of the tiles says they should be sealed and the company accepts no responsibility. Can I get the dark grout out of the tiles? We have already tried HG Cement Grout film remover. Thanks, Chris…

  3. Ian Taylor | May 24, 2010 | Reply

    Hi Chris, this is a very common problem, and I have covered it several times, but as it keeps coming up I want to go over it again only I think it will be better if I put up an entire post about it- I’ll get on with it right now so it should be up today.

  4. Ian Taylor | May 24, 2010 | Reply

    Hi Anna, apologies, for not answering you sooner, the blog has been up for a while but I am only just getting the hang of the comments!

    bit of a ‘how long is a piece of string’ question but you are absolutely correct, no sealer can last indefinitely. As you have not told me what type of sealer or anything about the type of stone, you cleaning regime etc. I can only make vague generalizations but here goes.

    There are two broad types of sealer: coating and impregnating. Coating sealers are visible coatings, often with some degree of intentional shine or finish. They are on top of the stone and so will be subject to wear – all that foot traffic you mention. They are also more prone to the effects of strong cleaners.

    most coating sealers can last anywhere between 3 to 6 months for the ‘lesser’ quality ones and 6 months to 3 years for the better ones
    Impregnators, as the are below the surface, do not suffer from wear in quite the same way and as a result, some can last upwards of 15 years or even longer.

    The things to bear in mind, if you have a high foot traffic and the stone is cleaned aggressively with strong alkaline cleaners/bleaches – your sealer will not last anywhere near its potential life expectancy – in some cases a coating sealer may be stripped straight back off again, while Impregnators will rapidly degrade under such circumstances.

    One more thing to consider is the stone itself; a soft stone or tile like some limestones and terracotta will wear comparably fast themselves, and as they wear, they take the sealer with them.

    There are lots of things you can do to prolong the life of your sealer, like reducing the amount of grit that gets onto the floor with dust mats, and use neutral cleaners for regular washing. But I would suggest that for Impregnators you do a water test once a year (see article above)- as soon as you detect a deterioration, in the sealer, you can usually top it up with another coat. Coating sealers are rather easier to see as they loose their ‘finish’ so there are visible signs.

    Hope that helps, sorry it was so late

    Ian

  5. Michelle Sica | May 30, 2010 | Reply

    Hello… I just had porcelain tile installed in my kitchen and living room. Most of the tiles have a slight texture to them but a handful of them are shiny and it is a very noticable difference. They look like different teils altogether! Is there anything you can think of to help fix this? We are going to try vinegar and water to see if it is a grout haze problem.. but we don’t think this is the case. Thanks for your help! Michelle

  6. Ian Taylor | Jun 1, 2010 | Reply

    Hi Michelle,

    Not completely sure about this one, it is worth trying to eliminate grout haze as you say. I must just say that I am amazed at the number of people who talk about using vinegar and water – I know it can be a good thing to use ‘home remedies’ and it seems to be very fashionable, especially on the US side of the pond but I think it is ‘bad advice’ – often given out by tv programmes and other web sites. The reason I don’t favour it is that it contains an acid (acetic) – admittedly in very small quantities but more than enough to do permanent damage to acid sensitive surfaces such as pigmented grout, and any calcium based stone. Not an issue here in your case but on the other hand, where an acid is required (and safe to use, like on porcelain) it is nowhere near strong enough.

    So, to eliminate the grout haze try some proprietary grout haze acid cleaner, based on phosphoric acid or equivalent (on no account use muriatic or hydrochloric). If it is a polymer modified grout, you may also need to use a solvent type cleaner – I have covered this else where so won’t repeat now.

    Ok, if you eliminate grout haze as the problem, what else could it be? – Well it could actually be a manufacturing fault. Without seeing pictures or knowing more about the tile it is hard to advise, it could be as simple as different batches. You don’t say if the tiles are supposed to be textured or smooth, I am assuming that they are supposed to be textured, and it is the shiny ones that are out of place? This, if it is the case, it very odd, it could be something as simple as the wrong tiles mixed up with yours but unlikely. Any chance you could post some pictures – or send them to me by email?

  7. J Austin | Sep 5, 2010 | Reply

    Hi..We had matt porcelain tiles laid in our new kitchen four months ago. No matter how often we clean them they just seem to absorb any type of liquid spilt on them. At the time they were laid i’d complained to the fitter that a tea stain had failed to be removed upon vigorous cleaning and asked if the tiles needed sealing. He replied, no!

    My five month old floor now looks much older and hasn’t even seen a winter yet. Are there any recommendations about what to do from here? I’m guessing i need to get the floor as clean as possible then seal it.

    Thx
    Jeni

  8. Ian Taylor | Sep 6, 2010 | Reply

    Hi Jeni,

    It is less usual to have an ongoing staining issue with matt porcelain rather than polished. It is the polishing process that opens up pores. However I have seen some matt finish porcelain that were quite porous. Sometimes the tile is just poor quality I am afraid and has an absorbent body, but more often than not it is down to surface texture.

    What appears to be matt to the naked eye can often be quite textured under a low powered microscope. The type of die and press used in some factories creates a kind of orange-peel texture. This texture really grabs hold of dirt, so the apparent ‘stain’ is able to cling stubbornly to the micro texture. In this case sealing may not help much (as there is no porous tile to seal) it can come down to using a more efficient cleaning method which may involve much more frequent scrubbing with a textured pad or nylon scrubbing brush.

    I would first try a deep clean with something like Heavy Duty Tile and Grout Cleaner, with the addition of Nanoscrub by Aqua Mix. If you are able to get them clean, then you may have found the answer for the ongoing maintenance. I would then do a test – use something like a permanent marker on a spare tile, if it appears to stain the tile (leaves a race when you wipe it away) then the tile may benefit from sealing. I would suggest something like Ultra Solv.

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  9. carole parkinson | Sep 15, 2010 | Reply

    Hi Ian. Have read your comments with great interest as i seriously need help with tiles laid in my conservatory. They are like a black uneven textured slate. we used grey grouting and a very good but inexperienced tiler. The tiles were laid brilliantly but they are covered in grout residue and look dusty and powdery. The tiler came back and spent about two hours cleaning the tiles with an industrial grout remover but they still dont look good and we want to seal them with something that gives them the black back. Would Ultrasolv be what we are looking for? We dont mind if we have to seal the tiles with the grout residue in them,, we really just want the tiles looking better than they do now. Appreciate any help you can give.

  10. Ian Taylor | Sep 16, 2010 | Reply

    Hi Carole,

    I would consider trying again to remove as much of the grout residue as you can. I know this can be tedious but it really is better than sealing over it. Suggest you use a mild phosphoric acid-based cleaner. These are safe and designed to work a little bit at a time – so it can take several attempts to clear it all.

    Regarding sealing, Ultra Solv would not be my choice. It is an impregnating sealer but it does not intentionally enhance the colour. I would say you have a couple of choices; either go for a colour-enhancing impregnate such as Enrich n Seal, or go for a coating sealer such as Seal & finish low Sheen. The coating sealer will add a bit of a wet look, that in itself will bring out some of the colour/black but the down side is that a coating sealer will wear, and so will need much more frequent re-application. The Enrich n Seal will really darken the stone and last much longer, but it is matt, so will not add a shine, and you would not be able to add a shine coat on top (the sealer would repel it) – so it is a choice you have to make.

    Hope that helps

    Ian

  11. carole parkinson | Sep 16, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks so much for your help. Will try again with removing the grout. I am not worried about having a shine on the tiles and quite like the idea of a matt finish so just one last qusetion-where do i get the products you mentioned?

  12. Ian Taylor | Sep 16, 2010 | Reply

    Hi, try the link on the top right hand side of the blog “Buy Aqua Mix Products here”

    Thanks

    Ian

  13. carole parkinson | Sep 16, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks again for all your help!

  14. deb Woods | Dec 8, 2010 | Reply

    Ian, We purchased a polished porcelain tile from what we thought was a very reputable place. It was not cheap. Upon sitting with them we explained that we wanted an ease of maintenance lifestyle. They showed us a polished porcelain tile and we bought it for the entire downstairs of our home. To our dismay, the tile absorbs any liquid that sits on it for several minutes..tea, coffee, juice etc. At no time did the Tile sellers mention the need to seal the tile. We are heartsick because from what I am reading the sealing should have been done prior to grouting and is a high maintenance process.. We are considering a lawsuit…can you tell us if there is any hope without having to remove this tile? Thank you, Deb

  15. r smitham | Apr 10, 2011 | Reply

    i have recently laid black porceline tiles right through the ground floor. though it looks brilliant, it seems to be always covered in dust, can i do anything to prevent this?

  16. Ian Taylor | Apr 18, 2011 | Reply

    Hi Ron,

    I think we can do many things, but preventing dust from landing on a floor is not really one of them. Bear in mind if you have switched from carpet to tiles, or from a mat-finish floor to the high-shine black polished porcelain – then you are going to see the dust and dirt more easily – it is no different to any other surface – think of a rough textured wall Vs a glass window pane- the more uniform and reflective the surface and the smoother, more perfect/polished it is, the more any kind of dirt/dust will show. This is one of the advantages over carpet – the same dust hides in the fibres and then when you clean the carpet once per year the water comes out black. At least with your floor you can see it and if this means you have to sweep/vacuum more frequently to keep it perfect looking then personally I think this is a good thing. Compared to having lots of dust and dirt in the carpet that you just cannot see?

    hope this helps
    Ian

  17. aine | Jun 16, 2011 | Reply

    Hi

    I have grey polished porcelain tiles and no matter how much I clean them they never look clean. They always seem to what looks like water stain on them. Any ideas?

    Thanks

    Aine

  18. Ian Taylor | Jun 21, 2011 | Reply

    Hi Aine,

    Could be a couple of things; it could be traces of transit wax still on the tiles that are causing the problem – you could try an alkaline cleaner to remove it.

    However, it could just be a result of the tiles being highly polished – in other words, imagine you had glass on the floor – it would show water marks and streaks, this is why when washing windows on buildings and cars, the best way is to use a chamois leather cloth to buff them dry afterwards.

    Unlike other flooring, such as unpolished tiles or stone the highly polished surface will show any and every thing that is left on it. If you live in a hard water area (I am guessing you are in central Ireland? – which I believe has relatively hard water). The the water you use to wash the floor is not pure water, it contains traces of dissolved calcium. When the water is left to dry, the water evaporates and leaves behind the feint traces of calcium, to form a very fine film on the surface – so water splashes etc can appear as apparent stains. If the porcelain is a dark colour then these will be more visible.

    One way to avoid this is to use a towel to buff the floor dry, after moping and rinsing

    let me know if this helps

    Ian

  19. Michelle | Jul 4, 2011 | Reply

    Hi Ian! I am hoping you can help me with a recommendation. We have 20×20 glazed porcelain tile throughout our home. On the manufacturer’s website, it lists the tile’s properties as C.O.F. DRY 0.86, C.O.F WET 0.62
    and a P.E.I. Rating of 4. Not sure what this all means. It does not have any texture, it is smooth. The tiles have NOT been sealed, nor has the grout. This tile drives me CRAZY. When looking at it at an angle, it always looks smudgy, smeary, etc. I use a Hoover Floormate to clean it once a week, and it looks okay after cleaning, but as soon as someone walks on it barefooted, or if anything is spilled and wiped, it looks like greasy and smudgy. This is not user friendly tile for me at ALL since I have two very small children who are always crawling around and spilling things as well. What can I apply to this tile to make it more user friendly? A sealer? Some sort of gloss coat? I don’t want it to be super shiny, but this smudgy smeary appearance it driving me nuts. Thank you!

  20. Ian Taylor | Jul 4, 2011 | Reply

    Hi Michelle,

    First of all, the COF (coefficient of friction) figures are just an indication of how the tile surface performs, in both wet and dry conditions, in terms of slip resistance. I do not know what the American standards call for but here in the UK, it is a bit vague, but the preferred official test method does not call COF, rather it calls for PTV or pendulum test value. However, 0.62 wet is a good result generally speaking but it has little to do with the situation you describe.

    The PEI value of 4 (also known as Grade 4) relates to the ability of the glaze to resist wear – it is abrasion resistance and here in Europe anything below a grade 4 would be considered for light traffic areas only – so bathrooms etc. – but Grade 4 and above is good for general rooms like kitchens and hallways as well.

    So this is nothing to do with your issue either.

    As the tiles are glazed they effectively have a thin layer of glass on the surface (just like a china teacup). That layer of glass in most cases is impervious and will not allow any kind of sealer to penetrate. The best analogy I can give you for what is happening is this: if you place your hand on a clean window, you leave a smear, if it were feasible to walk on the glass, whether barefoot or in stocking or sock-clad feet – you would also expect to leave some marks. If you were to wash the windows and not carefully rinse then, and even polish them dry with a chamois-leather or a squeegee – you would expect to see water-marks on the glass once they had dried right? This is due to impurities in the water (such as calcium deposits, general specs of dirt or residue of the detergent you use being left behind by the water once it has dried).

    The completely ‘sealed’ nature of the glazed surface means that nothing can soak in – just like glass. Consider this, if you had a carpet instead, or a dull, textured hard floor, the tiny bits of grease, or grit or whatever else is left behind, would fall into the texture, or be absorbed by the fibres of the carpet – so at first you would not see anything, however, over time this would lead to a grubby looking floor that needed deep cleaning. The fact that your hard, impenetrable glazed surface shows everything as soon as it is there, is simply down to the nature of the beast – and some would argue that showing every mark, allows you to keep it cleaner.

    Generally speaking, the smother, shinier, more impervious a surface (whether windows, floors, brass ornaments, jewellery or anything else) the more readily it will show marks like foot/fingerprints, water marks and the like.

    Can you put a sealer on it? – Not really, yes there are coating sealers that will stick to glazed tiles, but they require regular (like weekly or more) upkeep, re-application etc. (and they are normally quite glossy in nature). Even the sealers that don’t require weekly re-application, will not last for long and will dull-down and wear. You are also not adding anything, the tiles seem easy to clean, so no benefit to having a sealer – (As sealers are often used to make a hard-to-clean tile easier to wipe off but yours is easy to clean). If you think about it, you would be replacing one smooth impenetrable surface with another, and one that requires more upkeep.

    Not what you want to hear I think but unfortunately that is the situation. One thing that may help is to keep a dry floor mop with a microfiber cloth head nearby so you can quickly wipe away any smears as you see them appear, in between regular vacuuming and washing.

    Hope that helps a bit.

    Ian

  21. Simone | Jul 20, 2011 | Reply

    I have dark grey unpolished porcelian tiles which i have just cleaned with patio cleaner to remove a white residue that formed on the tiles after i sealed them. I now need to seal them again but can you advise the best sealant to use. The one used previously was LTP Mattstone Natural Stone Sealer

  22. Ian Taylor | Jul 20, 2011 | Reply

    Hi Simone,

    The first question Iwould ask is: Does the porcelain need sealing at all? A good quality porcelain typically does not require sealing if it is not polished. In deed, many of the better ones are so dense that they will not let a sealer in and this could easily explain why the sealer you used left a residue. I would do a little test on a spare tile like this:

    Take one spare tile, make sure it is free of any protective film/transit wax (a good scrub with an alkaline detergent should do this). Then put some water onto it, leave for 10 minutes, wipe the water up – if there is no darkening of the tile and any ‘wet shadow’ disapeapers in a few moments then it is not letting any water in. If this is the case then no water-bourne contaminant is going to get in either. Then try some solvent (clear nail varnish remover works well) and also try a permanent marker pen – try to wipe them off and see if they leave a stain. The permanant marker can leave a mark as that is what it is designed to do but take some nail varnish remover on a cloth and wipe – if it comes clean off, then it is not really possible or required, to seal the tiles.

    If you do find some porosity exists then ok, re seal the tiles using a good quality solvent-based impregnator (only recommending the solvent as it is a very dense tile) something like Ultra Solv is good as as it is a great sealer, with a much more user-friendly solvent base).

    To avoid a re-occurrance of the residue – apply the sealer with a paint pad, in thin even coats, leave to penetrate for about 5 minutes BUT DO NOT allow to dry on the surface. Wipe any remaining sealer away BEFORE it dries, buff it with a clean micro-fibre cloth. You should not use a lot of sealer and it may seem that you are wiping more off than you are putting on, but that is the nature of the tile – you are only filling a few tiny micro pores, so a little sealer will go a long way.

    I may be wrong, but I think the brand you used recommends a longer penetration time – this is fine, as it is their instructions, but, regardless of their instructions, if a sealer dries in that time, you will have residue – so just watch it and buff off as soon as you feel it is drying.

    Hope that helps

    Ian

  23. Rene' | Oct 6, 2011 | Reply

    Hello Ian,

    I need to seal the grout on our kitchen floor. The tile is glazed porcelain and I need a recommendation for the grout sealer. Thank you and have a great day.

    Rene’

  24. Ian Taylor | Oct 6, 2011 | Reply

    Hi Rene,

    You really only need a good quality grout sealer, but you could equally use a premium impregnating sealer too. YOu could check out ‘Grout Sealer by Aqua Mix but there are planty of others too.

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  25. Andy | Oct 10, 2011 | Reply

    Hi

    Could I use a sealant such as Ultra Solv in order to seal the porcelain tile and then Aqua Seal Floor Shine & Hardener in order to give the tiles a “sheen” look? This does say it needsw to be applied to a Sealed floor. Many thanks for any help you can give

  26. Ian Taylor | Oct 12, 2011 | Reply

    Hi Andy,

    Yes to the frst question, but as to using floor shine & hardener after, no, not really.

    Whilst it does say the floor needs to be sealed before you can use FS&H – it is refering really to using it ontop of a coating sealer, like Sealer & Finish Low Sheen. It is a topical coating and it needs a porous and/or textured surface as does the coating sealer. Yur porcelain may or maynot have sufficient texture but it will not be porous enough. Also, if it is porous enough to take an impregnating sealer like Ultra Solv, then that sealer is going to repell the FS&H.

    Basically it is designed for porous textured materials like terracotta, some slate and quarry tiles.

    Unfortunately the only way to make porcelain ‘shine’ effectively is to by polished porcelain in the first place.

    Sorry if that is not the answer you wanted

    Hope it helps though
    Ian

  27. Jean | Oct 18, 2011 | Reply

    Hi Ian, Have read most of the above blog and am confused as to which category my porcelain tiles fall into. They have a gloss finish and are chocolate brown colour – they are not a plain tile, having a slight sort of honeycomb pattern. Evry drop of water dries in and leaves a mark. They are laid in my kitchen so I continually drip water around sink area. I have a cloth on the floor and if I dry it quickly there is no mark left. It is spoiling the pleasure of my new kitchen and floor.
    Will sealing them be the answer.
    Thanks for any advice
    Jean

  28. Sharon | Oct 24, 2011 | Reply

    Have greatly enjoyed reading all these posts but don’t think I have found the answer to my problem. Ian, you sound like the ‘go to guy’ for porcelain tile problems.
    We had a high quality porcelain laid in the front entrance. I applied Aqua Mix High Gloss Sealer using a sponge brush – which made a mess. It is foggy, streaked and looks awful. The majority of the area was applied with a cloth and looks beautiful. How do I remove the sealer that looks awful and what is the best method of applying Aqua Mix? I am looking for a high gloss finish for this area of our home and would really like it to look like ‘glass’ if possible. Thank you for your advise.

  29. Ian Taylor | Oct 24, 2011 | Reply

    Hi Jean,

    OK, if it is a high gloss finish, but water drops are soaking in then I thnk we can rule out glazed porcelain and assume it is a polished porcelain (so it is the actual surface of the tile that is mechanically polished to the high shine – just like stone).

    The pattern you describe must therefore be in the intricate way in which the different colour clays have been applied (they are very clever these days).

    So it sounds as though the tile has a small degree of surface porosity – and so yes I think in your case, it may well be worth trying a sealer. You will need an impregnating sealer that has been designed for the job, this is one of the cases where a solvent based sealer may still be a better option over a water based one – purely because of the relatively thinner natue of the solvent. It may not seal in exactly the same way as a sealer on a porous stone, but it will still get into any micro pores that it can and this will help to keep water out. You could see if you can get a product called Ultra Solv (click the All for Stone link on the top right)

    What it will not do is stop water splashes from drying on the surface. Water often has impuirites in it – soap/detergent, dirt/grease or just caclium from plain clean water (worse in hard water areas but present nearly everywhere) so, even plain water from the tap, will leave a ‘mark’ this can just be the tiniest amounts of calcium being left behind by the water when it evaporates – so it leaves a dull spot. This is always worse (or more noticeable) on polished surfaces and in fact is just the same as water streaking on glass – when we wash windows in the sun, but forget to squeegee them dry – we get the exact same thing – rapid drying of the water leaving behind, whatever was being carried in the water (detergent/dirt and calcium).

    So sealing may help prevent the problem from becoming ingrained ‘in’ the surface, but it won’t stop it from hapeing ‘on’ the surface. One way to keep this at bay is to occasionaly dry the floor (like we do with glass) after washing

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  30. Ian Taylor | Oct 24, 2011 | Reply

    Hi Sharon,

    OK, first of all, you may not be able to achieve what you are looking for, without trying to sound harsh, if you had wanted a high shine (like glass) then you may have purchased the wrong tile. What I mean by this is that you can buy highly polished porcelain in the fisrt place.

    The sealer you have used is ok, but it needs texture and to some degree some porosity. If you have purcased a tile with sufficient texture to make the sealer work/bond then I think you must have bought one that is quite far away from your ideal, if you did buy a polished tile and you want it to be even more glossy, or you perhaps bought a smooth but not shiny tile, then neither will have enough texture for the sealer to bond. Also, the finish from this sealer is never going to match the natural gloss of a polished porcelain.

    If you have managed to get a nice finish over most of the floor, then either – the tile has enough texture, or, and you may not like this, it is only going to last a very short time – only time will tell on this. In terms of application, if you have managed a nice finish with a cloth then I would try that again. Certainly a songe brush creates too many bubbles, this type of product needs to be pulled out quite thin and not messed with too much. Prefered applicators are paint pads, lambswool applicators, and floor-finish mops – large flat mops that have closed loops. But, your cloth method seems to have worked so why not stick with that?

    As far as removing it from the bad areas, this type of product may come off easily with a high alkaline stripper/degreaser – mix it strong, leave it to dwell for 15 minites and scrub with a white pad. Pick up the solution, rinse with clean water then dry. May need repeating. If this does not work, then try a solvent stripper like Sealer and Adhesive remover. Make sure to rinse the floor thoroughly and allow it to dry before reapplying the sealer.

    Hope this helps

  31. Karen | Nov 16, 2011 | Reply

    I have a showroom with polished porcelain black tiles. I have used an anti slip product supplied by one of our tile distributors this seems to have gone inside the tile and I am now left with “mop marks” you can see it under the tile where I have “mopped” the solution on. The supplier has told me this is due to salt residue in the tile and it will go in 14 days. i am up to day 11 now and the floor is no different. He came to look at it today and said it could take 20 weeks! The solution was supposed to do 10mtrs you used it as it came in the bottle is was not diluted. i used it until it ran out which was more than 10mtrs they are now saying this is the problem! surely if I had spread it too thinly it just would not have worked properly. My arguement is that where I started on the floor this was not spread too thinly and this looks the same as when I finished the floor?? I just want my tiles back to how they were but I am really worried that this solution has totally impregnated the tile and is not going to come out. Have you any ideas on solutions that could resolve my problem

  32. Ian Taylor | Nov 16, 2011 | Reply

    Hi Karen,

    I am not sure exactly what has happened, there are different types of anti slip treatments and some are more harmful than others. Can you tell me exactly what they used? Email me on the contact form if you would rather not publicise the product name

    Hope this helps
    Ian

  33. Karen | Nov 17, 2011 | Reply

    The product is FSI anti slip. You use a cleaner and degreaser first which you add water to. This is then mopped with clean water. You then put the anti slip in a mop bucket and mop it on taking care not to let it dry out. I covered the floor with it near the door then I went over the rest of the floor until I had used all of the product. It says the product is for 10sq mtrs and I have covered more of an area than this. The floor actually looks worse where I have started it compared to where the product was running out. The rep has told me this is why the floor looks in this condition as I have used it in more than 10sq mtrs. I dont understand how this could be surely this would just effect the performance of the anti slip?? The rep yesterday did not really know the reason why the floor had seemed to absorb the solution in this way and when he told me it would probably eventually come out he could not even give me any guidelines as to the length of time this would take I knew he did not know what he was talking about. I need to know if there is a product that would draw out what seems to be in the tile at the moment it looks like a floor that has been mopped with too much cleaner in and left to dry but you would expect that if you rubbed the surface it would come off but there is nothing on the surface. thanks Karen

  34. Judith | Nov 20, 2011 | Reply

    Hello – hope you can help

    Our tiler has just laid porcelain tiles outside on our terrace.

    We want to seal them but as they have already been grouted what is the best procedure.

    I would have thought an impregnating sealer would be best but if we also want to seal the grout do we use a different sealer for that first?

    Thanks
    Judith

  35. Ian Taylor | Nov 22, 2011 | Reply

    Hi Judith,

    If they are grouted and clean then just check to see if they have any traces of transit wax still on them. Give the a good clean with a high alkaline cleaner, rinse and let them dry thoroughly (assuimg the grout is now fully cured).

    Then yes, a good impregnating sealer would be fine, it would seal the grout also, in fact it will most likely be of greater benefit to the grout than to the tile itself

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  36. Carol | Dec 10, 2011 | Reply

    Hi Ian

    Currently have matt porcelain cream tiles (£60 sq/m) which are very easy to care for. Soon going to extend the kitchen so they will have to be replaced and electric under floor heating installed. New tiles will be light grey matt porcelain tile but hopefully nearer to £30 sq/m, and will extend into the hall and cloakroom. In order to have an easy to maintain/clean tile what questions should I be asking about the tiles and underfloor heating I purchase?

    Any help gratefully received

    Carol

  37. Helen | Dec 13, 2011 | Reply

    Hello, i was talked into cream porcelain tiles by topps tiles, they told me i needed different adhesive to ceramic but did not mention sealing. So when i had them laid the tiler asked if i needed then sealing i said i didnt know. We tested with water and it didnt seam to make a difference. So he laid them, grouted them and sealed the grout with some spray stuff, (because the grout is light at well) from the very first day i used my kitchen after, the floor has looked filthy stains that i have no idea about, mopping doesnt get any dirt up i have to get on my hands and knees and scrub, sometimes with bicarb soda to get some stains up, my hands are killing me and its only been a week. can i seal them now the gout has been sealed. they are rough textured tiles so i guess they must be poor quality. Gutted.
    Thank you.
    Helen

  38. Ian Taylor | Dec 15, 2011 | Reply

    Hi Carol,

    First of all, we see far fewer issues with ‘matt’ finish porcelain than we do polished.That being said, there can be issues. Some can look and feel matt, but very smooth to the touch, however, under a microscope, they may have a fine, microspoic texture. This can be an issue if the texture is pronounced in that it can help to trap fine dirt particles. The only answer to this type of issue is to have to use something like a scrubbing brush occasionally to help clean the floor. There is not real way of checking this, as the shop selling the tiles is not guranteed to know the answer, usually you only find this out in use. One way to check is to buy/borrow a sample and tread on it with dirty shoes, bare feet, stocking feet, rub your hands over it, rub dirt on it etc – and see if any gets trapped or if it wipes clean really easily. If you have this issue, sealing will not really do anything to help.

    Occasionally you can get a matt porcelain with a slightly porous surface – that can stain if strong liquid contaminants are left on it (red wine, beetroot, tea/coffee etc.) Sealing with a good impregnating sealer may help here.

    So, you can check it is a good quality tile, by asking “is it from a trusted factory that you know?” for example, and just by doing the tests above, you can ask to see the tech data (water absorption figures for example – they should be <0.5).

    With regard to under floor heating, there is not much to worry about, pretty much all the major brands are fine. there are no maintenance issues really. there are different systems: loose wires, wires in netting and newer, thinner foils and ribbon types that take up less room (thickness)

    Main things to remember are that you should use insulating boards beneath to improve the efficiency and don’t spend money heating up the concrete, make sure you have sufficient space for the insulation boards, the heating mat/system and the tiles and adhesive.

    Many tilers will tile straight over the mat, I do not recommend this, I always prefer to see a levelling compound used over the mat/heating system first, and allowed to cure as it means the tiler is less likely to damage the matt and also it makes the tiling job much easier.

    Apart from that make sure you get the right capacity for the area you are doing, that you have a qualified electrician to actually install the electics (the thermostat and connecting it up to the mains) anyone can physically install the mat in place, but you must have a qualified sparky to connect it up, and many/most require their own RCD/RCCD and or fuse (not my field) – don’t let an unqualified tiler/builder/plumber/DIY enthusiast install the electrics.

    Laslty, make sure the system is installed and the levelling compound cured and set, then TEST the matt – an electrician can do this for you. it is much easier to rectify/repair faults BEFORE you start tiling.

    Hope this helps

    Ian.

  39. Ian Taylor | Dec 15, 2011 | Reply

    Hi Helen,

    OK, I don’t know your particular tile so I cannot say if they need, or would have benefitted from sealing prior to grouting. It does not sound like there are actual grout stains on your tiles. I am thinking it has more to do with the spray sealer.

    I am not a fan of spray sealers, they are a flawed concept in my opinnion – and I used to sell one! let me explain, the idea of a sealer that you can spray, and one that can be applied so soon (many state within 20 minutes to 2 hours of grouting) cannot be applying anywhere near the same amount or quality of sealer as doing it with a conventional sealer, after the grout has cured. They are designed to provide ‘some’ degree of sealing but more importantly they are designed to allow the tiler to seal the same day as grouting – so he can ‘add some value’ to the job, but also, leave the customer with a bit of protection, until he/she can get a proper sealer on the grout, once the grout has had time to cure.

    They are also designed for speed and ease of application, ‘no need to wipe away residue’ (well, if they were applying a reasonable amount of sealer, there would be lots of residue or surplus sealer to remove). So the idea is the sealer is sprayed onto the joint, and because there is actually so little sealer there, the little bit that gets on the tile is supposedly so small that it won’t cause an issue. However, in prcatice they are over applied and there WILL BE some dried albeit barely visible, residue on the tiles. It is my guess that this residue is dull, colourless and not that noticeable on its own, but it will attract dirt and over a very short period of time this builds up and produces a dirty appearance.

    I would hope that this is what you have, rather than a tile that is staied as that is harder to resolve. I would first try a product called microscrub (see all for stone ad on the blog), pre wet the floor, add a little microscrub and scrub the surface with a nylon brush or pad. If this does not do anything, try a solvent stripper, (you could try a little acetone or clear nail varnish remover – if that works, a solvent stripper should)

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  40. Helen | Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Thank you
    Helen

  41. John L | Mar 15, 2012 | Reply

    I read your article with great interest. We have polished Porcelain tile throughout the house. It has been down for about five years now. Our problem is twofold. The first problem was with staining and now after reading your article I can see where we might benefit from sealing the tile. However do I understand that you cannot seal after the tile has been grouted? The second problem is that the tile has gotten very dull after in places after some time. Is there any way to bring this shine back? Will the sealer do this also?

  42. Ian Taylor | Mar 16, 2012 | Reply

    Hi John,

    No reason why yoou cannot seal them now, the question is, can you get the stains out before you do. It depends on what they are, if it is grout then it can be tricky, read the other posts on this as I have gone into depth on a method you could try. If it is just general dirt then a good deep clean with an alkaline cleaner may work.

    The dullness could be actually a deposit on the tile that you can remove, as opposed to a dulling down of the actual shine through wear and abraison. If it is wear, then the shine has effectviely been worn away and the only way to revive it would be mecahnically re poloshing with professional grinding equipment, possible but tricky and expensive and would need th esurevices of a restoration professional. If it is the former, again a high alkaline cleaner may work. These dull patinas can build up over time from residues of detergent and dirt that is not rinsed away. Using a good cleaner, letting it sit for a while, then scrubbing, then removing (extraction) and the rinsing with water can really help.

    Hope this helps
    Ian

  43. Rick B | Mar 17, 2012 | Reply

    i have just sealed some matt finish porcelain tiles with spirit marble and tile care water based premium sealer and the sealer has left a smeary look. What can i do to remove this?

  44. Ian Taylor | Mar 19, 2012 | Reply

    Hi Rick,

    I am not familiar with that brand but it just sounds like you have left a residue of the sealer on the tile surface. You could contact that company and ask their recommendations for removing it. However normally I would try a number of options, from least aggressive to more aggressive. The objective would be to try remove the residue without removing the sealer from the tile.

    First thing I would try is a white nylon emulsifying pad wiht plain water – it may work, it may not. After that I would try a mild abrasive cream such as Microscrub (you appear to be in Australia, so you could get this from http://www.aqua-seal.com.au). Many times just using this with a little water and the same white pad is enough to safely remove any residue but not pull any sealer from the tile.

    After that, you are into stripping with a solvent, and this of course will likely mean starting over after.

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  45. Candy G | Mar 27, 2012 | Reply

    We installed Daltile Continenetal Slate ColorBody procelain tile in the kitchen a few years ago and it is lighter and a little duller looking than I had preferred. I like the look or darker color of it after I wash it and before it drys. Is there any sealer floor finish that I can apply that will brighten the color? Someone had recommended Aqua Mix Floor Shine & Hardner? I don’t want to put something on and ruin the finish. Any suggestions? Thank you

  46. Ian Taylor | Mar 28, 2012 | Reply

    HI,

    If it is a porcelain then I would not put the floor shine & hardner on it. It will not be able to bond, it will just wear off as soon as you clean or use the Floor.

    If you are in the USA, Aqua Mix have another product called High Gloss Sealer that can bond to porcelain PROVIDED there is sufficient texture to the surface, inly a test will tell.This will cast a slight darkening but a high gloos – so you would have to try it to see if you like it. You may also be able to use their enhancing sealer instead – I suggest you call their tech services and see what they say

    hope this helps
    Ian

  47. Con | Apr 3, 2012 | Reply

    Hi Ian,

    We are from Sydney. We bought a porcelain tile in a honed matt finish from a reputable tile retailer.

    We have laid the tile throughout the ground floor of our house including kitchen. During construction we protected the tiles very carefully but found upon completion that the tiles had what we now believe was a transit wax that occured on each tile and formed a pattern.

    We called the tile shop and they sent someone out to clean the marks off with heavy duty cleaners and machinery.Two years on and we are still having issues,not so much with staining but there is cloudiness, footprints, dirt build up that simply does not come off, in short the tiles constantly look filthy. We have followed instructions using PH Neutral cleaners, cleaning with only hot water clean microfibre mop etc.

    The suppliers have been out on a number of occasions to inspect and have concluded that the dirt from out side is coming in on shoes and creating buildup. We have had the tiles proffesionally cleaned twice more but the problem keeps reoccuring. They are also saying that it is due to the type of floor cleaner I am using, blaming it for causing the build up. I do not believe this is the case at all because as I mentioned we have used what they recommended.

    I beleive we have been sold an inferior quality tile and we are considering our legal options. Are you able to shed some light on what might be causing this build up?, do you think our tile would benefit from yet another clean and seal.Your insight would be very much appreciated.

    Best
    Con

  48. Ian Taylor | Apr 3, 2012 | Reply

    Hi Con,

    from the sound of it, when you get them cleaned, you get results, as you say the problem keeps re-occurring, therefore I assume it looks OK for a while, and that means the cleaning pro’s get it back to clean. If so, there is something going on. These tiles can have a micro texture and they can grip tiny fragments of dirt. It may be that your normal cleaning regime needs to include more frequent scrubbing, as opposed to wiping or mopping. In other words, it might be more to do with technique than ph neutral products versus anything stronger etc.

    This may not be what you wish to hear, as it might be that the floor needs more work than you had anticipated. However this may not be a fault with the tile, just the nature of it – and in any case it would be hard to prove. There are things that can be wrong, the pattern you descrtibe could be etched into the surface, this could be a manufacturing fault. However if it looks fine when cleaned but quickly goes back to looking dull I think it is more likely to be a texture issue and as I have said this may, or may not be a fault.

    You could try a micro abrasive cream cleaner like Microscrub – this will do some ‘liquid’ scrubbing and you may not need to use it every time.

    Can I suggest you contact my good friend A’nge Kokkaliaris at http://www.aqua-seal.com.au – he is very experienced with porcelain issues and can supply you with the Microscrub. Send hims some photos and he may be able to help you in greater detail.

    Hope this helps.

    Ian

  49. Con Mihas | Apr 3, 2012 | Reply

    Hi Thanks for that,
    that has certainly helped, that is probably the most enlightening information we have received so far.
    The microscopic texture makes sense, as I mentioned initially the problem was not dirt and grime build up it was the waxy residue that formed a pattern on each tile. When the suppliers sent in processional cleaners they used heavy duty cleaners and multi layered scourers. The scourers they used have left circular marks that are vaguely visible in certain light, but over the entire surface that they treated. the tiles looked fine for a couple of months then the issue with the dirt build up and foot prints etc began. The tiles do not seem to withstand any kind of traffic. When we have guests the floors are worse off after. My wife started having to vacuum and mop everyday and sometimes twice a day just to have it look mediocre.Could it be that these circular marks are in fact more serious damage than we thought? We specifically told them we wanted low maintenance tiles and that is not what they sold us and also not long after they secured the order for us the manufacturer discontinued the tile.
    Sorry to bombard you , its just that you seem to really understand porcelain tile issues. Thanks for the referal also I will give him a buzz.
    Best
    Con

  50. Ian Taylor | Apr 4, 2012 | Reply

    Hi Con,

    I understand what you are saying, I think it very unlikly that normal scourers would scratch a porcelain, especially a matt finish one, unless they were diamond impregnated pads. However perhaps what they did do was only partially remove the transit wax. Sometimes this ‘wax’ can be quite hard, maybe they removed 95% percent of it and the circular marks are the traces of the ‘wax’ still there, these then attract more dirt over time – it is one possible suggestion to look into.

    We do see circular marks on some porcelain, but more when it is polished, there can be poor quality polishing with such marks which would in deed be a manufacturing fault. However as your tiles are not polished, it is hard to see this as a possibility

    Hard to give you any further advice without seeing them. A tile with a micro texture, will grab dirt (just think of running your thumb over the sandpaper on a matchbox and you will leave greasy/gruybby marks as the textute of the paper pulls oil and anything else, from your skin).

    I think if you can get some pics over to the contact I gave you he may be able to offer more help, at least he is in the same time zone so you could call him

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  51. denise | Apr 26, 2012 | Reply

    hi ian,

    we bought high gloss porclain floor tiles and i.have discovered that they are a nightmare to clean.and when walked on are leaving footprints everywhere.would i benefit from a sealant or is there a particular product that makes for easier maintenance.

    denise

  52. Ian Taylor | Apr 29, 2012 | Reply

    Hi Denise,

    Forgive me, but this question is so close to that from Jess I am going to point you to the answer I just gave her, hope this helps

    Ian

    http://www.tileandstoneblog.co.uk/porcelain/yet-more-porcelain-tile-problems/comment-page-1/#comment-966

  53. paul | May 7, 2012 | Reply

    Hi Ian
    Have just bought some glazed porcelain floor tiles from wicks . Riga beige and they have a very fine sandpaper feel to them great as a non slip for us and our dogs.The thing is are these going to be a pain to keep clean.only got one box at the mo 22 boxes needed also will these need sealing thanks paul

  54. Ian Taylor | May 11, 2012 | Reply

    Hi Paul, will they be a pain to clean? – all depends on your definition of a pain – they will certainly be harder to clean than a glazed floor tile. the two things are inexorably linked; what grips people (and dogs) grips dirt. The better the ‘anti-slip’ characterisitics, the more effort needed to clean them.

    It is a porcelain so it ought not to stain, but the texture may hold dirt more redily than a smooth surface. Normal cleaning will work, but you may find using a mop may actually end up leaving the floor more dirty; with the texture in the tile grabbing dirt and even fibres off the mop. Normally, all I would suggest is suplimenting the normal cleaning regime, with preiodic use of a deck brush and detergent – so every oncve in a while, when the floor appears to bne getting a little grubby, lightly scrub the floor with a deck brush.

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  55. kenny | Jul 23, 2012 | Reply

    Ian ,
    is it safe to use a steam cleaner on polished porcelain tiles. I have used ultra solv to seal them, will the steam melt the sealant

  56. Ian Taylor | Jul 23, 2012 | Reply

    Hi Kenny,

    Short answer is yes, it might – well not melt exactly, but steam cleaning is definitely considered a ‘harsh’ cleaning method – the increase in temperature and pressure will have an impact. Exactly what that impact will be I cannot quantify, but it will definitely shorten the life expectancy of the product. So, it may not strip it out 100% on the first of second use, but very quickly I suspect, with repeated use it will diminish the sealer’s effectiveness.

    The question it begs though is why, would a polished porcelain, that has been well sealed, need a steam cleaner? Are you having really bad issues?

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  57. kenny | Jul 30, 2012 | Reply

    Ian,
    thanks for your help. The steam cleaner was suggested by a friend as they tend not to leave streaks so might save a bit of elbow grease. I did doubt it, there’s no easy shortcut to keeping the floor polished and mark free.
    cheers.

  58. Sandy | Jan 4, 2013 | Reply

    Our tile installer just finished our walk in shower, using pebble stone tiles on the floor. We are disappointed in the outcome of the floor, including over-grouting. As well, the grout appears to be different shades of grey .
    Any solutions would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Sandy

  59. Ian Taylor | Jan 4, 2013 | Reply

    Hi Sandy,

    Over-grouting is not so easy to fix, also the nature of pebble type tiles, being rather rustic in nature, it can be hard to say of the tiler used too much grout or not as it is hard to determine if he filled the joints up too much as the tops of the stones will vary.

    However if he/she has left a lot of grout on the surface then you may be able to remove some of this, one way is to use a cement residue remover (safe acidic cleaner made for the job, just as long as your stone is not limestone or some other acid-sensitive stone) and a scrub pad. Also you could try an abrasive cream cleaner. IF there is more than just a thin film of grout on the tiles then it is not going to work, you would need to use mechanical means to remove the excess grout – and on an uneven surface that can be very tricky, if not impossible.

    Regarding the colour, if you take the acid clean route then this may lighten the joints up and that just might make them more even (although you may prefer them darker, not lighter). If they look even and nice when wet, then you could use an enhancing sealer to darken them down to an even shade. If the stone has not yet been sealed with anything, then this same enhancer would work well on the stone – provided you like the darker/wet look

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  60. KIM DUMBRILL | Jan 27, 2013 | Reply

    Hello,

    I wonder if you can help me I have 100 square feet of black high gloss tiles and they are driving me mad. They never look clean no matter how hard I try I have tried every cleaning product suggest and steam cleaners and polishers but as soon as you walk on the tiles you are back to square one it is the worst mistake I have ever made. Can I seal them and if I do will it remain shining when I clean it without smearing and cloudy marks all over them. Please help I am desperate.

    Many thanks.

  61. Michelle Edwards | Jan 28, 2013 | Reply

    Hi Ian!

    We have black polished porcelain tiles in our bathroom, completed only a few weeks ago. I used a shower cleaner for the first time and the shower floor tiles have lost colour, and are lighter than the rest of the floor. The are a high gloss tile but not glazed- water that sits on them makes them appear darker is spots until they dry out. I leaned towards enrich n seal but am concerned that you mentioned it is matt. Please advise!

    Michelle

  62. Ian Taylor | Jan 29, 2013 | Reply

    Hi Kim,

    OK, I have lost count now, the number of times I have had this question – you are certainly not alone – black polished porcelain is so popular at the moment, and everyone, it seems has the same issues.

    [I am making the assumption that your tiles are indeed polished porcelain, and not a glazed black tile -f I got this wrong, please come back and put me right]

    There may, or may not be an issue with the porcelain; tiny microscopic holes in the body of the tile can be exposed by the process used to polish them – that is; fine grinding with silica grits – (think taking the crust off a loaf of bread, now the holes that are there are exposed).

    These holes can collect tiny amounts of microscopic particles like dirt or even grout. A sealer designed for porcelain (usually a solvent based one unfortunately) can certainly help – by simply putting some sealer in those microscopic holes, it stops other dirt from entering. However a sealer may not stop this altogether.

    Applying this type of sealer (an impregnator) will not harm the shine of the tiles, as the sealer is only going into he holes, it should not be left on the surface like a coating. If you do leave it to dry on the surface you will have streaks and marks to remove.

    [if you have glazed tiles then this is irrelevant, no sealer will get in in any event]

    The other issue that is common, (and maybe what you are experiencing) is just to do with the nature of polished porcelain.

    Porcelain is the closest thing (in the ceramic tile word) to glass, (without actually being glass). There is a high proportion of silica in the tiles, and they are fired at very high temperatures whereby the silica does indeed form a glass-like material. If it were not for the presence of large amounts of other ingredients, it would be glass.

    So, you can think of porcelain tiles as not very pure glass – and as such they behave very much like glass.

    Now think what would happen if you were to walk barefoot, or with stocking feet on glass, you would leave a ‘print’ (the moisture and oils from your skin get left behind) the glass has a microscopic texture to the surface, so whilst it looks smooth to the eye, it is really not. Think of when children (and adults) or pets put their faces/noses/hands up against a window – it usually results in you having to wipe a slightly greasy smear off it.

    When we wash glass (windows, car screens etc) we tend to realize that even so called ‘clean water’ can leave streaks so we use something to dry it after. This can help with a polished floor – washing, rinse it then use an old towel to buff it dry, thus removing all traces of water and making it impossible to leave water marks and streaks.

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  63. Ian Taylor | Jan 29, 2013 | Reply

    Hi Michelle,

    It might just be that you have this the wrong way around; whilst there can be several issues with polished black porcelain (just look a the comments on this post) they would not normally loose their colour or shine.

    What I suspect is that you have effectively ‘stained’ them with residue of the shower cleaner or,

    some porcelain tiles come with some kind of coating this can be a transit wax, or a factory applied sealer.

    It is possible that you have damaged/partially broken down or removed one of these coatings – making the tile look dull could be a consequence of this.

    if it is the first point then cleaning it with a cleaner like Microscrub and or something else may well help.

    Same too if it is a partially removed wax. It might be a bit harder if it is a factory applied sealer that has been damaged, that may take stronger strippers to remove it.

    If you are successful in cleaning the tile, and getting back to the surface, then you may be able to use an enhancer, but only if you are sure there is no coating or sealer left, and not all porcelain will even take such a sealer (some do, I have done it myself) – so before buying that you need to really check whether you can clean them sufficiently first.

    By the way, the sealer referred to as being ‘matt’ simply means it is not intended to CREATE or LEAVE a shine in itself – it is intended to not alter whatever the tile has to begin with – so if it is a matt stone, or a polished tile, it should not alter that, if applied correctly.

    I would suggest you contact my buddy A’nge at http://www.aqua-seal.com.au – he can help you more locally (well nearer than the UK in any case)

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  64. Philip Tang | Jan 30, 2013 | Reply

    Hi Ian,

    I’ve recently installed Matt Black Homogenous tiles for my living room and kitchen.

    When these matt black tiles are clean, the entire house looks gorgeous.

    But these tiles are very prone to water stain marks ( i do have 2 little dogs and their salivas do leave stains around) . I had a guest who came over the other day and he has moist feet and the stain marks are pretty hard to remove.

    Water droplets from the kitchen sink also do leave bad water stain marks.

    Is there any cure to this problem ? AQUA MIX® SEALER’S CHOICE® GOLD seems to be a good candidate for self-application.

    Philip

  65. Ian Taylor | Feb 1, 2013 | Reply

    Hi Phillip,

    it is a common issue with porcelain tiles im afraid. They are so glass-like in nature that they kind of behave like polished glass – when we wash glass (windows for example) we often wipe then=m dry after otherwise we get water marks.

    The marks are simply whatever impurities may be in the water (calcium carbonate, or oils in sweat etc) when the water evaporates, what was in the water gets left behind – and because the tiles are porcelain the residue is easy to see (even easier on polished).

    If there is a micro texture then that will trap dirt, – this is most likely what is happening, so the residue of what was in the water just gets caught in the surface micro texture, rather than actually staining the tiles. Sometimes the only way to clean this is by using a scrubbing brush occasionally. So, if this is what is happening then a sealer may not help – as a sealer will not get in either. Having said that, there could well be a very small amount of porosity in the surface also – I have seen this with some porcelain, but they are all different.

    If a sealer was to help, then typically a solvent based one tends to be better on porcelain.

    I think you are in Singapore? If so you could try contacting Floor Medics they are very knowledgeable.

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  66. lozzy | Feb 6, 2013 | Reply

    Hi Ian. Have laid some zamora grey porcelain floor tiles in the bathroom, not grouted them yet. cleaned tiles twice to get adhesive residue off and noticed on a fair few off the tiles there is a pattern under the glaze of the tile, of the back of the tile( square shapes.) that would of been sitting upon the front of that tile in the box.I’ve tried cleaning with water And a dry buff clean. no difference. ive tried. to gently scour with wire wool on off cut. does work a bit by making tile look more glossy. Is this stain removable. or is therea option to apply a sealer to make it look more wet/glossy n hide marks? Thanks on advance

  67. Jennie | Feb 6, 2013 | Reply

    Hi Ian,

    I recently installed light grey polished porcelain tile in the kitchen. I don’t think my tiler sealed them prior to grouting.

    Whenever I have a drop of water fall onto my tile, it becomes dark grey even if I wipe it dry soon after. I have personally sealed them with Aquamix Sealers Choice Gold twice, but water still darkens my tile. There are a lot of water spots near the sink and stove now.

    Is there any way of removing these dark spots? And should I seal them with Aquamix a third time, or try another sealer?

    Any help is appreciated. Thanks

  68. Ian Taylor | Feb 7, 2013 | Reply

    Hi

    OK, those marks can be an issue. But, if you have managed to sour them off, then that is encouraging. Also, if the scouring has made them more glossy, then it might suggest that there is some kind of transit wax on the tiles. This would make sense because the wax may have the impression of the back of tile pattern embedded in it, so remove the wax, you remove the pattern, and reveal the true polished tile surface.

    So, try either or combination of both, of an alkaline cleaner, such as Xtreme Clean or a micro abraisive cleaner such as Microscrub.

    Either might work on their own, or in combination

    If that does not work then you might try a solvent.

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  69. Ian Taylor | Feb 7, 2013 | Reply

    OK, whilst I am a big fan of water-based sealers, and a good one will work better than a solvent based one in many situations, a polished porcelain is one situation where you generally get better results with a solvent based sealer. So it could be that you have not really got much, if any sealer into the tile – the water just does not penetrate it – in another words you put the sealer on, then wipe 99.99% of it back off again.

    I would try a small amount of a solvent based on, the supplier you mention makes one that is excellent, try it on one tile and see if it makes a difference.

    You might need to use a light solvent stripper first though in case there are any sealer residues left on the tile. Also, this may help with some of your marks.

    All polished porcelains are prone to water marks however, as they act just like glass, so a good tip is to buff dry the floor whenever you mop it – just like we dry windows after washing – to avoid streaks (from impurities in the water)

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  70. Carol Young | Feb 24, 2013 | Reply

    I have a beige porcelain tile with many indentations that, in the high traffic areas, I.e. kitchen hallway and laundry room I can’t get the dirt out of the indentations.
    I’ve tried everything and am now thinking of buying an electric brush type floor cleaner. Do you think this would work and what make would you recommend?
    Also, can this tile be sealed?

    Thank you.

  71. Ian Taylor | Feb 25, 2013 | Reply

    HI Carol,

    If your porcelain is textured or has holes and pits etc that can attract dirt, then a bristle brush of some description may well be required more frequently – just to agitate contamination out of those little holes. A hand scrubbing brush, or a deck brush on a pole is often all it takes. A motorized machine amy well be less back breaking provided the bristles can get into the holes, can you hire one first to test its effectiveness?

    Regarding sealing, I doubt there is a sealer that could fix this, sealing is intended for porous material, not a few (relatively large) surface holes.

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  72. Andrea | Mar 23, 2013 | Reply

    Hi
    I have just had some cracked tiles replaced. The tiles are high gloss porcelain but the replacement ones have more of a matt finish which is noticeable. The tiles are definitely the same make. Is it possible that the original tiles have been sealed and if so what would I use to give the replacement ones the same gloss finish

  73. Ian Taylor | Mar 24, 2013 | Reply

    Hi Andrea,

    It is hard to say what has happened here but of they are the same make from the same factory then I would not expect one to be sealed and the other not, and the sealing that they do at the factory is usually some kind of impregnator and should make make a difference to the look of the tiles.

    It is possible that the tiles have a transit wax on them (which has been removed correctly from the existing tiles, but not yet removed from the new ones – worth checking.

    Also, perhaps the existing ones are polished as you say but the new ones are the unpolished version? -a b it too obvious I think but worth me raising the question.

    However, there can also be variances between batches. Polished porcelain tiles go through a couple of processes; firing and then polishing. Just like when buying wools, or wall paper, there are almost always some differences in a variety of characteristics from batch to batch.

    With porcelain tiles the things that can differ are, shade (slight differences in colour/tone), calibration (slight differences in dimensional size, flatness etc) and in the case of polished ties, there can be slight differences in the quality/degree of polishing.

    As ell as the manufacturer name and the actual tile ‘name’ or model, there should also be some printed information that relates to the batch/shade/calibration number – it would be worth comparing these to the original tiles, if you still have some boxes. IF you don’t and the purchases were some time apart, it is hard to check, but very likely that you have a batch difference – I would go back to the supplier and see if they can get in contact with the factory to see if there are any other batches that you could obtain a sample from to match up.

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  74. Liza papa | Jul 21, 2013 | Reply

    I have black porcelain slate like tiles on the kitchen floor. The black dye comes off. My cream carpet is becoming darker. What can I use on them to stop the dye coming off.

  75. Ian Taylor | Jul 23, 2013 | Reply

    Hi Liza,

    This is very odd, there should be no ‘dye’ in your porcelain tiles, there should be nothing that is part of the porcelain that can come off.

    There could be some transit wax, some coating or something that should not be there, at least not not after installation. I would be giving them a good initial deep clean. Try an alkaline cleaner or Microscrub on a few tiles rinces well and let dry. See if they still have any kind of dark colour material still coming off them. You could also try a small amount of nail varnish remover (t he old clear stuff that smells of acetone), rub with a cotton wool pad and see if any colour transfers to the cloth – if there then there is come kind of (presumably) factory applied coating still on them and they definitely need a thorough clean to remove what ever it is.

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  76. Simon | Jul 27, 2013 | Reply

    Hi Ian,

    Great web site which has given me some encouragement to tackle the kitchen floor which has been down for 4 months.

    We have a light cream lappato porcelain tile (60×60 ) in our new kitchen which we are starting to regret. It is always dirty and the odd grout stain can be seen. Underfloor heating prevents us from taking them up so are really stuck with them.

    Having read this blog and googled a bit, am I on the right trail by:-

    1. Cleaning the tiles with DETERDEK
    2. Seal with ultra Solv

    I cannot tell if the tile is porous but it always looks dirty and so thought a sealer would help.

    I would welcome your thought. Many thanks.

  77. Ian Taylor | Jul 30, 2013 | Reply

    Hi

    Deterdeck, is (as far as I know) an acidic cement residue remover so it may help with the grout stains, unless they are particularly heavily polymer modified – so worth a go.

    Sealing then may or may not be a benefit. I doubt the tiles are really porous, if they are polished, then really what you are seeing is the common issue of tiny micro pores being filled with grout. if you can get these out the tiles are not likely to stain with normal household contamination. However, being light coloured and also [presumably] polished meas they are always going to show pretty much anything, dust, dirt, etc even water will leave marks (as water is never pure and always carries come kind of residue, calcium soap etc) – think of when we wash windows and cars, if we don’t buff them dry afterwards we get streaks and water marks – polished floors (porcelain or stone) can be the same.

    So good practice is to dry the floor with towel after mopping – thus removing any remaining moisture and anything that may be suspended in it

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  78. caroline | Sep 3, 2013 | Reply

    Hi Ian,
    I have recently tiled a large area with lefka white matt Italian porcelain 60×60 tiles. They were very expensive and I am now beginning to regret my purchase. They look lovely but they seem to hold dirt around the kitchen table area or show black marks which I have to scrub with a cream cleaner and small brush. I also need to put quite a bit of effort in my scrubbing. I think these marks are from shoes or dragging furniture. I bought a steam cleaner thinking it would be the answer to my problems but the cleaner doesn’t remove these marks. The tile shop told me that I didn’t need to seal the tiles but are now suggesting a sealant called LTP glaze protector. After looking this up it seems to leave a shine, so my tiles would no longer be Matt. I really don’t know what to do.

  79. Ian Taylor | Sep 4, 2013 | Reply

    Hi Caroline,

    OK, you have a common problem I am afraid: the tiles are not staining, rather they have a surface texture that grabs dirt. As an analogy consider someone working in the garden, then, with grubby hands, wiping their thumb across the sandpaper on the side of an old fashioned match box. What happens? the sand paper gets grubby right away, the texture of the sand paper has snagged the grime from the persons skin and kept hold of it, but the paper and box is not stained (no contaminants have soaked into the paper).

    So, a tile with a micro texture will unfortunately do the same thing; materials which are softer than the tile (an that even includes steel) the tile will act like a microscopic cheese-grater, and rip off tiny particles which will become lodged in the texture. So this applies to metal from furniture legs, rubber from the soles and heels of shoes etc, any thing that is ever dragged across the floor in fact.As you have found out a steam cleaner is no going to add much, if anything by way of help in removing this type of dirt I it might help break down greasy deposits)> as we are talking about material becoming stuck on the surface, an impregnating sealer would offer no real benefit (as they work beneath the surface in porous materials). Note also that the typical western way to cleaner floors often involves wiping with a mop (often one well past its sell-by date) – a mop often carries more dirt than it removes, drag this over a textured floor and a lot more dirt can be grabbed off the mop, along with tiny mop fibers as well.

    I am afraid you have already discovered the most effective way to clean these tiles, and that is scrubbing. The addition of a micro abrasive cream cleaner would have been my next suggestion but you are apparently doing this too.

    The only hope I can give you is that this problem will get better over time, not worse, as the tile starts to wear-in, and this can happen relatively fast, as the highest peaks in the texture (I am still talking microscopic here) get worn down and knocked off, the dirt-grabbing effect becomes less pronounced.

    The other option you discuss is unfortunately a coating that will leave a visible shine, it may not be a high gloss, perhaps more of a wet look or low sheen, (I have not tried it to know for sure) but, it WILL make the tiles look less mat for sure, weather it too much is a personal taste thing, but from your comment I suspect you would not like it. The other thing to say about such coatings is that they will wear down and need re application, depending on the traffic type and volume and your cleaning regime, this could be anywhere from after a few months to a year or more, but it will need regular reapplication. It should help with the cleaning as it will basically fill up some of the texture with a polymer of some kind, this making the surface effectively less textured, and less inclined to collect dirt, and easier to wipe when it does.

    Sorry if this was no the magic bullet you were looking for but hope it helps a little

    Ian

  80. caroline | Sep 4, 2013 | Reply

    Thanks so much for your reply. I think I will stick with my brush and cream cleaner instead of a sealer. At least you have given me hope that this will improve when the tiles get more worn. Are steam cleaners safe to use regularly on tiles or can the heat damage tiles or grout?

  81. Ian Taylor | Sep 5, 2013 | Reply

    Hi Caroline

    Great, steam cleaners will not harm the tiles (they are fired at very high temperatures) – I doubt any harm will come to the grout either unless it is a particularly high pressure jet steamer

    Hope that helps

    Ian

  82. gianna | Dec 18, 2013 | Reply

    Hi, I have had my bathroom floor tiled with porcelain tiles. To my horror when the tiler finished tiling and I washed the floor, I found that the tiles did not have that tinge of peachy pink the sample I had ordered did have, they were of a graybeige shade. The tiler had collected the tiles. The code was correct, only the shade was way off that of the sample they had given me. They refused to help me as they said I should have checked. Now, I am left wondering if by adding a sealer with a tiny drop of chemically suitable colour I could add the shade I need for the floor tiles to match my wall tiles. When I tried adding pur ink it washed off leaving no trace of stain. If it cannot absorb anything could I put some sort of sealant which is excellent quality and covers it rather than being absorbed. The idea is colouring the sealant with a tinge of peachy pink so that I have ghe closest match to my wall tiles. Many thanks.

  83. Ian Taylor | Dec 18, 2013 | Reply

    Hi Gianna,

    Sorry to hear you have this issue, I do not think there is much you can do, most tile companies (manufacturers) will state that you must check shade before installing, and that by installing them, you have accepted them etc. I realize that this gets complicated when you leave a Tiler to fix what he believes to be correct, and you may not be there to check – this is a question for a lawyer I am afraid – but it is going to be difficult to make a case. If the shade is very different to that of the sample you saw, then it might be deemed outside of normal/allowable batch shade variation, but you still have the ‘inspect before installing’ issue to deal with – might be worth a chat with a good solicitor with experience in this filed (ie a commercial one, not a conveyance specialist).

    As far as rectifying them, unless the porcelain is a very highly textured one you will not find a sealer that will stick (cover) or penetrate – they just won’t bond to the tile. There are some sealers designed for adhering to very textured porcelain (that rely on being able to grab hold of the texture, rather than penetrating) but even they are not 100% effective, they are also milky white in colour and I am not sure how easy it might be to colour them, it would certainly involve a lot of messing about, waiting for it to dry and see what the colour looks like but, at best it would look like a coloured plastic film on the surface. Also, they don’t last long, they wear off quite quickly and need constant re-application – basically they are just not compatible with non porous porcelain. If the tiles are smooth or even polished you have no chance, the sealer will simply not stick, it will peel and blister and come off right away and look awful.

    Sorry if this is not what you need to hear

    Ian

  84. gianna | Dec 27, 2013 | Reply

    Thank you, I really appreciated you taking the time to reply. It has been a costly lesson for me to learn. I can now stop thinking around the possibility of a hard wearing film sealer which I could tint. All the best. Your blog is so very useful. By the way my porcellain tiles are matt and smooth. Thanks again. Gianna

  85. Lesley | Jan 23, 2014 | Reply

    Hi Ian
    2 years ago we had our kitchen/family room (a large area) tiled with a dark slate coloured matt porcelain tile.
    I am finding it impossible to keep clean. The rep advised me that it is glazed and does not require to be sealed but it is so abrasive that it destroys mop heads and microfiber pads for my steam mop with only one use. It is also hard work as the mop doesn’t glide on this surface. I have a dog and when he run it leaves white scuff marks from the skin of his pads. It looks so dirty and unsightly even although it is cleaned every day. It is causing me a huge amount of distress. I would really appreciate any comments. Thank you in anticipation.

  86. Ian Taylor | Jan 24, 2014 | Reply

    Hi Lesley,

    This is a very common issue I am afraid. I am not sure if it really is glazed if it is as hard to cope with as you say. However it could be. Either way, it is the texture in the surface of the tile that is giving you the issue (grabbing dirt and particles). Most porcelain tiles that need sealing tend to be the polished ones as they have micro pores in the surface (which are opened by the polishing process). Most non polished porcelain are so impervious at the surface that they would not accept a sealer (so there is no need and no point in applying one) If they are additionally, truly glazed then there is absolutely no point.

    I am sorry to say that most likely there is little you can do, in reality (and I really am at pains not to cause offense when I say this) you have bought the wrong material for your needs. Now, that said, it looks great in the store and you could not have envisioned quite how it would be to maintain and clean – and I do think that by now, with all the years of experience we have gained with this type of material, the tile shops and sellers ought to perhaps make a better effort to inform people, at the end of the day you have selected a tile that has a very dense body (which is generally a good thing) and a very abrasive surface. No sealer will do much to alter this, and no sealer would be able to penetrate.

    There is a slight possibility that a coating sealer, designed for porcelain, might manage to bond to the surface – this might help a little, in that it will coat the surface with a layer of acrylic, it will wear off, and need reapplication, at regular intervals (maybe several times a year – depending on traffic) but it might go some way to partially evening out the aggressiveness of the texture and make it slightly less ‘grippy’ and a bit easier to clean.

    You would have to search for a coating sealer suitable for porcelain – most coating sealers need porosity and simply would not be able to bond to the surface. The down side is the fact that they look a bit shiny and plasticity, leaving a kind of wet look and need constant maintenance.

    I don’t think they would have too much of a negative impact on slip resistance (one of the benefits of the texture) but I would try a small area as a test before doing the whole floor.

    I hope this helps,

    one thing to bear in mind, (I am aware the floor is already 3 years old) over time they will wear and the issue will become less as the texture wears and flattens out

    Ian

    P.S

    Just remembered also that in theory, porcelain can now be polished in situe – but this would involve professionals with appropriate equipment coming in and grinding the surface down to a smoother one. It can be done, but it is not inexpensive, very few people can do it and I imagine it could cost as much as the original floor, but may be something to consider.

  87. Lesley | Feb 4, 2014 | Reply

    Hi Ian
    Thanks very much for your reply. Your comments are much appreciated.
    The tiles are definitely not porous as liquid spills wipe off without penetrating the surface so as you say finding a sealer to bond may be difficult.
    You are correct in saying that I’ve bought the wrong material for my needs but I cannot imagine these tiles being suitable in any situation.
    There is no sign of them beginning to smooth down with wear…as I’ve said they wear out everything that touches them!
    They are truly the terrorist of floor tiles and I’ve never experienced anything like it!
    I will look into your suggestion regarding having them polished in situ but have a feeling that this may be cost prohibitive.
    Live and learn is the motto!
    Thank you once again for your quick response.
    Kind regards
    Lesley

  88. Karen Adler | Jun 30, 2014 | Reply

    I just put porcelain tile in my front hall and laundry room and it is much more rough than I realized… Is there anything I can do to help this situation?
    Thanks,
    Karen

  89. Ian Taylor | Jul 1, 2014 | Reply

    Hi Karen,

    This is a common issue, tiles look great and like say natural stone in the showroom, yet when you actually feel them in situ they are more textured than you realized – and this can make cleaning harder, and or they just look dull. Not really anyone’s fault.

    OK, there are some topical sealers around that will bond to the surface, ironically the more textured they are, the easier it will able to get a sealer to bond. If the tiles are just rough enough to be annoying but have no real texture, then you might have to go to a very artificial (plastic) looking kind of coating – you would need one that contains some degree of adhesive properties.

    These products are not as widely available as regular sealers and they are temporary, they will wear and wash off (not with the first wash) over over short periods – so will need regular reapplication and maintenance – but they can be relatively easy to apply and maintain. Suggest you contact a local tile restoration company and ask then if they have a coating sealer suitable for textured porcelain. It will alter the look of the tile, adding some degree of shine.

    Hope this helps

    Ian

  90. Jon | Sep 11, 2014 | Reply

    Hi Ian,
    You certainly seem to have a lot of experience in this area, so was wondering if you could help me?

    I have Topps Tile – STRATUM in my shower cubicle. On their website it says they are porcelain.
    These tiles are not easy to create a waterproof area due to their textured finish. I have a slight leak which i suspect is from capillary action through the joints.

    Can I use a sealant on these porcelain tiles to make them water proof and stop capillary action through the joints?

    Its a large feature shower and would be expensive to replace the whole lot…

    any thoughts?

  91. Ian Taylor | Sep 12, 2014 | Reply

    Hi Jon,

    First of all I don’t think the texture has anything to do with the leak – texture will certainly make cleaning a little harder as it can grip dirt etc but the tiles themselves will not be letting water through them.

    Most leaks in shower cubicles are at the tile to shower tray interface, through the silicone seal joint, after that the vertical joints such as the corner between two adjacent walls and after that, as you mention, you can have water transgressing through the grout joints.

    I would look to the obvious weak points first:

    make sure there are no plumbing leaks – fill the shower tray with water without wetting the walls – if you have a leak – then it is in the shower outlet, waste water part.(It could be in the plumbing of the shower itself not easy to find that though)

    If not then slowly start to play water on the walls, at the bottom, around the seal between the shower tray (or floor if it is a tiled wet room) as this is most often the area.

    If you really do have a leak coming from water simply getting through the tile joints then you must have pretty poor grout

    Sealing the tile itself (if it is a porcelain) will do little if at all- it may help with ongoing clean-ability if the sealer can get in or bond) Adding a good sealer to the grout joint may help, a little, in that it will improve water resistance (it won’t make the joints water proof though) and it will keep more water out for longer.

    If the issue really is the grout then no sealer is going to stop this and render the joints water proof.

    If you have a flexible shower tray, on a wooden floor then your real issue may be movement, even cutting out and replacing the silicone may not work if you cannot stop any movement.

    lots of things to check there, let me know how you get on

    Hope this helps

    Ian

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