Tile Fix Direct Blog

August 2012

Grappling with Grout

Tiles look great in any room – a kitchen, bathroom, wet room, or even hallway. The type and colour of tile used can help create the mood of the room. Homeowners won’t want to lose that aesthetic feel because of discoloured and stained grout that can become apparent over time.

Cleaning, maintaining, and restoring grout not only enhances the look of the room and the tiling, but it also ensures a cleaner and healthier living environment.

What is grout? Simply, grout is a porous material that is used to seal joints between tiles. Over time, the grout can become discoloured and stained.

What to use to clean discoloured and stained grout? Cleaning makes a significant difference to the appearance of the surface and it improves hygiene levels. To effectively clean grout, Tile Fix Direct recommends using Lithofin KF Grout Cleaner or HG Grout Cleaner.

What if stains are left behind after cleaning? If yellow or brown stains are still visible after cleaning, then the stains will need to be removed with HG Professional Limescale Remover (Hagesan Blue). If mould or black deposits appear, remove them with HG Mould Spray.

What about restoring the tile grout? If the desire is to make the tile grout look as if it is brand new, then a colour grout kit is the perfect solution. The colour grout kit will restore the aesthetics of the tile grout to its original state. It will also strive to eliminate variations in the existing grout colour.

Note: The tiles and grout must be cleaned prior to using a colour grout kit. The kit is meant to be used in addition to cleaning, not as an alternative.

I’ve cleaned and restored the grout, what next? If left untreated, grout will continue to accumulate soil and bacteria leaving it stained and discoloured. Therefore, it is imperative to continue to maintain and protect the appearance of the grout after cleaning and restoring it. To best protect the grout, it’s recommended to apply a grout sealer and protector. This will provide a stain resistant, water tight, durable surface. A great grout protector is HG Super Wall and Floor Grout Protector.

Steps on Sealing Slate

An elegant and sophisticated look is always achieved when installing slate tiles both indoors and outdoors. In an effort to keep slate tiles in mint condition, it’s of great importance that the slate is sealed. Depending on whether the slate is located internally or externally will have an impact on what kind of steps one should take when sealing the tiles. Let’s take a more in depth look at what it takes to seal slate tiles.

Slate Indoors

  • Obtaining a flat floor. First of all, it’s important to achieve a flat slate floor inside the home. In order to do so, grade the tiles on thickness before fixing them – if the tiles are not calibrated by thickness.

  • Lay the tiles. To fix the slate tiles, lay them on a 100% bed of adhesive starting with the thicker tiles.

  • Choose a tile adhesive. Find a suitable tile adhesive for the project. If unsure about the type of adhesive that would work best, please use our Tile Adhesive Selector and choose natural stone as the tile type.

  • Start the sealing process. Apply one coat of Lithofin MN Stain-Stop to the fixed slate tiles to begin the sealing process.

  • Grout the tiles. Grout the slate tiles as normal.

  • Seal some more. After grouting, apply two more coats of Lithofin MN Stain-Stop. The slate tiles are fully sealed with a matte finish.

  • Achieve a soft sheen. To achieve a soft sheen, add a couple of coats of Lithofin Multi-Seal to the tiles.

  • Maintain a soft sheen. To maintain the look and soft sheen of the tiles, continue to coat the tiles with Lithofin Multi-Seal every 9 to 12 months.

  • Look after the tiles. Clean the tiles regularly – we recommend using Lithofin Easy Care. Lithofin Easy Care is designed to keep the floor clean without stripping away the previous applied protective sealants.

Slate Outdoors

  • Frost proof. Always make sure that the slate tiles installed outside are frost proof.

  • Obtaining a flat surface. In order to achieve a flat tile surface, grade the tiles on thickness before fixing them – if the tiles are not calibrated by thickness.

  • Lay the tiles. To fix the slate tiles, lay them on a 100% bed of adhesive starting with the thicker tiles.

  • Choose a tile adhesive. Find a suitable tile adhesive for the project. If unsure about the type of adhesive that would work best, please use our Tile Adhesive Selector and choose natural stone as the tile type.

  • Start the sealing process. Apply one coat of Lithofin MN Stain-Stop to the fixed slate tiles to begin the sealing process.

  • Grout the tiles. Grout the slate tiles as normal.

  • Seal some more. After grouting, apply two more coats of Lithofin MN Stain-Stop. The slate tiles are fully sealed with a matte finish.

Although sealing slate indoors and outdoors is quite similar, it’s very important to ensure that slate fixed externally is frost proof.

Talking About Terracotta: Making the Tiles Look Great

Terracotta tiles create the perfect rustic look in any home. The red, orange, and yellow hues are not only inviting, but add a touch of comfort, too. In order to keep the terracotta tiles looking great, it’s important to properly seal, wax, and clean the tiles.

Any terracotta tile that you’ll receive from Tile Fix Direct will be completely porous. Therefore, it is important that you use the traditional oil and wax (or synthetic sealant) method to ensure your terracotta tile is waterproof, sealed, and looking great. Oil gives the terracotta tiles a more vibrant, darker amber colour and deep stain protection. The wax (or synthetic sealant) provides a surface coat and shine.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Choose the correct tile adhesive for your project. If you’re having trouble choosing, please use our Tile Adhesive Selector. (Just remember to choose natural stone as the tile type.)

  • Fix the tile. Make sure that the terracotta is laid on top of a 100% bed of adhesive and there is no adhesive on the top of the tile. (If adhesive gets on the top of the tile, wipe it off with a clean cloth immediately.)

  • Before moving to the next step: Make sure that the tiles are 100% dry – oil and water do not mix.

  • Treat the tile with LTP Boiled Linseed Oil. The oil acts as the primary sealant for the tile. When applying the oil, spread it as evenly as possible with a paintbrush, sponge, or cloth.

  • Note: Do not over apply the oil and leave excess oil because it will get sticky and will need to be removed using a cloth soaked in white spirit.

    Keep in mind: It can be hard to get an even first coat because of the porosity of the terracotta – it will soak the oil up straight away. You’ll need to apply 3-4 coats (or however many it takes to reach saturation).

  • Let the tiles dry. Allow the tiles to dry for as least 24 hours, if not more.

  • Grout the tiles. Grout as normal once the tiles are completely dry.

  • Coat the tiles with wax or synthetic sealant. Apply 3-6 thin coats of a synthetic sealant like Lithofin Multiseal until a nice and even sheen is achieved.

  • Note: Allow approximately 30 minutes between each coat. After all coats are applied, it will be no less than 24 hours before the tiles become waterproof.

    Keep in mind: It is likely that you’ll need to replenish the synthetic sealant every 9-12 months.

  • Looking after your tiles. In order to keep your tiles looking good, it is imperative to clean the tiles on a regular basis. We recommend using Lithofin Easy Care. You just have to add the cleaning solution to a bucket of water – simple and easy. The cleaner is designed to clean the terracotta tiles without stripping away the protective sealants that have been previously applied.

Once these steps are complete, your terracotta tiles will surely become a focal point in your house.

Electric Underfloor Heating: The Planning & Preparation

Underfloor heating is a great addition to any wet room, bathroom, and even a living area within a house. There are different choices when it comes to underfloor heating with a major one being the choice between underfloor heating systems run by water or those run by electricity. At Tile Fix Direct, we supply electric underfloor heating systems from top manufacturers’ such as Devi, Magnum, and Schlüter.

Before we get to the planning and preparation of installing an electric underfloor heating system, let’s take a look at what makes electric underfloor heating systems a great choice for heating various rooms.

  1. Silent to run.
  2. Maintenance free. No yearly inspections are required.
  3. Reliable.
  4. No risk of water leaks. Don’t need to be worried about water damage and leaks from water pipes.
  5. Small increase in floor level. Especially when installing the system in an already existing room, the level of the floor is only raised a bare minimum of 3.5mm.
  6. Zero moisture. Because there is no water associated with the electric underfloor heating system, it don’t attract dust mites.

Now that we’ve taken a look at six great benefits of an electric underfloor heating system, let’s get talking about the planning and preparation of installing an electric underfloor heating system.

Here’s what the installer needs to know.

  • All about the room. What type of room is the system being installed in? What is the finish of the floor? What is the construction of the floor? What is the size of the room?
  • Room furnishing. Take note of where the furnishings will be placed in the room. An electric underfloor heating system can NOT be fixed under kitchen units, bath room units, showers, or pedestal toilets.
  • Use Tile Fix Direct’s Underfloor Heating Selector. Once you’ve determined all of the above factors and room dimensions, enter the information into the Underfloor Heating Selector. You’ll be able to determine: The best electric underfloor heating system for the specific project, the amount of mat, foil, or cable required to complete the project, and the approximate amount of money that the project will cost.
  • Insulation boards. Another consideration that needs to be made is whether or not insulation boards will be used to help increase the efficiency of heat output.
  • Decide where control will be located. Determine what the best location for the system controller and thermostat will be.

Remember: Make sure to follow the manufacturers’ detailed instructions and adhere to them from the beginning to end of the underfloor heating installation process.

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