Problem Solving - Grout Haze, Mould, Wax Coatings & Efflorescence
This problem can occur on a variety of tiled surfaces. It is usually created when tile layers hastily complete the grouting process, without washing off residue grout effectively. Some contemporary ceramic products have slightly textured surfaces which can encourage grout to cling to the surface of the tile.
Tile layers should use a clean sponge and clean water to carefully remove excess grout, without dragging grout out of the grout joints. To do this effectively it is important not to commence the wash off process too soon. In addition, residue grout should be completely squeezed out of the sponge, and the water should be changed frequently.
On warm days grout will dry quicker and will be more prone to adhering to the tile’s surface. In those circumstances, smaller areas should be grouted to avoid sections drying too quickly, leaving behind a feint residue that later proves difficult to remove. In most instances a light grout bloom will become evident, this can be removed using a dry rag. If grout has not been washed off effectively, this bloom or haze may reappear making the surface look smeared, dirty or dull.
If this problem occurs, the owner needs to address it promptly, as the longer it is left unattended the harder it becomes to remove the residue grout film, which will attract additional grime.
In some instances, latex contained in grout improvers may be part of the problem, the cementitious element of the grout will have been removed, but feint traces of the latex element of the mix may remain.
At this point, many home owners resort to using general household cleaners which may contain a mild alkaline or mild acidic element, which may not prove successful. Latex is usually removed by using an appropriate solvent to release it from the surface. The floor should be thoroughly cleaned with water prior to application of the solvent.
Epoxy grouts are more difficult to remove. These should always be applied and cleaned strictly following manufacturer recommendations. Never leave residues on the tile surface. Most epoxy grout manufacturers have specific dedicated products for the cleaning.
Fortunately, most of our leading manufacturers of adhesive and grout produce problem solving cleaners which will resolve the problem. If grout haze occurs, talk to your tile supplier for advice and consult with the tile layer to ascertain which grout was used. Once the floor is cleaned it will no longer be necessary to use these special cleaners on a regular basis. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. Conduct a test on a small out of the way section of the floor to check that the result is satisfactory.
This may occur in areas which lack adequate ventilation, it may be necessary to install an extractor fan. Mould can be removed by scrubbing with a scourer, using one of the following - bicarbonate of soda, methylated spirits, cloudy ammonia or epsom salts.
The popularity of porcelain products encouraged manufacturers to apply a light wax coating to the surface of each tile, to protect the surface of the tile from scratching during the packing, in transit and installation processes.
The majority of these wax coatings are water soluble, they can be removed using a water- based alkaline cleanser. Before removing solvent based waxes let the cleaner dwell on the
tile surface for 10 to 15 minutes to dissolve the wax. Your tile retailer can give you guidance. You should check if your chosen porcelain tile has been coated with wax, your tile layer should be alerted prior to installation.
Overuse of High Alkaline Detergents As previously stated, clean water and a mild pH cleanser will be suitable for cleaning the majority of tile surfaces. Use of alkaline or acidic cleaners will often create problems. Alkaline cleaners should only be used to remove specific stains, they should not form a part of the regular maintenance programme.
This problem usually occurs in external applications of unglazed ceramic materials and natural stone. Efflorescence usually appears on the surface of a tile or around the joints in the form of a white powder. This unsightly problem is created by the transmission of liquid salts from below the tiles to the surface. In most new installations the residue can be swept or vacuumed away. The presence of excessive moisture is the prime cause of the problem. In some instances the problem reoccurs, always remove every trace promptly to prevent hardening and subsequent calcification.Specialist cleansers are available to treat the problem. These can only be employed when the source of the moisture is identified and if the problem persists a specialist should be consulted.
Credit: Australian Tile Council
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