4 Ways to Combat Grout Stains

Hand in yellow glove cleans the tile toothbrush.Most homeowners take pride in keeping a clean house, but one thing that stumps them is the pink staining, also referred to as biofilm, that occurs on kitchen and bathroom grout, tile and fixtures. Fortunately, with a little elbow grease, changes to the environment, and maintenance, that staining can be battled. There are several things that cause pink stain and it may be due to one of the following factors, or any combination of them.

1. Bacteria

Bacteria are present in every aspect of our lives and they grow best in warm, humid, and moist environments. They have also been shown to feed and colonize in fatty acids such as those found in cooking oils and body lotions. The most common bacterial cause of colored film around the home is called serratia marcescens, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes that several types of biological contaminants can be found in drinking water. Even on its own, Serratia marcescens can cause pneumonia, urinary and respiratory tract infections, meningitis, and a greater chance of wound infection, especially in those with compromised immune systems.

2. Moist Surfaces and High Humidity

Moisture is very much to blame for the presence of pink stain and the constant need for thorough tile and grout cleaning. Anytime water is in constant contact with a surface it is in danger of becoming discolored. These areas may include those near leaky faucets, pet food dishes, and in toilet bowls. It may even be caused by bacteria that has colonized in a water heater. Even dry regions with low humidity may be in danger of staining because of ill-maintained humidifiers in the home.

3. Dusty Environments

Even if a surface looks clean it may still have the bacteria needed to cause biofilm buildup. Dust is a popular mode of transportation for bacteria. Recent construction, or having doors or windows open, can increase the chance of these bacteria getting into a home and settling on surfaces. Keeping windows closed and weekly dusting can slow the spread of these staining bacteria around the house.

4. Damaged Surfaces

Not only can the presence of biofilm cause damage to tile, grout and other surfaces, but the bacteria that lives within it can hide in the damage that it causes. This fact can make effective cleaning difficult and maintenance nearly impossible. In extreme cases, homeowners may choose to regrout or re-tile, but even this will not prevent future discoloration and staining.

Unfortunately, there is no way to permanently removal biofilm. However, regular cleaning and maintenance can aid in the prevention of pink staining. Experts suggest heavy scrubbing followed by disinfectant and a complete drying. Also, fixing leaking fixtures and thoroughly drying surrounding surfaces after each use is highly recommended in order to prevent more staining. By knowing what causes the discoloration of your tile and grout, homeowners can begin to fight back and keep a truly clean house.

The Top 3 Safety Tips for Tile and Grout Cleaning

Two caucasian male hands cleaning kitchen grout of an old, dirty tile floor with environmentally friendly hydrogen peroxide baking soda and a scrub brushIt can be difficult to keep a house clean. The lack of time for working adults in addition to the presence of children, dogs, or inconsiderate roommates can make the job even harder. At times, kitchen and bathroom cleaning can feel like a losing battle because of the constant moisture buildup on the sinks and fixtures. However, tile and grout cleaning can be done safely and effectively with just a little education.

Do your homework.

The first thing to consider when encountering the need for tile and grout cleaning is the problem itself. Is the bathroom simply covered in soap buildup, a light pink stain, or is it a more serious issue such as mold? The next thing to consider is the environment. Homeowners may need to use harsher cleaning agents in the bathroom, but no one would want to use those products in the kitchen where food is prepared. Finally, the extent of the damage needs to be considered. Chipped grout, broken tile, and bulging walls may be a sign of serious structural damage that may require the help of a professional cleaning service.

Read the label and believe it.

The most important thing to remember when using chemical products of any kind is to read the label thoroughly. Not only that, following the directions for use and safety precautions can protect the health of everyone while also saving time. In 2016, the EPA introduced the new Safer Choice label to make it easier for consumers to find more than 2,000 products that have been carefully evaluated for safety. It is also recommended that many products are not used near children, nor in the presence of pets and their dishes. It is also a good idea to keep the number for poison control nearby at all times. Finally, cleaning products should always be stored safely, locked up, and in their original containers.

Let professionals do the job.

There may be hidden problems lurking behind walls and beneath fixtures. Anytime that a homeowner is in doubt, or has questions, they should consult a professional tile and grout cleaning service. Many mold spores can be hazardous to health if inhaled and extensive structural damage may require professional removal and replacement. Professional cleaning service employees have specific equipment and training in the removal of molds and the use of potentially harmful cleaning products.

Not everyone has the time to keep constant vigil when it comes to keeping their home clean, but when things get out of control, keeping families safe should also be a priority. Luckily, the above tips can help protect families and pets while they work to keep their homes clean.

Which Type of Grout Should I Use for My Project?

worker with rubber trowel applying grout tileGrout is a mixture of materials that is used to fill the joints between tile and masonry units. It bonds the tiles, making them stronger and more resistant to chipping and cracking. Grout is necessary to make your floors, walls, or counters watertight and to give them a finished look. Choosing the right grout for your project depends on the application, the materials you are grouting, and the width of the joints.

Types of Grout

Grout is either cement, epoxy, or polymer based.

Cement grout is either sanded or unsanded. Sanded grout is a mixture of Portland cement, color pigments, sand, and water. Sanded grout is used in joints that are 1/8 of an inch or wider. The sand is added as a filler to prevent the grout from shrinking in larger joints. Unsanded grout is a mixture of Portland cement, color pigments, and water. It is a smoother blend that is ideal for joints less than 1/8 of an inch wide. Cement-based grouts are porous and should be sealed with a penetrating sealer after the grout has completely dried. Cement-based grouts are appropriate for most home floor, wall, and countertop tile installations.

Epoxy grout is a mixture of resin and a hardening agent. Like cement grout, it is available sanded or unsanded. Epoxy grout is best for floors that are highly trafficked and kitchen countertops. It is more durable and stain resistant. It also forms a moisture barrier and does not need to be sealed. It is more expensive than cement grout and harder to install because it sets up very quickly. Epoxy grout is best applied by a skilled tradesman.

Furan grout is a mixture of polymers that are chemical and moisture resistant. It is similar to epoxy grout and best suited for areas that are subject to grease, chemicals, and staining. Furan can be used with quarry tiles. However, it may stain the tile during application. The tile should be waxed prior to grouting to protect it. Furan grout is only available in black. It should be applied by a skilled tradesman because of the fumes the grout emits while being mixed. Furan is well suited for commercial projects, such as food preparation and storage areas, or in a home workshop where grease and chemicals might be present.

Caring for and Cleaning Grout

Cement grout applications may require periodic resealing to prevent staining. Floors especially should be resealed once a year. Most grout can be cleaned with a grease-removing detergent and a brush. Grout cleaning with steam can be performed by a professional grout cleaning service. Over time, grout may crack or deteriorate and areas of your tiled surface will need to be re-grouted. This entails removing the old grout with a small digging tool or specialty knife and applying new grout. You can find tubes of repair grout caulk at hardware stores to make the job easier.

To prevent toxic mold from building up, it is recommended that your tile surfaces be cleaned often. Drying the surfaces after cleaning is also recommended.

Key Tile and Grout Cleaning Tips

Beautiful Living Room in New Modern HomeClean tiles improve the appearance of any kitchen or bathroom, making the entire room look more dynamic, cleaner, and bigger. Ensure that you wipe any spills to prevent the stains from adhering to the tiled floor. If you include the tile and grout cleansing as part of your general cleaning regimen, you will eliminate the ugly stains on the floor. If you want your floor tiles to look stunning, try these tips, and the outcomes will impress you:

Tidying Up

Routine cleansing of a tiled floor will make a huge difference when it comes to safeguarding your home from mold and mildew development. Cleaning up on a regular basis removes the soap residues and dirty particles, which can also encourage the growth and development of toxic mold. When you clean your floor, avoid the acidic cleaners or the abrasive scrubbers that degrade the visual appeal as well as jeopardize the appearance. Bleach, vinegar, ammonia, and baking soda can also affect the appearance of your floor. If you are looking for the best outcomes, the pH-neutral cleansers, and soft cleaning cloths, or sponges will work to your advantage. Your floor tile professional or your local hardware shop will have the capability to recommend cleaning services for you. A polished floor should look like a mirror. You will get immense satisfaction if your dull floor starts to reflect your image, just like a mirror.

Apply a Sealant

When it comes to maintaining a tiled floor, utilizing a sealant consistently is important. Without sealer, grout will certainly not be water resistant. You could apply the sealant when installing or cleaning the tile. Also, using the sealant regularly safeguards your floor against the dirt, moisture, molds, mildew, and spores. By taking the necessary steps to protect your tiled floor from these issues, you can increase the longevity of the floor significantly. A specialist tile installer or flooring tile cleaner can find the right solution for your tiled floor. For the sealant to be effective, keep in mind that you have to apply it every year. Remember to vacuum the tiled surfaces regularly, and clean on a daily basis. It is easy to use a steam cleaner and a dehumidifier on tiles occasionally to eliminate the dampness.

Keep Your Tiles Moisture-Free

Set up some fans in high-moisture areas, such as bathroom and kitchen areas, to reduce the moisture and curb the development of mold. The fans will act as dehumidifiers by preventing the wetness from dampness from causing other moisture-related problems. If you have ample time to spare, you could clean the bathroom and shower wall surfaces too. If the molds become relentless, a dehumidifier can help with moisture removal.

Consult a Professional

Inevitably, a high-moisture area will be quite hard to keep mold-free. If you are unable to control the moisture, you need to call your tile and grout cleansing expert for a comprehensive solution. By taking a few preventative actions, you can get a permanent solution and prevent the proliferation of spores in your kitchen or bathroom. Surprisingly, tile and grout cleaning is not an intensive or complicated procedure, but any mistakes can be costly to amend. If you have a fan, the ideal detergents, and a competent cleaning consultant by your side, your floor will keep its sensational appearance for several years.

A Short History of Tile

Decorative Street TileFor centuries, tile floors have been deemed to be the flooring of choice for the important and the wealthy. While tile is still considered to be a higher-end floor covering, it’s much easier to obtain, install, and purchase in today’s world. In addition, we now have nearly endless designs and tile types to choose from.

Ancient History

Clay and mud tiles already existed as far back as 7,000 years ago. Decorative tiles dated circa 4,000 B.C. were found in Egyptian architecture. Following that, the Assyrians and Babylonians also used tile in their architectural achievements. From then on, many civilizations adopted the use of elaborate, decorative tile designs on grand structures of all kinds. Some of these stunning buildings still exist today. In those days, tiles and pavers were either made by hand or hewn from marble. Only the wealthy could afford tile.

Middle Ages

Tile art spread throughout the world, with each region developing their own unique expressions of it. Islamic tile art developed in the Middle East. Chinese tile styles and glazes were popularized and adopted by a number of European countries. European colonists then brought them to the New World, where North and South American artisans took up the art. Throughout this era, tile was still only used in churches, missions, public structures, or wealthy homes.

Late 1800s & Early 1900s

In colonial America, tile was often imported for use in the mansions of the elite, providing a decorative, elegant touch to fireplaces, foyers, bathroom, and kitchens. As an imported item, tile was very expensive. However, with the advent of tile factories in the 1920s came the capability to mass-produce tile, which made tile more accessible to the average homeowner. Factories produced mosaic tiles in face-mounted sheets, which meant that setting tiles by hand was no longer necessary.

Ceramic subway tile is so named because it was first used in New York City’s subway stations around the turn of the century. People liked it so well that it soon became a popular choice for many homes. The tiles were always white and came in a 3” x 6” rectangular size. These glazed ceramic tiles gave off the impression of a pure, clean home. Of course, many housewives couldn’t resist that appeal. By the 1950s, ceramic tiles were being installed in homes everywhere.

21st Century

The tile industry has continued its accelerated growth through the 20th century. Now, in the 21st century, even more innovations have graced the production of tile. Digital inkjet technology makes it possible to give tile an authentic stone look or some other sophisticated design. Tiles are largely produced by machines, computers, and robotics in factories. Thanks to these advances, we now have a stunning and prolific array of tile styles and size in affordable prices.

Tile is a fantastic choice for modern homes. It’s easy to maintain and keep clean, but every so often, it does require an in-depth cleaning. When that time comes around, be sure to schedule a tile and grout cleaning with a professional company.

The Harmful Effects of Mold

Mold in a flood damaged houseMold is a silent, yet poisonous, intruder in homes everywhere. Not only does it cause unsightly patches of fungi and an unpleasant musty smell, but it also causes a host of health problems and structural decay. It’s important to address mold as soon as you can to thwart its growth.

Structural Problems Caused by Mold

Mold is designed to break down decaying organic matter, such as dead plants, trees, leaves, or animals. In addition to the carbon produced by decaying matter, mold needs oxygen and moisture in order to thrive and grow. When these conditions are present inside a building, it takes between one to ten days for mold to start growing. If mold is allowed to proliferate, it will eventually cause walls and other wooden surfaces to peel, crack, and warp, and eventually compromise structural integrity.

Mold especially loves damp basements, kitchens, laundry rooms, and bathrooms. Unfortunately, mold can grow very quickly—within 48 to 72 hours, it can spread throughout an entire building. Sometimes, it starts inside a wall or under a carpet. It may not be visible, but it can usually be identified by its strong musty odor.

Grout especially attracts mold spores, causing it to crumble and turn black and create entryways for mold into subflooring and walls. In kitchens and bathrooms especially, a thorough grout cleaning will occasionally be necessary.

Illnesses Caused by Mold

Mold can cause a host of health problems. In many cases, people who were previously healthy developed a number of respiratory issues when they were exposed to mold—allergies, asthmatic symptoms, respiratory issues, runny noses, sinus problems, fevers, infections, muscle aches, and sometimes even pneumonia or laryngitis.

Most people’s symptoms go away when they no longer live or work in a moldy building. However, about one in four people are in danger of developing CIRS (chronic inflammatory response syndrome). These people are susceptible to the symptoms already listed, as well as a list of additional symptoms—headaches, fatigue, weakness, vertigo, abdominal problems, memory problems, blurred vision, hypersensitivity to bright light, and more.

Don’t assume that you’re exempt from mold problems if you live in a dry climate. Buildings in every type of climate can be impacted by a mold infestation. Mold doesn’t only grow in moist or humid climates—it can also be found in desert climates. This type of mold is especially tenacious, causing it to be even more resistant to mold removal efforts.

Mold is destructive—both to buildings and to humans. But when it’s addressed immediately, it can usually be completely removed. Make sure your home or office stays mold free at all times.

Popular Flooring Options: How to Choose the Best One for You

Tile floor in flooring optionsChoosing the right floor for your home is an important decision. These days, there are so many choices. Should you choose carpet, laminate, hardwood, or tile? And once you’ve selected which of the main options you want, you’ve still got all kinds of sub-options. Let’s see—should you get ceramic tile, porcelain tile, granite, marble, or something else? Here’s a short guide to make it all a bit simpler.

Vinyl or Linoleum

Vinyl and linoleum are two different types of flooring, but look very similar. Of the two, vinyl is a higher quality. Vinyl and linoleum are a more traditional—and cheaper—choice for flooring. They’re also softer than tile or hardwood. And don’t assume that they will look dated. Vinyl floors, especially, can imitate the look of more high-end types of flooring, such as tile, stone, or hardwood. Vinyl and linoleum are easy to maintain. All they need is an occasional mopping. However, they can discolor, fade, and peel, and lower the resale value of a home.

Tile

Tile is said to be more durable than vinyl or linoleum flooring. And it’s a popular choice because of its highly aesthetic qualities. Homes with tile flooring automatically achieve an upscale look. Tile comes in several varieties—ceramic, porcelain, glass, cement, and natural stone. With tile, you don’t need to worry about warping or peeling. And it can be sealed to achieve stain and scratch-resistant qualities. It will require an occasional professional tile and grout cleaning, but you can easily get that done when you get your carpets cleaned.

Hardwood

Wood has been a longstanding material of choice for homeowners. There’s just nothing like a classic hardwood floor. And hardwood continues to look beautiful, long after other floor types have worn out and have needed to be replaced. Hardwood never needs to be replaced—only refinished. If you’re interested in having a rustic, earthy, or elegant look in your home for years to come, wood is an excellent choice. Wood is, however, sensitive to moisture.

Carpet

While many modern homeowners are choosing tile or hardwood for their entire home, carpets are still a luxurious option. For one, when you step out of bed on a cold morning, it’s more comforting for your foot to meet a warm carpet than a cold, hard floor. And children have a soft surface on which to play without bruising their little knees. Plus, carpets muffle sounds, which means that the noise from your entertainment center won’t be blasting through the entire house. (For this reason, many condo associations still require wall-to-wall carpeting.)

There’s a flooring option to suit every preference and lifestyle. Whether you prefer the economy and ease of vinyl, the softness and comfort of carpet, the bold statements of tile, or the timeless elegance of hardwood, make sure it’s something you’ll love for years to come.

Tile and Grout Cleaning for Mold Problems in Your Jacksonville Home

5216253285_619aeaf748_bMold and mildew are the dreaded invaders of kitchens and bathrooms. Not only do they create unsightly spots or stains and an unwelcome musty odor, but they also cause a host of health problems. Tile and grout are susceptible to mold, especially in rooms with moisture or humidity. When it comes to tile and grout cleaning in your Jacksonville home, there are some preventative measures you can take as well as mold-zapping solutions you can implement.

Prevention

In the world of tile, prevention comes in the form of grout sealant. Without sealant, grout will not be waterproof. Sealant can be applied when tile is installed or when it is cleaned. This prevents dirt, liquids, and mold spores from settling into the porous surface of grout and creating ugly problems in your subflooring. A professional tile installer or tile cleaner can provide this service for you. To be effective, sealant should be applied every couple of years.

Install fans in high-moisture areas, such as kitchens and bathrooms, to minimize mold growth. This will keep moisture from settling on surfaces. Better yet, you’ll be able to see yourself in the mirror for those after-shower makeup sessions. If you’re really industrious, you can wipe down or squeegee shower walls after every shower. Of course, your kids might not follow up on that task. If a mold problem is persistent, a dehumidifier can help with moisture removal.

Cleaning

Regular cleaning of a tile area will go a long way toward preventing mold growth. That’s because cleaning removes soap scum and dirt particles, which are known to create breeding grounds for mold. When you clean, avoid using acidic cleaners and abrasive scrubbers that dull ceramic glazes and weaken grout. Bleach, ammonia, vinegar, and baking soda are in this camp. Opt instead for mild, pH-neutral cleaners and soft cleaning cloths or sponges. Your tile professional or your local hardware store will be able to recommend cleaning solutions for you.

Ultimately, a high-moisture area will be difficult to keep completely mold-free. That’s when you need to call in your local tile and grout cleaning professional for an in-depth solution. For optimal maintenance, this should be done every 12 to 18 months.

By taking a few simple preventative steps, you can prevent a moldy takeover in your bathroom or kitchen. Tile and grout cleaning in your Jacksonville home doesn’t need to be an intensive, complicated process. Armed with a fan, the right cleaners, and a regular visit from your tile cleaner, your tile should maintain its beautiful surface for many years.