Ceramic and porcelain are the most commonly used bathroom shower tile materials because they are water-resistant, easy-to-clean, and durable. While both are created from a mixture of clays that have been fired in a kiln at extremely high temperatures, porcelain is made of finer clays and is fired at much higher temperatures, making it much harder, less porous, and more resistant to moisture and staining than ceramics.
With regular cleaning and maintenance, bathroom shower tile can last for several decades or even a lifetime. One of the most important things you should do is re-grout any joint when the first crack or stain appears to prevent water from seeping in and damaging the mortar and drywall behind the tile.
What Causes Bathroom Shower Tile To Degrade?
There are several reasons bathroom tile degrades, which can lead to an expensive major wall renovation if not addressed immediately:
What Steps To Keep Bathroom Shower Tile From Degrading
Regular And Deep Cleaning
Regular cleaning is key to maintaining the beauty and durability of your tiles. Remove or at least minimize the amount of sand and other abrasive dirt by placing doormats at doorways and wiping up the dirt with a wet toilet paper or cloth. Use a small broom to sweep along the edges of the bathroom, including around the base of the toilet and tub, and collect the dirt and dust in the middle.
Once you remove all the dirt, you can now wash the floor and wall. While there are cleaning products specifically created for bathroom shower tile, you can make your own mixture at home. Fill your sink or bucket with two gallons of warm water, add a tablespoon of dish soap and one-quarter cup of vinegar; and mix everything together. Then, submerge a rag into the mixture, wringing the excess water out, before you wipe the surface of the tile.
Meanwhile, every couple of weeks your bathroom tile grouts need deep cleaning. A steam cleaner is a fast and convenient way to do this, but if you don’t have this fancy device, mix equal parts of water and vinegar and spray this mixture on tiles, making sure that it also gets into the corners and grooves so you can brush the grime away with an old toothbrush.
Tip: Avoid highly acidic cleaning products or at least use them sparingly or in a diluted form, and hard cleaning implements like steel wool because they can scratch and wear the surface of your bathroom shower tile.
Also, make sure you remove all the residue of your cleaning products. Allowing them to dry on the surface can lead to stains or affect the luster of your tiles.
Dealing With Stained And Cracked Grout
If your grout is permanently stained or has chipped and cracked due to natural wear and tear, you might want to re-grout the damaged area fast. Read on for the step-by-step guideline on how to do re-grouting on your own. While it involves a rather straightforward process, and the materials can be easily bought from hardware stores, be aware that it involves some elbow grease.
- 1Remove the old chipping grout with the use of a grout rake. Move the blade in one direction (the tip of the blade only faces one direction so there’s no need to move it backward or forward, or upward or downward) using enough pressure to cut into the grout.Alternatively, you can use an electric grout remover, which is less labor-intensive and is ideal for larger surface areas. Make sure that you remove the grout to the thickness of the bathroom shower tile. If you’re removing just a small portion, go slightly beyond the damaged area and into the “healthy” grout to ensure that you eliminate all the old stuff.Be careful when removing the old grout. You don’t want to scratch or damage the edge and surface of the tile.
- 2Wipe the whole surface with a damp cloth. Make sure you remove all the remaining dust and flakes.
- 3Apply a new grout, which can be in powder or premixed form, with the grout float or spreader. Be sure that enough mixture goes into the joints and use the tip of the spreader to clean the surface of the tile. If you’re using a powder, mix up the amount you’ll probably use in about 30 minutes because the mixture dries up after this time. Also, don’t over-mix to prevent air bubbles.Work at a steady, quick pace because grout mixture hardens after 20-30 minutes.
- 4Once the grout has settled, clean the surface of the tile with a damp sponge (not saturated with water). If you accidentally remove some grout, use a spreader or your finger to re-apply it again.
- 5Use a grout finisher right after cleaning the tile surface with a damp sponge. This has a rounded edge that you must move against the joints to remove any excess grout. Make sure that you only move it in one direction to give the joints a neat appearance.
- 6After a few hours or when the grout is completely dry, wipe the entire surface of the bathroom shower tile with a soft clean cloth to remove any dust or powdery film.
Tip: While doing this project, be sure to wear goggles to protect your eyes from dust and powder. You might also want to open the windows and doors to ventilate the room.
To make cleaning easier, cover the floor with plastic. Also put in the drain plug to keep the dust out of the drain.
How Can Dirty Bathroom Shower Tile Be Cleaned?
To reiterate, avoid abrasive cleaning tools and products because they can scratch the surface of your bathroom shower tile. To preclude the need for harsh products, a good rule of thumb is to clean your bathroom at least once a week to prevent stains from seeping into the floor and wall.
Instead of using cleaning products specifically formulated for bathroom shower tile, you can resort to natural options such as the dish soap and vinegar mixture. Here are more popular DIY cleaning concoctions:
Tip: Instead of regular cloth, use microfibers to clean your bathroom shower tile. These cloths are made of positive-charged polyester fibers and negative-charged nylon fibers that pull up the dirt, grime, liquid, and whatever is on the surface. The fibers can also remove up to 99 percent of bacteria on the surface you’re cleaning.
Regular cleaning is one of the critical things you can do to prolong the lifespan and beauty of your bathroom shower tile. The general rule of thumb is to remove the sand, grit, and dirt, which can scratch the surface of the tile and eventually make it look worn out, with a dry dust mop, wet paper towel, or broom.
One way to obviate the need for a daily bathroom cleaning is to place mats near entrances to prevent or at least minimize the amount of sand and other abrasive dirt that may scratch your tiles. Area rugs can also decrease damage from foot traffic.
To prevent degradation of your bathroom tiles, clean them with a diluted solution of a mild cleanser before hard stains and gunk form, which can only be removed by harsh chemicals and/or abrasive cleaning products. To maintain the luster of your bathroom tiles, use a microfiber or squeegee to remove any build-up of soap and cleaning products.
Should you see any crack or chip on your grout, repair the area immediately to prevent further damage, or even a major wall renovation. Never apply new grout over old one lest you’re willing to accept a less than satisfactory result. The new grout may not adhere well and the old one could show through.