Bath Tile, Grouting & Caulking
Taking care of the tile, grout and caulk in your bathroom will prevent you from experiencing hefty repairs down the line. The tile, while decorative, is there to provide a smooth surface that doesn’t soak up water, and the grout and caulking are there to act as barriers to water as well. Maintaining the integrity of these three things will keep mold and leaks at bay, extend the life of your bathroom fixtures, and let you focus on more important thing, (like taking a bubble bath in your well-maintained tub!)
Care and Maintenance
Ceramic tile is generally easy to maintain. Use the following suggestions to help keep your ceramic floors and walls looking new.
Floor and Wall Tile
Sweep or vacuum the floor areas to remove dust and debris before cleaning them.
Sweep or vacuum the floor tiles regularly to remove any abrasive particles that could damage the floor.
Clean the tile using a non-oil-based household cleaner that’s compatible with cement grouts.
Wipe tile with a moist cloth, and wet mop it occasionally.
Clean and scrub tile floors with a cleaning solution using a cotton mop, cloth, sponge, or nonmetallic brush, and then rinse with clean water to remove the cleaning solution.
Avoid mildew buildup by cleaning tile with a cleaner specified to control mildew.
Use protective pads on furniture bottoms to help prevent scratching the tile.
Clean ceramic shower tiles using an everyday, multipurpose spray cleaner that removes soap scum, hard water deposits, and mildew. Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintaining your tile.
Clean the grout used between ceramic tiles with a brush and a mild cleanser.
Use a grout sealer to make the grout more resistant to stains. This product can be purchased at most home care centers. Be aware that some sealers may discolor the grout. Inspect for grout cracks frequently. Re-caulk and re-grout as soon as a crack is detected. When removing and replacing cracked grout, take it down to the subfloor or concrete to ensure that the new grout has adequate depth; otherwise, the new grout could re-crack or flake off.
Never use cleaners that contain acids or ammonia. Cleaners with acid will damage the grout and tile glazing, and ammonia cleaners might discolor the grout.
Interior caulking is the elastic sealer around bathtubs, showers, countertop backsplashes, and other areas that need protection against water entry.
Interior caulking, which seals areas in your home and helps prevent moisture problems, will separate and deteriorate over the years. If you don’t maintain caulk on a consistent basis, moisture can work its way behind fixtures, damaging drywall and framing.
Care and Maintenance
Follow these care and maintenance suggestions for your home’s interior caulking.
To Check Caulk
Check and replace the caulk around areas that were caulked when your home was built. Look for separated and deteriorated caulk. The following are typical examples of places with caulk:
- Around showers, bathtubs, sinks, toilets, and other plumbing fixtures.
- Around window frames and door frames.
- Around countertop backsplashes, ceramic walls, and floors.
- Around ceiling fixtures and the attic door.
- Between the sill plate and the foundation.
Don’t use acrylic caulking over silicone caulking and vice versa. These two types of caulking do not bond properly with each other.
To Reapply Interior Caulk
1. Remove the old caulk with a putty knife, scraper, or painter’s tool.
2. Clean and dry the area that needs re-caulking. Caulk won’t adhere correctly to a damp or dirty surface.
3. Apply the new caulk. Hold the caulking tube at a 45° angle from the surface. Push, rather than pull, the tube to drive the caulk into the gap. Pushing helps to fill the gap completely without trapping any air bubbles.
4. Twist the caulking tube and pull it back to break the caulk bead.
5. Run your finger along the joint to smooth and compress the caulk.
If you’re using a caulking gun to apply the caulking, follow the directions on the tube to load and use the gun.
Don’t apply exterior caulk in cold weather. Caulk is best applied when the outdoor temperature is between 50°F and 70°F.