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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Question

I have a new floor installed, (Pietre Native) porcelain tile. What is the procedure after the grouting is complete? The contractor does not know or have any written documentation. Is it grout and seal, or grout and impregnate, or something else. The product says itís "fully vitrified". I need the cleaning contractor to know before they attempt to clean the floors and leave me with something damaged from the start.


Answer

The tile manufacturer is the best source of guidance, beyond that, here's what I would suggest.
Porcelain tile is vitrified, meaning that it has a glass-like surface with a very low permeability, like the china toilet bowl. There is no need to seal the tile since it is almost impervious to moisture in its natural state, and it is hard to resist wear.
The installation contractor should have cleaned all the grout off the tile when it was fresh. And we hope they did because using an acid wash indoors to remove hardened cement based grout from the tile is messy and dangerous.
If the tile is clean, the grout is the only thing you need to seal and then only if it is concrete-based. Use an impregnating (penetrating) seal recommended for grout. The better choice by the installer would have been an epoxy-based grout that doesnít require sealing. You need to find out from the installer what was used.
How you are going to get the seal (if needed) to hit only the grout lines and not get on the tile, where it will look unsightly and does no good, can be a challenge. Consider using a rolling wheel dispenser or other specialized application tool.
Cleaning it is no problem because this sort of installation is very durable. You can use anything from sweeping to vacuuming to mopping to a hard floor pressure rinse tool on a truck mount. In fact, the latter is great for cleaning the grout lines of the inevitable build-up.
Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN/ATEX Associate Editor
lekrafft@juno.com