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Friday, October 31, 2014

Question

I have just taken over a new building with white 1 foot square ceramic tile with black speck in it. The contractor did not clean the tile before turning over the building, leaving a red clay tint on it. I have auto-scrubbed with a brush. It cleaned the grout, but left a light red tint. I have also hand scrubbed tile with deck brush with little or no results. Any suggestion what type of cleaner to use, or any suggestion would be deeply appreciated.


Answer

First, make sure the client understands that this is not your problem and that there is an extra charge for this service. You will try to correct it, but it is not of your making.
Second, try to find the source of the tint. Does the grout have a red tint added? If so you may have to do a light acid wash to break the film from the tile surface. Use caution. Hydrochloric Acid is very corrosive to surfaces and skin and needs adequate ventilation. As a test, apply a light solution to one tile, let it work for one to two minutes, remove and rinse well with clear water and remove with a wet vacuum. If this works and does no damage, proceed by working larger areas. Keep in mind, that acid vapors and solution will rust and or discolor most metals. If this doesn't work, you might want to try a nano-scrub or other specialty product made for grout haze removal.
Third, because it is so obvious I hesitate to mention it, is it possible this is a feature of the tile? Look closely at an uninstalled piece to see what it is supposed to look like.
Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN/ATEX Associate Editor
lekrafft@juno.com