There is something ancient and majestic about natural ceramic tiled floors. The unique cracks, shapes, textures and earthy colours create a walkable piece of art that complements classic and contemporary designs.
However, ceramic tiles may require a little extra maintenance. They can be sensitive to moisture, spills, oils and other contaminants that may leave dark stains discolouration and potentially contribute to premature wear in high traffic areas if left unprotected.
These risks can be prominent on unglazed ceramic tile floors due to the porous nature of ceramic.
One of the best ways to avoid stains, marks, and premature degradation of your ceramic tiles is to apply a professional tile sealant coating to your flooring.
Read on to learn more about the many benefits of professional tile sealing on ceramic floors and why Enviro Clean and Capture are industry leaders for tile sealing, Sydney, and surrounding areas.
Ceramic tiles: A history of class and style
With a recorded history that dates back to around 4000 BC in ancient Egypt, ceramic tiles are one of the most consistent building materials used by humans; they have definitely stood the test of time.
Over the ages, the ancient technique of firing and sometimes decorating ceramic tiles for flooring and other artistic and building mediums have touched nearly every major civilisation on earth, creating a multicultural history of creative, cultural expression and various manufacturing techniques.
Today, people can still buy traditionally made ceramic tiles crafted by passionate artisans or purchase tiles made with modern technologies from manufacturers worldwide.
The world of ceramic tiles is prolific, offering a world of creative possibilities for flooring, walls, murals, and more, including:
Natural ceramic tiles
Glazed ceramic tiles
Scratch-resistant hardened ceramic and more
Like most construction and design materials, ceramic tiles come with a range of pros and cons.
Ceramic tile pros
The many pros of investing in ceramic tiles are more evident than the cons. However, the pros can also differ, depending on the types of ceramic tile that have been selected.
Glazes ceramic tiles, for instance, are more stain-resistant and easier to clean than natural stone finishes and require less maintenance or protection (more on this later).
All ceramic tiles do have some pros in common, however, including:
Durable and hard-wearing
Easy to refinish
Ceramic tiles come in all shapes, sizes and designs, offering talented tradesperson’s and interior designer’s seemingly limitless design options.
Ceramic tile cons
The cons of ceramic tiles come down to a few factors. People will first notice that ceramic tiles are expensive, and secondly can be very heavy! Some ceramic tiles are so heavy that they may be rejected for use in a home’s second story.
Laying ceramic tiles is an art form and can often take longer to install than other flooring systems, like timber, putting back your build or renovation finish dates. Aside from glazed ceramic tiles, all-natural ceramic tiles have one other con in common: porosity.
The millions of micro-holes, known as pores (just like your skin), on the surface and substructures of ceramic tiles allow moisture and other contaminants to permeate and absorb into the tile itself.
Examples of these contaminants and pollutants include:
Biological debris and more
These contaminants can lead to a range of adverse reactions on and within the tile, including:
Staining and discolouration
Mould, fungi and other mycotoxin growth
Cracking grout and more
Repairing these issues can be expensive and time-consuming, and in some circumstances, some tiles may need replacing. However, you can take a reliable preventative measure to protect your ceramic tiles, and that is having them professionally sealed.
What is ceramic tile sealant?
A sealant is a liquid chemical compound that adds a transparent protective film or coat across the surface of the tiles and grout after drying, providing a barrier against the contaminants and pollutants aforementioned.
This barrier compensates for glazing, which, simply put, is a gloss or matte liquid glass coating applied during the firing process. Numerous types of sealant are available on the market from different manufacturers that vary in price, quality, and performance.
Regardless of whether a sealant is water, latex, polyurethane, silicone-based or otherwise, these sealants will fall within two categories; topical or penetrative sealants.
A quality topical sealant provides a protective layer of film across the top of your tiles and grout, preventing the absorption of most liquids, oils, chemicals and other potentially harmful substances that ceramic can be predisposed to.
These types of sealants are popular if property owners would like to enrich the natural colours of their tiles while adding a gloss or sheen often only found on glazed ceramic tiles. Often, topical sealants are cheaper than penetrative sealants; however, they do come with some downsides in comparison.
Topical sealants can often leave a slippery finish, and in some circumstances, a non-slip additive may need to be incorporated or applied, which can change the tiles’ finish and add an extra cost.
Surface sealants also have a much shorter life expectancy than topical sealants, with a typical application lasting between one to five years, depending on the manufacturer specifications.
This type of sealant is also more susceptible to wear and tear. It can flake and peel, leaving patches of your tiles unprotected, therefore creating inconsistencies in your floorings finish if left to age past the recommended resealing recommendations.
While DIY topical sealants are available, if not evenly and accurately applied, you can risk uneven coverage, rendering areas unprotected, or dramatically, and possibly permanently alter the finish of your tiles.
Penetrative sealants, also referred to as impregnating sealants, work by coating your ceramic tiles’ top layer and substructure with a protective coating, offering deep protection superior to topical sealants.
Although slightly more expensive than topical sealants, penetrating sealants offer significantly higher life expectancies, ranging from five, ten, and even fifteen years, often making impregnating sealers a more cost-effective option.
Because penetrating sealants permeate the entire structure of your ceramic tile, they offer little to no sheen, keeping the natural, earthy aesthetic of natural ceramic and creating no additional slip hazards.
Due to the penetrating and absorbent nature of penetrating sealers, they are less likely to suffer flaking and chipping. However, if not reapplied as recommended by the sealant manufacturer or sealant technician, you still risk inadequate protection, particularly in high traffic areas.
Another benefit of penetrating sealants is that they allow your tiles to breathe. This will enable them to release trapped moisture and reduce the risk of mildew and fungal growth, which can not only stain or discolour your tiles from the inside but also present a health risk to susceptible individuals.
The dangers of mycotoxins
Although penetrative sealants are more ‘breathable’ than topical sealants, both will deter trapped moisture. This reduces or prevents the growth of mycotoxins like mildew, mould and fungal growth.
While staining and discolouration of your tiles are a significant problem, there are also adverse health implications for some people, particularly those with allergies or immunocompromised individuals.
Some of the adverse health conditions linked to excessive mycotoxin growth include, but are not limited to:
Asthma irritation and attacks
Skin conditions and irritations
Negative autoimmune responses
Neurological conditions and more
A professionally applied ceramic tile sealant not only protects your valuable investment it can also protect the health of you and your loved ones.
Ceramic tile cleaning Sydney
A topical or impregnating sealant is applied directly to new tiles when first laid. However, when it is time to reseal your ceramic tiles, they will require a deep clean to remove any remaining sealant and trapped dirt and debris before applying a new application.
A deep clean with a pressure cleaner will be required to prepare the surface; however, many commercial pressure cleaners are too harsh for the porous ceramic tiles.
While this high pressure will remove the old remaining sealant effectively, it also can damage the ceramic tiles themselves, creating premature wear, or potentially cracking the tiles.
The highly-trained and qualified tile ceramic cleaning and sealing technicians at Enviro Clean and Capture use state-of-the-art pressure cleaning systems custom-designed for deep cleaning and preparation of ceramic tiles for sealant reapplication.
They will ensure the utmost care is taken throughout the cleaning process, negating the risk of damage to your ceramic tiles.
How are ceramic tiles sealed?
While many DIY sealants give the option of using rollers and brushes to apply sealant, this often leads to uneven and unsightly finishes, like sealant bubbles and other inconsistencies.
A professional sealant technician will often use a spray system to skillfully and evenly coat the sealant, ensuring even coverage and effective protection.
Cleaning your sealed tiles
One of the best parts of having sealed tiles is the ease of cleaning. After your sealant dries, usually between four to 48-hours, depending on the type of sealant used, you will be able to clean your tiles needing nothing more than a stiff broom, some mild, soapy water and a hose.
You may require a cleaner for things like food or oil spills; however, ensure you read or research your sealant’s cleaning recommendations before applying a chemical cleaner.
If you are unsure, it is advised to test your cleaner on a non-conspicuous part of your floor before continuing or contact us here at Enviro-Clean and Capture for professional advice.
How do you know if your sealant needs reapplication?
If you have lost track of your last sealant application or your tiles come with your newly acquired property, then best to get a tile sealing professional to assess your ceramic floors.
However, a simple test can give you a rough idea of the current state of your tile sealant; all you will need is a cup of water.
Find a dry part of your ceramic tiles, best in a high traffic area.
Sprinkle a few drops of water by hand over the test spot and observe.
Note if the water beads on the tile’s surface or if the tile changes colour after the water sits for a minute or so.
If the water absorbs straight into the tile or the tile discolours or darkens, then there is a good chance your ceramic tiles are not sealed, or the sealant is past the due date for reapplication.
If you do not have much experience caring for ceramic tiles, it is still best to have your expensive ceramic tiles inspected by a trained professional.
Ceramic tiles are an expensive investment that are best protected by a professionally applied sealant.
Having a record of your professional ceramic tile sealant applications can also potentially increase the value of your property, giving you leverage when negotiating a sale price.
While DIY solutions may seem cheaper, many things could go wrong with an untrained and inexperienced application. For example, choosing the wrong type of sealant for your type of tile can yield disastrous results for your tiles finish.
Cleaning with an industrial pressure cleaner also risks permanently adversely affecting ceramic tiles’ natural style and beauty, ruining your costly investment. Employing trained, experienced professionals like Enviro Clean and Capture offer you the best clean and optimal protection for your ceramic tiles.
Ceramic tile sealing Sydney
If you need reliable and experienced solutions for tile sealing, Sydney and surrounding communities, contact the professionals here at Enviro Clean and Capture.
We offer complete solutions for the cleaning and sealing of internal and external flooring, including:
Granite and more
Enviro Clean and Capture are dedicated to providing environmentally friendly and sustainable cleaning and sealing products and practices.
Our highly-trained staff provide fast response times and after-hours services for emergencies. We use the latest techniques and state-of-the-art equipment to ensure you receive the best services available!