A manager approached me asking for advice after his proper manager opted to contract out a custodial task. Specifically, the ceramic tile floors were to be cleaned and sealed by a third party and this manager was curious how it was going to impact his cleaning duties moving forward.

In most cases, cleaning, repairing the grout lines and sealing with a colorant can have positive impact on not only appearance but also the life of the floor itself. Once grout has deteriorated to the extent that it allows moisture to get underneath the tiles, it is only a matter of time before the flooring begins to buckle and crack - especially if the flooring is wood, which can be sensitive to moisture.

The vendor will usually scrub/strip the floor to remove any finish or other seals that may be on the tile and grout lines. They will then use a mild buffered acid cleaner to clean the grout lines so that there is no old seals left. Once the floor has dried, they will closely inspect and repair any missing grout areas so that when the apply their product it will seal that not only seals the grout but also gives it a consistent look due to the dyes used.

Some companies will attempt to seal the ceramic tiles as well if the glaze has been worn off and there is evidence that it needs to be sealed as well. The end result should be a clean, sealed floor that has a consistent appearance and is relatively easy to maintain using neutral detergents.

Caution should be used in using pressure washers or aggressive scrubbing especially when mixed with harsh chemicals (both acidic and alkaline). My suggestion is you work closely with the vendor and follow their directions closely to maintain any warranties that come with the installation.

The key to this process succeeding is allowing sufficient drying time between the various steps.

Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net.