A reader writes: “We are servicing an old floor that is ceramic tile. Unfortunately, the glaze has been abraded to the point that it is porous in some areas. How do you recommend we proceed?”

In some ways, I enjoy working with old, worn out floors since I can usually make them look much better and give them a second life. As you may know, ceramic tile is a manmade product that is baked clay with top colorants and a glaze finish. In most cases, I recommend against applying finish (wax or seal) to such a surface since it only creates future maintenance challenges, especially as it relates to the grout. Following are some suggestions to consider based on the information you have provided:

• Use appropriate chemicals (stripper if necessary) to thoroughly clean the ceramic tile of any soils, waxes, etc. giving special attention to the grout lines.

• Use a mild buffered phosphoric acid product with a detergency to clean the grout lines thoroughly.

• You may need to use a mildew-cide to remove any mold or mildew that has built up over time. The grout should be its original color when through.

• Inspect the grout lines carefully for missing fill and also make note of an cracks or damage to the tiles themselves.

• Patch/seal/repair any missing grout and cracks with the goal of making the surface impervious to liquids.

• Once the floor has been cleaned and repaired, allow it to dry which should not take long at all.

• Instead of applying a floor finish, check with your distributor about a penetrating seal that can be used on the grout as well as the porous ceramic tiles. Using appropriate applicator, apply 1-3 coats to make sure that the grout and porous tiles are sealed.

• Daily maintenance should be sweeping/dust/damp mopping with a neutral detergent. Do not use harsh cleaners (acids or alkaline) since it can damage the grout seal and shorten its life before needing to be reapplied.

If you want a shine, use a soft bristle brush to give it a matte finish.

Your comments and feedback are always appreciated. 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.