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How can I Improve the Appearance of Tile?

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  • Written By: Sherry Holetzky
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2016
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Tile is a favored treatment in many homes, but it requires careful installation as well as good maintenance. It can easily become dingy looking and take away from the appearance of a room. To improve the appearance of your tile, begin by cleaning it and the grout thoroughly with bleach or a quality product made for tiles. This may improve the appearance enough to help you avoid further steps. If stringent cleaning isn't enough, there are plenty of options you can use once it is clean and has had a chance to dry, short of replacing the tile.

First, consider re-grouting. In many cases, there isn't anything wrong with the tile itself, but the grout may have seen better days. Even with good maintenance, grout deteriorates over the years and may become unsightly. Scrape away any loose grout and go just a little deeper than the damaged material, but do not scrape all of the grout away. Leave a thin layer in place so the tiles won't come loose.

If mold or mildew is a problem, clean with a specialized mold and mildew resistant product and allow it to dry before adding new grout. Choose a color that coordinates with the tile and be sure to follow the application instructions precisely. You can also consult with someone from the store where you purchase the grouting materials or with a representative from a home improvement center for tips.

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If the tile and grout are in good shape but you simply don't care for the color, consider painting it. While in the past painting tile didn't work very well, there are now products available that adhere to nearly any surface. There are also specialty paints and primers designed for kitchens and baths that are made to resist mold and mildew. As with any painting project, preparing the surface is essential and consulting with someone in the know for the best choice of paint and primer is a good idea.

Sand the tile until all the gloss and shine is gone. Wipe with a damp rag to remove sanding residue. Apply paint as directed, taking care to avoid getting paint on the grout. If you are re-grouting, paint first and allow it to dry completely before adding new grout. Always make sure paint is dry and has cured to a hard finish before using the tiled area, especially if the tile is in a bathroom, kitchen or other moisture prone area, or on the floor where it will be walked on.

A simpler way to disguise ugly tile is to use decal-like treatments available in squares cut to fit different sizes of tile. This is a permanent application, but one that is simple to apply and comes in many different prints, styles and colors. Another option is to paint the rest of the space the same color as the tile so it blends in instead of standing out.

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Domido
Post 2

@mabeT - Another great way to get that kitchen tile looking great is to clean it really well with a degreaser. (Bleach works great with bath tile.) After doing that, get one of those Mr. Clean Magic Erasers after the stains. Even Kool-Aide and ketchup! But, it doesn’t work so well with the grout. I’ll have to try this lemon juice and baking soda paste that you are suggesting. I’ve also heard that white vinegar works wonders, but I haven’t tried it myself. My grandmother swears by it though!

mabeT
Post 1

Anyone who has kitchen tile (especially countertops) knows exactly what I'm talking about when I say that Kool-Aid is not our friends. It makes the most terrible stains that are horrible to try and get off. Even if you can scrub it off the tile, the grout is almost impossible to get back to the color it was before. But, I have found a method that so far is working like a charm. I take just a little lemon juice and a little baking soda and an old toothbrush to fight the stain battle with. You just make a little paste with the juice and soda, and then rub it in really well with the brush. So far, this has been really successful for me.

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