How to Make Tile Shine

a guide on how to make tile shine

​Tile is a common and beautiful choice in homes all around the world. Used as as both flooring and for bathrooms, tile is highly durable and cleans up nicely. Over time, though, tile can begin to loose its shine. We walk through the steps on how to make tile shine again. 

​Know Your Tile

Before cleaning, you need to know the differences between different types of tile. The most common two types of tile are porcelain or ceramic. While they may look the same, they require different treatments to keep them looking clean and new.

If you laid the tile yourself, then it will easy for you to know. Otherwise, spend a little time to figure it out - it will be worth it in the long run.

Ceramic Tile

Both ceramic and porcelain tile are made of clay that is hardened in an oven. Generally speaking, the largest difference between the two boils down to how resistant to water the hardened clay is.

Porcelain tile is far more resistant to water than ceramic tile, and thus considered a bit nicer (and more expensive. 

Ceramic tile looks great in your house, especially when it’s laid down for the first time. Ceramic tile is not used outdoors because it absorbs too much water. So, if you're curious about what your outdoor tile is, chances are it isn't ceramic.  

​Over time, ceramic tile can become dull rather than keep its shiny appearance. For ceramic tile in the bathroom, shower, or bathtub, it can actually happen very quickly. 

In most cases, this is mainly due to the excessive buildup of tile cleaning solutions you may have used to clean it in the past few months or even years. However, with regular cleanings, you can rebuff your tile back to its clean and shiny appearance.

Porcelain Tile

Porcelain tile is made of slightly denser clay and does not need a layer of glaze to protect it from damage, like ceramic needs. ​

Porcelain tile can be laid indoors or outdoors because of its low water absorption rate, and makes for a really gorgeous finished product. 

Porcelain tile is harder to cut and more expensive to purchase. However, with proper care, it can last for a really long time.

keep your tiles clean with this guide
a guide on how to make tile shine

Tile Grades

Another thing to understand before cleaning is to understand tile grades. Tile manufactures created tile grades based on how it fairs against potential breakage and scratches on the surface.

Understanding tile grades can help you choose the right tile in your home, and also help you make it shine continuously.

You may already have an idea of your tile grade. Usually the higher the grade, the more it will cost. On average, grade three tile is most common for use on walls, floors, and countertops.

How to Clean Tile to Make it Shine

Follow our guide below on how to make tile shine, and how to keep it from becoming a dirty, dull surface in your home.

1. ​Clean Regularly

One of the best ways to make tile shine is to clean it regularly. ​Lightly cleaning your tile several tiles per week is actually the best case. You'll also want to factor time in to do a deep clean of your tile every few months. 

​Frequent Light Cleaning

​Its usually easiest to incorporate the cleaning with other household chores. You can lightly sweep your tile floors, and then vacuum over them afterwards. Your vacuum's brush roller is fine to use on tile flooring and won't scratch it.

It is vital to do this type of cleaning several times per week. Tile is not stone or concrete - it is porous clay that has been hardened, but is still suceptible. ​Loose dirt can get ground into tile. scratching and damaging it permanently.

The more frequent you are able to sweep and vacuum, the better your tile will look over the long haul.

Outdoor patio setup on tile flooring

Occasional Deep Cleaning

When deep cleaning your tile floor,​ you'll want to break out the mop. Make sure you performed the light cleaning first, so that you get all of the dirt up before introducing liquid.

​You'll use different methods and different cleanings agents, depending on what type of tile you have.

  • For ceramic tile, you don't want to use a lot of liquid, as it absorbs it quickly. Use a light cleaning agent, such as dishwashing detergent, mixed with hot water. Mop your tile (or scrub your wall tile), being careful not to have too much of the liquid on your tile at any one time.
  • With porcelain tile, you can use a little bit stronger of a cleaning agent, such as white vinegar. Create a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar and use to clean. You don't need to be quite as conscious of having the liquid on the floor, as porcelain's water absorption rate is so much lower. 
  • Alternatively, you could use the solution in a spray bottle, which works great for spot cleaning. Spray the solution on your tile and use a microfiber mop to spread the solution. Keep spraying on your tile until you get your entire tile floor. 

Use a mop to spread the solution around your tile floor and buff it with a microfiber cloth. Repeat this process until your entire tile floor looks shiny new.

Try to use a stringy mop rather than a sponge mop. Sponge mops will push the liquid around, while string mops spread the liquid throughout. This will protect and preserve your grout from getting too wet, while also cleaning your tile a lot better. 

​2. Grout Cleaning

​If you have tile in your house, grout could end up being your biggest enemy. It is because grout has large pores and soaks up liquids. The more it ages, even the best grout for your shower and walls​ will look old and dirty from those liquids.

​This ends up making your tile look dingy as well. To clean grout as best as possible, mix water and three percent hydrogen peroxide in a medium-sized spray bottle. Next, spray this solution on your grout and let it sit for 30 minutes.

You can scrub your grout with an old toothbrush. Scrub your grout with hot water, and if that doesn't work, use a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. Or, you can opt for a hydrogen peroxide solution: mix water and three percent hydrogen peroxide in a medium-sized spray bottle. Next, spray this solution on your grout and let it sit for 30 minutes.

You might have to do this several times to get it clean. Once clean, you can make it a lot easier the next time by routinely spraying the grout with a water/vinegar solution.

Related: How to Grout Tile

Elegant bathroom setup with tiled backsplash

​3. Scuff and Mark Prevention

Marks and scuffs can prevent your tile from shining as much as you want it to. These scuffs come from dirt and debris being routinely tracked over your tile. Not only does it dull its appearance, but it causes scratching. 

One way to prevent this from happening is placing floor mats around doors and entrances in your home. It will limit dirt from landing on your tile as the dirt will stick to the mat instead. 

​Consider limiting how often you wear shoes on your tile. While annoying and a bit inconvenient, it will extend the life of your tile and keep it shiny. 

Other Tile Cleaning Considerations

​Here are a few other things to consider for keeping your tile clean and shiny.

Don't Buff or Polish Your Tile Floors

While it might be tempting, its best not to polish or buff your tile floors. Your ceramic or porcelain floors have already been glazed by their manufacturer. If you polish or buff them, you risk hurting what the manufacturer has already placed on it. 

​Its the same concept as if you had painted your tile. You don't want to ruin the finish on the tile that has already been added.

No Acid Based Cleaner

Cleaning agents like bleach, ammonia, or any acid based cleaner can be very damaging for your tile floor. Again, your ceramic or porcelain tile is hardened clay that is porous, and acid can work its way into the tile and deteriorate it.

Avoid Hard Bristles and Steel Wool

Hard bristle brushes can scratch your tile, ruining its appearance and making it more ​susceptible to long term damage.

In a similar fashion, steel wool can have the same effect. However, steel wool can also leave damaging bits of steel in your tile, which can rust down the road.

Conclusion

Cleaning tile is never a fun job, but it has to get done to ​keep your floor shiny and clean. Not regularly cleaning your tile can lead to a damaged countertop, wall, or floor, depending on where you installed tile in your home and how much grime build-up it has. Hopefully, with the help of this guide, you will learn how to shine ceramic tile and porcelain tile. 

Remember, it’s important to stick to a regular cleaning schedule, and it’s more than just your tile you need to clean. You need to clean your grout as well. Good luck and happy cleaning!

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