Both the holidays and cold winter weather have the potential to wreak havoc with the tiles in your home. Increased guests, parties, foot traffic, sand, salt, and slush can all leave their mark behind once the season is over. This is particularly true for some types of tile that may be porous or easily scratched, etched, or stained such as natural stone. With the right prevention and maintenance, however, it’s often possible to weather the winter holidays and storms without your tile taking a hit. Use the following tips to help make sure your tile makes it through the season in the same state it began in.

Why Do Winter Maintenance?

A Stunning tiles master bathMost home materials require maintenance year round, so what makes winter different when it comes to protecting your tile? Many things take place in these months that may have more of an adverse effect on your tile than you may see in other seasons.

Sand and salt used to help make walkways safer to traverse could scratch, dull, or etch your floor tiles. Slush and snow along with muddy boots could leave stains on both your tile and your grout. And all those holiday guests and parties may leave their own mark; spilled drinks and food could leave behind stains, while a guest that believes they are helping by cleaning your kitchen or bathroom without your knowledge could damage materials with the wrong cleansers. Likewise, someone who gets ready for a holiday party by dying their hair a festive red in the shower may accidentally leave behind permanent stains on some tiles.

Winter maintenance helps prevent and mitigate many of these issues. By taking just a few preventative steps and making sure you deal with issues correctly as they arise, you can keep your tile looking beautiful for many years to come.

Winter Maintenance for Tile Flooring

A glass tile accent wall with a fireplaceSome tile floors do require more maintenance than others to make it through the winter looking their best. However, many of these tips will also help protect your grout from staining and discoloration, even in a non-porous tile or a tile that resists scratching and etching such as porcelain.

Always make sure you put mats down near entryways, and keep an absorbent indoor/outdoor rug nearby as well. This will help cut down on the amount of snow, slush, sand, and salt being brought into your home. Leave a place nearby on an absorbent mat or rug for wet shoes and boots to be placed while they dry.

ceramic tile patterned floorBe sure to seal all porous tiles and grout with an impregnating sealer. Porous materials like natural stone and cement-based grouts will benefit from regular sealing. Sealing helps impede stains and gives you time to wipe up puddles and spills. Using some types of impregnating sealer on a non-porous floor, like porcelain tiles, may also help increase their slip-resistance – something that may be beneficial to family and guests.

Always wipe up spills as soon as they are seen, and clean your floors with a pH neutral cleanser as needed. Sweep regularly or use a vacuum cleaner without the beater bar to help remove sand grit that may scratch some tiles.

If a spill like red wine or tomato sauce has occurred on a porous material and left behind a stain, use a poultice made for that material as soon as possible to help lift the stain back to the surface where it can be cleaned away.

Winter Maintenance Tips for Guest Bathrooms and Shared Space Tiles

Classic elegance with a marble tiled bathroomIf you entertain a lot over the holidays, make sure you take steps to protect your tiles in guest bathrooms and other shared spaces. This includes sealing all tiles and grout as needed with an impregnating sealer, and making sure to wipe up any spills as soon as they are seen.

Put down absorbent rugs or mats in spaces that may see higher than average traffic, or in areas where eating and drinking may occur to help prevent stains.

Make sure you leave pH neutral cleansers readily available in all areas where cleaning supplies are kept. If a guest needs to wipe up a mess after a midnight snack, or simply wants to be helpful and clean up after themselves, making sure they have access to the right cleansers can help ensure they don’t accidentally damage your tiles by using something too harsh for the material.

Entertain Safely this Winter

Create interest with ceramic tile patternsDon’t feel as though you need to choose between entertaining guests and making sure your walkways are well salted and protecting your tile floors and surfaces this winter. With the right winter maintenance and prevention, you can ensure that your floors and your guests make it safely through the season. And if you’re putting the finishing touches on a new guest bathroom or entryway, or you simply want to get a head start on a New Year’s home tile project, be sure to stop into one of our locations and let our Design Consultants assist you in finding the right tile for you.