Care and Maintenance of Cement Tiles

Cement tiles have become quite popular in the last year or so and many people are uninformed of the care and maintenance that is needed to upkeep cement tiles. Here is some important information from Sabine Hill — one of our main cement tile manufacturers:


Cement tile surfaces must be cleaned, free of grease, oil, dirt, wax or any other foreign matter including grout release material. Apply a high quality penetrating sealer for cement and concrete tiles and carefully follow the sealer manufacturer’s instructions.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Do NOT use any acids or alkalines to clean tiles. Use a PH neutral cleaner and fine sandpaper to remove any stains or residues. Do not allow water or other liquids to spot, pond, or ring on the surface of the tiles. Cement tiles should be regularly mopped with clear water. A cap-full of liquid wax may be added to the water to improve the tiles natural sheen. Never use acids to clean the tiles as they will damage it.

Other Considerations

Cement tiles are manufactured using natural materials. As such, it may be possible that there could be color differences between the original order and tiles ordered and manufactured subsequently, so we strongly suggest carefully calculating how many pieces you will need for your installation and then ordering a few extra pieces.


Keep these guidelines in mind when planning to use cement tile in your home.

Current Trends

March 2017- Current Trends

Excerpts from TILE Magazine March/April 2017 Issue

While larger format tiles are seemingly taking over the tile market, manufacturers also expressed the trending looks, which just keep evolving over time, are popular. Wood and stone looks being the most popular trends. “The current neutrals [when it comes to colors] right now are grays and the whites. Beige is kind of coming back again as well.” Micah Hand- Brand marketing manager at Marazzi USA.

Senior brand marketing manager at Daltile Kim Albrecht is seeing more visual interest in textures and believes fabric-inspired looks are the next biggest trend. “Wood-look tile is not new; what’s new is that it is continuing to rise in sales and consumers are demanding more choices,” she said. “In regard to color, gray is the new neutral. The gray is changing; it’s getting a little bit warmer. It’s not that cold, concrete block gray. Beige is also around, but it’s not as yellow as it used to be.”

Be on the look out for these trends and more in the tile industry!

Popular Trends at the Beginning of a New Year

Natural materials are the main inspiration for tile patterns and designs. Wood, stone, and cement tiles are only becoming more realistic and textured with time. Also, decorations, graphics, and textures are in high demand. A trend we are noticing is the textile look- patterns that look like linens, fabrics, carpets- something you could just reach out and touch. Metallic looks are also gaining popularity. Shown below is a new collection from AKDO called Textile Glass. Golds, silvers, and dark gray metallic colors make up this stand out collection.

akdo-twill-gold-silk akdo-3

Care & Maintenance Questions and Answers (NTCA Reference Manual 2016/2017)

Q: Is vinegar a good cleaner for my tile or stone installation?

A: Vinegar is a mild acid. Acids do not degrease and primarily work by attacking the minerals in the grout and many stones thereby creating damage overtime. Vinegar can also compromise the sealer in the tile, stone, or grout. A neutral pH or specialty tile or stone cleaner should be used.

Q: Can I clean my tile or stone with lemon oil to bring it back to life?

A: Lemon oil or cleaners containing oil will darken and appear to rejuvenate the appearance of tile or stone. However this effect is temporary and often they leave behind residues that remain tacky and serve as a dirt and dust collector. A neutral pH or specialty tile or stone cleaner is recommended for routine cleaning. For certain tiles or stones, a color enhancing sealer can be used to darken and highlight the character.

Q: Does grout really need to be sealed?

A: All cementitious grout, unless otherwise stated in the technical data sheet, is porous and subject to staining if not properly sealed. Sealing also reduces the ongoing maintenance requirements and helps preserve the original look.

For more cleaning and maintenance questions feel free to contact TileCraft, Inc. We usually keep stock of sealers, cleaners, and enhancers that are specifically made to work with tile and stone products. Poor cleaning and upkeep can ruin a beautiful tile installation!

TEC Ultimate Performance Grout- Power Grout

TEC Power Grout is a breakthrough in grout technology. It maximizes performance while providing ease of use. Power Grout provides excellent performance in virtually any environment, including high traffic and wet conditions, and in residential and commerical applications.

  • Highly stain resistant, never needs sealing
  • Fast-setting; open to traffic in 4 hours
  • Color accurate and resistant to efflorescence
  • Universal formula for wall and floor applications
  • Crack and shrink resistant
  • Mold and mildew resistant
  • Exceeds ANSI A118.7 Specifications
  • Interior/Exterior Use
  • Zero VOC

With 32 colors available, TEC Power Grout is an amazing product for any installation!

The Benefits of a “Mud Set Shower” Versus a Durock Shower…..

Tile contractors vary greatly.  As they say, “Prep is the most important part of the job”.  Judging installation quality is relatively difficult for most homeowners since tile covers the prep work. Take the time to educate yourself about tile installation so that you can ask the right questions. A low price achieved through questionable shortcuts or installation methods may not be a good long-term solution.

Durock is a prefabricated cement board substrate. It comes in sheets which are nailed to the studs.  A mud set showers starts with metal lathe which is interwoven and stapled to the studs. It then receives two coats of cement by hand with the second coat being skimmed flat and plumb.  Durock showers are multiple pieces which have the possibility of shifting around causing leaks and cracked grout lines especially in new built homes which settle.

Here is the problem with prefabricated substrates which do not hold the same qualifications that the traditional mud set do. If your wall is out of plumb, or floor is out of level or has a hump in it, the Durock or any other prefabricated substrate will follow that hump or irregular contour. With mud set, this is not a problem because we have the ability to “float out” any inconsistencies while applying the cement.  If there is a flaw in the wall when using Durock, it will only be magnified by the tile being there.  This is why it is so important to make sure the substrate is exactly that, straight. With prefabricated substrates you have seams, with mud set you do not.  Prefabricated substrates are nailed to floor and wall studs directly with no water proof membrane allowing wall and floor deflection which can lead to tile cracking. Mud set is anchored everywhere and is evenly distributed for maximum bond to the floor or wall and every void is filled.  The same cannot be said for prefabricated substrates. With a well done mud set shower the substrate is literately a one piece waterproof shell. This method has stood the test of time and has been used for centuries. TileCraft’s mud set showers have a lifetime guarantee from leaking. Yes, lifetime…..

The bottom line is when it comes to traditional mud set, if this generation knew as must about it as their predecessors did, more people would demand this level of skill.  This is the only method preferred by our tile artisans.

For a worry free time tested method, mud set showers are the route to go.

Fall Trends in Stone and Tile

From shimmering and textured mosaics to porcelain tile with wood, stone or concrete looks, the latest introductions in stone and tile offer inspiration for one-of-a-kind designs. Below are just some of the numerous products available on today’s market.

Ann Sacks – Pyrite Collection

The carefully composed tiles in the “Pyrite” Collection by Ann Sacks are a tightly hand-fitted mosaic that resembles a puzzle-like jigsaw that have undergone careful polishing and antiquing techniques exclusive to Ann Sacks. These methods reveal the reflective, luminescent qualities of the stone, and the result is a distinctive combination of a refined and raw look. Available in 6″ x 6″, 6″ x 12″ and 12″ x 12″ tiles, “Pyrite” comes in several finishes, including gold or silver antiqued, gold or silver polished, and a mix of both.

Artistic Tile – Foliage Collection

Organic and intriguing, “Foliage” by Artistic Tile is hand crafted of stained glass manufactured in the U.S. “Foliage” is a new addition to the “Jazz Glass” Collection and adds a sense of movement to any room. The mosaic tile is available in 14.75″ x 14.25″ x .125″ pieces.

Original Style – Odyssey Collection

The designs for the “Odyssey” tiles and matching borders from Original Style have been inspired by places and styles from around the globe and throughout the ages, from a humble rug found in a Moroccan bazaar to majestic palaces, from rustic Turkish pottery to the lost civilization of the Incas. “Odyssey” tiles are hand-finished so each one is a small, unique work of art and they are not mass-produced, they are made specific to order in Original Style’s Devon Studio. Take “Odyssey” into your home for your own global adventure, around the world in 20 tile designs.

FROM THE PRO: Advice for designing a low-maintenance, family-friendly kitchen

Put your materials to the test. Take a sample of whatever countertop material you’re considering, and squeeze a lemon on it, spill some red wine, or dribble olive oil. Absorbent stones such as marble and limestone will stain, unlike a quartz like Cambria.

Stay away from leather. This goes for banquettes and barstools, which, like marble, will show every stain. Faux suedes and leathers (vinyls) have improved markedly in terms of appearance and durability. Indoor/outdoor fabrics, which are solution-dyed and can often be cleaned with bleach, are also very durable and come in a wide range of stylish patterns.

Choose finishes carefully. If you opt for stainless steel appliances, get a brushed finish, which won’t show streaks or fingerprints so easily. As for cabinets, painted finishes have become more durable, especially catalytic lacquers, like those used for painting cars, and you can opt for a low-sheen finish. And if wood gets gouged, it can be sanded down and refinished.

Match flooring to your lifestyle. Porcelain tile floors are the most practical flooring choice, and have come a long way in terms of styles and options. Hard species of wood floors, such as walnut, are also very forgiving, especially if they are hand-hewn, distressed, or reclaimed planks; however, the shinier the floor, the more scratches and dings will show. Designer Billy Beson recommends two coats of high-gloss polyurethane for a strong, hard finish, and then the final coat in a matte finish to reduce the sheen.

Carpet Care: Dealing with “Traffic Lane Gray”

Like all textiles, carpets will eventually show signs of wear. The wear creates an illusion of soiling, which often causes frustration and misunderstanding between the homeowners and the carpet care experts. Even though a carpet has been cleaned, it does not mean traffic areas will look clean. Traffic areas are those places where people are constantly walking or working. This situation creates what is called “Traffic Lane Gray”

While “Traffic Lane Gray” is an inevitable part of any carpets life, the process causing it can be slowed down. The way to prevent this is to rearrange furniture in your home. By doing so, you will block old traffic areas and created new ones. By occasionally switching the flow of traffic you will distribute the effects of “Traffic Lane Gray”. You can also add area rugs to places where “Traffic Lane Gray” is unavoidable through rearranging furniture.

This years bathroom color trends are…

“It used to be that there wasn’t a lot of color in the bathroom, so more color is definitely a newer trend,”says Jamie Drake, interior style guru and author of New American Glamour. “You still see a lot of white, crisp spa-like solutions, but even those often have bright accents.”

Neutral shades such as cream, beige and taupe have long been popular color choices for the bathroom because they wear well and fit easily into any design scheme. But these safe colors are giving way to bolder palettes that create a cheerful, fun place to wake up to every morning.

While bold can be beautiful, it’s not necessarily for everyone. “Color is crucial in creating different moods, so I create a range of palettes for a wide variety of lifestyles and looks, ” explains Leatirice Eiseman, director of the Pantone Color Institute, an Interior design industry leader in forecasting the hottest color trends.

Some might be surprised by the color pairings in the home color forecast for 2008. One palette, Wellspring, is particularly suited for a soothing and relaxing bath experience. Based on the properties of water, Wellspring uses shades of blue and aqua, highlighted by a glimmer of effervescent undersea green, violet and indigo. Mother-of-pearl and the sandy shades of the shore bring a beautifully warming balance.

Just a touch

If you don’t want color everywhere in your bath, try adding small doses in cheerful colors such as sunny yellow or fire-engine red that are inspired by children’s bathrooms. Glass tiles are becoming more readily available in many bright hues and  sizes, a small vanity backsplash would add punch.

For those who like to change color frequently, for example with the seasons, should consider sticking to a neutral tile and rotating accessories. “You can easily add a touch of updated color — and unexpected ‘aha’ — with towels, rugs, and other accessories,” says Eiseman. Try cool spa colors such as sapphire blue and seafoam green for spring, and brighter beach colors such as flamingo pink and chartreuse for summer. With the fall comes warmer shades of brown, while winter-influenced colors include candy apple red and maroon with an undertone of pink.

Drake is a fan of iridescent tiles with a mother-of-pearl sheen that changes with the light. “Even the white tiles are designed to shimmer and give off shades of turquoise, peach or lavender.”

Timeless Color

While we’re going to see more and more color in the bathroom, certain timeless guidelines still apply. “You want colors that are flattering to the skin — whatever you put on the wall will be the color reflected in your (face’s) shadowes,” says Jarrett Hedborg, whose celebrity clients include Jim Carrey, Bette Midler and Jeff Bridges. “I’ll never do a green bathroom because cool tones tend to be unflattering and make you look older. Yellow is another no-no, especially if you’re applying make-up, because it distorts your skin tone and makes you look jaundiced.”

According to Hedborg, most skin tones are pink, so you want warm tones that will pick up that color — such as peach and rose — and create warm shadows.

But don’t rule out those cool spa colors quite yet. “Some people will always like the soothing blues, blue-greens, greens and blue lavenders that enable tranquility and relaxations,” says Eiseman. “Ultimately, your choice of colors boils down to your expectations of what you want in a room that suits your comfort level.”