Details make all the difference when it comes to commercial buildings.
Grout does much more than just hold tiles together. It enhances aesthetic value and prevents moisture from seeping in between tiles.
George Smith, Southwest Regional Director of Sales for Mid America Specialty Services (MASS), says the grout in office buildings is often white or light grey, which tends to show dirt quickly. That makes preventive grout maintenance a top priority.
People are paying even greater attention to cleanliness these days, and bathrooms in particular can make or break the customer experience. Floors and adjacent surfaces in public restrooms need extra attention, as they build up grime in higher volume and at a faster rate than other areas.
Regular maintenance keeps grout cleaner longer and may extend the lifespan of a floor surface. “Replacement of commercial grout is a nightmare,” Smith notes, “so the goal is to keep from having to do this.”
Getting rid of dirt and tracked-in contaminants limits wear and tear and improves appearance. In addition, killing harmful bacteria means a healthier place of business for employees and customers.
All About Grout
Traditionally made from a mixture of cement, water, sand and chemicals, grout fills the gaps between tiles. Both non-toxic and non-flammable, it binds the structure together while absorbing vibrations and other impacts. It plays a role in waterproofing and is useful for repairing cracks. Grout is generally considered to be more aesthetically pleasing than cement.
The type of grout used on a particular surface will affect maintenance requirements. Two common types of grout are cementitious and epoxy.
Considered to be a traditional grouting material, cementitous grouts include a mix of Portland cement, filler particles and water-retentive additives. Pigments can be added to produce grout in a range of colors. Cementitious grout is porous and vulnerable to staining, so sealing may be required.
Cementitious grouts can be either sanded or unsanded. Sanded grout contains large sand particles, which gives the surface a gritty feel. It is typically used when seams between tiles are ⅛ inch or greater. Unsanded grout has finer particles for a smoother texture and is mostly found in thinner seams of 1/16 to ⅛ inch wide.
Epoxy grouts are made with resin, silica fibers and hardener, with pigments added for color. Epoxy is less porous than cementitious grout and usually doesn’t require sealing. It is an ideal material for areas exposed to moisture, grease, acids and other contaminants. While most epoxy grouts contain no Portland cement, a modified epoxy can be mixed with cement to yield a harder, stronger end product.
Grout Restoration Services
Tile floor before and after grout cleaning
Dirt and stains become harder to remove when routine grout cleaning is neglected. Investing in regular maintenance cuts down on more expensive repair and replacement costs in the long run.
Smith points out that typical janitorial services contribute to wear on grout. While frequent mopping of restrooms and other areas are necessary and common, the process is of limited benefit, as it spreads dirt into the grout. Contaminants build up over time, giving the grout a dull and dirty appearance. On top of that, improper care methods can lead to permanent damage and discoloration.
Professional grout restoration gets rid of deeply embedded debris. Trained refinishers remove stains from hard-to-reach areas and restore the grout to its original appearance. Smith says three important processes differentiate the grout services MASS provides:
- Low-volatile-organic-compound (VOC), non-acidic chemicals that won’t damage the grout and surrounding finishes
- Hot water
- Extraction of dirty water and cleaning solutions from the grout
Professional grout services are very affordable and mostly performed at night, with no need to close down restrooms to tenants. If required, a grout sealer can be applied to protect the surface and make routine cleaning easier. However, many commercial grouts don’t need a sealer, so this step is not always needed.
Day-to-Day Grout Care
As noted above, regular grout refinishing can extend the service life of the material and facilitate easier cleaning.
Nightly janitorial staff should use only neutral cleaners to avoid damage to the grout. Frequent mop water changes are necessary to keep from spreading the dirt around and ensure that the floor actually gets cleaned.
Besides restrooms, grout refinishing can improve the appearance of other interior areas, including entryways, walkways, conference rooms and hotel guest rooms.
At MASS, our technicians complete extensive training in the proper grout refinishing methods. We select quality cleaning products that safely remove contaminants without damaging the grout or adjacent materials. We help clients maintain an attractive building appearance and maintain a safe, healthy indoor environment.
If you need more information on grout services, please contact us to speak with one of our experts.