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Preserving Porcelain Tile Flooring With Kids and Pets

We all know that kids and pets can do a number on your floors. From catastrophic spills and potty-training “accidents,” to the scuffing of tiny feet and pet’s nails, the smallest among us often turn out to be hardest on all kinds of flooring.

Porcelain tile floors are no exception of course, and though each individual is sealed with a scratch-resistant protective glaze, scratches, chips, and grout damage are almost inevitable with little ones (furry and not) about. So how can you minimize the possible damage, and the number of times you’ll have to repair and re-grout?

Here are some handy, tile-protecting tips:

1. Apply grout sealant in-between tiles. Though your tiles themselves may be sealed, the grout isn’t. Grout is porous, and the pores in the grout allow mold and mildew to grow, which in turn weakens the grout and may lead to crumbling. Grout sealant fills these pores and keeps the nasties out.

2. Clean up wet spills and accidents fast. Tile is typically used in wet or potentially wet environments – the kitchen and bathroom, most prominently – and this is because the tile itself is sealed against water. But grout can stain and (as noted above) grow cultures like a petri dish, so be quick with the towels as soon as you notice wetness on the floor.

3. Make use of rugs, where possible, to protect your tile from excessive wear and tear. For as long as we’ve had porcelain tile in our bathroom, I’ve been resistant to using area rugs because I frankly can’t stand the look of most fluffy-pile, rubber-backed bathroom rugs. But seeing some recent grout damage caused by incessant bathroom traffic at our house, I finally buckled and headed to Home Depot, where I picked up this small-but-sturdy low-pile area rug made with stain-resistant material:

It looks nothing like traditional bathroom rugs (DO NOT WANT), and so seemed a decent compromise. Protection, in a style I can actually live with. HUZZAH!

4. Refrain from using harsh abrasives or acidic cleaners. Glazed tile is incredibly strong and durable, but scrub it with a scouring pad or similar and it WILL scratch, and acid-based cleaners – yes, even the old tried-and-true stand-by, white vinegar – can rapidly corrode tile’s finish. Use non-abrasive sponges and PH-balanced cleansers (like a mild dish soap) only on tile.

How do you keep your tile flooring looking good (and in good shape) with kids and pets about?

A big thanks to The Home Depot for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.

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