When I purchased my home, one of the things that I liked the most about it was that everything in it was authentic. For being also most 100 years old, I thought it was in excellent condition. It still had the original windows and the original flooring. The only thing that really bugged me was the fact that the shower tiles were very dirty.
I had heard that it was a very good and desirable thing to still have the original tiles in a home. Tiles were much nicer than the newer synthetic bathroom wall options. They were a symbol of class and cleanliness. When I first looked in the bathroom though, my impression was that it was a disaster. There was dirt visible in the grout and some of the tiles even appeared to be cracked.
I called a local contractor to talk to him about getting rid of the tiles all together and perhaps redoing the bathroom. He told me that if I wanted to get rid of the tiles, then the work would be very difficult and time consuming. It would involve using a crow bar, sledge hammer and expensive carry-away trash collector that I would have to pay to rent.
Old tiles, like the ones in my bathroom, are attached to the wall using cement. The cement is smeared onto strong metal or steel grids that are nailed to the wall. The tile wall, therefore, is very thick and very durable. Truly, it is built to last. That is fine, as long as the tiles are built to last and stay nice, but in my situation, they were impossible!
My contractor talked me out of removing the tiles and suggested that I contact a local tile shop for some recommendations. The tile shop put me in touch with a company that will come to your home and sandblast the tiles clean. Sandblasting the tiles gets all of the dirt and layers of build-up and scum from the grout and the tile surface. I thought I would give it a shot.
When the sandblaster arrived, he didn’t appear at all surprised by the condition my tiles were in. He even went out of his way to make me feel better by admitting that he had seen worse cases (though I doubt it). I spent the rest of the afternoon downstairs while he went to work in the bathroom. At the end of the day, the bathroom truly did sparkle. Before he left, he suggested some methods to keep the tiles clean and free from dirty build up.
The first thing he said to do was to develop a regular cleaning system for the bathtub and shower area. This area is prone to mildew and moisture build-up that can lead to dirt that is hard to get rid of. There are daily shower cleaners that you can purchase from any drugstore. You simply mist it in the shower area before going to bed for a long-term effect.
He also suggested that I dedicate one afternoon once a month to deeply cleaning the shower and bathroom. Now, I scrub the tiles and put a foam layer of cleanser on them to assure that they are being thoroughly cleaned. For a few hours a month, I have shiny, clean and well cared-for tiles permanently. It’s worth it.