How To Reglaze Tiles To Restore Their Original Look
Tile reglazing is not a do it yourself type of job. Specialized low volume-low pressure (LVLP) sprayers must be used using specialized coatings in a controlled environment. Care must be taken to tape off all areas that will not be reglazed and to ensure that all harmful fumes and vapors are exhausted outside. Specialized suits and respirators must be worn and specialized training is required to be a certified reglazing contractor.
As a homeowner or business owner it is important to hire only qualified and certified tile reglazing contractors. It is also important to know the facts and details about tile reglazing to ensure you get the job done right. Almost all tile reglazing professionals will also reglaze bathtubs, porcelain sinks and shower pans. You may want to also have these areas reglazed while your having your tiles reglazed.
Before you consider having your tiles reglazed you need to ensure that your tiles are a good candidate to be reglazed. Shower tiles are the most popular tiles to be reglazed and shower tiles also can be the most problematic tiles for reglazing. Often times the walls behind the shower tiles have gotten moldy, wet and mushy with dry rot in the shower walls. In many cases these types of shower tiles are not properly adhering to the walls and they have the potential to pop off of the wall. Reglazing tiles that could potentially pop off the shower walls is never a good idea.
Many types of showers will have movement in the tiles when pressed on or flexed due to issues with the shower wall. Tile reglazing compounds are somewhat flexible but with excessive movement of the tiles the reglazing finish will crack and potentially peel off the shower tiles. Typically movement in the shower tiles is due to wet, moldy shower walls that could potentially have dry rot in them. It is never good to have wet shower walls with dry rot and mold in them that could attract bugs and harbor mold in the walls of your home. In these cases it is best to spend the extra money and have the shower tiles and supporting walls ripped out and replaced with a quality cement board or hardibacker and then to have new tiles installed that do not need to be reglazed.
A thorough inspection of your tiles should be done before your consider having your tiles reglazed. You should tap on all the tiles to ensure that there are no hollow sounding loose tiles that are not properly bonding with the underlying walls. You should also press on all the tiles to make sure that there is no movement in the tiles when they are pressed. A slight bit of tile movement is ok but if you see that there is excessive movement on the tiles from mushy support walls then reglazing these tiles is not a good option. In some cases where there are just a couple of hollow sounding tiles you can remove these tiles and glue them to the walls prior to reglazing them. There is very little that can be done to mushy wall tiles other than replacing them and the underlying wallboard.
Another big issue to consider before reglazing your tiles is the condition of the grout. When having your tiles reglazed you will also be reglazing the grout to produce a uniform looking surface that does not resemble a normal tile installation. If there are uneven looking grout lines then these areas of low filled grout will show up as indentations in the wall after reglazing the tiles and grout. If the grout is uneven, missing, cracked or deformed then these issues should be repaired before reglazing your tiles. Many times reglazing contractors do not want to deal with these grout issues and they will simply reglaze over the tiles and grout without first fixing and repairing the grout. The areas of deformed and missing grout will produce a tile reglazing job that looks sloppy and non professional. All of the missing grout should be filled in and the cracked grout must be checked to ensure that none of the grout is loose and falling out of the grout joints. Small cracks and pin hole areas of missing grout can be filled in when the tiles are reglazed but large areas of missing grout and other grout issues must be repaired before reglazing the tiles.
Another issue that must be addressed before reglazing tiles is to ensure that the tile and grout is properly cleaned before reglazing. The tile surfaces and the grout lines must be thoroughly clean and prepped prior to reglazing. Soap scum and other dirt, grease and contaminates can interfere with the reglazing compound properly bonding with the tiles and grout. It is important that both the tiles and the grout be thoroughly cleaned prior to reglazing.
Properly prepping the tiles and grout is extremely important prior to having your tiles reglazed. Ceramic, porcelain and other man made tiles are extremely non porous and easy to clean. These tile surfaces will not easily allow any type of foreign material to bond with them which is good when trying to clean the tiles but bad when you want to reglaze them. It is best to use a specially designed acidic paste to micro etch the tiles prior to reglazing them. The specially designed acid will create millions of small microscopic voids in the tiles surface. These microsocopic voids will allow the reglazing compound to properly bond with the tiles.
Many reglazing companies will not use acids to prep the tiles and will instead prime the tiles using silane technology primers. Silane based primers are somewhat effective but they will not provide the strong adhesive characteristics of acid etching the tiles. Acid etching the grout is also important to open up the pores of the grout and allow for a good bonding surface. Another advantage to acid etching the tiles is that the acid etching compound will remove a lot of the soap scum, rust stains, hard water deposits and other residual contaminates that were not removed when cleaning the tiles and grout. Many contractors will try to get out of using acids to prep the tiles prior to reglazing. The typical line is that acids are harmful and dangerous to your health and the health of your home. Acids used to prep the tiles and grout are relatively safe when properly used. Acid pastes are not washed down your drain when properly used and they will not harm your pipes even if they are washed down your drain.
There are many types of finishes used for reglazing tiles and it is always important to use a good primer prior to applying the reglazing compound. Epoxy primers work best to get the best adhesion between the tile surfaces and the reglazing compound. Epoxy primers work well as primers but epoxy finishes can yellow over time. The best type of reglazing finish to use is an aliphatic acrylic urethane finish. These types of finishes will not yellow or fade away and with proper cleaning and maintenance they will last 10-15 years. A clear coat finish can also be applied over the aliphatic acrylic urethane finish to provide and even longer lasting and more durable finish. Clear coat finishes can also provide the proper satin, semi-gloss or glossy finish to your reglazed tiles to suit your personal preference.
After having your tile reglazed you will typically want to caulk around the edges of the reglazed tiles. A bad caulking job can ruin a perfectly good looking tile reglazing job. It is important to use only 100% silicone caulk when caulking your reglazed tiles. Latex caulks will quickly grow mold and mildew in them and they will not last long. No type of adhesive caulks should be used on reglazed tiles. You can potentially damage and chip the reglazing compound when trying to remove adhesive caulk when recaulking your tiles. It is necessary to be extremely careful when removing caulk from reglazed tiles. Gently using a razor blade scrapping tool is the best way to gently remove the caulk off of reglazed tiles. Also by using only 100% silicone caulk instead of latex caulk the caulk will not turn black and moldy and you will not need to recaulk the tiles for an extremely long time.
When cleaning and caring for reglazed tiles it is important to not use any type of abrasive cleaners on them. These types of abrasive cleaners such as comet cleaner can scratch and dull the finish of the reglazed tiles. Only soft liquid non acidic cleaners should be used on reglazed tiles. Also only a soft non abrasive scrub pad should be used for cleaning reglazed tiles. Aggressive scrub pads and scrub brushes can also scratch, damage and dull the finish of the reglazed tiles. Most quality tile reglazing contractors will provide you with a list of cleaners that are safe to used on the reglazed tiles.
Reglazing tile is not a DIY type of job. You can read some valuable information on how to hire a tile reglazing contractor on our contractor information page HERE.
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