Slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of injury to the public and a principal cause of litigation against businesses today. Good maintenance procedures can reduce this obvious risk!
There are anti-slip coatings currently available designed to reduce slip and fall accident by enhancing the tiles slip resistance or coefficient of friction characteristics. These products must be used in strict compliance to their Manufacturers recommendations for them to be beneficial.
Tile Doctor Tip: Sealing of grout is almost always a good idea. The sealing of ceramic and stone tile must be evaluated on a case to case basis. Generally, if water will penetrate or darken the surface of ceramic or stone tile, so will staining materials. Be sure of why you are sealing your tile, select the products carefully, and closely follow the Manufacturers instructions.
The first step in stone tile maintenance is the sealing of the stone. Generally, all stone must be sealed. Follow the Manufacturers recommendations for the product you choose.
Know what the surface preparation (polished, honed, or natural) coupled with the density and porosity of the stone will determine the best type (petroleum or water based) of sealer to be used. The other consideration is that you use the best product the budget will allow.
Tile Doctor Tip: Always follow manufacturer's instructions on the specific sealer being used.
The first step in maintenance is the sealing of the tile (if necessary) and the grout (if necessary). Generally, glazed tile requires no sealer. Some unglazed tile requires no sealer. Know the type of tile you are installing. Test it with a small amount of water. If the surface darkens, it absorbs water and needs to be sealed.
Generally cementitious grouts require sealing while specialty grouts like epoxy and furans do not. If the grout darkens with water, it needs a sealer.
Glazed tiles should never be sealed. The glaze is the "sealer" and is far more permanent and resistant to wear than any sealer.
Many people seal their tile that is installed indoors to protect against everyday dirt, stains and wear. When sealing tile indoors a topical sealer is important in some types of softer tiles like saltillo (topical produces a surface coat). When using a topical sealer, a "wear layer" or "sacrificial coating" of acrylic floor finish should be applied in addition to the sealer. This "wear layer" of acrylic floor finish will keep you from wearing through the sealer and having to strip and reseal the entire floor.
Some Manufacturers have sealers that incorporate a sacrificial coating together with a penetrating sealer. This can be the best of both worlds.
However, it is critical that you maintain this wear layer.
On indoor installations of hard, dense tiles or stones, many people select a penetrating sealer only. This type of sealer leaves no topical finish and therefore does not require a "wear layer" coating, but will give lasting protection from everyday dirt and stains.
The use of sealers on tile is an area that books could be written about, with all the options available and their relations to each other. We speak only in very general terms and keep in mind; there are exceptions to every rule. Manufacturer's instructions must be followed closely after a sealer is selected. Please do not mix brands. Once you have started with one brand, do not apply another on top of the first, hoping for the proper results.
When in doubt always call the manufacturer for specific details. Retain the information on who you spoke with and it is a good idea to have them fax you or email you the instructions to fall back on if there ever are any questions.