My husband complained about the bathroom yesterday - actually suggested that we may need to gut it. My husband doesn't complain much so when he does it gets my attention. Gut the bathroom? Oh, perish the thought!
What drove him to conclude that we need to gut the bathroom is his disgust with the condition of the tiles. The wonderful original subway tiles that our home inspector warned us we'd better like because they're sunk into solid concrete. I say wonderful because they're original and they're subway tiles. Who doesn't like subway tiles???
Unfortunately they are badly crazed and in the tub area the crazing is badly soiled. They look moldy - but, they're not. Dirt, body oils, etc has become embedded BEHIND the glazing. I understand my husbands feeling of defeat - I really do. I've seen the look of doubt pass across our house guests faces when I try to convince them that the shower is not dirty - it just looks dirty.
In the six months we've been here I've tried to address the problem. I've googled "subway tile restoration", "crazed tile" into the wee hours looking for suggestions. I've tried every bathroom cleaner known to man - and some unconventional products as well. Below is a photo of just some of the "losers" in the battle of the stained crazing. I've even given some thought to professional steam cleaning or perhaps resurfacing as a last ditch effort.
Well, no more! No fakey paint type "semi-permanent" solution for these tiles. Today I tried my last idea. I thought I'd better quit stalling before I come home to find hubby sledgehammering out the walls. You wouldn't believe how EASY this is going!
And the winner - in the war on bathroom tile sludge is..... drum roll please..... 30% Hydrogen Peroxide Solution!
I knew that soaking old pottery in salon quality peroxide would clean the grime out of crazing - but the challenge here was that a) it was a vertical surface and b) keeping it moist. You can put a piece of pottery into a tupperware container full of peroxide and forget about it till it's done it's job - which can sometimes take weeks. Not so practical when the item you want to "soak" is the wall of the shower you need to use every day. And - did I mention? It's vertical!
Turns out the secret is applying some heat. It really speeds up the process. I'm using a disposable paint pad to apply the creme peroxide to a small section of tile at a time (about 2 squares of paper towels) - laying paper towel over the peroxide as if I were wallpapering with it - then using the pad to kind of "pounce" some more peroxide on top of the paper towel. The jabbing/pouncing motion seems to keep the paper towel from lifting, shifting, and tearing. I'm then applying a sheet of 3 mil plastic over the paper towel/peroxide mess and taping it into place with what else? Duct tape!
Then I'm positioning a space heater right in front of it to really heat it up. Most of the sections I've done today have come remarkably cleaner in about an hour. Some places are going to need a second or third application but overall I'm quite pleased with how it's going. And greatly relieved!
Now I guess I should do some research on finding a product to seal the tiles once I get them all cleaned up. Woo Hoo - it's been a very good day!