Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Update on the Subway Tile Cleaning

Well, this is what the tiles look like after one application. Not perfect, but a WHOLE lot better. I think after another "treatment" or two we'll be ready for regrouting and sealing and there will be no more talk of gutting the bathroom in the foreseeable future.
And a "before"...
A "before" close-up...
An "after" close up...

Lessons I'm learning as we go:

If you can possibly remove the fixtures do so - I couldn't figure out how to get mine off. I thought if I unscrewed the screw in the center of the handles they'd just pull straight off. No such luck. I definitely want to figure that out before the next application of peroxide because I think they're acting like heat sinks and hogging up all the heat that's supposed to be baking the tiles. The results are not as good in that area as elsewhere.

That the peroxide seems to work quicker and more effectively if the tiles are wet first. As I've moved along in small sections I've found that the heat is really drying out the surrounding tiles and when I coat them with the peroxide and plastic without running water over them first it takes two to three times longer to pull the grime out.

And that Goof-Off is really good for removing baked on duct tape adhesive.

Oh, and that gloves are REALLY important! God bless hairdressers - this stuff makes paint stripper seem as benign as lemonade.


Sandy said...

Wow! What a difference. Nice work!

jonathan said...

Looks good! Have you tried painter's tape to hold the cover on the wall? It isn't waterproof, but it might not leave as much residue. Another option would be something like gaffer's tape, which is used often in the media and theater worlds. It is a cloth-backed tape that has a firm adhesion, but doesn't leave much adhesive residue behind.

We are in said...

Oh Jonathan - I didn't even think of using painters tape. And we have tons of it around here. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll try that on the next "go-round".

Thanks, Sandy! :o)

LBTudor said...

The after looks wonderful! Nice job.

beckydoshi said...

I did a search on "subway tile restoration", and I found your site. And then I looked at the pictures and thought, "Oh my God, that's my bathroom". And then I saw you were in Pittsburgh, and really started to wonder if these were, in fact, pictures of my bathroom.

They are not, but our bathrooms must have been tiled by the same company 100 years ago.

I might give this peroxide a try. Did you look in to grouting over the existing grout? How about recaulking?

I love your site, by the way.

We are in said...

Hi Becky, I got out as much of the old grout as I could, (where it was already chipping or loose) and then regrouted over the rest. I'm still not sure if the old grout was really grout or cement. The old caulk came off pretty easily with the help of a heat gun.

beckydoshi said...

Thanks for the advice!

And thanks for the idea on the morning glory. Someone else just suggested the same thing. Whatever it is, it's prolific.

And by all means you can link to my site. I'm going to add in links on my site- can I add your site in?

nikki said...

Did you ever find out about sealing the tiles?
My bathroom is almost exactly the same as yours it was built in 1920 and i love the old subway tiles so im def gonna give this a try!
Did you try this on the floors at all?

Joni said...

Trying to find the technique you used (peroxide?) for cleaning the grout between your subway tiles. I'm in Aspinwall. Any help on where I can find this on your blog or a direct email would be appreciated.

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