Removing grout haze from a tile floor as the work is in progress is one of the keys to a job well done.

Share story

Q: The contractors who installed my tile floor six months ago left a haze of grout over the tiles and I’m unable to remove it.

A: Removing grout haze from a tile floor as the work is in progress is one of the keys to a job well done, and it seems that your contractors didn’t care.

I’ve installed several tile floors over the years, and the Hometime video I watched 200 times in the late 1980s stated clearly that if you removed the haze as you worked on the floor, clean water and a clean sponge were all that was necessary.

Let the tile set for 24 to 36 hours, and follow the clean sponge/clean water procedure again. You then use a clean, dry rag to wipe down the tiles, and another clean dry rag to polish off the haze.

If you let haze removal go for six months, the sponge and water technique won’t work, and you’ll need a commercial cleaning product instead.

If you know the name of the tile manufacturer, you might want to contact it to find out what is recommended for the tile so it won’t be damaged.

If you buy a grout haze remover at the hardware store, test it first in an area that is somewhat hidden from view in the event it damages the tile.

Follow the safety directions on the product — wear gloves, long sleeves, and safety glasses — while you are working.

Q: We live in a home that was built in 1939. The bathroom has a tub and a separate shower.

The walls of the shower are completely tiled in subway tiles, which are in good shape, and still secure after all these years. The grout is in good shape also.

However, some of the tiles are discolored. At first, we thought this might be mildew, but treating the tiles with mildew remover or bleach did not remove the discoloration.

On closer inspection, it appears that the discoloration is behind the glaze, which would explain why the bleach did not work. No tiles other than those in the shower are discolored.

We had several contractors in to look at the problem, but once they saw it was wet bed construction, they never even gave us an estimate — not only were they not interested in replacing the entire shower (which we were ready to do in desperation), but they did not suggest replacing individual tiles either, a difficult job because the grout lines are very narrow at 1/32nd of an inch.

Also, we were concerned that replacement tiles would be a different shade compared with tiles that were in place for more than 70 years.

A: Everything on the Internet I’ve seen seems to address replacing the tiles rather than cleaning them.

But because this is wet bed, removing individual tiles with such narrow grout lines cleanly would be difficult, which is the reason the contractors wouldn’t offer an estimate.

Let’s ask readers for their help.

Q: I own a house built in 1954, which I love. It now has three layers of linoleum in the kitchen and surrounding area. I would like to have the old linoleum removed and new linoleum installed.

Can you tell me more about having the three layers removed? And where can I get industrial linoleum? I prefer it because it is almost indestructible and is in keeping with the integrity of the house.

A: Check out Armstrong’s light industrial linoleum at http://alturl.com/pcgnx. Although it is for commercial applications, I am sure that it would be available for residential, or that Armstrong would tell you where you might buy it.

Removal? I once removed linoleum from a bathroom that was both glued and nailed, and believe it was three layers.

In my case, ceramic tile replaced the linoleum floor, so I screwed a backerboard subfloor on top of the glue that couldn’t be removed with a belt sander.