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Unread 08-28-2022, 10:14 PM   #1
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1920s Italian Tile Cleaning

My son bought a very well built house from the 1920s. This tile is in his entryway and on the fireplace hearth.
It is pretty dirty and has lost its shine. I'm hesitant to just use anything to clean it as I find want to damage it.
I'm looking for advice.
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Unread 08-29-2022, 12:23 AM   #2
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To me, it looks like the glaze is partially worn off, so trying to get an even look across the whole thing won't really be possible. If he doesn't like that 'character', it may call for replacing the tile. It's almost certainly on a mud bed which will be some hard work to get out. The mud beneath is likely at least 1.5" thick, and anything new would likely need to address not only the tear out, but dealing with the subflooring. There are people around that can replicate that install method, but lots more that only know how to do it with more modern materials. There's nothing wrong with a mud bed...it's often an ideal way to install it, as if those floors are original, at nearly 100-years should attest to.

There are a bunch of grout cleaners out there, but it looks like a grey grout, and may not actually improve much with any cleaning.
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Unread 08-29-2022, 03:22 PM   #3
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Hi Angie,

If it's an unglazed tile it can be stripped and refinished with an acrylic, That might work if the glaze is worn off, too.
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Unread 10-29-2022, 09:58 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forum, Angie.

Inspecting that picture, I wouldn’t expect the glaze to be worn so close to a wall where foot traffic isn’t really possible. That makes me guess that you’ve got unglazed tiles with a partially worn away shiny coating of some sort. If the coating is waxy, a high alkaline cleaner will work to remove it. Look for a tile cleaner with the words, ‘heavy duty tile and/or grout cleaner’ as it’s very likely to be a high alkaline cleaner.

Do a TEST first.

Wet the tile in a small area with the cleaner and allow the cleaner to dwell for about 5 minutes. Then agitate with a nylon bristle brush for say 15 seconds. Then vacuum away the wet mess, rinse with water, and dry. Inspect what you’ve got. Repeat the test inside 1/2 of your test area and see if a second round makes more of an improvement. The idea is to understand what’s going on before you start going nuts on the whole thing.

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