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Unread 05-09-2020, 04:23 PM   #1
JMingrone
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Tile loss of gloss

Been away for awhile...

I put a heated tile floor in the bathroom 6 years ago and was surprised to see the tile losing gloss, mostly around the toilet, but also in other spots where it looks like something on the bottom of shoes got tracked in. The tile is dark brown with semi-gloss finish. It’s pretty unsightly, mostly because of the angle the light hits it. I can almost understand around the toilet but the other spots look like a single footprint did the damage. Any ideas on what it could be and what the fix might be? My thought was to get rubbing compound and try polishing it. The reason I think that might work is that my first attempt at fixing it was to take an abrasive pad ( the kind the wife uses to scrub pans) actually dulled it worse than it was. It’s definitely not a stain, more like it was etched by chemical or urine. Surprised by this as I thought tile was pretty much impervious to this kind of thing. Thoughts?
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Unread 05-09-2020, 04:47 PM   #2
jadnashua
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What are the tile made of? IF it's something like marble...acids certainly will etch it, as will lots of other chemicals.
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Unread 05-09-2020, 05:46 PM   #3
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No not marble, porcelain. Forgot the brand but it wasn’t cheap. I always thought tile was a “once and done” kind of thing, which makes it worth the cost and effort. No way I’m doing it over with the wires and all. Hoping for some kind of “treatment” to bring it back to life.
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Unread 05-09-2020, 06:48 PM   #4
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If it's a glazed porcelain versus an unglazed one, the glaze is quite a bit softer than the porcelain underneath it. On the Mohs hardness scale, glaze (essentially glass) is about 5.5 and a good porcelain is nearly 9 with diamond being 10, or the hardest known material. Talc is a 1. It's not a linear scale, but larger means harder.
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Unread 05-09-2020, 07:19 PM   #5
Tool Guy - Kg
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Glaze isn’t very likely to be etched by urine. Can you show us s picture of the tile? I’m not doubting you’ve got porcelain, but I’m looking for clues on how a single footprint laced with an unknown agent could have caused damage. Is there any chance the print could have been made with toilet bowl cleaner?

By the way, some of the “Scotch Brite” pads are impregnated with silicon-carbide grit, which is phenomenally abrasive.

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Unread 05-09-2020, 08:04 PM   #6
JMingrone
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I’ll see if I can get a picture in the right light tomorrow. It slowly developed over 7 years around the toilet bowl, which I can almost write off as “wear and tear” (almost), but when I saw what looked like a pattern from a shoe or sneaker it suddenly made no sense. How could a single footprint permanently take the gloss off tile? Elsewhere it looked like the pet did the same thing in the center of the room? Again, a single footprint. Very odd. What the heck kind of powerful chemical could our small dog have on his feet??

Yes, it was a Scotchbright -type pad I used hoping it was a stain that I could buff out. I picked a small “ footprint” as a test, got down on all fours and scrubbed real hard. When I stood up I was horrified that I made it worse- same dulling, 5x bigger. That’s what makes me think polishing with a compound might bring it back.
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Unread 05-10-2020, 08:05 AM   #7
JMingrone
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So here are a few pics. The first is near the toilet where you can see the loss of gloss with a kind of shoe/sneaker tread pattern to it, which sort of points to a one-time event. The second pic is typical of about 8-10 other places around the room away from toilet. No real pattern to these or "splash marks" that might indicate a chemical spill. I used the same tile in a half-bath that shows similar loss of gloss but the dull areas there are mostly small and circular as if made by drops. Ever seen anything like this? Any kind of "gloss restorer" product or should I just try a mild polishing compound?
Thanks

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Unread 05-10-2020, 09:31 AM   #8
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An enhancer might potentially bring the color back that might be worth a try, if the surface of the tile is actually worn down then you might not get the shine back. With the strength of the porcelain these days none should wear down like that unless an effort to do so is exerted. They have an extra tiles hidden away? Might need to replace.
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Unread 05-10-2020, 09:45 AM   #9
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Did you happen to apply some sort of sealer on the tiles and grout since it has been installed?
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Unread 05-10-2020, 04:37 PM   #10
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I'm not an expert, but I'm wondering how they got that pattern on there if that isn't a glaze. If it's a glaze, it's a lot softer than the porcelain underneath it.

If you've got an old glass, try rubbing it with that same abrasive pad...my guess is that it will scratch it easily.
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Unread 05-11-2020, 08:37 AM   #11
Dave Gobis
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I see rivulets which makes me look at something other than a glaze defect.
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Unread 05-12-2020, 07:14 AM   #12
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Jondon- it's not that the color is gone (the pattern maybe) and you can't "feel" a difference, the gloss is different. Looking straight down with no reflecting light, it's hard to see. Never used an enhancer - can you recommend one to try?

Davy - No, no sealer was applied

Jadnashua - I tried a small amount of automotive rubbing compound on an inconspicuous spot in the corner and produced the same kind of dulling, so looks like that's what's going on in the other spots. If that's the case, maybe much finer polishing compound will restore the gloss.

Dave- not sure what you mean by rivulets. There's a pattern to the coloring but the feel of the whole floor is smooth.

I was kind of hoping someone would say "Oh yeah, we see that all the time - just apply some Uncle Mike's Magic Gloss Restorer". But I guess not.

At this point sounds like I have 2 things to try - the enhancer Jondon suggested or a fine polishing compound.
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Unread 05-12-2020, 02:40 PM   #13
jadnashua
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It's really hard to restore a surface like that to a consistent shine. Also, keep in mind that you'll also be cutting away some of the glaze in the process, so getting a little excessive in a spot could cut through it entirely. It can be done on solid body tile, but that's mostly reserved for expensive things like marble.

Topical things will require periodic touch ups...very little will penetrate the surface, if at all.
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