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Home Cleaning & Maintenance Guide – Internal – Terracotta

Cleaning & Maintenance-Internal-Terracotta

Terracotta floor tiles provide a hardwearing surface finish that’s really easy to keep clean.  Like all natural materials, it’s important to use the correct protection and maintenance products and methods.  In this guide, you will find general information on the protection and maintenance of terracotta tiles.

Protecting terracotta from stains

Terracotta is naturally porous and application of a sealer – before and after grouting – will protect the surface from staining and make ongoing maintenance easier. 

Pre-sealing before grouting: Make sure that the adhesive is completely dry.  Tiles should be thoroughly cleaned before the sealer is applied, to remove any residue that could become trapped.  Generally, terracotta tiles should be treated with two coats of sealer before grouting – either an acrylic sealant or traditional boiled linseed oil – and one coat after grouting.    Before grouting, one coat should be applied in one direction, and then the second coat in the opposite direction.  The first coat must be totally absorbed before you add the second coat.  After the second coat, wipe any excess off the surface.

Sealing after grouting: If you’re using an acrylic sealer, apply a final coat once the grout has cured.  Ensure that the surface is thoroughly clean, to avoid any grout residue becoming sandwiched under the sealer.  If you’re using boiled linseed oil, apply a final coat of wax or sealant.

We recommend treatments from the LTP range.  For more information about different types of sealers, please see our Sealing Guide.

Topping up protection

Terracotta tiles will begin to show signs of wear and patches of ingrained dirt after around 3-5 years, depending on where your tiles are laid.  To top up protection, give the tiles a thorough deep clean, let them dry and, depending on the original finish, apply either an acrylic sealant or boiled linseed oil.

Ongoing maintenance

Terracotta should always be cleaned with a gentle pH-neutral detergent, regardless of the colour or finish of the stone. General household cleaners tend to be quite harsh and could etch the stone, the grout joint and damage the sealer.  They will also dull a polished surface.  Other cleaning products and methods to avoid include:

  • General cleaning eco-brands, which are often not suitable for natural stone surfaces; always check the small print.
  • Homemade cleaning solutions made using vinegar, lemon and baking soda; these ingredients, whilst natural, are too harsh for natural stone surfaces.
  • Steam cleaning – super-heated steam can damage terracotta and any sealer applied.

Establishing a regular routine

A regular ‘routine’ cleaning regime will make ongoing maintenance easier and will retain the terracotta’s aesthetic. Most terracotta surfaces will benefit from a wet clean around once a week.

A periodic deep clean may be necessary in high traffic areas. Sometimes, the same detergent can be used for routine and deep cleaning, but the dilution and method will be different in each case. We recommend ECOPROTEC Stone & Tile Intensive Cleaner.  When you deep clean using a lower dilution, you will generally need to rinse the surface to remove residue – if the residue isn’t removed, it will create a film which will attract dirt, making future cleaning more difficult.

Routine cleaning

1. For floors, sweep or vacuum to remove dust and loose dirt.
2. Dilute your cleaning product in warm water, according to instructions. Use a clean bucket or bowl and a well wrung cloth or mop.
3. At a high ‘routine cleaning’ dilution, most surfaces will not need to be rinsed.

Deep cleaning

1. For floors, sweep or vacuum the floor to remove dust and loose dirt.
2. Dilute your cleaning product in warm water, according to instructions.
3. Carefully follow the application instructions. Generally, detergent is applied with a mop and left to work for 5 – 10 minutes, whilst keeping floor damp with further solution. It’s then agitated with a pad, dirty residue is removed and the surface is rinsed thoroughly. You may need to repeat the treatment if tiles are very dirty. NB. Terracotta tiles may need to be resealed after a deep clean, if the surface has been stripped.

Stain removal

A good quality sealer should provide protection against everyday stains – but specialist treatments can also be used to safely remove specific marks, like grout residue and rust. Always seek advice before using these products, to ensure that they are suitable for your terracotta and that they will provide the best results. We recommend treatments from the ECOPROTEC range.

For advice on the protection and maintenance on other types of tiles, please see our full library of Maintenance Guides.