Cleaning Difficult Floors – Brick And Unglazed Tile

Photo credit to steelmore.

Whether you have brick on your patio or unglazed tile in your home, you don’t want stains marring the look of your floor’s finish. Brick is clay fired at a relatively low temperature, while most unglazed tile is usually fired at a slightly higher temperature. Brick and unglazed tile share one characteristic: Both materials are absorbent. If you spill something on brick or unglazed tile, it will stain unless the floor has been sealed.

Because both materials are ceramic, the same cleaning methods work for both, whether inside or outside the home. The major difference comes in what stains you face.

One Rule to Never Forget

Never use an acid cleaner on brick or unglazed tile! That means no vinegar solutions even though they work well on other surfaces. All cleaning solutions that come in contact with brick or tile need to have a neutral pH. Anything above a pH of 6 opens up the tile’s pores, making it even more prone to staining.

Brick Often Cleans Up With Power Washing

Moss and mildew stains are common on exterior brick. These usually respond to power washing quite well. Keep the spray broad and avoid pressure above 3,000 psi so you don’t damage the brick. Any residual stains often respond to a treatment with 50/50 bleach and water. Apply with rubber gloves. Let stand for several minutes, then scrub with a stiff brush, making sure to wear eye protection so no bleach splatters into your eyes. Because bleach can cause light areas in the brick, you may want to apply it to all the bricks, but many homeowners find the variations in color intriguing.

Photo credit to frederickmdrocks.

Other Common Stains And How To Treat Them

Efflorescence—You’ve seen these salt deposits on brick and tile. In most cases, these will clean up with a stiff dry brush. Deposits that don’t respond to this treatment may be calcium based, making them the most difficult stain to remove because calcium is usually removed with an acid. A product called Pav-R Clean is your best option. It works effectively on bricks to remove calcium deposits.

Dirt and Mud—Once again a good stiff brush is the best option. Work with the area dry and vacuum away any dust that forms. Use a neutral cleaning solution only after any loose material is gone.

Egg—If the egg has dried, the best way to deal with this stain is to wet the area first with warm water. Wipe away as much of the egg as possible. Then wipe the area with a mixture of 50/50 vinegar and water. Scrub this into the stain until any remaining egg loosens. Wipe up any residue, then immediately apply a solution of 50/50 baking soda and water. This will neutralize the acid so the brick or tile doesn’t develop a worse tendency to stain.

Brown Stains—In some cases, brown stains are caused by manganese. If this is the case, you need to apply a solution of paracetic acid. Either dab the solution onto the brick or tile (wearing gloves) or spray on. Do not scrub. If the stain is manganese it will disappear very quickly. Immediate apply baking soda to neutralize the acid. Wipe up and rinse thoroughly. A second application of 50/50 baking soda and water is a good practice.

Oil and Tar—Use a commercial oil and tar remover. Or make a poultice using 1 part kerosene and 2 parts diatomaceous earth and apply it to the stain. Spread about 1/4 inch thick. Allow the poultice to stand for 12 hours covered with plastic. Remove the plastic and let the poultice dry out completely. Sweep away. Follow with steam cleaning, and in most cases the oil stain will disappear.

Green Stains—Some green stains are algae based and clean up easily with just neutral cleaner and elbow grease. Other stains are caused by the mineral vanadium. Apply a 50/50 solution of bleach and water to the stain. Let stand for 24 hours, then rinse. Reapply if necessary.

Chewing Gum—Apply a small piece of dry ice to the gum. When the gum hardens, scrape it up.

Keeping your floors looking great is not as exciting as choosing coffee metal wall art for the library/media room or metal wall art sculptures for the foyer, but you can maintain the value of your home by properly maintaining your unglazed tile floors and exterior brick surfaces.

This article is written by Maria Harris, who writes for .

More by this Author

  • Best Curtain Colors for a Blue Bedroom

    You really have a lot to work with when you choose a cool color palette like blue to decorate your bedroom. Cool tones work with many other shades, both warm and cool, and coordinate well with metallic shades, too. When...

  • Decorating Around Dark Green Carpeting

    Photo credit to russelljsmith. If you have a room in your home that has a dark shade of carpeting, such as dark green, it can sometimes make it challenging to decorate. Even though dark green is not a particularly...

  • When a Daybed Works and When a Couch is Better

    Just as welcome plaques metal art can be easily substituted for yard metal wall decor, in some occasions, a daybed can easily and effectively be substituted for a couch. However, there are also instances where a daybed...

Comments 5 comments

Bercton profile image

Bercton 6 years ago from United Kingdom

very informative and useful tips

Maria Harris profile image

Maria Harris 6 years ago from Houston Author

Hi Bercton - Glad you enjoyed the article. Hope this info comes in handy for you one day. Thanks for reading.

LetitiaFT profile image

LetitiaFT 5 years ago from Paris via California

Thanks! This is just the info I was looking for. I just added a link on my first hub. Hope you don't mind!

Maria Harris profile image

Maria Harris 4 years ago from Houston Author

Hi LetitiaFT - Thanks for reading, and I'm glad that you found some helpful tips in this hub.

profile image

bleedercleaners 4 years ago


    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article