Why do my Plank Floor Tiles have a Haze or have Lost its Color?

QUESTION

I have a newly constructed home with plank floor tiles throughout. When we first occupied the home, we noticed a hazy look to the tiles in several ares, most evident near moisture, bath room, in front of patio doors, etc. We had the floors looked at by a professional tile and grout cleaning service. He took one look and said it was grout haze, "I see it all the time in new construction". He said I can clean this no problem and after doing a test spot re iterated it was grout haze. We had the entire home (2000 sq. ft.) professionally cleaned. We now have a floor that looks worse than before. Seems the cleaning process took the color out of the tile. Everyone (builder, cleaning service, professionals I've talked to) seem to be in agreement the process he used should not have taken the color out of the tile. Is this possible and is there a fix. I have pictures if you want to see them.

ANSWER

ANSWER - Tiles should lose their color from cleaning.  There are a lot of variables to consider.  First what kind of tile is it and how was it manufactured.  I will assume it is a wood-looking inkjet porcelain glazed floor tile or throughbody porcelain floor tile.

When there is a haze on the tile after installation it is normally a grout or thin-set haze.  If it is a cement type of haze it can normally be removed with a weak acid like sulfamic acid or one that is sold for that purpose.  Never use muriatic/hydrochloric acid.   If it is a latex/polymer based grout or thin-set it can leave a latex haze that isn't removed with an acid.  You need a latex remover that is sold by many tile distributors or home centers.

The questions needing answered about the professional cleaning is what products and process did they use.  Did they use a corrosive chemical?  Did they use an abrasive scrubber or ... Something caused the tile to look worst.

I have seen some inkjet produced wood-looking plank tiles that have worn in an unusual manner.  The question is what type of tile is it and has the surface of the tile been chemically or abrasively compromised or is there some sort of coating that can be removed.

Forensically we can determine the answer to all of these questions, but it might not be practical to spend that kind of money figuring it out.  Otherwise you have to go through a trial and error process to determine if it is cleanable or if it has been irreparably damaged.

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