I have ceramic tile in my foyer that was installed in 1970. It needs a good cleaning and there are a few broken tiles, but otherwise seems to be in good condition. Can this old floor be refurbished? I like it and would like to keep it, but most of my neighbors have replaced theirs.
Ella R. ~ Pittsburgh, PA
Hi Ella. Ceramic tile floors are very durable and unless there is some sort of unusual staining, you should be able to get your floor looking close to new. The biggest problem you may have is matching the broken tiles as manufacturers often change their product lines over time and tiles from the 70s may not be available today. However, if the style or color isn't unusual, you might get lucky and still be able to locate replacement tiles. If that isn't possible, a little grout or colored silicone caulk may be used to fill the cracks and your ceramic tile floor will just have a little old time character.
When cleaning the tile, avoid any strong abrasives as they may damage the grout. Most home improvement and flooring stores have cleaning products specifically designed for tile floors and one of them might produce the best results for your foyer. If you have any stains, try wetting the area and rubbing a pumice stone on the spot. I have never tried it myself, but have heard that a mixture of borax and lemon juice can also be used to remove tough stains.
When you have finished cleaning the ceramic tile, if the grout still appears to be aged and unattractive, you can re-grout the floor without removing any tile, but it can be a labor intensive project. It may also damage the tile as most of the old grout must be removed as part of the process. It might be better to consider the old grout to be part of the character the cracks provide. A throw rug with non-slip backing might be a good investment to protect the foyer tile after your cleaning project is complete.