As you flip through the pages of this edition of TILE, you will see we are covering tile care and maintenance. When it comes to this subject, education is important. TILE attended a seminar given by Rod Sigman, Business Development Manager of Technical Installation & Care Systems at Custom Building Products, during Total Solutions Plus, which was held last fall. In his presentation, Sigman hit on many points related to tile care and maintenance.

Speaking to a room primarily of installers and distributors, Sigman explained how many customers are unaware of the benefits of sealers. “For every 100-plus bags of grout sold, only one gallon of sealer is sold,” he said. “Here is your opportunity for growth. A lot of customers don’t have all that information — that the extra dollar for the sealer is worth it.”

Sigman went on to say, “At most, about one in 10 jobs that should be sealed actually gets sealed.”

Some of the more obvious reasons to recommend sealer to a customer include stain resistance, to make the tile or stone product cleanable and to stop it from getting dirty if it is an outdoor application. There are also different types of sealers to be considered when selecting one for a particular job.

Maintenance is also an important subject, and according to Sigman, they go hand in hand. “You’re never going to get years out of a sealer without the right maintenance products,” he said. “If a sealer is only going to last five or six months, who wants that? The real answer is sealers shouldn’t only last that long. They should last years. And, we need to put the right system together [for that].”

While this subject should be among the priorities when it comes to tile installations, there are currently no definitive standards to follow or reference. “The one challenge on our side of the business is there are no industry standards for tile maintenance products,” said Sigman. “For installing tile and stone — there are ANSI standards for them, the TCNA Handbook and the NTCA Reference manual, and all kinds of best practices and test methods and installation methods — but there is no such thing as standards for sealers, so it makes it a little challenging to see if this sealer meets this standard or if it passes some sort of industry benchmark or guideline because unfortunately, these don’t exist.”

These are just a few highlights from the article “Preserving the life of tile and stone.” To read more details about the importance of sealing and maintaining tile and stone products, turn to page 22 of this issue of TILE. Additionally, you can find a round-up of some of the latest product developments in this area, in the Product Showcase, beginning on page 16.