Encaustic floor tiles are beautiful. They are often intricate tiles made by inlaying different types of clay to create a particular pattern, rather than painting the pattern onto a single clay piece.
Homes in the Victorian, or Edwardian period, were often built with beautiful floors made with encaustic tiles.
These tiles consist of patterns that do not fade with time and cannot be easily chipped off. Floors made with these tiles are considered more valuable and impressive, especially when taken care of and restored with care.
Even though these floors are intricate in design, they don’t have to be particularly difficult to clean every day. There are some regular care steps that are a bit more labor intensive, but the standard, day-to-day maintenance of encaustic floors is pretty straightforward.
Sweep and mop just like you would with any other ceramic flooring, preferably using neutral, sulphate-free detergent. Remember to rinse well with plain water so you avoid leaving a soap residue, which can be a hazard. If you must vacuum, make sure to pick a lightweight hard floor vacuum cleaner, and be very careful using it.
If your encaustic floor is in good shape (no broken tiles, no discoloration, no build up of grime), then this may be the only maintenance you need.
It’s important that your floor is sealed. In a regular home, a seal will last nearly a lifetime.
If you find that your beautiful floor has sustained damage from the hands of time, don’t fret. There are plenty of options for restoration.
Some common problems that may require a more time consuming restoration include:
Oil and Grease Stains – Oil was traditionally used to polish and maintain encaustic floors. If you’re working with antique floors, you may have yellowed oil, or grease stains. Since oil makes the floor gather dirt at a faster pace, these spots can quickly become a big problem. Use a highly alkaline soap to combat this stain.
Polishing – Traditionally, the floor is polished with a mix of linseed oil and beeswax, which causes the problem mentioned above. It’s almost impossible to take the wax and oil back out, but we know that it’s no longer an acceptable way to polish. Use the same kind of polish you would for any ceramic flooring.
White Deposits – This is caused by excessive moisture over a period of time. These spots will usually come clean with a bit of elbow grease and a routine cleaning schedule. If the white deposits persist, try using a slightly harsher detergent.
Sealing – This type of flooring needs to be sealed in order to protect it from dirt. One good seal is all you need for it to last a long time within a home. Commercial areas on the other hand, need to be sealed every two years.
Lastly, don’t forget to consider professional help if you find yourself stuck, or having trouble cleaning these types of tiles. If you aren’t sure what you’re doing, you can end up making mistakes that you might later regret.