Tile fireplaces are a great way to add character and architectural detail to a room. But they can get dirty and stained over time. Here’s how to clean and restore your fireplace tiles to their original glory.
Begin by cleaning or vacuuming away any loose dirt. Next, wipe down your tiles with soapy water.
It’s easy to see why fireplace tiles get so dirty – they’re constantly exposed to smoke, dust, and dirt. Fortunately, you can restore these hearth essentials to their former glory with the right cleaning products and elbow grease.
Start by sweeping and vacuuming the fireplace to remove any loose debris. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, empty the grate and ash pan, then sweep up any stray pieces of firewood or coal. Once you’ve swept, use the vacuum cleaner brush attachment to collect any accumulated grit and soot in corners and crevices.
If your tile is a hard or smooth matt finish, apply warm water and mild soap to a sponge or soft cloth, and then gently clean the surface. Scrubbing too vigorously can cause harm to some types of stone.
If your tiles are stained, apply a product and leave them to dwell for 25 minutes. Scrub the surface with a soft brush and then rinse with clean water. Alternatively, apply a poultice of equal parts water and bicarbonate of soda to stubborn stains. Rinse off the solution and dry the surface with a clean, soft cloth. Then, re-seal your fireplace tile using a tile seal. The sealer will help protect your tiles against future staining and improve their appearance.
When a heavy build-up of soot, grease, ash, and smoldering wood has accumulated on your tiles for your fireplace surround, it’s time to scrub. Sweep loose debris with a brush or vacuum cleaner hose and use warm, soapy water to scrub the tiles on the surround and hearth. Using a bristle scrubbing brush or nylon scourer is the best way to avoid damaging tile. Scrub until the tiles are clean, and dry them with a cloth or sponge. Cracked and gouged tiles can be replaced if you’re in the mood for a major revamp, but a minor repair can make all the difference.
If your fireplace is made from stone (porcelain, glazed, or terracotta), it may be damaged by household cleaning products, so you should only use gentle cleaners. You should test all cleaners on a small area of the tile first. If you’re worried about damage to your precious tile, consult a specialist, especially for old or valuable surroundings.
If your tile is dirty or stained, you can make a more robust cleaning solution by mixing hydrogen peroxide and water in a bucket. Dip a toothbrush in the solution and lightly scrub the grout on the tile surfaces, taking care not to over-scrub. Rinse and wipe away the cleaning mixture and dirt with a clean, damp cloth.
After you’ve scrubbed your fireplace tiles, it’s important to rinse them to remove any residual cleaning solution. You can do this with a clean towel or water from a hose.
Once your tiles are clean, they’re ready to be polished. This will give them a beautiful shine that’ll last for years.
Use a mild degreaser if your fireplace tile has stubborn stains that won’t budge with regular cleaning. You can find these at most grocery stores or hardware stores, and they should be safe to use on your fireplace. You can also make your cleaner with vinegar and water, which works well.
When restoring a period fireplace, be careful when using harsh chemicals. It’s best to consult an expert before removing rust or other damage. In most cases, you can restore a crazed and worn brick surround or hearth by gently sanding the surface with a wire brush, then applying a coat of grate polish. Once the polish has dried, you can re-install your grate, and the fireplace will look new. This is far less expensive than replacing the entire piece of furniture!
Apply a light, non-abrasive cleaning to a soft cloth or sponge and massage the tiles, paying particular attention to the area around the grate. Rinse the cleaner off and dry the tile.
If the tiles are filthy or have a stubborn stain on your fireplace surround (metal tiles often need special care), try mixing baking soda and water into a paste and scrubbing the stained area. You can also use a commercial tile cleaner or white vinegar solution to remove tough stains. If you have stone or marble tile, test cleaning products on a small, inconspicuous part of the surface before use. For tough stains, consult professional advice, especially where the surrounding is old or valuable.
A good finish is essential to the longevity of your fireplace tile, and regular polishing with a soft cloth or sponge will help maintain that finish. You can even buff the tile with a little car wax to keep it looking new for years for an extra glossy finish.
It is also a good idea to regularly inspect your fireplace and hearth to ensure no cracks or damage, as these can cause leaks and other problems. Make any small repairs promptly to prevent further problems and keep your fireplace looking great. In the event of a significant crack or other problem, you should have your fireplace evaluated and repaired by professionals to avoid any fire hazards.