November 2005 Edition
Quarry Tile An Old Favourite that Still Needs Care

Quarry Tile

An Old Favourite that Still Needs Care


Ceramic tiles are a common flooring material found in a variety of settings and facilities, including hospitals, food service operations and institutional buildings.

Ceramic tiles are generally divided into two types: unglazed and glazed and exhibit the versatility of colours and sizes, ranging from the simplest terra cotta tiles to individually decorated tiles and elaborately patterned floor tiles.  Apart from being attractive in appearance and readily procurable, their widespread use may be attributed to the fact that they are very durable, long-lasting and essentially a practical, low-maintenance flooring material. 

Quarry tile is the most basic type of ceramic floor tile and is especially well suited for use in such areas as entryways, bathrooms, kitchens, hallways, and in environments where high traffic and exposure to water and dirt might make other materials less practical.  For this reason, its presence is apparent in over 85% of all commercial kitchens in the foodservice and lodging industry today. It is the material of choice by most operators not only for it’s durability but also for it’s resistance to food acids and ability to retain traction. At the same time however, because of their porous nature, they are more likely to get dirty and stained in such settings. Heavy traffic areas and areas where oil, fat and grease stains occur increase the probability of slippery and damaged tiles and pose a greater risk to slips and falls. 

Quarry tiles are made from a mixture of clay and although they may be coated with a sealer to make them less porous and easier to clean, they are typically left unglazed. Once all the appropriate measures are taken and the foundation of the floor has been placed, adhesives and grouts are used to link each tile to one another for the finished product. When not cared for properly, it is often the grout lines that pose the greatest threat to work place safety and heavy repair costs. Improper floor cleaning procedures may allow grease and other kitchen floor soils such as fats, proteins, and calcium to build up over time and form grease banks which then change the texture of the tiles and the condition and colour of the grout lines. The wetting and mopping of the grease banks merely spreads grease onto the tiles, creating slippery floors and causing a major

work hazard.

Preserving quarry tiles requires careful day-to-day maintenance. It is important to start out with using gentle, non-abrasive methods and materials to clean them, and, in some instances, using an appropriate coating or impregnator to reduce the porosity or water absorption of the tile surface, and provide some protection for the tile (and the grout) against staining.  Abrasive cleaners can wear away the protective surface and some acid-based cleaners can damage the complex silicates in a glaze on tiles. Wetting the ceramic tile prior to cleaning is a good policy to observe with all cleaners.  The water saturates the porous tile and prevents chemicals or other cleaning agents from penetrating into the tile body. 

Many manufacturers have made several attempts to provide quarry tile solutions that would remove grease build-up. Today there are numerous solutions to masking the grease problem for short periods of time.  Temporary solutions such as floor etching roughen the surface of the floor tiles and increases friction by essentially scrubbing a layer off the floor’s surface. No one product has been successful at attacking the root of the problem; grease.  Until now.

Operators finally have a solution that combats the main cause of slippery floors in busy, high-traffic areas such as restaurant kitchens; Keystone Wash ‘n Walk™ no-rinse floor cleaner. Keystone Wash ‘n Walk™ is the newest breakthrough in floor cleaning chemistry.  The product reduces friction by attacking grease and not the tile which eliminates the deep-down cause of slippery floors.  The secret to this patent-pending, breakthrough technology is that it uses enzymes along with traditional cleaning agents to break down all types of soils without the need to rinse off the product.  The key is to thoroughly wash the floor, and then leave the cleaner on the floor to continue working on the tiles and grout lines. By not rinsing the product off, the enzymes continue working after each application, breaking down the layers of grease which have accumulated over time.  Let’s face it; cleaning the floor is not the most desirable way for employees to spend their work day.  This product will reduce the time spent cleaning and will make the entire process more efficient and effective.


Contributed by Ecolab Inc.