“Queen of Grout” offers tile expertise

Charlotte MacIlraith the “Queen of Grout” and “EF Hutton” of the tile industry has recently relocated to the San Diego area and has made herself available to answer questions about tile and grout. “It’s easy to keep your tile and grout looking as new as the day it was installed, year after year, by learning how to properly maintain it,” says MacIlraith.

MacIlraith wants to dispel the trend of using gray grout because the grout will end up looking gray anyway. “Some people have doubts about using white grout or beautiful colored grout, believing that is impossible to clean. Not so, any more.” says MacIlraith. “The greatest thing about grout today is its ability to clean up easily with the right products and tools. If your grout has been sealed properly with a good penetrating sealer you will find that grout doesn’t stain but merely gets dirty on the surface. Many people think of grout as only white and gray. You can actually get grout in almost any color. Colors allow you to get very creative-you can match your tile, or create a beautiful contrast. With the right maintenance, your grout can be kept looking fantastic for years to come”.

According to MacIlraith, grout is like the bottom of your white sox. You can tell your new pair from your old pair. Even if the grout hasn’t been properly sealed there’s still help. “If you clean your grout and the results aren’t what you’d like, you can color your grout to look brand new. Or, you can choose a different color and create a fresh new look. This process is also great on new jobs where the color has come out mottled. You now have the ability to create exactly the look and colors you want.

Grout is also easy to repair. “First you need to determine the color and brand of grout that was used. One of the easiest ways of doing this is to wander out to the garage and see if you have any bags of grout leftover from the installation. If not, take a screwdriver or ice pick and remove an area that is cracking. Take this to your local tile store and see if they can match it up for you”. Once color and brand are determined, remove the broken, cracked or loose grout using a grout saw and an ice pick (good for the corners). Be careful not to scratch the tile with the grout saw. Vacuum the area well, or use a small brush to clean up. Mix the grout according to label and apply using a pointed trowel or spatula .Use a grout float at an angle to fill the joints with the grout. Allow the grout to set slightly, with a well-rung out yellow sponge carefully remove excess grout from the surface of the tiles. Allow grout to cure between 48 an 72 hours before sealing or getting the area wet. (Of course, if you’re not the do-it-yourself type, you can always hire someone, like Ceramic Tile Refinishers).

Charlotte MacIlraith is the president of Ceramic Tile Refinishers, in Valley Center and is a Certified Ceramic Tile Consultant and a licensed contractor. She has appeared on Your Home Show KSDO 1130 am, a San Diego based talk show, and HGTV, a cable network program which targets do-it yourself people. She is currently working on her book ” Extraordinary Cleaning Tips” and “How-To” videos. Charlotte also has merged with a manufacture to create “Custom Saltillo International” and is producing custom-stained Mexican Pavers. She also has her own product line Charlotte Custom Products and Charlotte Custom Tools.