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restoring 1950s tiled bathroom

We own a house that was built in 1958 and we have two bathrooms that are mostly tile. They're those typical 50s bathrooms that people love to hate - done in colors no one would pick now. One is yellow and blue, the other is green and blue.

I sort of like the quirky colors, and for the most part the tile looks like it's in great shape. I just want to clean them up and make sure that we maintain the tile/grout so that it can last more years.

The tile on the walls and in the tub looks in good shape - the tiles are shiny and the grout isn't worn or damaged.

The floor (in the bathroom that gets used most) doesn't look as good. The tiles aren't shiny. They look a little dingy. The grout looks low. Or almost like there's no grout.

I found some info on re-grouting. I think we can handle that. Although, removing what grout is in the tiny spaces with an exacto blade doesn't sound easy.

What I'm more wondering is how we should clean the surface of the tile. And once it is clean, should we do something to seal the surface of the tile.

My in-laws told me that they cleaned and then re-sealed their old penny tile floors.... but I'm not sure that makes sense - is sealant on kiln fired tile make sense? Or maybe it does because the old glaze is worn/scratched?

Advise me please!

Re: restoring 1950s tiled bathroom

Floor tile wont be shinny like wall tile, it needs to have a rough surface so that you wont slip on a wet floor. What kind of tile is on the floor. If you have hex tiles and they are in good shape, you will want to keep them.

An exacto knife will not remove the grout. There are tools in the tile department for that purpose that work much better.

MLB Construction
Re: restoring 1950s tiled bathroom

there are tile tools for that but you can consider this a personal preference....i usually use a hardibacker scoring tool for that. i think it works better than the tile tools designed for grout removal. but to be honest, when i do use the scoring tool i occasionally use a grout saw in conjunction with it.

Re: restoring 1950s tiled bathroom

You might check out the retro renovation web site as we have found much good information on restoring our 1959 bath with gray and pink plastic tiles.

Re: restoring 1950s tiled bathroom

Hi Sarahfisher
Try not to remove grout with an exacto knife...way too much work. You can use a special diamond blade grout removal tool, or if you have a reciprocating saw or a flush cut-off multi tool saw, you can buy diamond blades for not a lot of money and use these tools instead of manual scraping. Believe me they are much quicker and easier.

Once grouted, I would recommend sealing tiles and grout. Give the grout the recommended time to cure before sealing. Hope this helps, Cheers.

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