Totalook: interview with the designer
Numerous times on these pages we have talked about the properties of porcelain stoneware which you would not expect to find in many other materials of natural origin: these include impermeability to liquids, resistance to the bitterest cold and most intense heat, and therefore to even significant temperature changes; porcelain stoneware is also UV-tolerant meaning it will not fade, and is not troubled by even the most stubborn stains, which can be avoided with simple maintenance. Maintenance is, indeed, a key concept in achieving a long lifetime for any furnishings, flooring or wall covering, and will be required more or less frequently in any residential or commercial property for reasons of general health and hygiene. If a material is maintained appropriately, it will be more hard-wearing, retain its looks, and remain completely safe for all users. Porcelain stoneware, thanks to the strength and resistance aspects we mentioned previously, does not require any particular measures even when used in public areas, not just private residences: basic common sense and care, certainly relaxed but not inattentive, is sufficient to prevent degradation, which is already in and of itself infinitely slower than in the materials reinterpreted by these products (wood or marble, for example). Nevertheless, some tips can come in useful, especially as regards cleaning, in the phases ranging from installation to day-to-day care: how do you clean porcelain stoneware floors or other surfaces?
Let’s start by looking at the initial cleaning after the tiles have been laid: this is a preparatory operation of fundamental importance, because it prepares the material for the maintenance which will be performed over the years to come, allowing the tiles to be cleaned quickly and with guaranteed effectiveness. Porcelain stoneware tiled surfaces must be washed thoroughly to remove thinset and grout residue. The recommended products for this type of cleaning are acid-based, as these are more effective against these cementitious products when already partially dried or hardened and thus difficult to remove. If this work is performed by hand, without the aid of professional machinery, it is recommended to be confident and constant in your movements, trying to work in a uniform manner and not concentrate overly on specific points. It is essential to rinse thoroughly with hot water after cleaning and repeat several times in order to neutralize the acidic components of the detergents used and wash them away completely.
This preliminary stage leads the way to ordinary cleaning and sanitization: less technical, but still of great importance. Emilgroup products offer simplified maintenance, in confirmation of the company’s commitment to the environment. Indeed, not only is the choice of porcelain stoneware tiles instead of other raw materials deserving of protection characteristic of a green commitment, limiting (or even eliminating) the use of detergents of industrial origin, corrosive substances, and chemicals in general is fundamentally importance for environmental sustainability.
We can sum up very quickly how to clean porcelain stoneware floors or work surfaces in daily use: first and foremost, depending on the type and frequency of use the tiles are subjected to, it is good practice never to let dirt sit on the surfaces for an extended period. While porcelain is tough and impermeable, ignoring its maintenance for too long can naturally hinder the relaxed cleaning regime that we think everyone prefers to a tough and difficult commitment: simply wipe off dust and surface dirt with a damp cloth and think no more about it. It is also good practice to regularly wash tiled surfaces with neutral cleaners, or degreasing products diluted in hot water, following the instructions on the pack. But you don’t need to overdo it: porcelain stoneware is naturally antimicrobial, and therefore allows for excellent sanitization using moderate amounts of common detergents. Once again, following cleaning it is essential to rinse thoroughly in order to prevent the formation of haze or smearing.
These tips for cleaning floors and other surfaces tiled with porcelain stoneware also apply when extraordinary cleaning operations are required, unless particularly tough substances or those likely to leave noticeable stains have been spilled. Have you dropped wine on your floor, or spilled oil, ink or paint on your work surface? We will now take a look at some special cases, but some general recommendations are also useful: it is always important to act in a timely manner. Initial washing with water to remove the bulk of the surface dirt is always a good idea; you can then apply an alkaline cleaning product to the stain, diluted in water in proportion to the type of product to remove, progressively increasing the concentration of the detergent when required. If, after a few minutes, stains, smears or hazing are still visible, it is possible to increase the abrasive effect using scouring powder, before rinsing thoroughly once more with water.
These tips for cleaning floors apply to all types of porcelain stoneware, because all Emilgroup collections retain high standards of durability, regardless of the material they replicate. Let’s take marble, for example: a natural marble floor is extremely difficult to maintain, requiring constant work to preserve its integrity and polish. As such, common detergents are often ineffective, or do not perform as well as specific products; this is a risk which can be avoided with stoneware which, as we have seen, simply requires basic cleaning measures. This includes the Tele di Marmo Selection by Emilceramica series, in any aesthetic or decorative variation, such as White Paradise, Arabescato Corchia, Nero Marquinia, or the Tarsia flower design. You therefore need not fear spilling candle wax, for example, on your marble effect porcelain stoneware floors: you can remove it safely with a simple solvent. What if your child drops their ice cream cone on your Tele di Marmo Selection tiled floor? Just follow the extraordinary cleaning instructions, using a diluted solution of a common alkaline-based detergent.
Natural stone, even more so than treated marble, absorbs and retains liquid and dirt, as it is essentially porous. While at first glance it may appear clean, many impurities can be hiding on its surface, and if absorbed can lead to permanent stains and smearing. Stone effect porcelain stoneware floors avert this hazard, as does Elegance Pro by Ergon, which is inspired by sandstone, offering creativity and versatility. From lighter (White, Ivory, Sand, Grey) to darker colors (Taupe, Dark Grey, Anthracite), and from natural or semi-polished to bush-hammered or Mural finish, there is no stain which cannot be successfully removed from these tiles. Spilled resin or enamel onto your natural stone flooring? Even if you deal with it promptly, it would be impossible to avoid permanent damage. On porcelain stoneware, however, you simply need to act quickly, using an acid-based detergent. Elegance Pro also offers a further guarantee in terms of protecting your health: the special “Shield” silver ion treatment, an antimicrobial process which helps fight bacterial growth for cleaner and more hygienic living. As a matter of fact, thanks to its integrated antimicrobial technology, “Shield” contributes to preventing the stains caused by bacterial growth and keeps surfaces cleaner for longer, without any reduction in effectiveness. Indeed, you need have no fear of damaging this protection through day-to-day cleaning and sanitization operations: “Shield” technology is incorporated in the production process, meaning that it keeps on working even after years of scrubbing.
This collection of tips on how to clean porcelain stoneware floors concludes with possibly the most difficult material of all. Even when treated with the best products on the market, in the long term wood will inevitably absorb liquids, potentially causing it to lift and swell, and accumulates stubborn dirt when the surface is rough. Quite unlike wood effect porcelain stoneware floors, however, which are completely worry free. Among the Emilgroup collections which replicate this material, Alter by Provenza offers a range of solutions inspired by our ancient fascination with oak, in four colors (Sbiancato, Miele, Noce, Bruciato) in addition to a decorative format, “Incontro”, made with cuts of cross-cut wood enveloped in resin. This makes it possible to choose wood even for demanding environments like the kitchen. If you should accidentally spill fats or oils on your porcelain stoneware floor while cooking, there is no need to panic: simply clean it up with an alkaline-based detergent, following the instructions given previously. The same applies, for example, if your children should drop their ice cream cone or spill their Coca-Cola. In summary, porcelain stoneware has little to fear from any stain, in whatever environment you choose to install it.
15 September 2021
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