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A Little TLC Goes A Long Way

(ARA) - Your home is a special place. Everything you put in it should make you happy and comfortable. The way you decorate -- the colors and products you choose -- all become part of your total living environment. Whether your style is country comfort or city cool, ceramic tile and stone are great materials for expressing your decorating personality. The wide range of available styles offers design possibilities for flooring, countertops and walls throughout the house.

The nature of tile and stone makes them both very popular in kitchens and bathrooms. These products are moisture resistant, making them a natural fit for baths. They're also perfect for kitchens, since they won't scratch, dent, cut or burn. Ceramic tile and stone bring quality, value and beauty to any room of your home. From striking stone foyers, whimsical tiles in the bath, kitchen countertops and even outdoor patios, today's ceramic tile and stone offer products for every floor and wallcovering application, in a dazzling array of styles from rustic to modern.

"With a host of colors, textures, sizes, and shapes to choose from, ceramic tile and stone add style and distinction to virtually any area of the house," explained Sandra Eich, marketing manager, TEC Specialty Products, Inc., Palatine, Ill., experts in the tile and stone industry. "Consumers are more frequently turning to hard surfaces that are cost effective, look great and are easy to clean."

A little tender loving care will help protect your investment. While ceramic tile and stone surfaces are extremely durable, they need regular care to provide lasting performance and visual appeal. Otherwise, it's not long before that once-beautiful surface shows signs of everyday household mishaps, like splattered bacon grease, muddy shoes and soap scum.

Regular cleaning of tile and stone can be done with simple detergent and water; using scouring powders or other abrasives can scratch the finish. However, for tougher cleaning problems and for ongoing maintenance, you may want to use cleaning products intended specifically for tile and stone.

This is especially important in the kitchen, where tile and stone are exposed to cooking stains and oils that can damage the finish. Since the kitchen is the main hub of activity in most homes, the tile and stone in this area tends to take a lot of wear and tear. Making sure all tile and stone surfaces and grout joints are properly sealed helps extend the life of these surfaces.

"Inappropriate cleaners can strip sealants from tile and stone leaving surfaces and grout unprotected," said Tom Plaskota, manager of technical support for TEC. "Many products marketed today are silicone-based, which only protects surfaces against basic water damage, but not much else. Food stains, oil, grease, mineral deposits and dirt can quickly mar or damage surfaces not properly sealed."

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