Renovating Reclaimed Slate Floor Tiles in Wreningham

When the old Rowntree Mackintosh sweet factory at Chapelfield in Norwich was closed down and eventually demolished, our client acquired a quantity of the beautiful green/black slate flooring tiles which had formed part of the reception area of the plant. They had laid these tiles edge to edge with no grouting in their large kitchen/dining room extension at their home in the village of Wreningham and the result was perhaps one of the most impressive examples of high-quality slate flooring we have ever seen in any location.

The Slate floor tiles had been protected against oil and fluid spillages with the application of a penetrating sealer after installation at the property but, over the ensuing years, there had been some inevitable degradation of the sealer and the entire area was now in need of a thorough deep-clean and reseal in order to remove the coating of general grime, bring out the strikingly deep colour and restore the stain resistance.

Cleaning a Slate tiled floor

As there was no topical finish to remove, we proceeded to deep-clean the surface of the tiles using Tile Doctor Pro Clean at a less powerful mix ratio of 1-part water to 5-parts cleaner. This solution was applied to the tiles and left to soak in for ten minutes before being worked in using a black scrubbing pad fitted to our rotary machine.

The resulting muddy slurry was then power rinsed off the floor with water and then extracted with our Ninja machine which has a very powerful vacuum. The high pH product was so effective, no further cleaning was necessary.

The whole area was then dried thoroughly using two large industrial fans which dramatically reduced the drying time, enabling us to move onto sealing later that afternoon. We don’t normally recommend cleaning and sealing in the same day as the floor has to be dry before sealing however in this case we were able to progress through the cleaning process much quicker than anticipated.

Slate Tiled Floor in Wreningham During Sealing

Sealing a Slate Tiled Floor

Before sealing the floor was spot tested in different places using a moisture meter. All was well, so a single coat of Tile Doctor Colour Grow was applied to the Slate tiles. Colour Grow is a penetrating sealer that seeps into the pores of the stone protecting it from with and as its name suggests also intensified the natural black/green colours of the slate in the process.

Once the first coat was dried I followed up with three coats of Tile Doctor Seal & Go, which further enriched the colour and provided a pleasing mid-sheen finish to the floor surface.

Slate Tiled Floor in Wreningham During Sealing

The whole process really put the life back in the stone floor and the tiles which were once dull now look vibrant and colourful.
 
 

Deep Cleaning and Sealing an Old Slate Tiled Floor in Norfolk

Terracotta Tiled Church Floor Renovated in Eaton Village

St Andrews church serves a large congregation in Eaton Village which is located just outside the city of Norwich on the south side. A sizeable extension was built onto the old church in the 1980s to accommodate the ever-increasing number of people wanting to attend and it was in this part of the building where a problem had developed with the Terracotta tiled flooring.

The tiles chosen by the architect were made from a surprisingly soft terracotta clay which had been sealed with an oil-based product (probably Osmo Polyx Oil or similar) but the coating generally had worn away badly, particularly along the main foot traffic lane up the aisle to the altar. The overall appearance was extremely tired and dull with wide lanes of ground-in dirt.

The clients asked us to clean the floor and replace the thin oil finish with something more durable and easy to maintain.

Terracotta Floor Tiles Before Renovation St Andrews Church Eaton Norfolk

Deep Cleaning Terracotta Church Tiles

Our first job was to remove the now very patchy finish and deep-clean the entire surface of the floor. This was achieved using a strong solution of Tile Doctor Pro Clean mixed with a generous quantity of Tile Doctor Remove & Go. The combined solution was left to soak into the Terracotta tile and grout for about twenty minutes before being agitated with a green scrubbing pad fitted to our rotary machine. The tile was so soft I felt that a black pad would probably have been too harsh and may have damaged some of the religious symbols which had been moulded into a number of individual tiles.

The resulting clay, dirt and sealer slurry was then power rinsed and vacuumed away with our Ninja machine. These machines force hot water under high pressure onto the floor and then extracts the resulting soiled water away with suction. It was an expensive investment for the company, but it certainly makes work like this much easier.

Any remaining soiling in the grout lines was removed by hand using Tile Doctor Oxy-Gel which is a more powerful but manageable gel form of Pro Clean. Also, there were a few really stubborn areas in the corners where the oil finish had pooled and hardened during application. To deal with these and completely remove the shiny patches it was necessary to use a 100-grit hand-held diamond block.

After a final rinse to remove any trace of cleaning product the whole floor was left to dry off overnight, assisted by two industrial fans and a commercial dehumidifier.

Sealing Terracotta Church Tiles in Eaton village

On returning to the church after the previous day’s cleaning, we spot tested the tiles across the whole floor area and found that the fans and dehumidifier had done their job and the substrate was easily dry enough to accept a sealer. We knew that a damp proof membrane had been laid under the floor at the point of installation, so moisture ingress wasn’t going to be a problem. What was an issue however was the high porosity of the clay tile now that it had been stripped of ingrained dirt and the old sealer.

I usually apply Tile Doctor Seal and Go to Terracotta tiles as it leaves the floor with an attractive subtle sheen, however we realised that the floor would probably soak up around a dozen coats or more if applied directly. With this in mind we decided to start with the application of two base coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow. Colour Grow is a penetrating sealer that would occupy the pores of the Terracotta tile, protecting it from within whilst enhancing the natural colour of the clay at the same time. This was then followed by six coats of Seal and Go which enabled us to achieve the desired level of durability and sheen.

Terracotta Floor Tiles After Renovation St Andrews Church Eaton Norfolk

When we had finished the work, this is what the client had to say:

“After careful consideration of several contractors, it was decided that Nicholas White provided the most sympathetic solution to our flooring needs and at a competitive price. The work was completed as promised with minimum fuss. At all times Nicholas and his staff worked in a professional manner and were totally respectful of their sensitive surroundings.

We were very satisfied with the final work and would have no hesitation in recommending this contractor to other potential clients. J Holmes, Warden St Andrews Eaton.”
 
 

Terracotta Church Floor Renovation in Norfolk