Limestone Tile Cleaning and Polishing

Pale Limestone Floor Tile Installation Issues Resolved in Brockdish

If you have a pale stone floor such as this Limestone floor at a property in Brockdish you will find this article very interesting. Let me start by saying it’s always recommended that natural stone tiles such as Travertine or Limestone should be sealed after laying but before grouting. This is particularly important if the stone is very pale in colour as the water from the grouting compound can soak into the edges of the porous tiles leading to dark staining around the edges of each tile – this is referred to as “picture-framing” which is virtually impossible to correct as the staining is present throughout the whole depth of the tile.

Limestone Floor Before Renovation Brockdish

Also, without the protection of a sealer smears of grout left on the surface of the stone after grout can be extremely difficult to remove. This problem is often called “grout haze” or “grout smears” which you will find is slightly rough to the touch and because of this attracts dirt easily giving the pale floor a very unappealing dirty appearance which is impossible to wash away with generally available cleaning chemicals.

In this case, and to avoid the problem with picture-framing, our client had decided to apply a penetrating sealer all-round the edges of each of the tiles using a paint brush to ensure a thorough soaking. Unfortunately, he left the main body of the tiles unprotected and although he was able to wipe away grout from around the edges of the tiles it left a fine, slightly opaque film of grout in the middle which set and became firmly bonded to the tile surface.

Initially, all seemed to be fine but shortly afterwards our client noticed that the floor appeared to be developing lighter patches around the tile edges and the grout lines were becoming noticeably dirty; in reality, what was actually happening was that the middle area of the tile contaminated by grout haze were becoming dirtier by the day, whilst the sealed outer edges were responding well to cleaning. Additionally, because the grout itself had not been sealed the dirt from cleaning was becoming stained with the dirt that had been washed into the recesses during cleaning

Ordinarily, the way to correct a grout haze issue is to apply an acidic solution to the haze which dissolves the calcium-based grout material and makes it simple to rinse away; this is fine on ceramic tiles but can cause all sorts of surface etching issues and problems if the tile material is also a calcium-based stone like travertine or limestone. It was at this point that our client decided to get some help from a stone flooring renovation specialist such as ourselves.

Removing Grout Haze and Dirt from Pale Limestone Tiles

Having contacted us through the Tile Doctor website and after a brief exchange of emails, it was obvious to me what the problem was, and being aware of the issues surrounding Limestone I was soon able to propose an effective solution.

Our first job was to apply a strong solution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which is an alkaline cleaning product designed for use on tile, stone, and grout. I used a strong dilution and applied it by hand to all the grout lines where it was allowed to dwell and soak in before being briefly agitated using a long-handled grout brush. Pro Clean is an extremely effective degreasing cleaner and, at higher concentrations, can also be used to strip acrylic floor finishes. It was the ideal product for sorting out the grout issues and in this instance made quick work of lifting the soiling pout of the grout lines.

Rather than rinsing the Pro-Clean away, we left it in contact with the floor and proceeded to cut the surface using a Tile Doctor 400 grit diamond burnishing pad fitted to our 17″ Klindex rotary machine. These coarse diamond pads applied in conjunction with the Pro-Clean removed all the grout haze and soiling. The resulting slurry was then power rinsed and extracted away using a Ninja 400psi machine, leaving the grout clean and the once picture-framed tile surface with an even and consistent colour.

After the application of the coarse pad, it was time to restore the appearance of the stone and bring up the polish, first with an 800-grit diamond burnishing pad followed by a 1500-grit, power rinsing and extracting between the stages. This left the floor completely clean with the beginnings of a pleasing overall sheen. We then left the floor to dry out thoroughly overnight with assistance from our large capacity dehumidifier.

Sealing a Pale Limestone Tiled Floor

On our return the following day, we were pleased to find that the Limestone had dried up extremely well which we confirmed by taking moisture content readings with our damp meter just to make certain that it was ready to have a sealer applied.

Before sealing, the surface sheen was improved further by spray burnishing the stone using the Klindex rotary fitted with a Tile Doctor 3000-grit burnishing pad. Lubricated by a fine mist of plain water from a trigger bottle this process raised the sheen level to a more noticeable shine and brought out areas of visually pleasing coloured veins within the structure of the stone which had been completely invisible up to now.

Having completed the burnishing, we applied a liberal coat of Tile Doctor Ultra-Seal which is a penetrating sealer approved for use in food preparation areas which provides excellent fluid resistance yet is almost invisible. Having allowed the limestone to soak up as much of the sealer as it could, the excess product was removed, and the floor left to cure for an hour.

Limestone Floor After Renovation Brockdish

We then finished the process by spray buffing the floor with a white nylon buffing pad to remove any smears left by the sealing process and to polish the floor to a rich shine. Once vacuumed thoroughly, we conducted a series of fluid resistance tests to ensure that the whole floor had been sealed properly against liquid spills and our work was done leaving behind a very pleased, impressed, and grateful client.

For aftercare cleaning of a polished stone like this floor I recommend the use Tile Doctor Stone Soap which gently cleans the floor whilst helping to maintain the patina.


Pale Limestone Kitchen Floor Professionally Cleaned in Norfolk

Revitalizing Limestone Floor Tile & Grouting in Silfield

Earlier this year I was invited over to a property in the village of Silfield near Wymondham in Norfolk to inspect a Limestone tiled floor. Now I don’t usually quote my clients, but this is how the owner of the property had described the floor in the enquiry I received from Tile Doctor.

“Grout Black, where tiles have divots, dirt is encased,
plus no shine to floor, sealant non-existent.”

The problems listed were quite comprehensive and having had chance to survey the floor we found them to be quite accurate and really could not disagree with her comments! The Limestone tiles had been laid throughout the Kitchen diner and it was clear the sealer had worn off completely allowing dirt to become ingrained in the Limestone tiles and especially the grout which had turned black.

Limestone Flooring Before Renovation in Silfield Limestone Flooring Before Renovation in Silfield

I understood from the owner that the grout lines should have been a pale cream colour rather than the black it was now, additionally the natural pitting in the Limestone was full of the same black contaminants. I ran a quick water test on the tiles to see if there was a seal present and it confirmed that if there had ever been one it was now completely compromised. The lack of sealer had allowed all liquid spills and dirt to soak straight into the tile making it dirty and exceedingly difficult to clean.

A large birthday celebration party had been planned and our client was desperate for the floor to be brought back to life beforehand. Although I couldn’t start immediately due to other commitments, it was able to return in time to get the floor clean for the party.

Deep Cleaning Limestone Tile and Grout

Our first job was to tackle the severe soiling trapped in the pits and grout lines. To do this a very strong dilution (2:1 ratio) of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean was applied to the floor and left to soak into the tile and grout for about 10 minutes. Then is was scrubbed into the tiles with help from a rotary buffer fitted with a soft/medium long-bristled nylon brush. The resulting slurry was then power rinsed with 60-degree hot water and extracted with our 400psi machine which jetted out all the black, oily contaminants from the grout and pits.

The floor was speed dried with the assistance of a large air mover. Once dry to the touch our attention was turned to filling the now exposed pitts in the Limestone tiles and two cracks with an appropriately coloured fast cure epoxy compound. Having allowed the filler time to reach full hardness, we ground down the excess material with 100 and 200 grit hand burnishing blocks in preparation for the next stage.

We find the best way to renovate the appearance of stone is to use a process called burnishing which hones the stone and beings up the polish. For this you need a set of 17-inch diamond encrusted burnishing pads. The pads fit the rotary buffer and are applied to the floor in sequence from 400, 800 and then 1500 grit using water to lubricate the process. The waster turns into a slurry as you work, and this is then rinsed off the floor with water after each pad and extracted using a wet vacuum. The floor was then left to dry thoroughly overnight with the assistance of our large capacity dehumidifier.

Sealing a Limestone Tiled Kitchen Diner Floor

Returning the following day, we thoroughly vacuumed the floor to remove any remaining powder and grit left from the previous day’s wet work before spray burnishing the surface with a Tile Doctor 3000-grit diamond pad. This last pad really beings up the polished appearance of the Limestone and gave the tiles a deep and rich shine.

This last pad is applied without water and so leaves the floor dry and ready to for a new sealer to be applied. Our sealer of choice was Tile Doctor Ultra Seal, it’s a premium penetrating sealer that soaks into the pores of the stone protecting it from within. Ultra-Seal doesn’t alter the natural appearance of the stone giving it undetectable protection from staining. Having allowed the sealed floor to dry with the assistance of our air mover, the whole area was buffed using a white buffing pad and a small amount of finely sprayed water to remove any light smearing before vacuuming once again to finish.

Limestone Flooring After Renovation in Silfield Limestone Flooring After Renovation in Silfield

My client was delighted with the result and left the following feedback for us:

“Totally renewed two flooring areas in our house to what looks like a recently laid floor. I have already had so many compliments without even telling people it had been professionally cleaned! Nick and Sue are always very easy to have about, inconspicuous and hard working. Absolutely delighted with the outcome and would recommend without hesitation. Thank you so much!”

For aftercare cleaning I recommended Tile Doctor Stone Soap, its designed for cleaning polished stone floors and will help build-up the patina. It’s a neutral pH product so won’t prematurely erode the sealer like many tile cleaning products you find in supermarkets which are really sold for cleaning glazed ceramic tiles not sealed natural stone.


Professional Restoration of a Limestone Tiled Kitchen Diner in Norfolk

Finishing a Large Mottled Brown Limestone Tiled Floor in Hindolveston

Now here’s a problem we regularly come across with natural stone floors such as this Mottled Brown Limestone floor installed at a house in Hindolveston; it should have a deep rich shine but without regular maintenance the polish wears off and it becomes dull and uninviting.

Hindolveston is a small village near the North Norfolk coast east of Fakenham. There are several large old houses in the area, and we had been invited by the owner of one of them to advise on the renovation of their recently laid and hugely expensive Brown Limestone floor. Measuring approximately 110 square metres the Limestone tiles had been installed throughout the lounge, dining area and spacious kitchen which featured an enormous AGA range.

Limestone Tiled Floor Before Renovation in Hindolveston

The floor tiles themselves had been very well laid but had an odd milky film across the surface which completely masked the beautiful deep brown mottled nature of the stone. A builder had put down some protective coverings during renovations which became damp and had left a distinct pattern in the film when they were removed. After carrying out appropriate testing to determine what this was, we found that the grout haze had not been completely removed before the floor was sealed and allowed to cure across the whole surface. This combination resulted in the milky film which was impervious to all the cleaning and stripping chemicals the builder had tried.

Removing Grout Haze and Cleaning a Brown Limestone Floor

Our solution to the problem was to burnish and re-polish the stone with a 4-piece set of Tile Doctor Burnishing Pads which with the addition of a coarser grade 200-grit pad when we found the thick film to be extremely tenacious.

The pads were applied with a 17″ rotary floor machine in sequence from 400-grit to 1500-grit. No chemicals are needed for this only water to lubricate, rinsing and extracting after each pad. We make use of a Ninja high-pressure cleaning machine to rinse and extra the soil released from the floor; it runs at 400psi so its very effective.

The pads struggle to reach into the internal corners so the last step of the cleaning process was to treat them by hand using Tile Doctor burnishing blocks. The whole floor was then left to dry off thoroughly overnight with assistance from our large capacity dehumidifier.

Sealing Brown Limestone Floor Tiling

On our return, we checked across the whole floor with a moisture meter to ensure that there was no significant moisture left in the tiles which would adversely affect the performance of the sealer before it had time to cure fully.

Satisfied that this was the case, we vacuumed the floor to remove any dust and grit before spray burnishing the surface with the last of the four burnishing pads which is a very fine 3000-grit diamond pad. Again, this is applied using the rotary floor machine and run over the Limestone floor to produce a deep shine, much to the delight of the client.

Finally, the tiles were sealed using Tile Doctor Ultra-Seal which is a no-sheen penetrating sealer which provides excellent fluid resistance without altering the appearance of the stone itself. One last vacuuming and the job was done!

Limestone Tiled Floor After Renovation in Hindolveston

A very relieved and happy client who then promptly booked us in to renovate the limestone and encaustic tiled floors in all her bathrooms.


Large Mottled Brown Limestone Floor Professionally Renovated in Norfolk


Norfolk Tile Doctor

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