Grout Cleaning

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

Renovating a Yellow Clay Tiled Floor in Tacolneston Village

We were contacted by a client who had bought an extensive grade 2 listed property in the village of Tacolneston which they had been renovating gradually. One of the last items on the list was the Yellow clay tiled floor which was laid throughout the large Kitchen and Dining Room and had been sadly neglected over the years.

Although I was unsure of their history these tiles were very similar to Terracotta so I was confident they would respond well to cleaning. The main issue for the client however was that the dark Grey grout lines which were deeply recessed from the surface of the tile and made walking across the floor in bare feet extremely uncomfortable.

Yellow Clay Floor Tiles Before Cleaning Tacolneston

Our original plan was to deep-clean the floor, then key-into the grout with a diamond blade multitool along the grout lines, back fill with additional grout and then seal the floor with a with an acrylic finish sealer that wouldn’t leave the floor too shiny. Things didn’t quite turn out to be quite that straightforward, however.

Cleaning and Re-Grouting a Yellow Clay Tiled Floor

The initial deep-clean was done using Tile Doctor Pro-Clean diluted to a strong 2:1 ratio with hot water and then scrubbed into the floor with a rotary machine fitted firstly with a black nylon stripping pad to clean the tile surface followed by a medium grade nylon brush to get down into the recessed grout lines. The resulting slurry was then power rinsed and extracted away with a Ninja machine.

The surface of the clay tiles had cleaned very well but it quickly became obvious that the grout wasn’t grey at all but was the colour of a typical sand and cement pointing mix; the dark colour was actually a thick layer of grease and dirt which had become trapped in the grout line recess, probably due to many years of ineffective mopping. The pointing mix was clearly very old and had become soft and broken up in most areas across the whole floor.

With this in mind our next job was to remove as much of the loose, powdery pointing as possible with a diamond-bladed multitool. In the end we found that all the pointing had to be taken out completely in order to successfully repoint the floor and provide a consistent appearance. This took some time to do and once removed the and all the remnants vacuumed up, we proceeded to repoint the floor with a flexible and water-resistant limestone-coloured grout which had been chosen by the client.

Yellow Clay Floor Tiles During Grouting Tacolneston Yellow Clay Floor Tiles During Grout Haze Removal Tacolneston

The following day, we returned to remove the grout haze left on the surface of the tiles during repointing and to prepare the floor for sealing by treating the floor to an acidic wash with a solution of Tile Doctor Acid Gel.

Sealing a Yellow Clay Tiled Floor

We left the new grouting to cure fully and returned two days later to apply a sealer which will protect the floor going forward and provide the desired finish. Before doing this the floor was visually inspected and the moisture content of the tiles and grout measured with a damp meter to ensure it had dried. The readings were low and although the building was very old it meant we would still be able to use a combination sealer with acrylic finish as we had originally hoped.

Yellow Clay Floor Tiles After Cleaning Tacolneston

As the client didn’t want the resulting appearance to be too “shiny”, we chose to use Tile Doctor Seal & Go which would give an excellent fluid resistant seal to both tile and grout with a mid-sheen finish. This was applied by hand in five coats which resulted in a very pleasing soft look across the whole floor.

Yellow Clay Floor Tiles Cleaned Grouted Sealed Tacolneston

The client was extremely pleased with what we had achieved and left the following testimonial:
“We could not be happier with the result! From embarrassing black grout and years of footfall damage, Nick and Sally have transformed our kitchen and dining room terracotta tiles into a thing of beauty! Many thanks for all your hard work and extra hours put in, I will be recommending your services to everyone :)”

 

Professional Restoration of a Yellow Clay Tiled Floor in Norfolk

Resolving Quarry Tile Installation Issues in Watton

Our client in Watton had a new Quarry tiled floor laid at her home and all went well until the tiler came to seal the finished floor after grouting. Needless to say, she didn’t get the finish she was expecting and told us that the tiler had admitted that he had no clue how to address the problem and had told her to contact a specialist to do the work and was happy to cover the cost.

Quarry Tiled Hallway Floor Before Renovation in Watton

I shouldn’t complain as its Tile Doctor who gets called in to resolve these issues, but there does seem to be a training gap with many tilers having no clear idea how to properly finish a new floor tile installation.

The problem was immediately obvious from the photos she sent over; grout had not been completely polished off the Quarry tile surface leaving a dull haze over the floor. The floor had then been sealed and this had only served to emphasize the slightly grey, dusty and lacklustre appearance of the floor.

Removing Grout Haze from a Quarry Tiled Floor in Watton

To remove the grout haze, it would be necessary to remove the sealer first, so I spent the first part of my visit breaking it down with a powerful 2:1 dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean. The solution was left to soak into the floor for about ten minutes before being scrubbed in using our Klindex rotary machine fitted with a black stripping pad. The resulting slurry was power rinsed and extracted away with our 400psi Ninja machine.

Having done this, we could see that the grout haze was still present in many areas and was becoming very pale and patchy as the tile surface dried out. With the sealer now removed I turned my attention to the removing the grout. This was rectified by applying Tile Doctor Grout Clean-Up and then rinse extracting as before. This left the floor spotlessly clean and would be ready for sealing the next day after being left to dry off overnight with the aid of our industrial dehumidifier.

Sealing Quarry Tiles in Watton

We returned to Watton on the following day to meet our client and explain the various sealing options available, from no-finish penetrating sealers to high gloss acrylics. After much discussion, we realised that the client had originally expected the finished floor to have a noticeably shinier appearance than the matt finish colour enhancer that the tiler had used but without the glare of a high shine product.

After weighing up the client’s requirement the obvious choice was to use Tile Doctor Seal & Go which is a water-based sealer with a mid-sheen finish which makes daily maintenance much easier and more effective. We applied this sealer in five thin coats by hand using microfibre cloths, allowing 30 minutes drying time between each coat.

Quarry Tiled Hallway Floor After Renovation in Watton

The client was absolutely delighted with the result we achieved and said that it was exactly the way she had expected the floor to look when they originally chose the tiles.

 

Finishing a Quarry Tiled Hallway after Installation 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

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Norfolk Tile Doctor

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