Norwich Tile Cleaning

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

Renovating a Marble Handbasin Countertop in Swardeston

My client in the village of Swardeston (just south of Norwich) had attempted to remove limescale deposits from a Marble bathroom countertop using a supermarket Limescale remover and ended up making the whole problem worse.

The water in Norfolk is exceptionally hard and can quickly leave a thick build-up of limescale in kettles and bathroom fittings. This isn’t a problem to keep on top of using an acidic cleaner like Viakal or Limelite however these products are acidic and not recommended for use on or near an acid-sensitive natural stone such as Marble or Limestone. In-fact the surface of Marble and Limestone is instantly etched when they come into contact with these products thereby ruining the appearance of the stone.

Marble Vanity Unit Worktop Before Renovation Swardeston

This is exactly what had happened to our client in Swardeston and, over time, the surface of her marble vanity unit became severely etched leaving the stone completely dull, pitted, and unattractive. She had assumed the dullness was due to limescale build-up so just kept applying the product which of course exacerbated the problem to the point where the replacement of the large and very expensive twin-basin Marble countertop seemed to be the only option.

Removing Limescale and Acid Etching from a Marble Countertop

Looking for a solution we were asked to visit the property and whilst there immediately realised what had happened to the stone.

Fortunately, we were able to offer a much cheaper option involving the application of a series of diamond burnishing pads that could cut back the surface of the Marble and repolish it back to its original appearance. We are able to do this due to our investment in a Rotex hand-held random orbit polisher which is ideal for working on relatively small areas or confined spaces.

First, using only water as a cutting medium, we removed the surface of the stone with a 90mm 400-grit diamond pad fitted to the Rotex machine. This cut the surface back, removing all the pitting and light scratching, leaving the stone perfectly smooth and ready for the repolishing process. The slurry produced by this process was thoroughly and carefully rinsed away and the next stage of repolishing begun.

Marble Vanity Unit Worktop During Renovation Swardeston

Polishing was done using the Rotex again, but this time fitted with an 800-grit diamond pad which cuts the stone more finely and start sto improve the dull surface left by the coarse 400-grit pad. Again, the slurry produced was rinsed away and a 1500-grit diamond pad was applied to the stone surface, cutting even more finely and beginning to restore the shine back to the marble top.

Once the slurry from this stage had been rinsed and extracted, we dried the work area using a heat gun before finishing the burnishing operation using the Rotex with a very fine 3000-grit diamond pad. For this last stage, a small amount of water is misted over the surface of the stone surface from a trigger bottle. This produced the shine we were after and really brought the stone’s natural colours and features back to life.

Sealing a Marble Countertop

In order to provide the Marble countertop with good fluid resistance two coats of Tile Doctor Ultra-Seal were applied to the stone. This is a premium grade penetrating sealer which soaks into the pores of the stone to seal it without leaving any kind of synthetic finish behind. This allows the natural beauty of the polished stone to shine through whilst protecting it from staining. A quick spray buff with a white maintenance pad to remove any smears from the sealing process and we were done.

Marble Vanity Unit Worktop After Renovation Swardeston

My client was staggered at the result we had achieved and was so relieved that replacement of the sizeable and very expensive Marble top had been avoided. For aftercare I recommended the use of Tile Doctor Stone Patina Spray which is spray-and-buff cleaner that is designed to enhance the natural beauty and lustre of polished stone as it cleans.


Stone Countertop Professional Renovated 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

Dirty Terracotta Floor Tiles Cleaned and Sealed in Hales

How the Terracotta floor tiles at this property in the Village of Hales, Norfolk became quite so comprehensively dirty in so short a time, we will never know. We were contacted by the new owner, a lady who had become so distressed by the state of the floor in the house she had recently bought that she was seriously considering ripping up the entire area of tiling and replacing it. Remarkable particularly because the property had been restored only a couple of years ago, the kitchen and hallway being laid with new terracotta tiles.

The entire surface was deeply ingrained with soiling and the pointing lines were filthy, despite there being evidence of some kind of topical sealer having been applied at the time of installation. It quickly became obvious during testing that the sealer had been applied very sparingly and had mostly worn away, leaving a badly compromised fluid and soiling resistance with a dull and dirty finish which refused to clean up when mopped.

Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor Before Cleaning Hales

Deep Cleaning Terracotta Floor Tile in Hales

The tiles turned out to be made of a fairly soft terracotta which meant that we were able to deep-clean them extremely effectively using a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean (one part Pro-Clean to two parts water). A strong dilution was required to remove what remained of the old sealer in the less used areas and strip the surface back to the bare tile.

The Pro-Clean was left to soak into the floor for about ten minutes before being worked in using our heavy rotary machine fitted with a black scrubbing pad. The resulting slurry being power rinsed and vacuumed away with our 400psi Ninja machine. All the dirt and virtually all of the old sealer was removed at this stage; the remaining patches around the edges of the area being finished by hand with a 200-grit hand-held burnishing block. The pointing lines were then cleaned by hand with neat Pro-Clean and an angled grout brush.

Finally, the deep-seated oil stains in front of the cooker were brought out using Tile Doctor Oxy-Gel which was left to dwell on the marks for an hour before being agitated with a diamond burnishing pad and rinsed away with the Ninja machine. The floor was then left to dry thoroughly overnight with assistance from our dehumidifier.

Sealing Terracotta Floor Tile in Hales

Owing to the softness and consequently high porosity of the substrate, we realised that it could take up to ten coats or more of our chosen sealer in order to achieve the level of shine our client had requested so that the daily mopping would be effective.

Our usual solution to enable us to complete the work in one day would be to apply a coat of penetrating Tile Doctor Colour Grow sealer to the tiles first, followed by up to five coats of topical sealer which would provide the finish, but because our client loved the new lighter colour of the cleaned tiles, Colour Grow was not an option as it is designed to enrich and thereby slightly darken the colour.

The solution therefore was to apply a single coat of Tile Doctor Ultra-Seal which, like Colour Grow, is a solvent-based penetrating sealer but doesn’t alter the colour of the material. This was followed by five coats of Seal & Go to further improve the fluid resistance and provide the mid-sheen finish required.

Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor After Cleaning Hales
At the end of the job we had a very happy client whose actual words were: “thank you so much for restoring my faith in my floor!”

Renovating Terracotta Floor Tiles in Norfolk

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

Restoring Neglected Victorian Hallway Tiles in Norwich

There are thousands of Victorian tiled hallways in and around Norwich and I often get called to work on them, however this was a particularly abused and neglected example I thought you might find interesting. The surface had clearly been both painted red at some point (possibly with an old lead-based paint) and then completely covered with rubber-backed underlay and carpeted, a thick layer of double-sided carpet tape remaining firmly stuck in patches around all the edges of the floor area.

Victorian Hallway Floor Tiles Before Cleaning Norwich

Cleaning a Victorian tiled floor

Firstly, we cleaned the whole area using a strong solution (1:3) of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean, which is a high alkaline stripper and cleaner, agitated with a black scrubbing pad fitted to a rotary machine. All products and slurry were then power rinsed and vacuumed away to reveal the improved floor.

There were still a significant number of glue patches and paint spots around the edges of the floor, so these were tackled using Tile Doctor Remove & Go, which softened them enough to enable us to remove them with a sharp-bladed scraper.

Unfortunately, the decaying rubber underlay had left a pattern on the tile surface which was most obvious at the doorway into the terracotta tiled kitchen. We almost completely removed this using Tile Doctor Oxy-Gel which being in gel form allows it work on the problem area longer. It was painted on a brush and kept moist for two hours under a layer of cling film which drew out virtually all the contaminant from the tile.

The next concern was that an original Victorian floor of this age would almost certainly have no damp proof membrane and an area near the front door which showed evidence of efflorescence salts was treated with Tile Doctor Acid Gel in order to remove the white deposits and further inhibit the production of more in the future.

The whole area was then lightly buffed using the rotary machine and a 1500 grit diamond pad with water in order to remove any remaining fine paint spots and restore a silky feel to the surface of the tiles before leaving the floor to dry overnight with assistance from our dehumidifier.

Sealing a Victorian tiled floor

When we returned the following morning, our damp meter showed us that the moisture content in the substrate was probably going to be too high to allow us to use an acrylic sealer to provide the sheen which the client had requested; so we decided to spray-buff the floor using a 3000 grit diamond pad on the rotary machine followed by the application of Tile Doctor Colour Grow, a colour enhancing penetrating sealer which sits just below the surface of the tile and leaves no visible finish. Finally, the whole floor was spray buffed to a low sheen with a white maintenance pad on the rotary machine and any resulting dust vacuumed away.

Victorian Hallway Floor Tiles After Cleaning Norwich
The Victorian tiles now look fantastic and have become a great asset to the property as original features like these are very sought after.

Deep Cleaning and Restoration of Old Victorian Tiles 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


Norfolk Tile Doctor

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