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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :)”