Renovation

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

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

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