Removing Grout Haze from a new Terracotta Conservatory floor in Bramhope

I was asked to visit a property in the old Yorkshire village of Bramhope to view a Terracotta conservatory floor. The owners of the property been recently had the floor laid and were unhappy with its appearance. The Terracotta tiles looked faded and washed out and did not have the finish they were expecting; they were also finding it difficult to clean.

I viewed the floor and went through with them what the tiler had done. Apparently, he started ok by giving each tile two coats of linseed oil which is a traditional approach but not something I would recommend these days. He then laid the floor and grouted it and told the customer that it didn’t need further sealing and that a good wash the next day would get rid of the grout and the dull appearance of the floor. Unfortunately, despite the customer washing the floor nothing he could do improved the appearance of the tiles and they remained dull and un-inviting.

Terracotta Tiled Conservatory Floor Before Cleaning

I was asked my opinion and having come from a tiling background of many years I can tell you his advice was completely wrong. Linseed oil is like a pre-seal so even touching it with greasy or dirty hands will permanently stain the tile so now grout was stuck in the linseed oil ruining the appearance of the terracotta. To clean up the tile and give it the appearance it deserved I would have to remove the grout haze and then seal with a more suitable product. The client was relieved that the floor could be salvaged and was happy to go ahead with my quote.

Cleaning a Terracotta Tiled Conservatory Floor

To remove the grout haze, I applied a 400-grit coarse diamond burnishing pad to the floor which was run over the tiles with a dilution of Tile Doctor Grout Clean-Up. The acidic nature of Tile Doctor Grout Clean-up combined with the abrasive properties of the diamond pad dealt with the unwanted surface grout and helped close the pores of the tile improving its appearance.

After thoroughly rinsing with water and extracting the soil with a wet vacuum the floor looked immediately better. The floor was inspected, and any problem areas retreated using the same process until I was happy with the floor.

Sealing a Terracotta Tiled Conservatory Floor

I left the floor to dry out for two days and then returned to seal with Tile Doctor Seal and Go which is ideal for Terracotta and being a water-based product, it doesn’t leave a smell as it dries. Seal and Go is a specially formulated water-based blend of acrylic polymers that provides both a stain resistant surface seal and a durable low-sheen finish. It restored the natural colour of the terracotta and gave the floor the lovely sheen that the customer originally wanted.

Terracotta Tiled Conservatory Floor After Cleaning

The floor now looks as it should. The client was really pleased with the renovation, the conservatory is now a pleasure to use!

 

Professional Restoration of a Terracotta Tiled Conservatory in North West Yorkshire

Dirty Mexican Terracotta Tile and Grout Deep Cleaned and Sealed in York

A few months back I posted a story about cleaning Catalan Terracotta tiles where I mentioned that Terracotta tiles are made all over the world. To prove the point I thought you might be interested to read about this Mexican Terracotta Tiled floor I cleaned recently at a house in York.

The customer actually had two floors they wanted me to clean, the other was a Victorian Tiled floor which is cleaned using a similar process but I’ll post about that separately. Both floors looked a bit tired but especially the Mexican Terracotta which looked dull and lifeless additionally the Grout had gone black when it should have been a Sandstone colour.

Mexican Terracotta Floor Before Cleaning York Mexican Terracotta Floor Before Cleaning York

Mexican Terracotta tiles are invariably hand made and made to the same standard as other makes such as Spanish, as a result the porosity levels between each tile can vary greatly which makes them harder to maintain.

Cleaning Mexican Terracotta Tiles

I cleaned the floor using a strong 1:3 dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean with water which is an effective alkaline Tile and Grout cleaner that will clean and strip old sealers from tiles when used in a strong dilution such as on this occasion. I left it to soak into the tile for about ten minutes before scrubbing it in with a black scrubbing pad fitted to a rotary floor machine. This process made a different but the machine couldn’t cope with the “Bull Nose” edges to I had so spend a lot of time cleaning the old fashioned way using a scrubbing brush and a lot of elbow grease. I had the same issue with the grout which being slightly recessed wasn’t cleaned sufficiently by the machine; however I have narrow scrubbing brush that works well for this purpose.

Mexican Terracotta Floor During Cleaning York

The floor was rinsed with water and the soiled cleaning solution was extracted using a wet vacuum. I could then see those area’s that needed more work and spot cleaned them with more Pro-Clean until I was satisfied all the previous sealer was gone and the tile and grout was as clean as it could be.

The tiles were given a final rinse with water and the wet vacuum used again to extract as much moisture off the floor as possible. The next step would be to seal, however the tiles would need to be dry for that to happen and given Terracotta is notoriously porous and absorbs water quickly l decided after I’d leave the floor to dry out for two days.

Sealing Mexican Terracotta Tiles

Upon my return to the property I ran some quick damp tests, which revealed the tiles were ready to be sealed. I then applied four coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go which provides a satin finish and really improves the look of Terracotta.

Mexican Terracotta Floor After Cleaning York Mexican Terracotta Floor After Cleaning York

My customer was very happy with the transformation that had occurred to their floor and I think you will agree from the photographs the floor looks much healthier.
 
 

Mexican Terracotta Tile and Grout Renovated in Yorkshire

Dirty Catalan Terracotta Tiles Restored at a Halifax Farmhouse

Terracotta tiles are made all over the world and not surprisingly are very popular around the Mediterranean which is where these Catalan Terracotta Tiles were imported from.

Catalan Terracotta Before Cleaning Halifax Farmhouse Catalan Terracotta Before Cleaning Halifax Farmhouse

They had been installed in a large former farmhouse outside of Halifax in West Yorkshire about twenty years earlier and had never really been subject to an effective maintenance regime. They were now looking very tired and dirty indeed and well overdue a deep clean and reseal.

Cleaning Spanish Terracotta Tiles

I cleaned the floor using a 1:3 dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean with water which is an effective alkaline Tile and Grout cleaner that will clean and strip old sealers from tiles when used in a strong dilution such as on this occasion. I left it to soak into the tile for about ten minutes before scrubbing it in with a black scrubbing pad fitted to a rotary floor machine. This process got most of the dirt off but the pad didn’t have good contact with all the tiles as many were convex in shape as Catalan tiles often are. This became apparent after rinsing the soiled cleaning solution off the floor with more water and extracting the soil with a wet vacuum.

To make sure all the missed areas were cleaned I applied more Pro-Clean and scrubbed them by hand with a scrubbing brush. I also took the opportunity to clean the grout as well which was a long job as the tiles were only 6 inches square so there was a lot of grout to do.
The little white tile inserts between the Terracotta tiles are called Tacos and they came up particularly well during cleaning.

Catalan Terracotta During Cleaning Halifax Farmhouse

Sealing Spanish Terracotta Tiles

Once the clean had been completed I left the tiles to dry off for two days before returning to seal them. It’s important that the tiles are bone dry before applying a sealer as any moisture can cause unexpected results.

Upon my return to the property I ran some quick damp tests, which revealed the tiles were ready to be sealed. I then applied four coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go, our topical sealer which provides a satin finish and really improves the look of Terracotta floor.

Catalan Terracotta After Cleaning Halifax Farmhouse Catalan Terracotta After Cleaning Halifax Farmhouse

My customer was very happy with the finished result and I think you will agree the floor looks so much brighter and healthier.
 
 

Professional Terracotta Tile Maintenance in Yorkshire

Spanish Terracotta Tiles Refreshed in Halifax

Terracotta is an interesting type of stone manufactured using a variety of techniques dependant on the country of origin which leads to a number of differences such as Spanish Terracotta being less porous than its Mexican counterpart: the former is semi-hand made and finished in a factory kiln, while the latter is completely handmade. Spanish Terracotta is therefore a lot less than porous and ultimately, of a higher quality.

Spanish Terracotta Hallway Before Cleaning Halifax

But despite the Spanish Terracotta being less porous, and therefore being less prone to ingrained dirt, it still, like any other stone, needs regular maintenance to keep it looking smart. In the tiling trade, we quite often refer to this as a good old fashioned ‘Clean and Seal’ and this is exactly what was requested by this property owner in Halifax, for their Spanish Terracotta tiled floors in the kitchen and adjacent hallway.

Cleaning Spanish Terracotta Tiles

I cleaned both sets of Terracotta tiles using the same process, which involved the application of our reliable alkaline cleaner known as Tile a Doctor Pro Clean, diluted with five parts of warm water. Once the solution had been left to dwell for a short period, it was scrubbed into the tiles to remove all dust, dirt, and general muck. This created a slurry of cleaning residue, which I promptly soaked up using a wet vac. A wet vac machine is an essential tool when it comes to cleaning porous tiles since, unlike a traditional mop and bucket, it sucks the excess trapped dirt out of the clay and thus provides a superior clean.

Following this, I applied a small amount of our heavy duty remover, known as Tile Doctor Remove & Go, to deal with some of the more stubborn stains and paint splashes, before rinsing with clean water and wet vaxing in a similar fashion to before.

Spanish Terracotta Kitchen After Cleaning Halifax

Sealing Spanish Terracotta Tiles

Once the clean had been completed I left the tiles to dry completely. This can take 12 to 24 hours depending on numerous factors including whether a Damp proof Membrane and underfloor heating has been installed which can really help reduce drying times. Letting the tiles dry completely before sealing is paramount as moisture can cloud the sealer and affect its performance.

Upon my return to the property I ran some quick damp tests, which revealed the tiles were ready to be sealed. I then applied several coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go, our topical sealer which provides a satin finish and accentuates colour. A new coat of this product is recommended every six months on Terracotta to ensure the continuous protection of the tiles’ soft clay particles.

Spanish Terracotta Hallway After Cleaning and Sealing Halifax

My customer was extremely pleased with her refreshed Terracotta tiles. It goes to show what a big difference a bit of regular maintenance can make. I advised the customer that an everyday cleaner called Tile Doctor pH Neutral cleaner can also be used regularly to keep the tiles looking great without damaging the sealer.

Spanish Terracotta Kitchen After Cleaning and Sealing Halifax

 
 

Professional Terracotta Tile Maintenance in Yorkshire