Terracotta Tiles – Cleaning and Sealing

Terracotta Tiles have been around in certain parts of the world for over two millennia, in fact the word Terracotta means burned earth. The ancient Romans used a variety of terracotta tiles in their villas and palaces for many centuries. Terracotta tiles are thicker than most modern tiles giving them strength and durability.

The photographs at the top of this page and to the right of this text were taken from a job we did at a Restaurant. The tiles were ingrained with black dirt and proved most difficult to clean, normally we only recommend 9 coats of sealer for Terracotta but used 12 coats for this floor due to the high traffic.

Terracotta Tile after cleaning and sealing
After Cleaning and Sealing

Terracotta Tile Maintenance

Mexican Terracotta Tile and Grout Renovation in York
Mexican Terracotta Floor Before Cleaning York Mexican Terracotta Floor After Cleaning York
Stripping Off Old Varnish from Terracotta Kitchen Tiles in Gloucestershire
Terracotta Kitchen Floor Tiles in Bristol Before Cleaning Terracotta Kitchen Floor Tiles in Bristol After Cleaning and Sealing
Sealing Porous Spanish Terracotta Tiles in Alderley Edge
Spanish Terracotta Floor Tiles During Cleaning Alderley Edge Spanish Terracotta Floor Tiles After Cleaning and Sealing Alderley Edge
Restoring the Appearance of a Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor in Kingston-on-Thames
Terracotta Floor Tiles Before Cleaning Kingston on Thames Terracotta Floor Tiles After Cleaning Kingston on Thames
Catalan Terracotta Window Sill Sherburn in Elmet Before Cleaning Catalan Terracotta Window Sill Sherburn in Elmet After Cleaning
Terracotta Lodge Floor Tile Before Cleaning in Welwyn Garden City Terracotta Lodge Floor Tile After Cleaning in Welwyn Garden City
Terracotta Tiled Floor in Lympstone Before Cleaning Terracotta Tiled Floor in Lympstone After Cleaning
Terracotta Tiles Before Cleaning Isleham Conservatory Terracotta Tiles After Cleaning Isleham Conservatory
Catalan Terracotta Before Cleaning Halifax Farmhouse Catalan Terracotta After Cleaning Halifax Farmhouse
Old Terracotta Kitchen Floor Before Cleaning Runcorn Old Terracotta Kitchen Floor After Cleaning Runcorn
Old Terracotta Floor Before Cleaning in Shenley Brook End Old Terracotta Floor After Cleaning in Shenley Brook End
Mexican Terracotta Kitchen Floor Ormskirk Before Cleaning Mexican Terracotta Kitchen Floor Ormskirk After and Sealing
Terracotta Floor Before Cleaning Minehead Somerset Terracotta Floor After Cleaning Minehead Somerset
Herringbone design terracotta floor during Cogenhoe Herringbone design terracotta floor after Cogenhoe
Terracotta Tiled Floor Before Clean and Seal in Great Gransden Terracotta Tiled Floor After Clean and Seal in Great Gransden
Spanish Terracotta Hallway Before Cleaning Halifax Spanish Terracotta Kitchen After Cleaning and Sealing Halifax
Terracotta Floor Before Deep Clean in Twickenham Terracotta Floor After Deep Clean and seal in Twickenham
Grout Haze Removed from new Terracotta Tiles at Malvern Village Grout Haze Removed from new Terracotta Tiles at Malvern Village
Black Terracotta in Pendle Before Cleaning Black Terracotta in Pendle After Cleaning and Sealing
Terracotta Kitchen Floor Forest of Dean Before Terracotta Kitchen Floor Forest of Dean After
Terracotta Floor Before Cleaning and Sealing in Matlock Terracotta Floor After Cleaning and Sealing in Matlock
Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Repaired and Stripped in Willingale Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Cleaned and Sealed in Willingale
Terracotta Tiled Floor Before Cleaning in Halstead Terracotta Tiled Floor After Cleaning in Halstead
Terracotta Tile Before Cleaning in Penn Bucks Terracotta Tile After Cleaning in Penn Bucks
Terracotta Floor Before Maintained Ampthill Terracotta Floor After Maintained Ampthill
Terracotta Conservatory Cranliegh Before Cleaning Terracotta Conservatory Cranliegh After Sealing
Terracotta Kitchen Floor During Cleaning Wickford Terracotta Kitchen Floor After Cleaning and Sealing Wickford
Terracotta conservatory floor During cleaning Garstang Terracotta conservatory floor after cleaning Garstang
Terracotta Floor Before Cleaning Fullwood Terracotta Floor After Cleaning Fullwood
Terracotta Tile Before Cleaning Wickford Terracotta Tile After Sealing Wickford
Grubby Terracotta and Slate Conservatory Floor Bicester Before Cleaning Grubby Terracotta and Slate Conservatory Floor Bicester After Cleaning
Terracotta Floor Before Cleaning in Fifield Terracotta Floor After Sealing in Fifield

The one big downside to Terracotta is the fact that it has no glaze on the surface and can pick up and store muck and dirt very quickly. If you have ever owned a Terracotta floor before you will be able to relate to this problem.

The answer of course is to seal them, but which sealants do you use as there are so many of them on the market, the best answer is to get some advice and as any tiler worth his salt will tell you Terracotta tiles are the most problematic to seal . Wax sealants tend not to soak all the way into the tile and some residue is left on the surface which overtime with traffic wear, tends to discolour to a darker shade whilst leaving the outside edges clean where they are not walked on that much.

The best sealant I have found to overcome this problem are water-based sealers. Water based sealers are much thinner than solvent or acrylic sealers and therefore soak much deeper into the tile. The only drawback if there is one is the fact that you require many coats of sealant before saturation is achieved, Whilst doing a clean and reseal on a Mexican Terracotta floor, which tends to be the most porous of all terra-cottas, on one installation we had to use 9 coats of Seal & Go sealer before it was fully sealed.

Use Tile Doctor Pro-Clean Tile & Grout cleaner to effectively clean tiles, highly effective against Wax Sealers, Grease, Grime and general dirt build up (Mix with 3 parts warm water). This product is especially formulated to strip off synthetic and acrylic waxes and floor finishes.

PLEASE NOTE: It’s important to remove any cleaning solution effectively using a wet-dry Vac machine before sealing; any cleaning solution left on the surface may impact the performance of the sealer.

Tile Doctor Pro-Clean
Tile Doctor Seal and Go

MEXICAN/SPANISH

Always neutralise floor with clean water prior to sealing and remove with a wet-dry Vac machine, allow to dry for 30 minutes or more. Apply Tile Doctor Seal & Go sealer with a paintpad applicator and tray. Spanish or Mexican terracotta tiles may require up to 8 or 9 coats of sealant, always allow to dry before applying the next coat. Use a water test to achieve full cure sealability (F.C.S.).

FRENCH

Always neutralise floor with clean water prior to sealing, and remove with a wet-dry Vac machine, allow to dry for 30 minutes or more. Apply Tile Doctor Seal & Go sealer with a paintpad applicator and tray. French terracotta tiles may require up to 6 or 8 coats of sealant, always allow to dry before applying the next coat. Use a water test to achieve full cure sealability (F.C.S.).

TIP: If the floor goes sticky after the last coat of sealer it generally means to much sealer has been used and a rinse of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean tile and grout cleaner on the affected areas using 1 to 6 part solution will remedy the problem without affecting the rest of the sealer as long as you rinse it off with water afterwards.

NOTE: Most sealers break down after 2-3 years (depending on usage and cleaning products used) so for regular cleaning use a sealer friendly cleaning product such as Neutral Tile Cleaner which has been especially formulated for the regular cleaning of Sealed Stone and Tile surfaces keeping them fresh with a pleasant mint scent.

EFFLORESCENCE

Efflorescence problems usually occur when salts are in contact with the tile from an outside source. This is most evident in porous tiles where the efflorescence can seep through. For example we have come across a number of jobs where the contractor has used a sand and cement mix with terracotta tiles and over a short period of time the salts that are evident in the sand and cement crystallise into the tile and a whitish bloom develops on the surface of the tile often cracking the sealer. If a cement based adhesive was used from a reputable tile shop this problem would never have occurred. Grout Remover

A solution of Concentrated Acid mixed 1 to 3 with water will ease the problem temporarily, but you will find in most cases the efflorescence will repeat itself until all the salt crystals have evaporated on the surface, and this can take months in some instances.

Terracotta Floor With Efflorescence in Lymington Before Enlarged

Terracotta Problem? Click here to Ask the Tile Doctor for his advice.