Renovating Dirty Terracotta Kitchen Tiles in Moretonhampstead, Devon

Earlier this year I was called to the Dartmoor town of Moretonhampstead in order to take a look at a large Terracotta tiled kitchen/dining room which the owners had ‘lived with’ for over a decade but were finding it harder and harder to keep clean. Upon arrival, I could see that any sealer that had been used previously was well beyond its best and the floor was holding in the dirt and grime because of how porous unsealed terracotta is.

Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor Before Cleaning Moretonhampstead

I conducted a test on a small area of the floor which not only helped me to identify the most suitable product to clean the floor with but also to show the customer how much of an impact a professional clean and seal of a floor is likely to have. The first product I tried was Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which although cleaned the tiles very well I could tell was going to be a problem when it came to rinsing because the floor was absorbing it almost as quickly as I was able to put it down! My solution came in the form of Tile Doctor Oxy-Gel which is a very similar product to Pro-Clean and is a very powerful stripper/degreaser but has the added benefit of being in gel form, so it sits on the tiles rather than becomes absorbed into them. It is also a very good option for riven stone, uneven tiles or undulating floors because unlike a liquid it will not run off the high spots.

The clients were thrilled with the test area and couldn’t believe how much lighter the tiles were and as soon as I sent them my quote they booked me in at my next availability.

Deep Cleaning Terracotta Tiles

When I returned to the property my first task was to protect the woodwork from splashing by dressing the skirting boards and kitchen plinths in a blue plastic covering. I then set to work applying Oxy-Gel to the tiles and allowing it to dwell for about five minutes before scrubbing it in with a stiff bristled brush fitted to a rotary buffer.

The scrubbing action released the dirt form the Terracotta and I was then able to extract it from the floor using a wet vacuum. I worked methodically in small areas at a time and when the whole floor was done it was given a thorough rinse to remove any trace of cleaning products from the floor. I also checked the floor carefully and spot treated any stubborn staining and used the wet vacuum to get the floor as dry as possible before leaving for the day.

Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor Before Sealing Moretonhampstead

Sealing Terracotta Tiles

After I was satisfied that the tiles were all clean I then needed to wait for the floor to dry before I could seal. As I mentioned these tiles were very porous and so took longer than usual to dry out but once the moisture levels were at an acceptable level I returned to finish the job.

Once terracotta has been stripped it can reveal historic damage such as acid stains or from inappropriate cleaning products which look like lighter patches on the tiles. Upon my return I spent a while improving any areas like this by using diamond encrusted burnishing pads to resurface the tiles. In general, it is not recommended on terracotta because you lose the natural texture of the tiles and create a smooth finish but in this instance the customer decided that this was preferable to the stains remaining visible.

After both the customer and I were happy with the condition of the tiles I began to seal the floor with Tile Doctor Seal and Go, an acrylic based sealer which would give the tiles a slightly glazed or freshly mopped appearance. Because of the porosity of this particular batch of terracotta tile it took eleven coats before the floor was fully sealed!

The customer was very happy, and the tiles lit the room up, transforming it.

Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor After Cleaning and Sealing Moretonhampstead
 
 
Source: Terracotta Tile Cleaning and Sealing Service in Moretonhampstead, Devon

Stripping Back Terracotta Tile

This Terracotta tiled floor was installed in the dining room of a house in Andover and as you can see from the photograph below the floor had not been maintained very consistently and was now well overdue for a complete strip, clean and reseal.

Terracotta Tiled Floor Before Cleaning in Andover

Cleaning Terracotta Tile

To get the floor clean and remove previous sealers and coatings I mixed a strong solution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean with NanoTech UltraClean which basically adds tiny abrasive particles to a heavy duty alkaline cleaning agent to produce a very effective stripper/cleaner which being alkaline is ideal for cleaning natural products such as Terracotta.

This formula was scrubbed into the tile using a black scrubbing pad fitted to a rotary machine running on a slow speed which helps to reduce splashing; this activity soon brought the dirt off the floor and the soiled cleaning solution was removed using a wet vacuum and the floor was rinsed down with clean water. The cleaning process was repeated a couple of times until we were happy with the floor, a stiff hand brush was then used along the grout lines with more Pro-Clean to clean up the grout. There were a few stubborn paint splashes on the floor and these were removed by spotting the affected area with Remove and Go and a steamer to lift the stain out of the clay.
Once happy the floor was clean it was given a thorough rinse to neutralise it and remove any remaining chemical and left it to dry overnight.

Terracotta Tiled Floor Before Cleaning in Andover

Sealing Terracotta Tile

The next day we came back to seal the Terracotta using numerous coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go which is an ideal sealer for Terracotta and provides durable stain protection together with a low sheen finish. Terracotta is by its nature very porous and so it’s not unknown for it to take up to nine coats of sealer, which can take some time to apply as like paint you have to wait until it’s dry before you can apply the next coat.

Terracotta Tiled Floor After Cleaning in Andover

 
 
Source: Terracotta Floor Cleaned and Sealed in Hampshire