Soft Terracotta Renovated in Hales Village, Norfolk

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!”
 
 
Source: Terracotta Tile Cleaning and Sealing Service in Norfolk

Renovating a Terracotta Tiled Church Floor in Norfolk

St Andrews church serves a large congregation in Eaton Village which is located just outside the city of Norwich on the south side. A sizeable extension was built onto the old church in the 1980s to accommodate the ever-increasing number of people wanting to attend and it was in this part of the building where a problem had developed with the Terracotta tiled flooring.

The tiles chosen by the architect were made from a surprisingly soft terracotta clay which had been sealed with an oil-based product (probably Osmo Polyx Oil or similar) but the coating generally had worn away badly, particularly along the main foot traffic lane up the aisle to the altar. The overall appearance was extremely tired and dull with wide lanes of ground-in dirt.

The clients asked us to clean the floor and replace the thin oil finish with something more durable and easy to maintain.

Terracotta Floor Tiles Before Renovation St Andrews Church Eaton Norfolk

Deep Cleaning Terracotta Church Tiles

Our first job was to remove the now very patchy finish and deep-clean the entire surface of the floor. This was achieved using a strong solution of Tile Doctor Pro Clean mixed with a generous quantity of Tile Doctor Remove & Go. The combined solution was left to soak into the Terracotta tile and grout for about twenty minutes before being agitated with a green scrubbing pad fitted to our rotary machine. The tile was so soft I felt that a black pad would probably have been too harsh and may have damaged some of the religious symbols which had been moulded into a number of individual tiles.

The resulting clay, dirt and sealer slurry was then power rinsed and vacuumed away with our Ninja machine. These machines force hot water under high pressure onto the floor and then extracts the resulting soiled water away with suction. It was an expensive investment for the company, but it certainly makes work like this much easier.

Any remaining soiling in the grout lines was removed by hand using Tile Doctor Oxy-Gel which is a more powerful but manageable gel form of Pro Clean. Also, there were a few really stubborn areas in the corners where the oil finish had pooled and hardened during application. To deal with these and completely remove the shiny patches it was necessary to use a 100-grit hand-held diamond block.

After a final rinse to remove any trace of cleaning product the whole floor was left to dry off overnight, assisted by two industrial fans and a commercial dehumidifier.

Sealing Terracotta Church Tiles in Eaton village

On returning to the church after the previous day’s cleaning, we spot tested the tiles across the whole floor area and found that the fans and dehumidifier had done their job and the substrate was easily dry enough to accept a sealer. We knew that a damp proof membrane had been laid under the floor at the point of installation, so moisture ingress wasn’t going to be a problem. What was an issue however was the high porosity of the clay tile now that it had been stripped of ingrained dirt and the old sealer.

I usually apply Tile Doctor Seal and Go to Terracotta tiles as it leaves the floor with an attractive subtle sheen, however we realised that the floor would probably soak up around a dozen coats or more if applied directly. With this in mind we decided to start with the application of two base coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow. Colour Grow is a penetrating sealer that would occupy the pores of the Terracotta tile, protecting it from within whilst enhancing the natural colour of the clay at the same time. This was then followed by six coats of Seal and Go which enabled us to achieve the desired level of durability and sheen.

Terracotta Floor Tiles After Renovation St Andrews Church Eaton Norfolk

When we had finished the work, this is what the client had to say:

“After careful consideration of several contractors, it was decided that Nicholas White provided the most sympathetic solution to our flooring needs and at a competitive price. The work was completed as promised with minimum fuss. At all times Nicholas and his staff worked in a professional manner and were totally respectful of their sensitive surroundings.

We were very satisfied with the final work and would have no hesitation in recommending this contractor to other potential clients. J Holmes, Warden St Andrews Eaton.”
 
 
Source: Terracotta Tile Cleaning and Renovation Service in Eaton, Norwich