These Terracotta tiles, located at a property in the town of Pendle, Lancashire had the unique circumstances of being covered by a thick layer of wax which had turned black over the years. Anyone from the Lancs area will have heard of the famous Pendle Witch Trials, and we would need to channel some serious magic to successfully remove the unsightly wax.
The wax had been settled on the tiles for many years, proving difficult to remove even for a seasoned tile cleaning professional, especially since Terracotta has a high porosity and therefore allows the muck to become more easily ingrained. We had to employ all of our years of experience to get the job done. Here’s how we did it.
Cleaning a Wax Covered Terracotta Tiled Floor
Our main product of choice when dealing with the heavy wax build-up was the strong alkaline gel cleaner, Tile Doctor Oxy-Gel. Oxy-Gel is a stripper and degreaser that functions very similarly to our liquid alkaline cleaner, Tile Doctor Pro Clean, the main difference being that Oxy-Gel is in gel form, making it usable on vertical and sloped surfaces.
The thicker consistency of Oxy-Gel would make for a better foil for the thick buildup of wax: we applied it to the tiles and worked it in using a series of buffing pads fitted to a buffing machine. We also employed the assistance of a steaming machine that helped to soften the wax and make it easier to break down. A lot of rinsing with clean water was required, and several wet-vax machines were used to remove the excess cleaning residue, but it quickly became clear that we had finally achieved the result the customer was hoping for.
Sealing a Terracotta Tiled Floor
As was to be expected, the new unveiled tiles were very dull and lifeless, having not been sealed properly for a number of years. To restore the colour and lustre to the tiles we opted to use two different sealers. The first was one coat of Tile Doctor Colour Grow, an impregnating sealer which penetrates into the pores of the Terracotta to block dirt from becoming trapped. It also contains colour intensifying properties which really brought out the natural reddish shades in the stone.
The second was Tile Doctor Seal and Go, which differs from its impregnating counterpart in that it is a topical sealer. This means that it forms a layer of protection of the surface of the tiles, as opposed to in the pores of the stone. Seal and Go eliminates the need for two-step sealing by providing both a protective layer and a durable, aesthetic sheen finish in the same product.
As you can see from the last two photographs, this combination of sealers really helped in getting these Terracotta tiles looking at their best again after years of neglect under the layer of black wax. We left our very happy customer with some advice to only use pH neutral cleaners for aftercare as general maintenance producers, including bleaches and washing up liquids can reduce the life of the sealer.