Monthly Archives: July 2012

Recently restored a Slate floor in a kitchen which was covered in paint, grout haze and cement.  The answer was to mill the slate which got rid of the paint and the roughness of the slate and 90%of the Grout haze.

Painted Slate Floor before Restoration

We used Tile Doctor Grout Clean-Up to remove the remaining grout haze, rinsed the tiles down with water and then left them to dry overnight.   Once dry (the next day) we applied 5 coats of Tile Doctor seal and Go, which gave them a sheen and lifted the deep colour in the Slate, which had not been diversely afftected by the use of the Milling pads but instead help to lift the colour out of the Slate instead, this system works equally well with Sandstone.

Kitchen Slate Floor After Restoration
Source: Slate Floor Restoration in Lancashire

By Brian Simkins, Home Repair & Improvement

Grout that is stained, cracked or falling out can be a serious detriment to the appearance of your tiled surface. Whether it is your floor, countertop, bathroom wall, or tub surround, it looks bad. It can also present problems if water is getting behind your tile. By leaving cracks, you are opening the door for mildew and mold to start growing behind tiled surface.

While it may seem like a complicated problem to fix, re-grouting your tile surface is a job that you can do yourself. With a little patience you will have it looking like a professional job in very short time.

1. Use the Right Type of Grout. The first thing to do is to determine what kind of grout you are going to use. Obviously, if you have a specific color, then you need to make sure you match it up correctly. If you can, break off a loose piece and take it with you to a home improvement store so you can hold it up next the samples. This will ensure that you get a good match.

Typically, if the space between your tiles is larger than 1/8″, you’ll want to use sanded grout. The sand gives the grout more strength and allows it to hold together better in the larger gaps. If the space is 1/8″ or smaller, use an un-sanded grout. The absence of the sand will allow the grout to flow smoothly into the narrower space and you don’t need the tensile strength that you would when filling larger gaps. One key thing to remember: Never use sanded grout if you have marble tiles. The sand in the grout will scratch the surface of the marble and it cannot be repaired. Your marble should have been installed with a 1/8″ or smaller gap anyway, so this shouldn’t be a big issue. But if it is, go ahead and use the un-sanded. The other will ruin your floor.

2. Clean and Remove Existing Grout. Once you have selected the proper type and color of grout, it’s time to get down to work. Before you do anything else, make sure the existing grout is clean. Use a commercial grout cleaner to make sure any soap residue, mildew and other everyday grime has been removed, and then allow it to dry thoroughly.

At this point you need to remove all of the damaged, cracked, or crumbling grout. This is done using a grout saw, which you can pick up inexpensively at a home improvement store. Use the saw to break away any loose material. It has a rough carbide cutting surface which actually grinds out the grout more than it cuts it. You must make absolutely certain that there is no loose material left between your tiles. If there is, it will start to fall out later underneath your new grout and all of your hard work will have been for nothing.

Next take a wet rag and dampen the grooves where the grout is going to be applied. Since grout is actually a masonry product and not a glue, some moisture is necessary for proper adhesion. You want to make sure that you don’t have puddles, but it is important that the area be damp.

3. Apply Grout to the Spaces. Once you have mixed the grout according to the manufacturer’s specifications, you can begin applying it. Use a grout float to spread the mixture evenly over all the of the surfaces that need to be filled. Once they are all full, go back over them with a wet finger to smooth each joint. If you find some low places as you are smoothing the joints, go back over that entire area with the grout float and then smooth it with your finger again.

Once all of the grooves are even and filled, go over the area with a squeegee to remove any excess grout from the face of the tiles. This can also be done with a grout sponge. Try not to wipe over an area to many times, as you may disturb the grout that is drying in the grooves. Don’t panic if you do mess it up; just float some more grout over the area and start again.

The manufacturer should provide you with fairly accurate details concerning how long the product needs to dry. Once it has dried, take the time to inspect your work carefully. Grout can shrink while it is drying, and you may notice some grooves that have small gaps at the edges. If this is the case, you need to repeat the application step. Don’t be frustrated – it’s fairly normal to have to do this twice. When you are shopping you may want to inquire as to whether they carry any non-shrinking grout. It could potentially save you this extra step.

4. Seal the Grout. After you are completely satisfied with the grout work, there is one more step you need to take. The grout needs to be sealed to help protect it against further stains and mildew. The sealer is available at the home improvement store and usually comes already mixed in a handy applicator. Follow the directions and apply it directly to your completely dry grout.

When this has dried sufficiently, take a wet rag or a sponge and wipe any remaining residue off the face of the tiles. This will create a haze on the face of the tile. Allow that haze to dry, and then come back one more time and wipe it off with a dry rag. Underneath you will find your tile looks brand new, with a beautiful grout job to match.

If you are unfamiliar with the materials used in tiling, the grout and the float may seem a little awkward at first. Don’t give up though. You’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly and then realize that this is definitely a job that you can do yourself.

Read more:

Restore the shine to your tile floor with these tips

By By Robert Ferguson

Sealing a tile floor and its grout joints can keep the floor looking brand new. Some types of tiles, especially stone tiles and their grout joints, are very porous. In addition, the sealer on a tile floor will eventually wear off — especially in high-traffic areas. Sealers protect the tile and grout joints by not allowing dirt and spilled liquids to absorb into them. It is important to clean the floor thoroughly before reapplying sealer, as any dirt and stains will be trapped underneath the new coat. There are two types of sealers: an enhancer, which adds a glossy shine, and a matte-finish variety.

What You Need to Know
Before resealing your tile floor, gather all the supplies and tools you’ll use in one easy-to-reach location, including a broom and a dustpan, a shop-type vacuum, vinegar, warm water, a sturdy bucket, a nylon bristle brush, grout sealer, and a paint roller and tray. A paintbrush will also come in handy around the perimeter of the floor and under the lip of cabinets and in small spots.

Sealing Tips

Step 1:
Sweep and vacuum the floor thoroughly. Pay special attention to the areas under cabinet toe kicks and around baseboards and doorjambs.

Step 2:
Clean the floor using vinegar and warm water. Mix 1 part vinegar with 5 parts water in a bucket. Apply the liquid with a sponge or mop it on. Scrub excessively dirty floors with a soft-bristle brush and a sponge. Alternately, use a generic mixture of trisodium phosphate (TSP), readily available from hardware stores and lumberyards.

Step 3:
For extremely dirty floors, use a wet floor cleaning machine, rented or purchased at local home improvement stores, after scrubbing. Allow the floor to dry overnight before sealing.

Step 4:
Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the sealer you have chosen. Wear a mask or respirator, as the sealer’s fumes can be strong. Use a paint roller to apply the sealer to the floor. Apply the sealer in the same direction in nice, even coats. For tight, hard-to-reach places, use a paintbrush to apply the sealer.

Step 5:
Soak up or spread out any excess sealer with a sponge. Do not allow the sealer to pool, as it will leave a milky residue after it dries. Porous tile, such as clay, will usually absorb all of the sealer quickly whereas ceramic surface tile will not.

Step 6:
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and allow the sealer to dry for the specified amount of time. Apply the sealer to the tile and grout joints on a regular basis, such as once a year, to help keep your floor looking new, while protecting it from unsightly stains.
Tips & Warnings
Make sure the area is well-ventilated.
Use a respirator and gloves when applying the sealer.
Keep the sealer away from finished furniture.

By Regan Hennessy, eHow Contributor

Stone walls are a sturdy but beautiful landscaping option property owners use for a variety of purposes, including marking property boundaries and enclosing flowerbeds. They can last for decades, allowing future generations to enjoy their natural beauty. You can use mortar for installation, but traditional stone walls are stacked and layered without cement, a practice known as “dry stacking.” Dry-stacked stone walls are less messy during installation and are more durable since they can rise and fall with the ground as it thaws and freezes. Installing stone walls can be very labor-intensive, so observe safe lifting and moving procedures throughout the building process.

Things You’ll Need

  • Garden hose
  • Hammer
  • Wooden stakes
  • String
  • Shovel
  • Gravel/sand
  • Level


  1. Select quality stones for your walls. According to Charles McRaven, author of “Building Stone Walls,” two popular rock choices for dry-stacked stone walls are limestone and sandstone, which both tend to stack well because of their level, flat surfaces. Look for stone at a local rock yard or on your own land, depending on your budget and the availability of rock in your area.
  2. Mark the installation location. If you still haven’t decided on a final design, move a garden hose around on the ground to experiment with designs. Use a hammer to pound wooden stakes into the ground securely to mark the ends and corners of your stone walls. Run a string between the wooden stakes to make a marking line for the front of your stone walls.
  3. Shovel out the soil marking the base of your stone walls. Remove the sod and dig a 6-inch-deep trench along the marking line. As a general rule of thumb, match the width of your trench to the height of your stone walls. Thus, if your stone wall is going to be 12 inches tall, dig a footer trench 12 inches wide. Approximately 3 to 4 inches of the trench width should be in front of the marking string.
  4. Scoop gravel or sand into the footer trench with your shovel, filling it about ¾ full. Spread the gravel or sand evenly across the entire width and length of the trench, checking with your level afterward to make sure the footer is flat. If necessary, adjust the gravel or sand in the trench until it is completely level.
  5. Arrange your bottom layer of stone. Position the stones on the gravel or sand, matching the edges together so they create a solid base layer of stone. Make sure the faces of your stones are even with the marking string. Add tie stones every 3 to 4 feet by positioning a stone perpendicular to your stone wall; these tie rocks help stabilize it.
  6. Position the rest of your stones on your wall one layer at a time. Stagger the rock joints in each layer, an essential building strategy that keeps your wall from collapsing. Include tie rocks in each stone course, staggering their locations in each layer as well.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check at your city office to see if you need a building permit before constructing your stone walls.


By Mark J. Donovan

Ceramic tile is brittle, and can consequently break easily if something is dropped on them or if a hard object hits them. Thus it is wise when doing a ceramic tile installation project to save a few spare tiles, because someday you will inevitably need to remove a broken tile and replace it with a new one.

Tools Required

  • Safety Glasses – Always wear them while working with ceramic tile
  • Grout Saw or Dremel Tool
  • Scraper
  • Screwdriver / Chisel
  • Hammer
  • Masking Tape
  • Tile Nippers
  • Putty knife
  • Small bucket
  • Cardboard / Drop Cloth

Step 1 – Site Preparation
First begin by adding some layer of protection around the broken tile so that you do not damage the surrounding tile. For example use cardboard or a drop cloth to cover the surrounding tiles.

If the broken tile is around a fixture, such as a faucet, remove the faucet.

Step 2 – Remove old Grout

To remove a broken ceramic tile, first start by removing the grout from around it. Use a grout saw, scraper and/or screw driver, or all of the above.

When using these tools work on small areas slowly, and if you employ a hammer and screwdriver be very careful not to use too much force else you will break surrounding tiles.

Step 3 – Removing the Broken Ceramic Tile

Once the grout has been removed, apply masking tape in an X pattern across the surface of the tile. This will help to prevent the flying of broken ceramic tile chips.

Next using your hammer and screwdriver/chisel carefully tap and crack the ceramic tile over the X masking tape pattern.

Once you have cracked the ceramic tile, use your hammer and chisel to knock out and pry away the broken pieces.

Step 4 – Removing the Old Ceramic Tile Adhesive

With the old tile removed, now remove the old ceramic tile adhesive. Use a scraper or your screwdriver/chisel to remove the adhesive.

Step 5 – Install New Ceramic Tile

With the old tile and adhesive removed you can now install a replacement one. If the tile removed was a whole tile piece then simply apply some adhesive to the wall and to the back of the ceramic tile with a putty knife and push into place.


Here are the step-by-step procedures in replacing a new tile over a broken one.

Step One – Cut Around the Damaged Tile
Isolate the tile by first removing the grout that surrounds it with a grout saw so that when you hammer it out the shock waves from the hammering don’t damage the surrounding tiles. Use an inexpensive grout saw to remove the grout — it will take some time to cut all the way through (image 1). Alternatively, consider using a rotary tool with a cutting tip to take out the grout (image 2). Rotary tools are more expensive, but they save time.

Step Two: Break Up the Damaged Tile
Once the grout is out, lay a cloth over the tile and use a hammer to break the tile beneath into more manageable pieces. Remove the tile pieces, wearing gloves if they’re sharp.

Step Three: Remove the Old Adhesive
Use a chisel to lift the old tile adhesive from the floor. Be careful not to gouge the floor beneath the adhesive.

Step Four: Clean the Subfloor
Vacuum the debris from the chiseling. If the floor’s not completely clean, the new tile won’t adhere properly.

Step Five: Spread Adhesive on the Tile
“Butter” the back of the tile with tile adhesive using a putty knife. Then use a notched trowel to smooth the adhesive evenly across the back of the tile.

Step Six: Set the Tile
Place the tile and tap it down firmly with a hammer handle to make sure it’s attached to the floor. Let the adhesive cure thoroughly according to the manufacturers instructions. Usually this is a minimum of 24 hours.

Step Seven: Apply the Grout
Use a grout float to press the grout around the edges of the tile. Use a damp sponge or towel to wipe the excess from the top of the tile. Buff the tiles around your repair to remove the haze left when the grout has started to dry.

Source: Replacing Tiles

Restoration of Flagstone Floor in the Kitchen

Details of an original Flagstone Floor cleaning job below from a Victorian House in the City of Lancaster, we often find flagstone floor tiles in kitchens and hallways and in this case they were in the hallway. You can see from the photographs below that the flagstone floor tiles were in a very bad state and it became clear that no amount of cleaning was really going to remove the decades of trapped dirt embedded in the pores of the Sandstone.

Flagstone Floor Before Cleaning Flagstone Floor Before Cleaning

Cleaning the Flagstone Floor

To get over this problem it was necessary to remove the top surface of the flagstone using a milling pad together with a small amount of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean. The flagstones were then washed down with water which was then removed using a wet and dry vax machine. There was no damp proof course under the tiles so I left it to dry for a week before coming back to seal.

Flagstone Floor After Cleaning Flagstone Floor After Cleaning

Sealing and Restoration of Flagstone Floor

The milling process had opened up the pores in the sandstone flagstone floor tile so to seal it I used 1 coat of Tile Doctor colour grow in order to bring out the colour in the stone and then topped this off wth a further 3 coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go.
Source: Flagstone Floor Restoration in Lancaster

By Jennifer Habersham, eHow Contributor

If your kitchen or washroom is decorated with ceramic tiles, then chances are you’re going to get grease on them. It may be cooking grease, or grease from an item that someone left on your countertops. No matter where the grease comes from, you are going to want to remove it as soon as possible. Removing grease from ceramic tiles is an easy process that takes only a few items that you most likely already have in your home.

Things You’ll Need

  • Paper towels
  • Vinegar
  • Squirt bottle
  • Sponge


  1. Wad a few paper towels into the palm of your hand and remove any large pieces of grease from the ceramic tiles. Place the paper towel at one end of the tile and pull toward you. Continue to do this until you have removed any large pieces of grease.
  2. Add a cup of vinegar into your squirt bottle. You may need more or less depending on the amount and size of the ceramic tiles you are cleaning.
  3. Spray the vinegar directly onto your ceramic tiles and allow to sit for a few minutes.
  4. Wipe away the grease with your sponge. You may need to rinse your sponge after each pass, to make sure that you keep your sponge clean.
  5. Squirt the vinegar directly onto your ceramic tiles once more after the grease is removed and wipe away. This will leave a nice shine on your ceramic tiles.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use only one motion when initially removing the grease so as not to make a bigger mess.
  • Vinegar does not need to be washed away with water.

Read More:

If you’re in doubt if you could successfully drill a hole in your bathroom tiles without cracking them, check this article from This will teach you how to drill a clean hole in your bathroom tiles.

By Murray Anderson, eHow Contributor

Adding a towel bar, toilet paper holder or a new shower curtain can mean you need to drill a hole in your bathroom tiles. Unfortunately, tiles aren’t made to have holes drilled through them and the tough glazing on their surface makes them particularly hard to drill.

However, by using the proper tools and a few tricks you will be able to drill holes for your new towel bars and not worry about cracking or breaking your tiles.

Things you’ll need:

  • Carbide-tipped masonry or diamond-tipped drill bits
  • Variable-speed hand drill
  • Masking tape
  • Tape measure
  • Safety glasses


Drilling a hole in bathroom tile

  1. Put a piece of masking tape over the area where you want to drill the hole.
  2. Measure exactly where you want your hole to be and mark the spot on the masking tape with a pencil.
  3. Check your measurements and be sure it’s right. Remember, once you start drilling you can’t fix that hole in your tile.
  4. Leave the masking tape in place and put the tip of your drill bit on the mark. The masking tape will help hold the drill bit exactly in place when you start drilling (otherwise the bit will tend to “dance” around on the hard glazed surface of the tile). As well, if the bit does slip, the tape prevents scratches on the tile surface.
  5. Start drilling slowly while applying steady pressure. Drilling a hole in tile is a slow process and you never want to have your drill working at high speed, so be prepared to take your time.
  6. Cooling the tip of the drill bit will help it cut through the tile, so periodically stop drilling and cool the bit (tip only) by putting it in some water or by having a helper spray the bit/hole with water while you’re drilling.
  7. Once you have drilled through the tile, it’s a good idea to change to a regular drill bit for drilling into the underlying wall.

Tips & Warnings

  • The secret to drilling through tile is to drill slowly, using low-bit speed and sharp bits.
  • A couple of alternatives to using masking tape to start your hole are to use an awl to scratch the surface of the tile or you could start drilling with your drill set on reverse. Both of these techniques will break through the glazed surface and provide a point-of-purchase for the drill bit to get started.
  • Don’t try and drill a hole in tile using a single-speed drill. The odds are you will crack the tile and end up having to replace it.
  • If you are using a hammer drill be sure to turn the hammer OFF when drilling through tiles.
  • Regular drill bits aren’t hard enough to drill through the tough glazed surface!