Monthly Archives: October 2013

Slate tiles are a popular type of flooring material, because if they are properly maintained they can last a long time. This is apart from the fact that they provide a pleasant atmosphere. Here are some maintenance tips that you should take into consideration to retain your exterior slate tiles in good condition, and to reinforce their longevity against outdoor conditions.

Tip 1: Regular Cleaning

Primarily, it is crucial to clean the tiles on a regular basis. Rinse the slate tiles with a mixture of warm water and some mild soap. Stay away from acidic cleansers. Prolonged dirt, grime and dust will ruin the finish of your slate tiles. Any spills or stains should be cleaned as soon as you notice them. Regular cleaning is crucial, since outdoor conditions are bound to cause a considerable amount of dirt and residue.

Tip 2: Specialized Cleaning

From time to time, it is a good idea to wash the slate tiles with a stone cleaner. Also, if you notice any algae or moss developing, scrub the areas with a mixture of water and a little bleach. Always exercise caution with the cleaning equipment you use, so as to avoid causing any abrasions to the tiles. Use soft brushes and cloths.

Tip 3: Covering with Sealant

It is important to cover the slate tiles with a suitable sealant. This will provide an additional protective layer to the tiles, which will improve its resistance to stains and other damage. It is best to apply more than one coating. You will need to re-seal the tiles from time to time, especially when you notice any discoloration, fading or signs of wear. Obviously, in the case of exterior slate tiles, it is even more important to reseal them from time to time.

This was a rather unusual request we were asked to look at in the Oxfordshire village of Long Hanborough; they had recently laid a new Tarmac drive and unfortunately it had been walked into the Ceramic tiled kitchen floor leaving a lot of dark staining. After failing to clean the tiles with various supermarket floor cleaners she called in Tile Doctor. Tile Doctor cleaning products are industrial strength so when I arrived I gave her a demonstration on a couple of tiles to show I could clean them and she was amazed at how easy I made it look and booked the work with me.

Tarmac Stains on Ceramic Tile in Long Hanborough Before

Removing Tarmac Stains from Ceramic Tiles

To resolve the problem I scrubbed the floor with Tile Doctor Grout Clean Up which is an acid based product designed to remove grout smears and mineral deposits. Ceramic tiles are very durable however being acid based you can’t leave it on the surface too long so the process was to quickly work it into the stain with a stiff bristle brush, rinse with water and then remove using a wet vacuum.

Tarmac Stains on Ceramic Tile in Long Hanborough After

You can see the difference in the final photograph below where the dark staining has disappeared; the difference in tile colour was due to the lighting. The whole job was completed in one day and the customer was relieved that her floor was not ruined and left the comment below on the Tile Doctor feedback system.

He was thorough and excellent. Very grateful.
M. Rawlings, Long Hanborough
Source: Ceramic tile cleaning in Oxfordshire

The original tumbled marble tiles measure approximately 12 by 12 inches or normal tile size. The process is to insert tiles in a rock tumbler and whilst this is rotating, the rubbing of the tiles will attain a chipped edge and a rough surface. Since these are natural marbles, the veins and grooves are in the tile itself and no further action will be required other than to glue them to the wall or as floor tiling.

Considering that tumbled marble tiles are quite expensive to purchase, you might consider treating ordinary tiles to look like tumbled marble with a DIY process. You can perform this process on either your existing floors or worktop tiles or on new tiles you intend to install.

What you’ll need
Coarse sandpaper
Detail brush
Eggshell paint
Cleaning solvent
Paper plate
Urethane paint
Protective clothing

Step 1 – Roughening the Tiles

To acquire a tumbled look, the tiles need to be abraded. An option is to use an electric sander to remove the glaze from the tiles. Use coarse sandpaper, say 150 grit, to acquire the desired effect. Rougher than this will leave undesired rubbing marks that will show in the final product.

Alternatively, you can use a liquid acid or paint remover. Make sure to wear your protective clothing before starting this part of the project. Using an old brush, thoroughly apply to the tiles. Leave the acid or paint remover on for approximately 15 minutes. Wash the tiles with plenty of water and liquid detergent and dry the tiles. You will now notice that the surface of tiles has become rather rough, thus the desired effect. If you are still not happy with the result, repeat the process a second time.

Step 2 – Cleaning the Tiles

Having attained the desired rough surface of the tiles, it is now imperative that the tiles are spotless clean, irrespective of whether these have been abraded with sandpaper or using acid. Should dust, acid or paint remover remain on the tiles, your efforts will be insignificant, and paint will not adhere to the tiles.

Step 3 – Applying the Base Coat

Prepare the eggshell paint by thinning it to the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply one thin coat and leave to dry overnight. The next day, reapply a second coat. For an excellent base, thin the paint further by a further 10 percent and apply a third coat after two hours. Again, leave to dry overnight.

Step 4 – Applying the Faux Effect

Place three large drops of paint of your choice on a paper plate and dip the sponge in all three colors. Dab and smear the tiles to create a marbled effect. While working in the paint, should you notice any excess paint, remove by sponging off paint onto a rag or paper towels. Once all the tiles have been dabbed, leave to dry overnight.

Step 5 – Marble Veining

Using a lighter shade of paint, dip a feather or an artist’s fine brush and paint fine lines to achieve veins. To obtain a true likeness to marble, add some white lines adjacent to the lighter shades applied. To continue softening the tiles, sponge lighter shades to the sides of the tiles.

To protect your hard work, apply two coats of urethane. Urethane is durable and will last for a considerable number of years. Once dry, buff the tiles to give them a realistic marble effect.

In the last few years marble floors have become increasingly popular in North America. Long a tradition in warmer European climates, North Americans are starting to recognize marble floors are both great looking and durable yet easy to maintain and take care of. Since marble is a totally natural product, marble also allows homeowners concerned with their environmental footprint to have a beautiful, long lasting floor and no concerns about negatively impacting the environment.

If you’re considering marble floors for your home, here’s some information on marble you might find interesting.

Marble’s Make-up

  • Marble is actually limestone that the natural pressure of the earth has compressed to form into a hard rock consisting of crystals with beautiful lines and colors running through it.
  • The color of a marble rock is entirely dependent on the natural elements in the soil where it was formed. It can vary all the way from white to black with highlights of virtually any color, including basic reds, browns and grays but in some cases actually including pinks and greens.
  • As a natural product, each piece of marble is unique in its appearance, with the veining and flecks adding character and beauty.

Marble Flooring

  • Marble flooring is most commonly installed as large tiles, usually 12” up to 24” square.
  • Since it’s stone, marble is extremely durable. Although more porous than granite (and as a result requires sealing after installation), once sealed, marble is both moisture and stain resistant as an added benefit is both allergen and bacteria resistant, (making it a fine choice for anyone with breathing problems).
  • Maintaining a marble floor is simplicity itself. A regular mopping with warm water then leaving it to dry is all that’s needed to keep it looking good. This easy maintenance makes marble extremely versatile and commonly used in many areas of a home, such as entranceways, kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Marble’s hard surface stays cool even in the hottest days of the summer, making it an attractive option for homes located in the South where the summers are long and hot. However, perhaps one of the best features of marble flooring is because of its beauty and durability, marble will add significant value to your home, now and at resale.

Marble does have some disadvantages

  • As a natural stone product marble is quite heavy and difficult to work with. As well, because of its weight and dense structure installing marble requires specialized tools (wet saws) for cutting and shaping it making hand tools are virtually useless.
  • Marble is also brittle so the potential for breaking or cracking marble tiles during installation is always present. So, while installation isn’t beyond the capability of a skilled DIY’er, in most cases installing a marble floor is a job for an experienced professional.

As well marble needs to be resealed on a regular basis to prevent staining. Depending on where in a home the marble is located, professionals recommend it be sealed immediately after installation and then resealed every 9 to 12 months in a kitchen or bathroom or every 12 to 18 months in an entranceway.


If you want to improve the interior of your home with a stone floor, then why not select cobblestone flooring? This type of flooring gives a European feel to your kitchen or dining room, and can help to make the gap between the inside and outside of your home seem less wide. Cobblestone flooring is also more environmentally friendly than other types of flooring, as you can get reclaimed stone, or find some local stone which can be adapted to your floor. You could also use cobblestones designed for outside in order to ensure that your home improvement doesn’t cost too much. However you choose to find your cobblestones, using a few simple installation tips will help you to get the best from your installation.

1 – Purchase Good Stone

The first step when purchasing cobblestone flooring is to find the right kind of stone for your needs. Cobblestones are usually light-to-medium brown in color, slightly curved, and small enough not to stick out too far. Think of a chestnut-colored stone, round, about the size of a man’s fist. This should be a suitable type of cobblestone for your needs. Measure the room you want to lay the cobblestones in to get the right quantity, plus a small amount extra in case of mistakes. You should also ensure that the stone you purchase comes from a suitable location, and is not cracked or damaged in any way.

2 – Lay the Stones Out

Once your stones have arrived, lay them out on the floor where they will be installed. If you are removing any furniture or old flooring, do this before laying out the stones. Arrange your cobblestone flooring to a pattern that you like, and then take a concrete mix, and pour it around the cobblestones. Don’t allow the concrete to cover the stones, instead they should just poke out above the concrete. You need to have enough concrete to keep the stones firm, and create a suitable walking area, but not so much that it ruins the effect.

3 – Clean the Stones

Once the concrete has dried, go along the stones and remove any splashes of concrete, and any debris which has gathered on the surface of the stones. Give them a good sweep to get rid of dust, and then ensure that all of the holes are filled with caulk or mastic. Remove and replace any stones which have become cracked or damaged. Leave any of these changes to dry and then sweep the floor again.

4 – Add a Sealant

Once your cobblestone floor is set, you should add a sealant over the surface. This will help you to keep your cobblestones clean. Stone floor sealants can be purchased at any local home improvements store. Leave this sealant to dry, and then add a second coat. You should reapply this second coat regularly, using a wax or similar product which can just be placed on the floor and then polished to a shine.

Developed in ancient times, terrazzo flooring is one of the most durable and beautiful floor coverings ever invented. Occasionally you will need to cut into terrazzo flooring to repair or replace a worn spot. Follow the steps outlined below to cut into a terrazzo floor.

What you’ll need
Diamond blade masonry wet saw
Industrial 480-volt shot blaster
Sledge hammer
Large cold chisel
Safety glasses
Large noise-reducing ear protectors
Vibration-absorbing gloves

Step 1: Determine If Your Terrazzo Floor Is Poured Aggregate or Tiles

It is easy to tell if your terrazzo floor is poured aggregate or tiles. Look for thin silvery seams down the edges of a hallway, and around large 48-inch squares on the floor to distinguish a terrazzo tile floor. The tiles will be about 1 inch (25 mm) thick. If your floor has no visible seams or tile markers, it is most likely poured concrete terrazzo.

Step 2: Choose the Most Suitable Method to Cut into the Floor

Use a shot blaster on a poured aggregate floor. This material is too dense and irregular to be cut with a diamond blade saw. To cut into a tile floor, you can use a circular masonry saw and a diamond blade, cooled with water from a bottom-mounted hose.

Step 3: Using a Shot Blaster

A shot blaster breaks up the surface of poured aggregate terrazzo, concrete and other masonry. It prepares these surfaces for filling of holes and cracks with resin and fresh aggregate as needed. The shot blaster provides dustless cutting. It pummels the surface of the terrazzo with tiny steel pellets from a centrifugal wheel at high velocity. A separator picks up unwanted contaminants and the steel pellets, removing the contaminants and recycling the pellets back into the centrifuge. The shot blaster will also etch the surface, so adhesives and epoxies will stick better. Small pellets provide fine surface etching, while large pellets dig in more deeply. A shot blaster must be operated by a trained technician.

Step 4: Prepare to Cut With the Diamond Blade Masonry Wet Saw

Prepare an entry point for the saw blade by creating a deep chip at a corner of the terrazzo tile with a cold chisel and sledge hammer. Make this entry groove as long as the diameter of your blade.

Step 5: Cutting with the Masonry Wet Saw

Masonry wet saws come with 8 feet of water hose, so place your saw, water and power supply close to your cutting job. While wearing your safety glasses and hearing protection, start the water feed for the saw. Turn on the saw and insert the blade carefully into the entry groove.

Step 6: Guiding the Wet Saw

Follow a tile line closest to the part needing repair or replacement. The tile line is a dense grout, easier to cut through than concrete and aggregate. Make a new entry slice with the chisel and sledge hammer when you need to cut at a right angle. Place the wet, turning blade into the new entry slice and continue cutting. Watch continuously for large aggregate lumps. Move the saw through these lumps very slowly to prevent blade recoil.

When you decide to use a cement floor sealer, make sure that you pay a lot of attention and take all the necessary precautions for your health and safety. This is because cement floor sealers are very dangerous and you must protect yourself against its hazards.

1 – Wearing Protective Clothing

Remember to wear protective clothing whenever you are going to handle or apply a cement floor sealer. The fumes and vapors produced by a cement floor sealers can be very dangerous and if you inhale them, they may cause nausea, fatigue, headache and dizziness.

You also need to wear protective eyewear because cement floor sealers can cause irritation to your eyes. You should never use cement floor sealers with bare hands because it tends to cause cracks, rashes or dryness to your skin.

2 – Ventilating the Environment

Due to the high toxicity of the fumes produced when utilizing a cement floor sealer, it is highly important that the place where the sealer is being applied should be ventilated properly to reduce the danger caused by the poisonous fumes. If a worker inhales or swallows cement floor sealer, it may cause great pulmonary damage, vomiting or severe pneumonia.

3 – Keeping Cement Floor Sealer Away from Open Flames

Cement floor sealers are highly flammable and can cause explosions or fires very easily. For this reason, you are advised to keep cement floor sealer at a distance from fire and heat. You are also advised to store cement floor sealer in its own container and its storage place should be specific for flammable liquid substances.

4 – Preventing Water Pollution

Apart from causing damage to human health, cement floor sealers can also pollute lakes, rivers, seas and oceans in a terribly disastrous way. It can poison the water and consequently kill fish and other living organisms that live there. Cement floor sealers should be kept away from any bodies of water in order to prevent water pollution.

5 – Smoking Strictly Forbidden

Workers should not smoke when they are using cement floor sealer. When their work is over, they should wash thoroughly before going to smoke, drink, eat or use the toilet. If your clothing has been contaminated by the cement floor sealer, take it off immediately.

6 – First Aid Procedures

If your hands come in contact with cement floor sealer, apply a suitable hand cream or lotion to protect the skin of your hands against cracking and dryness. From a general perspective, a person needs to breathe fresh air and take some rest in case of exposure. If the person falls unconscious, you must never give him or her a drink.

In case a person inhales the toxic fumes of a cement floor sealer, make sure that he or she is breathing well and if the person still has difficulty to breathe, provide him or her with oxygen or artificial respiration. On the other hand, if the person is poisoned by cement floor sealer through swallowing, tell him or her to wash the mouth thoroughly and drink lots of milk or water. Do not induce the person to vomit. If he or she vomits, keep the head at a low position and take the person to hospital for medical attention as soon as possible.