Archive

Terracotta

It’s very surprising how often I hear from home owners who are considering completely replacing tiled floors that can be easily be salvaged. While some people might believe that replacement is cheaper and quicker than cleaning, this is emphatically not true in most situations.

Thankfully, one of my recent customers, who lives in Kingston Upon Thames had been persuaded by her husband not to completely strip out the original Terracotta tiles in their kitchen. While the couple had just had new kitchen units installed, it seemed unnecessary to completely replace the Terracotta floor tiles even though they certainly needed a deep clean.

Terracotta Floor Tiles Before Cleaning Kingston on Thames

Instead, they contacted their local Tile Doctor to rejuvenated the tiles to complement the new kitchen design.

Cleaning Original Terracotta Kitchen Tiles

Before beginning, I covered all the new kitchen units with protective sheeting to prevent them from encountering water and splashes from the cleaning products. I could see that the tiles had been left unsealed for many years and this had allowed dirt and general muck to become deeply ingrained.

To clean the tiles, I applied a covering of our strong alkaline-based cleaner, known as Tile Doctor Pro-Clean, and left it dwell for a short period. I then attached a coarse, 200-grit diamond encrusted burnishing pad to my buffing machine and began working the product into the tiles. The burnishing pad milled away the dirty top layer of the tiles. Contrary to what some might believe, this doesn’t harm the tiles in any way, but instead polishes them.

Any old sealer and dirt that the buffing machine could not reach in the corners of the room was removed by hand using diamond encrusted burnishing blocks. The burnishing process does, in fact, make quite a mess, so I promptly rinsed off the resulting slurry with more water and a wet vacuum to clear the area and leave it clean and ready to be dried.

Sealing Original Terracotta Kitchen Tiles

A lot of water was used during the cleaning process, so I had to leave the property for 48 hours to let the tiles dry completely. Returning to the property after those two days, I sealed the tiles using six coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go. Following years of next to no protection, the floor desperately needed an effective sealer to put new life in the Terracotta and Seal and Go does that in spades by adding a lovely sheen to the tile.

Terracotta Floor Tiles After Cleaning Kingston on Thames

The photo above shows the amazing difference made by cleaning the floor instead of choosing to replace. The customer’s testimonial speaks for itself:

“Excellent service and we are delighted with the work. Would definitely use Rupert again.”
 
 
Source: Terracotta Tiled Floor Cleaning and Restoration Service in West-Surrey

Advertisements

Terracotta, terra cotta or terra-cotta meaning baked earth is a clay based tile which can be glazed or unglazed and were traditionally hand-made. Because of the material used to produce the tiles they are very porous and the firing process creates a lot of variation of colour not just between each tile but within each individual tile. The two main types of terracotta tile are Spanish and Mexican, or Saltillo, and have different colour variations and characteristics but are essentially treated in the same way. There are even some manufacturers that offer paw prints in tiles, although they cost extra!

Of course, Terracotta is also commonly used as a material for tiled floors due to the warming and homely characteristics of the stone, associated with old country living. Indeed, a Terracotta tiled floor can be an asset to any home, but only if it is routinely maintained.

I recently visited a property in Lympstone, a small picturesque harbour village in East Devon in the area of Woodbury, to tend to a lovely Terracotta tiled floor that had been installed in an open-plan kitchen/diner. The tiles had gotten very dirty over its fifteen-year life and the current owners were struggling to clean it and had spent a long time scrubbing the floor with very little reward.

Once on-site I conducted a small test clean on the floor which was very successful and gave the customers confidence in going forward. Happy to give me the work we agreed a date and I came back a few weeks later.

Terracotta Tiled Floor in Lympstone Before Cleaning

Deep Cleaning Terracotta Tiles

Because of the undulation and texture in the tiles, the floor was treated using Tile Doctor’s Oxy-Gel, a powerful and fast-acting alkaline stripper/degreaser which is ideal for use on vertical surface and uneven tiles such as terracotta because the gel doesn’t run off the higher areas and pool in the lower areas. The product also has a short dwell time which enabled the entire floor to be cleaned in a day.

The Oxy Gel was scrubbed into the tile and grout with the aid of a stiff bristled monster brush fitter to rotary scrubbing machine. Once the cleaning process had been completed, I extracted the dirty cleaning solution using a wet vacuum and then re-treated any stubborn areas.

Following the cleaning the whole floor was given a thorough rinse to remove any trace of cleaning product. This required a lot more water and brushing than usual because of the tiles acting more like a sponge because they weren’t sealed. Again, a wet vacuum was used to extract the water and get the floor as dry as possible.

Sealing Terracotta Tiles

Because Terracotta is a very porous tile I left the floor for five days to ensure it would be dry enough when I returned to seal it. Tiles need to be dry before sealing as any excess moisture and damp issues can upset the performance of the sealer.

I tested the floor for dampness on my return and found it had dried well and was ready to be sealed. This allowed me to proceed with sealing the tiles using Tile Doctor Seal and Go, which is an acrylic, topical sealer. It provides a both a stain resistant surface seal and a durable low-sheen satin finish.

Being the product is water-based there no smell is given off by the sealer as it dries, and since the Terracotta is very porous I ended up using nine coats of sealer which is not uncommon on this type of tile. Once fully sealed the floor will not absorb water and so is easier to clean and much more resistant to staining.

Terracotta Tiled Floor in Lympstone After Cleaning

As you can see from the above photo, the condition of the floor was massively improved. What was a very dull and stained Terracotta floor is now colourful and clean. Certainly, the customer was really pleased with the outcome and left the following feedback:

“Stuart was punctual to the minute and thoroughly friendly and professional at all times.
We are very pleased with the floor and highly recommend him. Ryan S.”
 
 
Source: Terracotta Tile Cleaning and Sealing Service in Devon

Terracotta tiles are made all over the world and not surprisingly are very popular around the Mediterranean which is where these Catalan Terracotta Tiles were imported from.

Catalan Terracotta Before Cleaning Halifax Farmhouse Catalan Terracotta Before Cleaning Halifax Farmhouse

They had been installed in a large former farmhouse outside of Halifax in West Yorkshire about twenty years earlier and had never really been subject to an effective maintenance regime. They were now looking very tired and dirty indeed and well overdue a deep clean and reseal.

Cleaning Spanish Terracotta Tiles

I cleaned the floor using a 1:3 dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean with water which is an effective alkaline Tile and Grout cleaner that will clean and strip old sealers from tiles when used in a strong dilution such as on this occasion. I left it to soak into the tile for about ten minutes before scrubbing it in with a black scrubbing pad fitted to a rotary floor machine. This process got most of the dirt off but the pad didn’t have good contact with all the tiles as many were convex in shape as Catalan tiles often are. This became apparent after rinsing the soiled cleaning solution off the floor with more water and extracting the soil with a wet vacuum.

To make sure all the missed areas were cleaned I applied more Pro-Clean and scrubbed them by hand with a scrubbing brush. I also took the opportunity to clean the grout as well which was a long job as the tiles were only 6 inches square so there was a lot of grout to do.
The little white tile inserts between the Terracotta tiles are called Tacos and they came up particularly well during cleaning.

Catalan Terracotta During Cleaning Halifax Farmhouse

Sealing Spanish Terracotta Tiles

Once the clean had been completed I left the tiles to dry off for two days before returning to seal them. It’s important that the tiles are bone dry before applying a sealer as any moisture can cause unexpected results.

Upon my return to the property I ran some quick damp tests, which revealed the tiles were ready to be sealed. I then applied four coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go, our topical sealer which provides a satin finish and really improves the look of Terracotta floor.

Catalan Terracotta After Cleaning Halifax Farmhouse Catalan Terracotta After Cleaning Halifax Farmhouse

My customer was very happy with the finished result and I think you will agree the floor looks so much brighter and healthier.
 
 
Source: Terracotta Tile and Grout Cleaning and Restoration in Yorkshire

This post comes from a job I did for a customer in who lives in the town of Runcorn on the south bank of the River Mersey. The request was to restore the Terracotta floor tiles in the kitchen of a property which dated back to 1773 and still had all its original features inside and out. You can see from the photograph below that the tile and grout were looking very dull and well overdue a deep clean and seal.

Old Terracotta Kitchen Floor Before Cleaning Runcorn

Deep Cleaning a Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor

To clean the floor, I soaked the floor in a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Remove and Go which is a strong stripping and cleaning solution which removes sealers and also draws out ingrained stains and also the heavy grease build up that was present around the cooker.

After twenty to thirty minutes the solution was worked into the tiles using a black scrubbing pad fitted to a rotary machine. The soiled solution was then removed with a wet vacuum and this was followed by scrubbing the grout lines with more Remove and Go and a grout brush until they were clean. The whole floor was then rinsed with water to remove any soil and trace of cleaning product. The water was then extracted using the wet vacuum. The floor was then checked to make sure it was as clean as it could be and stubborn areas spot treated.

Once I was happy the floor was clean it became apparent that some of the grout was loose and would need replacing so I took care of that using a matching grout before calling it a day and leaving the floor to dry out overnight.

Sealing a Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor

We returned next morning and tested the tiles with a damp meter making sure it was dry before we could seal it. To seal the floor, I used Tile Doctor Seal and Go which adds a nice sheen to the tiles and works really well on Terracotta.

Old Terracotta Kitchen Floor After Cleaning Runcorn

I took some time to complete though as due to the porosity of the clay it required eight coats to fully seal the tiles. You have to wait between coats to allow them to dry however I was able to speed up the drying process though using an air blower.
 
 
Source: Terracotta Tile and Grout Cleaning Service in Cheshire

Terracotta is an interesting type of stone manufactured using a variety of techniques dependant on the country of origin which leads to a number of differences such as Spanish Terracotta being less porous than its Mexican counterpart: the former is semi-hand made and finished in a factory kiln, while the latter is completely handmade. Spanish Terracotta is therefore a lot less than porous and ultimately, of a higher quality.

Spanish Terracotta Hallway Before Cleaning Halifax

But despite the Spanish Terracotta being less porous, and therefore being less prone to ingrained dirt, it still, like any other stone, needs regular maintenance to keep it looking smart. In the tiling trade, we quite often refer to this as a good old fashioned ‘Clean and Seal’ and this is exactly what was requested by this property owner in Halifax, for their Spanish Terracotta tiled floors in the kitchen and adjacent hallway.

Cleaning Spanish Terracotta Tiles

I cleaned both sets of Terracotta tiles using the same process, which involved the application of our reliable alkaline cleaner known as Tile a Doctor Pro Clean, diluted with five parts of warm water. Once the solution had been left to dwell for a short period, it was scrubbed into the tiles to remove all dust, dirt, and general muck. This created a slurry of cleaning residue, which I promptly soaked up using a wet vac. A wet vac machine is an essential tool when it comes to cleaning porous tiles since, unlike a traditional mop and bucket, it sucks the excess trapped dirt out of the clay and thus provides a superior clean.

Following this, I applied a small amount of our heavy duty remover, known as Tile Doctor Remove & Go, to deal with some of the more stubborn stains and paint splashes, before rinsing with clean water and wet vaxing in a similar fashion to before.

Spanish Terracotta Kitchen After Cleaning Halifax

Sealing Spanish Terracotta Tiles

Once the clean had been completed I left the tiles to dry completely. This can take 12 to 24 hours depending on numerous factors including whether a Damp proof Membrane and underfloor heating has been installed which can really help reduce drying times. Letting the tiles dry completely before sealing is paramount as moisture can cloud the sealer and affect its performance.

Upon my return to the property I ran some quick damp tests, which revealed the tiles were ready to be sealed. I then applied several coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go, our topical sealer which provides a satin finish and accentuates colour. A new coat of this product is recommended every six months on Terracotta to ensure the continuous protection of the tiles’ soft clay particles.

Spanish Terracotta Hallway After Cleaning and Sealing Halifax

My customer was extremely pleased with her refreshed Terracotta tiles. It goes to show what a big difference a bit of regular maintenance can make. I advised the customer that an everyday cleaner called Tile Doctor pH Neutral cleaner can also be used regularly to keep the tiles looking great without damaging the sealer.

Spanish Terracotta Kitchen After Cleaning and Sealing Halifax
 
 
Source: Terracotta Tile and Grout Cleaning and Sealing Service in Yorkshire

Having an effective sealer in place is essential for ensuring the long term condition of tiled floors in fact a lack of sealer can make cleaning the tiles exceptionally difficult as the sealer prevents dirt becoming ingrained in the tile.

Terracotta Floor Before Cleaning and Sealing in Matlock

This property owner, living in the former spa town of Matlock in Derbyshire, was experiencing problems with their Terracotta tiled kitchen floor since they had applied some kind of wax to act as a sealer, and this had worn off within a few weeks. After this happened the tiles were not sealed again, making cleaning a big problem. Terracotta is a highly porous stone and thus easily soaks in spillages and stains, and allows dirt to become very easily trapped.

Terracotta Floor Before Cleaning and Sealing in Matlock

In this situation, the property owner resolved to contact me about some professional maintenance. I suggested that the tiles would need a deep clean followed by the application of a fresh, high quality sealer. The work was agreed on and I made my way down to the property the following week.

Cleaning a Dirty Terracotta Tiled Floor

When I arrived at the property and saw the tiles first hand it became clear that a professional clean had been in need for a long time: greasy looking stains were particularly prevalent and covered large areas of the kitchen floor.

To remove I mixed a strong solution of Tile Doctor Pro Clean, which is a multi-purpose, high-alkaline cleaner, stripper and degreaser, and, working in small areas, applied it to the floor. Working in small sections was important because the stone is very porous and quickly soaked in any product laid down. I scrubbed the cleaner into the stone using a rotary machine fitted with a black scrubbing pad, with the dirt and stains coming away nicely. Pro Clean is highly versatile and can be used for similar cleaning purposes on most types of natural stone floor.

After cleaning each section, I quickly removed the excess dirty water and chemicals with my wet vax machine. Once the whole floor had been cleaned I rinsed it several times with fresh water just to make sure all cleaning chemicals were gone. I then left the floor to dry completely for 36 hours.

Sealing a Terracotta Tiled Floor

When I returned to the property, I conducted several damp tests to check for any areas of the floor that needed further drying. As is almost always the case, there were a few areas that remained slightly damp, and I set about speeding the drying process along using my heat gun. In fact, it actually took me more than three hours to get the floor completely dry, but this was worth the effort as even the slightest excess moisture can damage the performance of the sealer.

Once the floor was finally dried I began sealing the floor with one coat of Tile a Doctor Colour Grow sealer. Colour Grow is an impregnating sealer that penetrates deep into the pores of the stone, thus acting as a shield against ingrained dirt, and also raises the colour of the tiles to provide an aesthetically appealing appearance. sealer. After sealing with Colour Grow, I left the floor to dry for couple of hours and then applied six coats of Tile Doctor Seal & Go, which is a topical sealer that builds up durable protection on the surface of the tiles.

Terracotta Floor After Cleaning and Sealing in Matlock

The combination of through cleaning and the application of not one, but two high quality sealers really did wonders for the appearance of these Terracotta tiles. Looking at the final results you wouldn’t have believed they had been without a proper clean and seal for so long! Needless to say the customer was exceptionally pleased and will surely be able to keep her floor looking great for a long time to come.
 
 
Source: Terracotta Tile and Grout Cleaning Service in Derbyshire

I had a rather long conversation with this worried terracotta flooring customer in Weymouth. This was a new installation of around 30 m2 of terracotta tiles. The tiler had laid the tiles and was in the process of sealing with a rather nasty rubber based yellow colored sealer when his assistant walked through from outside with dirty boots. Being a very absorbent tile the dirty prints penetrated into the tiles within the sealer leaving lovely dirty chevrons all over the new floor.

To rectify this, the tiler tried first of all with Nitromors and then with Gripex paint and glue strippers. Using these on any tile is not a good idea but on terracotta due to porosity all it was sink in and remain there along with the foot print. So at this point the tiler decided to try angle grinding one of the tiles which eventually he did manage to take out one of the prints although damaging the integrity of the tile. After visiting a tillers forum he was wrongly advised to sand the tiles with an industrial sander so he hired a sander for a day and set about sanding the tile back. After spending a fortune on sandpaper that just got combined with the rubber sealer and a day of labor he had managed to sand around 5sqm and cover the whole house with orange dust…

 
This was when he said ‘ok enough is enough just don’t pay me for the tiling’ and walked off the job!

I spent two days stripping the sealer out with Tile Doctor Remove and Go and cleaning with Tile Doctor Pro-Clean assisted with a rotary machine fitted with a scrubbing pad in order to remove both the sealer and the dirty foot prints. After a hot pressure wash to clear the pores and eradicate any remaining chemical from the floor we left it to dry for a week.

Sealing Terracotta Tiles

We sealed the Terracotta Tiles with Tile Doctor Seal and Go which is a low sheen water based sealer recommended for Terracotta floors. Terracotta is quite porous and in this case the tiles required a lot of sealer where tops had been sanded off and in the end it took 12 coats before it was fully sealed.

The results were outstanding, you wouldn’t know that there had been any damage at all and the customer was very happy, not only that the job cost less than what was due to the tiler.