Restoring Very Old and Stained State Flagstones

Every so often we come across exceptionally old tiles that are in desperate need of restoration. These Slate flagstones at a property in Banbury, Oxfordshire had to be a couple of hundred years old, the grout had come loose and I wagered that it’d been covered by bitumen (also known as asphalt), plaster, and concrete for a significant portion of its life.

The property owner was keen to try and restore them and had tried to clean them, only to realise that it was a bigger task than initially thought. Flagstones are known to be hard wearing and durable, but no floor can be easily restored when subject to this kind of treatment. However, at Tile Doctor we are experienced with cleaning tiles in this kind of condition – and I was more than happy to help this customer get these fantastic Slate flagstones back to looking their best.

Old Slate Flagstone floor before cleaning Banbury

Cleaning Old Slate Flagstones

Upon arrival at the property, the first thing I did was to cover the walls to protect them from splashes of cleaning products I would be using. I then started the process by mixing two products – Tile Doctor NanoTech HBU and Tile Doctor Remove & Go – in a bucket and spread it over the entire floor. These two products are both very powerful cleaners on their own and work even better together: NanoTech HBU utilises nano-sized particles to penetrate areas that normal cleaners simply can’t reach, while Remove & Go is specifically designed for the removal of coatings such as old sealers.

For added impact and so the blend of cleaning products would not dry out, I covered the floor with a plastic sheeting, leaving the solution to dwell and work to break down the bitumen, plaster and concrete overnight.

The following day, after removing the plastic sheeting I used my rotary floor machine fitted with a silicone carbon brush to slowly scrub the floor, beginning to loosen the soil. After this, I thoroughly rinsed the floor with water. I then used Tile Doctor Grout Clean Up, which is a concentrated phosphoric acid cleaner to remove the plaster and thin layers of concrete, before again rinsing the floor with water.
Next, I had to remove the particularly thick chunks of concrete carefully using a chisel, before scrubbing the floor with Grout Clean Up once more. To complete the cleaning process, I then mixed a solution of our strong alkaline cleaner, Tile Doctor Pro Clean, with water and scrubbed and rinsed the flagstones with water.

Sealing Old Slate Flagstones

The next day I returned to the property to grout the floor, before leaving it again for another day to fully cure. On the final day, I sealed the floor using Tile Doctor Seal & Go, which is a topical water-based blend of acrylic polymers that provides a stain resistant surface seal combined with a long-lasting low-sheen finish. This eliminates traditional two-step sealing methods. I applied eight coats of this to give the floor the strong sheen (seen in the below photo), that the customer requested.

Old Slate Flagstone floor after cleaning Banbury

The floor had been in awful condition, for decades or perhaps even hundreds of years, yet using the right methods and products I successfully completed the full restoration within a single week. The customer was absolutely over the moon with the result.
 
 
Source: Slate, Stone and Grout Cleaning and Restoration Service in Oxfordshire

Combining Sealers for Maximum Effect

These photographs from the hallway of a house in Banbury where old thick slate tiled floor had been laid and the customer was unable to get them clean or restore any colour back into the stone.

Banbury Slate Flagstone Tiles Before Cleaning

Cleaning Slate Flagstone Tiles

I prepped the skirting boards with masking tape to protect them and then cleaned the floor with a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which was left to dwell on the floor for a while before being worked into the flagstones by hand using a stiff bristle brush. Normally I use a rotary machine fitted with a scrubbing pad for this but given it was a small area it made sense to get on my hands and knees and apply some elbow grease. This process soon saw the dirt coming out of the tile and the dirty solution was removed using a wet vacuum before rinsing the floor down with clean water. This allowed me to see the stubborn areas where more Pro-Clean and elbow grease were applied, again this was removed and the floor given a thorough rinse using a wet vacuum to remove the liquids and get the floor dry.

Sealing Slate Flagstone Tiles

The floor soon dried so it wasn’t long before I could seal it for which I used two coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow Sealer which as its name suggest enhances the natural colours in the stone. Once this was dry I continued with a couple of coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go which adds a nice low sheen to the stone as well as adding to the protection provided by the sealer. As you can see it brought all the dark slate colour back and the sealer should ensure the floor is easy to clean in future.

Banbury Slate Flagstone Tiles After Cleaning

 
 
Source: Sealing Slate flagstones in Oxfordshire