Renovating Old Slate Flagstones in Devon Fishermans Cottage

These lovely old Slate flagstones were reclaimed form an old waterworks in Exeter about twenty years ago and had been laid in an old fisherman cottage in Dawlish during a sympathetic renovation, replacing an old floor that had been laid in the 1970s (which have a lot to answer for with old houses!). The flagstones really looked the part and were larger and thicker than usually available on the market new. Other than being dirty and a pain to clean because of the dogs living in the house, around the edges of some of the larger tiles there was some sort of fluorescent orange residue which was up to 10mm thick in places and as hard as the stone it was adhered to.

Dawlish is a lovely little fishing harbour village on the South-East Cornwall coast with lots of interesting history. For hundreds of years the practice of smuggling imported goods prospered in the area thanks to its convenient harbour. The village is home to only around 5,000 inhabitants.

As you can see from the photo below, the tiles – along with the grout lines – were very dirty and stained. No wonder the property owner was beginning to give up on salvaging them! However, I assured the customer that with the right cleaning products and techniques, I could make a significant improvement to the condition of the floor.

Slate Flagstones Before Cleaning in Dawlish

Burnishing and Cleaning Old Slate Flagstones

To tackle the orange residue staining I used a grout removal tool which allowed the natural texture of the stone to remain rather than smoothing off the whole edge.

The dirt and staining in the slate flagstones however was so deeply ingrained I felt it best to strip back the affected layer of stone using a process known as burnishing. This involves the application of diamond encrusted burnishing pads to the floor, effectively grinding away the muck to reveal a cleaner surface beneath. When dealing with polished stone such as Limestone, Marble and Travertine, we will normally use a system of four burnishing pads – each with a different level of grit – to gradually restore the shine to the tiles.

However, in the case of these rustic, unpolished Slate Flagstones, I opted only to use only the Coarse and Medium grit burnishing pads to cut back the affected layer of stone, leaving a surface that could subsequently be scrubbed using Tile Doctor Remove and Go. This is a multi-purpose product that strips away any old sealer, adhesive marks and paint stains, while also cleaning the stone and grout.

This process ensured all traces of old sealer were removed and that the whole floor was left fresh and clean. The resulting soiled solution was extracted from the floor using a wet vacuum and the whole area rinsed with fresh water to remove any traces of cleaning product. To end the first day of work, the floor was left to dry overnight.

The village the cottage is situated in is very isolated to traffic; there is a car park at the top of the town and the only option is to walk the nearly half a mile each way to the cottage on the harbour so streamlining the kit used was a necessity! In the end two trips each way go the kit required there and back with the biggest machines being a wet vac and a rotary scrubber.

Sealing Old Slate Flagstones

Returning to the property the next day, I ran some damp tests to check if the floor was dry and ready to be sealed. This is particularly important in older properties like this, as it’s quite likely that there is no damp proof course present and moisture issues are far from uncommon.

Thankfully, the tiles proved dry and I could seal them using Tile Doctor Colour Grow. This impregnating, colour-enhancing sealer provides a robust seal, as well as a natural-look matte finish which really matches the character of these original Flagstones. It also really lifted the natural shades in the stone.

Slate Flagstones After Cleaning in Dawlish

The customer was ecstatic with the result. To make sure the floor can be kept looking great for many years to come, I recommended that the customer clean it regularly using a product called Tile Doctor Stone Soap. It’s specially formulated for the routine maintenance of natural stone floors; not only will it clean the floor very well, it will also continue to add to the natural patina of the stone.
 
 
Source: Slate Flagstone Floor Cleaning and Renovation Service in Devon

Slate Kitchen Floor Restored at Wye Valley Cottage

Ross-on-Wye, an area located in South Hertfordshire and close to the Monmouthshire border in Wales, is known as the “birthplace of the British tourist industry” due to the Wye Valley’s picturesque river scenery, landscapes, and castles and abbeys. It is also known for the famous Ross and Monmouth Railway, which opened in 1873 and closed in 1959, and ran through the valley.

I visited an old cottage in the area to assist a customer with restoring a Slate tiled kitchen floor. Slate tiles are particularly popular because of their versatility and durability, and truly they can be an asset to any property if the sealer is maintained correctly. Slate tiles need to be sealed to prevent dirt penetrating the pores of the stone as ingrained dirt is difficult to remove and causes the stone to lose its appearance. In this case the floor had been laid around five years earlier and the sealer had worn off in places and was wearing very thin in others. As you would expect dirt had now become ingrained in the tile and the grout had also become stained in places. Overall this problem had left the floor looking very dull and unappealing, as you can see from the photograph below.

Slate Floor Before Cleaning and Sealing Ross-on-Wye Cottage

Cleaning a Dull Slate Tiled Floor

To begin the restoration, I applied Tile Doctor Remove and Go liberally across the floor to strip away any remaining old sealer that was likely to be ineffectual and not preventing dirt from becoming ingrained in the stone. Next, I applied our strong alkaline cleaner, known as Tile Doctor Pro Clean to tackle that ingrained dirt. This was left to dwell on the floor and then agitated using a 17-inch rotary machine fitted with a black scrubbing pad.

After cleaning the floor, I rinsed the tiles thoroughly with water and used a wet vacuum to clear the area of the resulting slurry. Following this I concentrated on cleaning the grout lines using Pro Clean in combination with a wire brush, before leaving the floor to dry out completely for the next couple of days.

Sealing a Slate Tiled Floor

Later in the week, I returned to the property to seal the floor. Before doing so, however, I needed to test the floor for damp issues, especially since this was an old property and was unlikely to have a damp proof membrane installed. Running these damp tests are very important because excess moisture can cloud the sealer and damage its performance.

Thankfully, there proved to be no issues, and the floor was fine to seal. I did this using eight coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go, which is a water based product (so no smell) that provides a durable, satin finish, and is recommended for use on a variety of tiles, including Quarry, Victorian, Sandstone and Terracotta.

Slate Floor Deep Cleaned and Sealed Ross-on-Wye Cottage

As you can see from the photo above, the restoration was transformative and really restored the lustre to this Slate tiled floor. Another satisfied customer!
 
 
Source: Slate Tile Cleaning and Restoration in Monmouthshire

Old Slate Floor Renovation in Northamptonshire

The problems with not maintaining a natural stone floor properly are manifold. The build-up of ingrained dirt and muck is not just unhygienic, it also makes the stone appear dull and discoloured – and for many property owners, this can completely ruin the character of a room.

Here’s an example of a very dull and lacklustre Slate tiled floor at a small cottage in Little Harrowden, which is tiny village of less than 1,000 people situated roughly three miles north-west of Wellingborough in Northamptonshire. The owner was concerned that the poor condition of the floor was making the feel kitchen narrow and confined, and so she called me to help with brightening it up with a deep clean and seal. Achieving a sheen finish would help to reflect the natural light that comes into the room.

Slate Floor Before Cleaning in Little Harrowden Wellingborough

Cleaning a Dirty Slate Tiled Floor

I began the restoration by masking up the edges of the room and applying a clear silicon to the base boards of the kitchen units to prevent any water damage.

My choice of cleaner was Tile Doctor Oxy Gel, which is a strong alkaline-based gel cleaner. It’s like Tile Doctor Pro Clean, which is also alkaline-based, except it sticks to the tile due to its consistency and so it’s excellent for cleaning vertical surfaces such as bathroom walls. On this occasion, I wanted to use Oxy Gel to keep the amount of water I needed to use to a minimum. Since this was an old cottage there were a few damp issues that I wanted to avoid exacerbating.

I spread the Oxy Gel out evenly over half of the floor, before agitating it with rotary brushes. I allowed this to dwell for 10 minutes before adding a small amount of water and agitating the floor again, this time paying attention to the grout lines, which were very badly soiled. This process was subsequently carried out over the rest of the floor.

Slate Floor During Cleaning in Little Harrowden Wellingborough

I wet-vaxed each area after completion of the process and then wet-vaxed the entire floor again to neutralise the tiles and remove any remaining product. The floor was then left to dry overnight.

Sealing a Slate Tiled Floor

Returning to the property the following day, I took damp meter readings to see if the tiles were dry enough to be sealed. As I mentioned, the floor had some damp issues so this was important to check. I did, in fact, have to use a heat gun to finish drying a few damp areas of grout.

Once satisfied, I sealed the Slate with Tile Doctor Seal & Go Extra, which is a breathable water-based sealer, which is ideal in situations where no damp proof membrane is present or where there are damp issues. Once dry, the sealer provides an aesthetically pleasing light sheen finish.

Slate Floor During Sealing in Little Harrowden Wellingborough

As you can see from the photo below, the deep clean and fresh seal really helped to improve the patina of this Slate tiled floor, helping the entire kitchen feel brighter and more spacious. Another satisfied client!

Slate Floor After Cleaning and Sealing in Little Harrowden Wellingborough


 
 
Source: Slate Tile Cleaning and Restoration in Northamptonshire