Filthy Limestone Fireplace Restored in Oxford

A stone fireplace adds a classic and period look to any home but like the stone floors we deal with its only a matter of time before the appearance degrades, however not from foot traffic but from soot. This process happens so gradually it goes without being noticed until one day you realise it really does need a good clean and the dirtier it gets, the harder it is to clean.

I recently visited a customer living in the historic city of Oxford who had never once cleaned their black Limestone fireplace. One day, they decided to finally clean it but found that it would take a lot more than just a light scrub with some soapy water!

As you can see from the photograph below, the Limestone was extremely dirty, dusty and stained. Upon examining the situation, I decided that the best way to restore the stone to its original condition would be to use a polishing process known as burnishing. Keen to see the natural beauty of the Limestone again, the customer was more than happy to book in the job.

Limestone Fireplace Before Cleaning Oxford

Cleaning and Burnishing a Limestone Fireplace

As I would be focusing solely on the Fireplace, it was necessary for me to start by protecting the surrounding area with tape. I then began the process of burnishing, starting with a 200-grit diamond encrusted handheld burnishing block. I sprayed a small amount of water onto the fireplace to act as a lubricant and rubbed the diamond encrusted block onto the stone.

This coarse grit pad helps to grind away the thick layers of dirt on the surface of the Limestone and starts to gradually polish the surface beneath. I completed the burnishing working in small sections at a time, rinsing with fresh water and wiping excess off regularly as I progressed.

After finishing with the 200-grit block I then repeated the process using a 400-grit block. This block possesses a finer grit and really helped to achieve a high-quality polished effect.
While the Limestone was drying, I treated the black fire grate with the correct grate paste (or polish) which cleaned it and recoloured it.

To complete the cleaning process, I paid attention to the black tiles on the floor. These were cleaned using Tile Doctor Pro-Clean diluted with water, and scrubbed into the stone and grout using a small specialised brush. Finally, I rinsed the area with fresh water and dried it with a towel.

Sealing a Limestone Fireplace

I then had to leave the fireplace to dry for about an hour so it would be ready to seal. To seal the Limestone, I used Tile Doctor Ultra-Seal, which offers the natural looking finish that the customer wanted. This sealer is formulated to provide maximum protection against stains and dirt, and is suitable for use on all types of natural stone.

The customer has decided that although this will no longer be used as a working fireplace it, will certainly give the room a focal point – so she was very happy to have it back to looking its best!

Limestone Fireplace After Cleaning Oxford

 
 

Professional Restoration of a Limestone Fireplace in Oxfordshire

Tackling a urine stained Slate fireplace hearth in Boars Hill

I thought you might find this post interesting as it’s a little unusual. I had arrived at a client’s house in Boars Hill near Oxford to do a travertine floor and she asked if I could also take a look at her fireplace where one of her dogs had urinated on it. Urine is acidic so if not quickly removed it will start to eat away a sealer and in this case as you can see from the photo below it left a mark. It was quite a small area and as I already had the necessary products to deal with it I said no problem.

stained slate fireplace hearth Boars Hill Before

Cleaning a Slate Fireplace Hearth

The urine had penetrated the existing protective seal so to get a uniform appearance it was going to be necessary to remove the covering and re-seal. To do this I covered the hearth in Tile Doctor Remove and Go which is a tile and stone friendly product for removing of protective coatings. This was carefully scrubbed into the stone and bit by bit the old wax/seal was removed exposing the bare slate.

Sealing a Slate Fireplace Hearth

The stripped slate was now clean and all trace of previous sealer had been removed but once it had fully dried was left looking washed out. This was easily remedied however by applying a coat of Tile Doctor Stone Oil which brought back the deep black colour. When the Stone Oil had dried I finished the job off by applying a coat of Tile Doctor Ultra Seal which is a natural look sealer that will protect the slate going forward.

stained slate fireplace hearth Boars Hill After

 
 

Slate Fireplace Hearth Stripped and Sealed in Oxfordshire

Cleaning a Sandstone Fireplace Surround in Thame

Details below of a Sandstone Fireplace surround from a house in Thame, Oxfordshire. The fireplace had never been cleaned as the customer did not know where to start and so gave us a call.

Thame Sandstone Fireplace Before Cleaning

Sandstone Fireplace Cleaning

To clean the fireplace I used a diluted mixture of Tile Doctor Pro Clean and NanoTech Ultra Clean which combines the cleaning power of Pro-Clean with the tiny abrasive particles in Ultra Clean to produce a very effective cleaning product that is safe to use on Stone. This was left to dwell on the stone for a short while in order to let it soak in and work on the dirt before scrubbing it into the Sandstone with a hand brush. This process did a good job cleaning the stone and once I was happy with the result the soiled cleaning solution was removed using a wet vacuum and the stone was rinsed with water to make sure all the chemical had been removed.

Sandstone Fireplace Sealing

When dry the Sandstone was sealed using a couple of coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which will protect the stone going forward as well as bringing out the deep colour in the stone. To finish the job off I removed the grate and cleaned it up using some grate black to make it look new again before putting it back; last step was to remove the protective strip I had put around the fireplace to protect the wall and carpet and the job was done.

Thame Sandstone Fireplace After Cleaning

As you can imagine the customer was quite surprised by the results and hadn’t realised what a wonderful fireplace they had until now.
 
 

Sandstone Fireplace Cleaned and Sealed in Thame, Oxfordshire