Acid Wash

Cleaning and Sealing a Terracotta Tiled Floor in Witney

I was called in by a client from the Cotswolds market town of Witney who had lifted up a carpet to discover a Terracotta tiled floor underneath. Although the floor was in good physical condition the carpet and underlay had been trapping moisture resulting in White efflorescence staining. Old floors like this one were laid before damp proof membranes became standard so covering them up can cause damp issues. It is important to allow moisture from underneath tiled floors to evaporate unimpeded otherwise moisture can reach out to the walls resulting in rising damp.

Terracotta Floor Before Cleaning Witney
Moisture can also penetrate the pores of the clay Terracotta tile potentially leading to its degradation over time and in this case resulted in the appearance of white efflorescent salts being deposited on the tile surface causing unsightly staining.

Cleaning Terracotta Tile

I started cleaning the Terracotta by doing applying strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which is an effective alkaline tile cleaner. For best results I spread the solution on the floor and then leave it to dwell and soak in for up to twenty minutes. This gives the product time to eat into the dirt and old coatings before being scrubbed in with a black pad fitted to a rotary floor machine. This worked very well on the floor and the cleaning solution was soon dirty with the released soil which was removed using a wet vacuum and more water to rinse it away and dry the floor as much as possible.

To remove the white efflorescent staining the floor was given an acid wash using Tile Doctor Grout Clean-up which is designed for removing grout and other mineral stains from tiling. This was brushed into the tile and grout by hand and left to fizz as it reacted with the efflorescence. After another rinse and extract with the wet vacuum the floor was left to dry out for a couple of days. The next step would be to seal the Terracotta and for best results the tile needs to be dry.

Sealing Terracotta Tile

On my return I checked the tiles were dry by taking a few moisture readings with a damp meter. The readings came back fine so I need not have been concerned however Terracotta tiles being made from clay are very porous so its always a good idea to check.

Given the previous issues with damp I knew I would need to use a fully breathable sealer, so I opted to use Tile Doctor Colour Grow. This product will cope well with the moisture and contains a colour enhancing formula that really brings out the red colour of the Terracotta.

Terracotta Floor After Cleaning Witney
Except for a few deep efflorescent stains in the grout, the floor responded very well to the treatment and made a massive improvement to the overall appearance. My client was pleased with the transformation and the newly restored floor matched well with the character of the property.


Terracotta Floor Cleaned and Sealed in the Cotswolds

Large Slate Patio Renovated in Wantage

These photos of a Slate Patio were taken in 2019 at a property in Wantage. It’s an excellent example of the transformation that can be achieved with stone patios and given the current situation something we would like to do more of.

Although structurally sound the stone looked bleached by the weather and the owner of the property wanted the patio to look like it did when it had been first laid with the colour and character of the Slate restored.

Slate Patio Before Cleaning Wantage

I called in to do site visit to take a closer look. The patio was situated in a sunny spot, so had indeed been bleached by the weather. I discussed what we could do to restore the tiles and they were very happy to go ahead with my quote. We booked to return the following week weather permitting.

Incidentally Wantage is an historic market town that was part of Berkshire, but it has been administered as part of the Vale of White Horse district of Oxfordshire since 1974. The town is situated around 8 miles from Abingdon, with Reading, Newbury and Oxford nearby.

Deep Cleaning a Slate Patio in Wantage

It was a large patio, so I did the work in sections starting with the application of a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which was left to soak in for ten minutes. This is a concentrated, multi-purpose high-alkaline cleaner, stripper and degreaser that can be diluted at varying strengths, its effective on mildew and algae in areas that have been neglected or subjected to heavy use. Tile Doctor have numerous products that could have been used to renovate stone patio including a dedicated Patio Cleaner which is something I considered using if I needed extra cleaning power.

After ten minutes the solution was scrubbed into the patio with a rotary floor scrubber fitted with a black scrubbing pad. This action lifted the dirt and previous coatings out of the stone turning the cleaning solution into a dark slurry. The slurry was rinsed off and extracted with a wet vacuum.

I then gave the patio an Acid Wash using Tile Doctor Grout Clean-Up to further clean up the stone and disperse any residues, after another rinse with water the patio was dried with a wet vacuum. This product is a cleaner designed to penetrate below the surface to remove light grout smears (grout haze), mineral deposits, rust stains and efflorescence. We also use this product for the removal of most hard water stains, lime deposits and soap scum, it is very effective especially when used in conjunction with Tile Doctor Pro-Clean. Our client had not realised quite how dirty the patio had been!

Sealing a Slate Patio in Wantage

To apply the sealer, I had to wait for a weather window when it would be dry for a few days. I know from experience that applying a sealer to damp stone results can lead to an inconsistent result that customers are rarely happy with.

After returning, I started the sealing process with the application of a pre-sealer called Tile Doctor Stone Oil which soaks into the stone and adds the deep colour the slate really needed. Once this was dry, I applied a single coat of Tile Doctor Ultra Seal to lock in the Stone Oil and add protection.

Slate Patio After Cleaning and Colour Restored Wantage

The Slate patio was completely transformed and needless to say, the owner of the property was very pleased with the result. They were looking forward to using the space and entertaining friends and family.


Professional Restoration of a Slate Tiled Patio in Oxfordshire

Quarry Tiled Hallway Floor Renovated in Didcot

This quarry tiled hallway at a house in Didcot had not been renovated for many years and any sealer that was once present on the tiles had long since worn off leaving it vulnerable to dirt which then became ingrained in the tile.

Quarry tiled Hallway floor before renovation in Didcot

I went over to the property in Didcot to survey the floor and could see that although the floor was in good physical condition it was now long overdue a deep clean. The floor had a lovely black and white border around the terracotta coloured tiles and I was confident that this floor would look really good once fully cleaned and resealed.

Deep Cleaning a Quarry Tiled Hallway Floor

The first process was to scrub the floor with Tile Doctor Pro-Clean using a rotary machine fitted with a silicon carbide brush. This is a multi-purpose cleaner which is high-alkaline, it acts as a stripper and degreaser too so is perfect for this situation. The highly concentrated solution is left to dwell on the floor for a short time which helps it to work on the stubborn dirt. Once the floor had been scrubbed the residue was rinsed off with clean water. Finally removing the slurry produced with a wet vacuum.

To counter the strong alkaline products used on the floor and further clean the tile the floor was given an Acid Wash using Tile Doctor Grout Clean-Up. It was scrubbed into the tile and grout using a soft brush and then rinsed off with water. I then scrubbed the floor with Tile Doctor Neutral Tile Cleaner to neutralise and remove the acidic cleaner again using a wet vac to remove all the liquids from the floor. Once, I was satisfied that the floor was as clean as possible I left the floor to dry overnight.

Quarry tiled Hallway floor during renovation in Didcot

Sealing a Quarry Tiled Hallway Floor

On day two I returned to seal the floor. The first job of the day was to test it with a damp meter first to make sure it was dry. We don’t recommend applying a sealer if the floor isn’t dry as we know from experience that the results can be patchy. Happy that we were good to go ahead I sealed the floor with several coats of Tile Doctor Seal & Go. This is a specially formulated water-based blend of acrylic polymers that provides both a stain resistant seal and a gives the floor a durable attractive low-sheen finish.

The customer was very happy with the results and left the following feedback:

“Barry was brilliant! Has made a lovely job of our hall. We had one small problem (our fault) which he rectified promptly. Would happily recommend him.”

Before leaving I discussed with the client the best way to maintain the floor going forward. Many homeowners don’t realise this but many of the tile cleaning products sold in supermarkets are designed for cleaning Ceramic or Vinyl tiles and are not recommended for use on a sealed surface as they will prematurely erode the sealer away over time. We recommended using the Tile Doctor concentrated Neutral Tile and Stone cleaner. It has been especially formulated for the regular cleaning of sealed tile and stone surfaces.

Quarry tiled Hallway floor after renovation in Didcot


Professional Cleaning of a Quarry Tiled Hallway in Oxfordshire

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