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

Victorian Style Quarry Tiled Porch Sutton Courtenay

The photograph below is of a Large Quarry Tiled porch laid out with a classic Victorian pattern inlay at a house I worked on recently in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire. Sutton Courtenay is a pretty village of on the River Thames to the south of Abingdon and to the northwest of Didcot. Historically it was previously part of Berkshire, but it has been administered as part of Oxfordshire since 1974 when the boundaries changed.

The client was unhappy with the floor, it looked very tired, it had lost all its’ sheen and was covered in large areas of dirty white marks. I discussed with the client what Tile Doctor could do to improve the floor and showed them an example of the cleaning process I would use on part of the floor. They were very happy with the test patch and could see that we could vastly improve the look of the floor. We agreed a price for the work and scheduled in some time in the diary to complete the work for them.

Large Victorian Quarry Tiled Porch Before Cleaning Sutton Courtenay

Cleaning a Victorian Quarry Tiled Hallway Floor

First, I cleaned the floor with a weak dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which is a highly concentrated, multi-purpose alkaline Tile cleaner, stripper and degreaser. It is a very effective cleaner that removes grease from areas that have been neglected or subjected to heavy use. I scrubbed the product into the floor with a rotary floor scrubber fitted with a soft brush, I then rinsed with cold water and vacuumed up the slurry produced with the wet vacuum.

I then gave the tiles an acid wash using Tile Doctor Acid Gel scrubbed in this time with a black pad, then rinsed with a small amount of water and vacuumed again. This process is designed to counter any alkaline salts known as efflorescence, that may be present in the tiles which is quite a common problem on old floors like this where no damp proof membrane exists under the floor. This action deal with the appearance of white salt staining as moisture rises through the tiles from the subfloor.

I then left the floor to dry which only took a few hours due to the location of the tiles and the usually warm and windy for the time of year.

Sealing a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor

Returning in the afternoon, I checked the floor was dry with my moisture meter and I was satisfied the floor was ready to be sealed. I chose to seal the floor with Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is an impregnating colour enhancing sealer which will protect the floor from staining from within by occupying the pores in the tile. Critically this sealer is also fully breathable thereby allowing moisture to pass through the tiles and not become trapped under the floor where it could spread to the walls leading to rising damp. I applied two coats initially and then after an hour, I applied a third coat. The floor was then buffed with a white pad to remove any excess and buff up the appearance of the tiles.

Large Victorian Quarry Tiled Porch After Cleaning Sutton Courtenay

The floor looked superb and the client was very happy with the finish, the vibrancy of the colours in the tiles which were enhanced by the sealer was now very intense and the floor looked as it should.


Professional Restoration of a Victorian Quarry Tiled Hallway in Oxfordshire

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