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.
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.
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.