Although we do get a lot of residential work we also cover commercial properties such as this local bowling complex in Slough where complaints of a bad odour in the male toilets had been received. The owner of the bowling complex realised the problem was coming from the slate tiled floor and decided to call in their local Tile Doctor to identify and eliminate the odour.
Upon closer inspection, it was identified that the unsealed slate floor in the toilets had been contaminated by urine ingress. Urine ingress is a common problem for people who have small animals like cats or dogs as household pets, but it also quite often affects public toilets.
Urine ingress occurs because urine, after leaving the body as an acid, becomes a white alkali crystal salt as it dries. Using normal detergents (including bleaches) for cleaning will actually add to both the odour and the problem overall since they are alkaline-based cleaners. At the same time, neglecting to clean can also be damaging, as urine in its initial acidic form will start to eat away at the sealer if not removed quickly.
Cleaning Slate Tiles
Our first action was to use Tile Doctor Remove & Go, a tile and stone friendly stripper, which we applied liberally to the toilet floor. This particular solution is highly effective at removing protective sealers, whilst also drawing out ingrained stains and removing any heavy grease build-up. The solution was allowed to sit for a short period of about ten minutes. It is important not to leave the product to dwell on the surface for too long in case it dries completely. Next, we added a small amount of water to the Remove & Go, before employing a heavy weighted rotary with a nylon brush to carefully scrub the slate and grout lines.
After the soils and sealers had been successfully removed, the next task at hand was to neutralise the bad odour caused by urine ingress. This was achieved using a mild mix of the phosphoric acid-based detergent Tile Doctor Grout Clean Up, which was able to neutralise the alkali crystal salts back to a neutral state. The floor was then scrubbed again, before being thoroughly rinsed with plenty of fresh water.
Sealing a Slate Floor
As the bowling complex experiences high volumes of customers on a daily basis, it was essential to use a sealer which would provide the floor with durable protection. We advised our client that an impregnating sealer rather than a topical sealer would be the most suitable for use in this type of environment and recommended a combination of Tile Doctor Stone Oil and Ultra-Seal (suitable for use on all natural stone, including slate) be used instead.
We left the floor to dry overnight before applying the Stone Oil. Stone oil reconditions the Slate tile and enhances the colours within the stone. The product then needed a further period of time to dry before we applied two coats of Ultra-Seal impregnating sealer to the stone.
Why did we use an impregnation sealer instead of a topical sealer?
Impregnation sealers, such as Ultra-Seal and Colour Grow, are absorbed by the pores in the stone, offering both stain and soil resistance, and providing protection from within. In addition, they are usually solvent-based, and provide durable protection even in areas which experience high traffic. By comparison, topical sealers will essentially build up layers on top of the stone in order to offer protection. The downside to using this is that, in high traffic areas, the sealer can be effectively ‘kicked’ or walked off the surface of the stone.
You’ll notice in some of the photos that the grout appears to be a different colour after cleaning. That’s because the grout had been repaired by the bowling complex prior to our work on the floor. This mistake has been realised, however, as they have matched the grout in with the dirty discolouration, rather than the clean so addressing this issue will be another job on their list!
In summary I’m happy to report we were able to effectively clean the slate floor and eliminate the bad odour caused by urine ingress in the process; then due to the busy nature of the bowling complex a combination of sealing products were applied to the stone to provide long-lasting protection.
Overall, our client was left with a cleaner and more durable slate floor.