Terracotta Tile Cleaning

Welcome to my Work History archive where you will find detailed examples of the cleaning and renovation of Terracotta tiles carried out in Berkshire

Cleaning and Renovating Terracotta Tiles

Terracotta tiles have been around in certain parts of the world for over two millennia, in fact the word Terracotta means burned earth. The ancient Romans used a variety of terracotta tiles in their villas and palaces for many centuries. Terracotta tiles are thicker than most modern tiles giving them strength and durability.

The one big downside to Terracotta is the fact that it has no glaze on the surface and being very porous can soon pick up and store muck and dirt very quickly. If you have ever owned a Terracotta floor before you will be able to relate to this problem however the answer is to ensure you have the correct sealer in place.

Traditionally Wax was used to protect terracotta tiles however with the advent of modern purpose made sealers we don’t recommend it. Not only is it troublesome to remove but it scratches easily and we have seen situations in kitchens where dirt and oil trapped in the wax turns black and becomes very unsightly.

For sealing Terracotta we actually recommend Tile Doctor Seal and Go which works well on clay tiles such as Terracotta and is also water based so doesn’t give off a smell as it dries. When applying a sealer always make sure the floor is dry first as applying a sealer to a damp floor can lead to inconsistent results. Because of this we typically clean and seal Terracotta floors over two days so we can clean on day one and then apply the sealer on day two having let the floor dry off overnight.

Below you will find detailed examples of work we have carried out in the past, it should give you some idea of what’s involved and what can be achieved with the right techniques and products.


Terracotta Tiled Garden Room Floor Renovation Newbury

Terracotta Tiled Garden Room Floor Deep Cleaned and Sealed in Newbury

I recently did some work for a customer in Newbury renovating a Terracotta tiled garden room floor. The conservatory was used to host annual horticultural themed events; however, years of use had worn off the sealer allowing dirt and contaminations to build-up in the floor and leaving it looking tired.

Terracotta Tiled Garden Room Floor Before Cleaning Newbury

I went over to survey the tiles and work out a plan for their renovation. Whilst talking I discovered the floor had never been professionally cleaned since it was installed twelve years ago. The customer also had a stone table that was in a similar state however I’ll cover that in a separate article.

Terracotta Tiled Garden Room Floor Before Cleaning Newbury

From my renovation plan I worked out a quote which they were happy to go ahead with and a date was arranged to carry out the work which would take two days.

Deep Cleaning a Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor

To get the Terracotta tiles clean I applied a strong dilution of an alkaline cleaning agent called Tile Doctor Pro-Clean and left it to soak in for several minutes. This dwell times gives the product time to breakdown the dirt and any remaining sealer present on the tile.

The solution was then scrubbed into the tile and grout using a silicon carbide brush fitted to a mechanical rotary machine that I had added extra weights to in order to increase traction. This process releases the dirt from the floor turning the cleaning agent into a dark slurry which is then extracted. I use a hot water encapsulation system for this which cleans the floor and extracts the soiling at the same time, it’s a real time saver and the hot water ensures the floor dries quickly.

Then the whole process was repeated using a mild acid cleaner called Tile Doctor Grout Clean-up. This second product further cleans up the tiles by removing unwanted grout smears and being acidic also neutralises the pH level of the floor after the use of the alkaline cleaner earlier. After another rinse and extraction, the floor was then left to dry off overnight.

Sealing a Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor

The next day I returned to seal the floor first checking it had dried with a damp meter. I had decided earlier that the best sealer for Terracotta in this environment would be Tile Doctor X-Tra Seal. It’s a modern oil-based product that is rates for internal and external use.

One good coat was applied before buffing off the excess using plenty of sealing cloths. After two hours I gave the complete area a final buff with the rotary buffer fitted with a White pad. This removed any excess sealer and left it with a gentle sheen.

Terracotta Tiled Garden Room Floor After Renovation Newbury

My customer was very happy with the outcome and was sure his horticultural friends would be impressed! For aftercare I left a bottle of neutral floor cleaner to help maintain the floor. This product as its name implies is pH neutral so will ensure the newly applied seals stay in place unlike many acidic household cleaners that can strip the sealer from the floor. It is mild enough to use daily and has a nice fresh smell.

Terracotta Tiled Garden Room Floor After Renovation Newbury

 

Professional Restoration of a Terracotta Tiled Kitchen in Berkshire

Terracotta Tiled Garden Room Floor Deep Cleaned and Sealed in Newbury Read More »

Terracotta Tiled Staircase Renovation Maidenhead

Renovating a Terracotta Tiled Staircase in Maidenhead

This customer in Maidenhead had contacted numerous companies about the renovation of their Terracotta tiled Steps but no one was interested in. Fortunately, he finally found Tile Doctor and this sort of work is exactly what we do.

I went over to take a good look at the problems and it turns out they had a long history and were only recently discovered during some improvement works. The property was Victorian and located on the banks of the river Thames, at some point the steps had been covered with both plywood and then carpet on top.

Terracotta Tiled Steps Before Renovation Maidenhead

Once removed it was clear the steps were in a sorry state and this may explain why they were covered up in the first place. Undeterred I ran a few cleaning tests and came up with a renovation plan and provided a quote for the work. Keen to have the steps restored my quote was accepted and we agreed a date for the work to start.

Terracotta Tiled Steps Before Renovation Maidenhead Terracotta Tiled Steps Before Renovation Maidenhead

Deep Cleaning a Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor

Before starting I covered the paintwork to protect it during cleaning as we knew it was going to be a messy job. Next, we turned our attention to the steps and removed the remaining carpet clips, nails, and grippers.

Given the state of the Terracotta I knew I would need a very strong product so opted to apply Tile Doctor Remove and Go which is a coatings remover which I have used many times before to effectively remove old sealers, paint, and adhesives from tiles.

Remove and Go was applied neat to the steps and then covered with plastic sheeting so it could sweat the tile and not dry out too quickly. The steps were left like this for about thirty minutes so the Remove and Go could get to work breaking down the old carpet glue and adhesive. After this the plastic sheet was removed and the floor then scrubbed the tile and grout with a handheld rotary buffer fitted with a Black abrasive stripping pad and plenty of water.

The scrubbing action released the dirt and other contaminates from the tiles and the soil was extracted with a low-pressure extraction machine. The floor was inspected and I re-treated the areas that needed more work. The inspection also allowed me to see all the small holes that were left behind from the removal of nails and staples etc. I had anticipated this however and once the cleaning was completed, I moved on to filling the holes using Terracotta repair putty.

Terracotta being made from clay is known to be quite porous and I needed it to be dry before continuing with the next step of sealing so I left the tiles to dry out over the weekend.

Sealing Terracotta Tiled Steps

When I returned on the Monday I began by checking the moisture levels of the tiles by taking a few damp readings. Fortunately the weekend had been enough to get the tiles dry and I was able to proceed with the sealer application.

My customer wanted a soft sheen to the appearance of the tile so I applied Tile Doctor Seal and Go Extra. The Terracotta really soaked in the sealer so I applied a total of eight coats leaving roughly twenty minutes between each coat. Air movers were deployed around the room to help reduce the drying time.

Terracotta Tiled Steps After Renovation Maidenhead Terracotta Tiled Steps After Renovation Maidenhead

Once complete the dark and stained Terracotta steps looked fabulous and were completely transformed by the restoration. Before leaving I took time to discuss aftercare cleaning and as usual, I recommended they use Tile Doctor Neutral Floor Cleaner. This product has is pH neutral so will ensure the newly applied seals stay in place unlike many strong household cleaners you find in supermarkets that can strip the sealer from the tile.

Terracotta Tiled Steps After Renovation Maidenhead

 

Professional Renovation of Terracotta Tiled Steps in Berkshire

Renovating a Terracotta Tiled Staircase in Maidenhead Read More »

Terracotta Tiled Floor Before After Renovation Crowthorne

Twenty Year Old Terracotta Floor Renovated in Crowthorne

I was asked to visit a property in Crowthorne near Sandhurst to take a look at a Terracotta tiled floor that was installed twenty years prior and had now become dull and dirty. The client had recently had the house redecorated and attempted to clean the terracotta tiles themselves, however they quickly discover the process was difficult and rather time consuming and thus got in touch with Tile Doctor.

Terracotta Tiled Floor Before Cleaning Crowthorne
As part of my visit I carried out a cleaning test on a small patch of Terracotta flooring which they could clearly see made a huge improvement. It was also an opportunity for me to see which products would work best on the tiles which is useful as it means I can create a more accurate quote for renovating the floor. This is specially useful when quoting for Terracotta floors as many are protected with wax coatings which can be a struggle to remove.

Terracotta Tiled Floor Before Cleaning Crowthorne
They were more than happy to go ahead with my quote, and a date was arranged to carry out the work. This was just before the COVID-19 epidemic broke out and I manged to get the work done before the lockdown started. Its worth knowing that we have now changed our working practices since then including risk assessments, new PPE and social distancing measures.

Deep Cleaning a Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor

To clean the floor and remove old coatings such as sealers etc a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Remove and Go was sprayed onto the tiles and allowed to dwell for ten minutes. The grout lines were then given a good manual scrub with a stiff grout brush before turning my attention to the Terracotta tiles which were scrubbed mechanically. For this we use a black pad fitted to a rotary buffing machine adding more water as needed to help lubricate the process.

Terracotta Tiled Floor During Cleaning Crowthorne
The scrubbing released the dirt from the tiles and the soil was extracted with a low-pressure extraction machine. The client was amazed how much dirt was coming out of the floor. Some of the grout lines and textured inserts needed double treatment due to heavy build-up of sealer. I continued this process until the floor was completely stripped back and clean.

Sealing a Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor

Stripped back terracotta is very porous so I allowed the floor to dry out over the weekend to make sure it would be bone dry before sealing. Returning on the Monday I conducted a moisture test with a damp meter to check the floor was dry before starting to apply the sealer. Tile Doctor Seal and Go was used to seal the terracotta, a total of eight coats was applied leaving roughly twenty minutes between coats. Having air movers placed around the room helped with the drying time. Seal and Go is a water-based sealer so it doesn’t leave a smell as it dries, it works very well on Terracotta leaving a subtle sheen to the tile which puts new life in the floor.

Terracotta Tiled Floor After Cleaning Crowthorne
The client was delighted with their new floor and left a lovely testimonial which I have copied below:

“Dennis was punctual, professional and proficient. He was a pleasure to have around. We are delighted with the result of his work and we would have no hesitation in recommending him to friends and family “
Before leaving we discussed recommendations to keep the floor clean and what products to use. To this end a complimentary bottle of Tile Doctor Neutral Floor Cleaner was left for their use. This as its name implies is pH neutral so will ensure the newly applied seals stay in place unlike many acidic household cleaners that can strip the sealer from the floor. It is mild enough to use daily and has a nice fresh smell, so should ensure the integrity of the newly restored floor for some time to come.

Terracotta Tiled Floor After Cleaning Crowthorne
 

Professional Restoration of a Terracotta Tiled Kitchen in Berkshire

Twenty Year Old Terracotta Floor Renovated in Crowthorne Read More »

Dirty Terracotta Tiled Floor Before After Cleaning Bucklebury Berkshire

Dirty Wax Sealed Quarry and Terracotta Floor Renovated in Bucklebury

I was recently asked to survey the floors at a substantial property in Bucklebury which used to be a school. At some point in the 1970’s there was a major makeover and the property was converted into two houses. During the conversion a combination of Terracotta and Quarry tiles were installed throughout the ground floor and then sealed with what we believed was a wax-based product. Although Wax was a traditional sealant for Terracotta there are better modern sealers available now that are designed for the job and so we don’t recommend it. In this case the wax had deteriorated over the years and left the tiles looking tired and dirty.

Quarry Tiled Kitchen Floor Bucklebury Before Cleaning Terracotta Tiled Floor Bucklebury Before Cleaning

After reviewing the flooring, I demonstrated cleaning the tile and grout which went well and impressed the customer who after living with the floor looking dirty for some time was eager for the job to be completed. I gave the customer a price for renovating the whole floor which was agreed, and we set a date for the work to commence.

Quarry Tiled Kitchen Floor Bucklebury Before Cleaning

Cleaning Dirty Quarry and Terracotta Tiles

My first job was to strip off what remained of the wax sealer using Tile Doctor Remove and Go and a new Tile Doctor product called Wax Away which has been specifically designed for dealing with wax. Both products had very similar effects and together striped off the old coating with little issue. Of the two products my preference to use Wax Away as it foamed less when wet extracting with a spinner tool.

Quarry Tiled Kitchen Floor Bucklebury During Cleaning

After applying the Wax Away, I left it to dwell for fifteen minutes re-applying more product when it began to dry out. Leaving it to dwell allows it to penetrate the wax and weaken it so it’s easier to remove. I then used a 17-inch black scrubbing pad fitted to a rotary floor machine to scrub the solution into the tiles. Finally, I used a spinner tool fitted to a hot water pressure extraction system that is housed in my van to rinsed away and extract the resulting slurry.

Quarry Tiled Kitchen Floor Bucklebury During Cleaning

After the floor was clean, I set to work on the grout lines that still had traces of embedded wax sealer. The floor pads can struggle to reach into the recesses of the grout, so the solution is to use a stiff grout brush and scrub them clean by hand assisted with Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which is out go to grout cleaning product.

As a last step in the cleaning process I gave the floor and Acid Wash using Tile Doctor Grout Clean-up. I did this to further clean the floor and to neutralise Its pH after using so many high alkaline cleaning products.

Quarry Tiled Kitchen Floor Bucklebury After Cleaning Terracotta Tiled Floor Bucklebury During Cleaning

Sealing Quarry and Terracotta Tiles

I returned at the end of the week and checked that the moisture levels of the floor, we always do this to ensure the floor is dry before sealing and would not recommend sealing a damp floor as the results can be patchy. The readings were spot on, so I was able to get a started.

Quarry Tiled Kitchen Floor Bucklebury After Sealing

The customer wanted to keep the rich terracotta colours in the tile and wanted a sheen, so I selected Tile Doctor Seal and Go as the sealer. To fully seal the tiles, I used six coats on the smaller Quarry tiles and nine coats on the large Mexican Terracotta tiles. Seal and Go is a modern water-based acrylic sealer that provides both a stain resistant seal and a durable low-sheen finish, also being water based it doesn’t give off a smell as it dries.

Terracotta Tiled Floor Bucklebury After Sealing

The result was a huge improvement, needless to say my customer was very pleased and left the following feedback.

”I had a large quarry/terracotta tiled floor in kitchen/conservatory badly in need of cleaning. Dennis did an incredible job. He was very efficient and the result is outstanding, very happy to recommend”

 

Professional Renovation of a Large Quarry and Terracotta Floor in Berkshire

Dirty Wax Sealed Quarry and Terracotta Floor Renovated in Bucklebury Read More »

Terracotta Floor After Sealing in Fifield

Dirty Terracotta Tiles and Grout Cleaned and Sealed in Fifield

For this job, I travelled to a house in the town of Fifield, near the city of Windsor, Berkshire. My client’s problem was a heavily soiled Terracotta tiled floor. Terracotta tiles have been used for over two millennia, but are known to pick up dirt quite easily due to their porosity and a lack of natural surface glaze. This dirt can become ingrained if not removed quickly.

In this particular case, the tiles and grout lines were very dirty, with a small amount of grout haze blemishing some of the newly installed tiles. The affected area of the floor required a thorough clean. Additionally, most of the old sealer had worn away, further exposing the tiles to dirt and damage – this would need to be replaced.

Terracotta Floor Before Cleaning in Fifield

Cleaning dirty Terracotta tiles and grout lines

To clean the floor, I first used Tile Doctor Remove & Go, a strong multi-purpose stripper/cleaner which as its name suggests is designed to remove any old sealer left on the surface. Working in sections, I sprayed down a layer of Remove & Go, before leaving it dwell for roughly 5-10 minutes.

While Remove & Go was soaking into the Terracotta, I scrubbed the grout lines using a stiff grout brush. This helped to lift out the ingrained dirt and grout haze. After I was done with the grout my attention went back on the tiles, so I added a small amount of water to form a solution, which was then scrubbed into the affected area using a heavy weighted rotary machine and a stiff agitation pad.

Terracotta Floor Part Cleaned in Fifield Terracotta Floor Part Cleaned in Fifield

The floor was then rinsed using a high pressure hot water tile and grout cleaning extraction system to remove any remaining soils, pollutants, debris and old sealer. After cleaning, the floor was inspected to ensure all of the issues had been dealt with. Following this, it was treated to a final rinse.

Terracotta Floor After Cleaning in Fifield

Sealing Terracotta tiles and grout

The floor was then let to dry overnight. Thanks to the Aga cooker and damp proof membrane under the floor, the tiles and grout were clean and completely dry, ready for sealing the next day.

I sealed the floor with 6 coats of Tile Doctor Seal & Go to provide a healthy, durable seal, which also gave the tiles aesthetically pleasing sheen.

Terracotta Floor After Sealing in Fifield
As you can see from the photograph, the clean and seal made a marked improvement to the condition of the tiles and grout – and my client was very pleased!

Reconditioning the Terracotta Tiles

Dirty Terracotta Tiles and Grout Cleaned and Sealed in Fifield Read More »

=================================

Berkshire Tile Doctor

================================= Read More »

Scroll to Top