Cleaning Slate

Renovating Copper Slate Tiles with a Semi Riven Finish in Ribchester

This Copper Slate tiled floor at a property in the Ribble Valley village of Ribchester had been sealed just twelve months before by another company who used a topical acrylic sealer as the client wanted a shiny finish. However, this was a bad choice for a semi-riven tile and exacerbated by the fact that the client had three large dogs. The topical sealer just couldn’t cope and the shine on the Slate faded in a few months.

Semi Riven Copper Slate Before Cleaning Ribchester

After discussing the problem, I suggested stripping off what was left of the topical seal and then re sealing with a sturdier impregnating sealer. I recommended a product called Tile Doctor X-Tra seal which is a premium product that improves colour and is very durable so much so it can also be used externally. Since releasing this product last year it has proved to be very popular and has proven to be the answer in numerous tricky situations. It also adds a lustre and patina to the stone. The client was happy to go ahead with my quote.

Semi Riven Copper Slate Before Cleaning Ribchester

Cleaning a Semi Riven Copper Slate Tiled Kitchen Floor

My first concern when dealing with a floor situated in a kitchen is to prevent water being absorbed by the kitchen base units and plinths. Normally the plinths can be removed but if not, the solution is to run a bead of silicone around the area of concern. MDF is easily blown by moisture, and it doesn’t take us long to add so it’s well worth doing.

Semi Riven Copper Slate Before Cleaning Ribchester

The cleaning started with the application of a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which was scrubbed into the floor to remove the old sealer. On this occasion it was scrubbed in using a 200-grit milling pad fitted to a rotary machine. As well as stripping off the old sealer this action deep cleans the tile and grout. A lot of soil is released during the process, and this is brushed and rinsed away with clean water and extracted using a wet vacuum.

The next step was to give the floor an Acid Rinse using a product called Tile Doctor Grout Clean-up, this not only cleans the grout but also neutralised the pH of the floor after cleaning with The Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which is an alkaline product.

An acid wash removes grout smears, unwanted mineral deposits and roughens the stone at a microscopic level to provide a better bond for the sealer. You must be careful what you use it on, and we wouldn’t recommend it for use on acid sensitive materials such as Limestone, Marble, or Travertine. Grout Clean-up is however safe to use on Slate, but I wouldn’t leave it on for a long period of time.

After another rinse with water the wet vacuum was deployed again to remove as much moisture from the floor as possible. The floor was then left to dry out fully overnight.

Sealing a Semi Riven Copper Slate Kitchen Floor

The next day after confirming the floor was dry, work started with the application of what would be two coats of Tile Doctor X-Tra seal. X-Tra seal is an impregnating sealer that soaks into the pores of the Slate ensuring dirt cannot reside there.

Semi Riven Copper Slate After Cleaning Ribchester

I would be the first to admit that a topical sealer would have resulted in a shiner finish but clearly this was not a practical choice when you have 3 big dogs who will run around the floor and tear at the sealer with their claws. Topical sealers as the name suggest sit on the surface and are simply not a very practical option for this situation.

Semi Riven Copper Slate After Cleaning Ribchester

Once completed the Copper colour in the Slate was really enhanced, the grout looked much cleaner and overall, the floor looked great; more importantly the client was very happy with the work we had carried out.

For the cleaning of sealed Slate tiles, I recommend the use of Tile Doctor Neutral Clean which is pH neutral and gentle enough for regularly use. Its also provided in concentrated form so a small amount goes a long way. Many of the floor cleaning products you find in supermarkets are bleach based and far too strong for use on a sealed tile resulting in premature damage to the sealer. I forgot to ask what they had been using to clean the floor previously, but this may also have been a factor in why the previous sealer only lasted a few months.

 

Professional Restoration of a Semi Riven Copper Slate Kitchen Floor in Lancashire

Old Riven Green Slate Kitchen Floor Renovated in Leyland

This is an old Riven Green Slate floor in the kitchen of a property in Leyland that dates to when the house was built around 150 years ago. It was looking very worn indeed and the cement pointing was falling out in several areas. The client requested a site visit so we could provide a quote for the renovation.

Riven Green Slate Before Cleaning in Leyland

On inspection I could see the floor was in desperate need of a deep clean, repairs to the pointing and then sealing to add protection going forward. Having worked on the renovation of similar stone floors I was confident we could improve it significantly and with a new sealer applied it would look totally different. They were happy to go ahead with my quote and we booked in a suitable time to carry out the work.

Riven Green Slate Before Cleaning in Leyland

Cleaning and renovation of a Riven Green Slate Tiled Kitchen Floor

Were happy to take on work of any shape and size and as jobs go this was one of the smaller floors I’ve been asked to work on.

Work began with the application of a coarse 200-grit diamond pad fitted to a weighted rotary floor buffer. The pad was worked into the floor using a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Remove and Go for extra cleaning power and lubrication. The scrubbing action releases a lot of dirt and old sealers etc from the Slate turning the solution black. This was then rinsed off with water and the soil extracted with a wet vacuum.

Old floors like this one don’t have a damp proof membrane installed under the stone and so it’s quite common to see moisture from underneath the floor rising through the stone and depositing minerals including salts on the surface as the moisture evaporates. This problem is commonly known as effloresce and to counter it I like to neutralise the alkaline salts by giving the floor an acid rinse. This involves further cleaning the stone using a dilution of Tile Doctor Grout Clean Up which is scrubbed into the stone and then rinsed off with water and extracted afterwards. Not only does this dissolve any salts is also neutralises the use of alkaline cleaners and etches the stone slightly so you get a better bond with the sealer.

Once the floor cleaning part of the renovation plan was complete attention turned to knocking out the old failing cement that was used to grout the Slate slabs. With the rubble cleared away the stone was repointed using a modern breathable and flexible product that will cope with any moisture rising through the floor. Once dry the floor was then cleaned again removing all the soil with a wet vacuum and left to dry overnight.

Sealing a Riven Slate Tiled Kitchen Floor

Calling back the next day one thin coat of Tile Doctor X-Tra Seal was applied which added a bit of lustre and this will add strong protection to the stone. X-Tra seal is a premium product, but it was the perfect product for this stone and situation as its formulated using an oil-based resin that will bring out the colour of the green slate; it’s also fully breathable and waterproof so it’s a great sealer for use in high traffic internal or external areas.

Riven Green Slate During Sealing in Leyland

Again, it’s not a cheap sealer but for old rough stone floors in an old house without a damp proof membrane it ticks all the right boxes. Once done the floor was complete and it looked so much cleaner and healthier.

Riven Green Slate After Sealing in Leyland

As usual I discussed after care with my client and recommend they use Tile Doctor pH Neutral Cleaner which is a lot milder than the bleach based cleaners you often find on supermarket shelves. These stronger products can damage the seal (not the stone) and within weeks or months of using that type of cleaner the sealer will be compromised. It’s the sealer that stops dirt from becoming ingrained into the pores of the stone so it makes sense to use a cleaning product that will maximise its life.

Riven Green Slate After Sealing in Leyland

 

Professional Restoration of a Riven Green Slate Tiled Kitchen in Lancashire

Renovation of a Black Slate Kitchen Floor in Lancaster

The photographs below are of a dull and dirty Black Slate floor that I was recently asked to renovate at a property in the City of Lancaster which is a few miles south of our base in Carnforth.

Black Slate Floor Before Renovation Lancaster

Slate isn’t very porous which is why you often find it being used as roofing; however, this means any sealer applied is primarily active on the surface where it is more prone to wear from foot traffic. Regular cleaning with a pH neutral tile cleaner combined with topping up the sealer every 12 to 18 months will make the sealer last a lot longer. This rarely happens though and once a sealer has been worn off dirt will begin to penetrate the stone making it difficult to clean and dull.

In this case my client explained that the sealer had been applied by the tiler a few years ago and that they had been using washing up liquid to clean the floor. pH levels for washing up liquids vary but the most popular product has a pH level of 9 which is far too acidic for use on a sealed tile and slowly stripped the sealer away. I discussed with the client the process for renovating the slate floor, agreed a price for the work and arranged to come back a few weeks later.

Cleaning a Black Slate Floor Tiled Kitchen Floor

To renovate the floor, I first attached a coarse 200-grit Diamond pad to a buffing machine and ran it over the floor using water as a lubricant. This removed what was left of the old sealer deep cleaned the stone. The Grout was then scrubbed with Tile Doctor Pro-Clean and the floor was then rinsed with water and the soil extracted with a wet vacuum.

The floor was then inspected, and stubborn areas were spot treated with a little Tile Doctor Remove and Go which was sprayed on and left to soak in for ten minutes before being scrubbed in and rinsed off.

We finished the clean with a 400-Grit diamond padf followed by an Acid Wash with Grout Clean-Up, this left the Slate with a slightly acidic pH which helps bond the new sealer and counters the alkaline pH of the floor following the use of alkaline cleaning products.

Sealing a Black Slate Tiled Kitchen Floor

Before we sealed the whole floor, we always do some damp testing to make sure it is dry before sealing. This was an old floor with no damp proof membrane underneath so it needed to be very dry before we could apply the sealer.

Black Slate Floor Moisture Testing Before Sealing Lancaster

The client wanted a very high gloss finish, so we applied four coats of Tile Doctor High Shine sealer which is an acrylic sealer ideal for achieving this affect. If the floor wasn’t fully dry, we would have left it another day or two, but we find you can often speed up the drying process with the use of a dehumidifier and some air blowers.

Black Slate Floor During Renovation Lancaster

The client was very happy with the transformation in the Black Slate floor, they had looked dull and drab for quite a while and it was refreshing to see them look like new again. They also felt more confident that now they understood what had caused the problem and would be better able to maintain the floor going forward.

Black Slate Floor After Renovation Lancaster

 

Professional Restoration of a Black Slate Tiled Kitchen Floor in Lancashire

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