Flagstone Tiles

Old Bitumen Covered Flagstone Floor Restored in Morecambe

Late last year I was asked to survey a Flagstone floor in Morecambe which appeared to be beyond restoration. The floor had a long history and at some point in its past was covered with carpet which had been secured onto self-levelling cement with bitumen. All the companies that had visited before we got there said nothing could be done with it and recommended replacing the carpet or covering it with vinyl. As mentioned, it had been previously covered with carpet however this is an old floor and damp had been rising though the floor causing the carpet to rot. My client didn’t want to entertain that as a solution and so kept on looking for a company that could restore the stone.

Flagstone Floor Before Restoration Morecambe Removing Self-Levelling Compound and Bitumen from Flagstones in Morecambe

Old houses like this one do not have a damp proof membrane installed under the floor and moisture rising through the stone needs to be allowed to evaporate or you will find damp spreads outwards towards the walls leading to rising damp. In this case I suspect the bitumen which acts as a water barrier had either failed or damp was coming up the wall and into the carpet and underlay. Certainly, in our experience, if you have an old natural stone floor like this it is best not to cover it with anything more than a rug.

Having inspected the floor, I recommended restoring the appearance of the flagstones by grinding the surface down a few millimetres to reveal new stone. We can do this using several different grades of coarse diamond encrusted diamond pads, a process we call Milling.

Cleaning/Repairing a Flagstone Tiled Hallway Floor

After being given instructions to restore the floor we returned on the schedule date and began by removing as much of the loose cement and bitumen by hand using hand tools.

Removing Self-Levelling Compound and Bitumen from Flagstones in Morecambe

milling the floor using a very coarse 50-Grit pad fitted with DRB segments (Diamond Resin Blocks). Cutting the surface of the stone like this is hard work and requires the use of a weighted floor buffer to apply the pads. The process is lubricated with water and generates a lot of slurry which is extracted off the floor with a wet vacuum. The 50-grit pad was followed with a 100-grit DRB pad and then 200-grit DRB pad which start the slow process of refining the surface. It’s a two-man job so I brought a colleague along, whilst one was milling the other could take a rest and help with the clean-up.

The milling did a great job of removing the Black Bitumen, Self-Levelling compound and old paint revealing the true beauty ` and colour of the Flagstones, in fact the stone had quite a variance of colour which was lovely to see coming through. Half the pointing was missing so after milling the stone we moved onto replacing what was left of the old pointing and replacing with a modern breathable product.

We called back the next day to finish the stone cleaning by further renovating the stone surface using finer grades of diamond encrusted burnishing pads of 400 and 800-grit. Again, you need to water to lubricate the process and rinse the slurry of the floor with water after each pad, then extract with a wet vacuum. This does leave the floor damp, so once we had finished it was left to dry out for a few days, old floors without a damp proof membrane can take longer to dry and especially so in the Winter months.

Flagstone Floor After Restoration Morecambe

Sealing a Flagstone Tiled Hallway Floor

Returning a few days later the stone was first checked with a damp meter to check it had dried out before sealing. The moisture readings were fine, so it was then sealed with a couple of coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which penetrates deep into the stone protecting it from within and enhancing the natural colours in the process.

Flagstone Floor After Restoration Morecambe

The flagstone floor was completely transformed by the process and our client was over the moon with the result. In fact, they have asked us back to do the same in the Kitchen as the vinyl in there has since been torn up and revealed the same stone.

 

Professional Restoration of a Flagstone Tiled Hallway in Lancashire

Renovating Flood Damaged Flagstone Floor in a Whalley Listed Building

This Flagstone floor was under water in 2015 due to a flood that affected the beautiful village of Whalley resulting in many residents being evacuated from their homes. Four years later and the floor had settled in places and large chunks of Limecrete pointing had become loose. As you can imagine the floor hadn’t been the same since.

It took a while before the customer could get back into the house and the insurance assessor said that because this was an original floor and the building was grade 2 listed the flagstone floor had to stay in place. There is no guarantee from the local council that the house and adjacent streets won’t get flooded again in the future, but this type of floor is probably the most hardwearing for this situation so is best left in place. Wood flooring, carpet, vinyl etc will not stand up to another flood and would have to be replaced every time.

Flagstone-Floor Before Restoration in Whalley Flagstone-Floor Before Restoration in Whalley

I was asked to come up with some solutions for renovating the flagstone floor and replacing the Limecrete pointing which was tricky as whatever replaced the Limecrete pointing needed to be fully breathable as did the sealer that went on the stone.

After some research we decided to use a German product called VDW 800 for the pointing instead of Limecrete. it’s designed to be fully breathable (permeable) and suitable for outside use such as patios and porches etc which made it ideal for a floor that may face flooding again. Its highly flexible, durable and comes in four colours. It can be cleaned via a pressure washer on a wide fan and it won’t loosen, so I was confident that if another flood hit the town all this floor would need was a clean down.

The client was very happy to hear this news and wanted us to go ahead as soon as possible and get the floor restored. With a restoration plan worked out we agreed a date for our return to complete the work.

Cleaning and Repointing a Flagstone Floor

On our return our first course of action was to clean the stone using a 100 and 200-grit milling pads which were run several times over each flagstone using water for lubrication. The resulting slurry was removed using a wet vacuum and the floor was then treated to an acid rinse using Tile Doctor Grout Clean-up. After a rinse with water and extraction with the wet vacuum the flagstones were given a final clean using a 400-grit diamond burnishing pad.

With the floor now clean we set about removing the old pointing using an 8lb pneumatic drill, whilst noisy it did make quick work of the task. After a another clean to remove the debris the floor was repointed using the VDW 800 product mentioned earlier. The floor was then left to dry overnight.

Flagstone-Floor During Restoration in Whalley Flagstone-Floor During Restoration in Whalley

Sealing a Flagstone Tiled Floor in Lancashire

I came back the next day to review the previous days work and ensure I was happy with the state of the floor before applying a sealer. This is important as otherwise you risk sealing in dirt which would affect the appearance. It’s tricky to tell when a floor it wet and on this occasion I felt the stone would benefit from another clean so I cleaned the floor one last time using a black buffing pad and water. The water was then removed as before with a wet vacuum.

Flagstone-Floor After Restoration in Whalley Flagstone-Floor After Restoration in Whalley

The floor was left to fully dry out for a further 24 hours and I called back one more time to review the floor and apply three coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is a breathable sealer that also enhances the natural colours in the stone.

Once finished the floor looked great again and the clients were over the moon with the result. Fingers crossed there would be no further flooding in the future, however even if there was the new grout should stand up to it.

 

Professional Restoration of a Flood Damaged Flagstone Floor in Lancashire

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