Dealing with Patchy Sandstone Flagstones

Sandstone is a particularly popular choice for kitchen and hallway floors amongst home owners in the UK. It not only possesses beautiful natural shades and features, but it is also typically hard wearing, making it an ideal stone for tiled flooring in high traffic areas of a house and can often be found laid as large riven flagstones in pubs and other commercial premises.

Naturally, just like any other type of tiled floor, Sandstone needs to be maintained using appropriate products and methods. A lack of adequate surface sealer in particular leaves Sandstone susceptible to ingrained dirt, and can leave distinct, unsightly patches such as those in the photograph below.

Sandstone Floor Before Cleaning in Thaxted

In this instance, I visited a client in the old Essex town of Thaxted, who believed that her four square meter Sandstone tiled floor might be suffering from damp issues after lifting up the mats covering the area.

However, when I arrived at the property and ran damp tests, I found the issue to be superficial. The Sandstone floor however did require attention in the form of a deep clean and a fresh seal to tackle the white patches and prevent further discolouration.

Cleaning a Sandstone tiled floor

To begin the cleaning process I spread Tile Doctor Remove & Go evenly across the floor. It was left to dwell for approximately 15 minutes, during which time it worked to break down the old sealer remaining on the tiles. I then agitated the area twice over with both a black scrubbing pad fitted to a rotation machine lift away any dirt.

The resultant slurry was removed using a wet vacuum and the floor was then rinsed with water and then mixed a strong solution of one part Tile Doctor Pro Clean to three parts water which was used to give the floor a final clean and scrub the grout clean before using the wet vacuum again and giving the floor a final rinse with water.

Sealing a Sandstone tiled floor

After completing the cleaning process I left the floor to dry over the weekend. Upon my return to the house I proceeded to seal the tiles with three coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is an impregnating sealer that soaks into the pores of the stone and provide durable surface protection going forward. Colour Grow is also specially designed to let the floor breathe and enhance the natural colours in the stone and, in this case, really helped to intensify the natural sand-coloured shades in the tiles.

Sandstone Floor After Cleaning in Thaxted

The difference made to these Sandstone tiles was really noticeable, with the white patches completely removed and the surface more generally back to looking like new, needless to say, my client was very happy with the results.
 
 
Source: Restoring Sandstone Tiled Flooring in Essex

Removing Grout Haze Left from Sandstone After Tiling

It’s not that uncommon for newly installed tiled floors to suffer from grout haze. This occurs where builder or tiler fails to remove all the excess grout from the surface of the tile after installation. It’s not always immediately obvious as the grout has to dry before it shows up and if the tiles are sealed afterward the grout is trapped on the surface of the tile under the sealer which makes it even more difficult to remove. Not too long ago, I was called to address this exact problem experienced on my client’s Sandstone tiled floor at her house Wappenham, Northamptonshire.

This first picture shows how the builder had left the floor after sealing (note how all the tiles have a similar colour). Also shown in the picture is the equipment I use to remove grout haze should you wish to do this yourself.

Grout Haze Removal from Sandstone Wappenham

The second picture shows a close-up of the white grout haze deposits on the surface of the tile; the issue is probably difficult to appreciate if you haven’t come across this type of problem yourself however you will find ordinary household cleaning products will be largely ineffectual.

Grout Haze Removal from Sandstone Wappenham

Removing Sealer from Sandstone Floor Tiles

The third picture shows the first stage of the cleaning process which required stripping off the sealer so I could then treat the Grout Haze. To do this I applied Tile Doctor Remove & Go liberally across the floor, before agitating with a black stripping pad fitted to a rotary machine to break down the old surface sealer. I followed this by using a wet-vac machine to remove any soiled residue. As you can see in the next photograph, the colours are already starting to show.

Grout Haze Removal from Sandstone Wappenham

Treating Grout Haze on Sandstone

The next photo shows the second stage of the process, which involved the application of a new product in the Tile Doctor range called Acid Gel. The acid based formula is required to remove the cement/grout and being a gel you find the product remains in situ breaking down the grout haze instead of spreading around as you would expect with a liquid.

Grout Haze Removal from Sandstone Wappenham

I left the Acid Gel to dwell for approximately ten minutes, before mixing it with water and scrubbing it into the tiles with an industrial brush. This was followed by a second wet vacuum to ensure all the residue was removed. A turbo dryer was used on the treated area to speed up the drying process whilst I moved onto the next section.

Grout Haze Removal from Sandstone Wappenham Grout Haze Removal from Sandstone Wappenham

Sealing Sandstone Floor Tiles

Once the floor was fully dry I was able to seal it again with a couple of coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow. Sealing will protect the floor from staining and make it easier to clean, additionally Colour Grow soaks into the pores of the stone protecting it from within and enhancing the natural colours of the stone in the process.

Grout Haze Removal from Sandstone Wappenham

The final photograph shows an area which has been fully sealed and the tiles restored to their natural beauty. I achieved this result across the entirety of the floor.
 
 
Source: Sandstone Floor Cleaning and Restoration Service in Northamptonshire

Refreshing the Sealer on a Flagstone Floor

This property was situated in the tiny, yet picturesque village of Grafton Underwood in Kettering, Northamptonshire. The village has only a population numbering a few hundred and, interestingly enough, is the childhood home of the famous ‘Bridget Jones’ character. I have previously worked on a number of floors in Grafton Underwood, and on this particular occasion I was called to complete the job through a recommendation – which is always welcome!

This particular customer had two floors that needed re-finishing; the first was a polished Limestone tiled conservatory (which I will cover in a separate post as the process was different) and the second a Flagstone tiled living room; so on a rather dull day in November, I began my work.

Stripping a Flagstone tiled floor

The sealer on the Flagstone tiled living room had failed in certain places, resulting in the floor becoming difficult to clean due to dirt becoming ingrained in the stone. The decline in the sealer is not uncommon, as they do wear down over time – especially in an area of high traffic like a living room. To resolve this issue, the old surface seal needed to be stripped back and re-sealed.

Flagstone Sitting Room Grafton Underwood Before Cleaning

To remove what was left of the old sealer, I applied a dilution of Tile Doctor Remove and Go and scrubbed it into the floor using a rotary machine fitted with black stripping pads. I then gave the floor an initial rinse, before paying special attention to scrubbing the stubborn spots, making sure all of the sealer was removed.

I then gave the floor an acid wash using Tile Doctor Grout Clean-Up in order to remove grout haze and other mineral deposits which were evident. Due to its acidic properties, you have to be very careful with this product on any type of stone, so I didn’t let it dwell for too long and made sure the floor was thoroughly rinsed down afterwards, with all solutions extracted using a wet-vac machine.

Sealing a Flagstone tiled floor

The floor was left to dry for more than 24 hours, before I returned to re-seal it using Tile Doctor Seal & Go. This product provides both a stain resistant surface seal and the durable low-sheen finish requested by my client. Seal & Go is suitable for use on internal unsealed, porous surfaces.

Flagstone Sitting Room Grafton Underwood After Cleaning

I guess the photographs don’t really do the transformation justice however the freshly re-sealed Flagstone living room certainly brightened up what was a very dreary autumn day!
 
 
Source: Sandstone Floor Cleaning and Sealing service in Northamptonshire

Short Lived Sealer Needing Re-application

I had arranged to work on an original Sandstone floor in an old barn conversion in the town of Sedbergh, Cumbria, however I had to delay the visit due to the poor conditions of the roads in this area at the time due to Storm Desmond which you may recall brought a substantial amount of flooding to Cumbria. Sedbergh was historically considered part of the West Riding of Yorkshire – sitting just within the Yorkshire Dales National Park – but in more modern times, it has come to be part of Cumbria.

Storm Desmond Flooding on route to Sedbergh

The floor had been hidden by several old carpets and underlay and, unsurprisingly – judging by the condition – had never been professionally cleaned, at least not by today’s standard. Given the location of the property and the fact it was a barn conversion we can assume the stone flooring was very old, and certainly now in need of restoration.

I could see that the stone had never been properly refined, leaving a rough surface that my client wanted to be smoothed down. I told my client that we would be able to achieve this using a process Tile Doctor has developed using very coarse diamond encrusted pads, known as Milling.

Sandstone Floor in Sedbergh Before Milling Sandstone Floor in Sedbergh Before Milling

Milling a Sandstone floor

The diamond encrusted grit pads are designed to smooth down the stone; much like coarse sandpaper is used to smooth down a rough piece of wood. To begin the coarse pads were fitted to a heavy Victor Trojan rotary machine and Russell was on hand to mill the floor. This process requires quite a bit of water to lubricate the pads and can cause a mess so it’s just as well the owner had decided to have the floor done before the new kitchen was fitted.

Sandstone Floor in Sedbergh Before Milling

The Sandstone stairs were also milled and once done the whole floor was given a thorough wash down to remove any remaining debris.

Sealing a Sandstone floor

We decided to leave the sealing until after the kitchen fitters had been and so we came back a few days later to seal the floor, but not before giving the tiles a light clean using Tile Doctor pH Neutral Cleaner, which is suitable for use on most kinds of stone – especially those which are acid sensitive.

The floor was then speed dried with fans and then sealed with two coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow. This sealer really brought out the natural colours in the Sandstone tiles, and provided the Matt finish my client had requested.

Sandstone Floor in Sedbergh After Milling Sandstone Floor in Sedbergh After Milling

The outcome was great, but the photographs can tell the story better than we can. My client was very pleased with result, leaving the following feedback: “Both Russell and Heidi were helpful and particularly flexible in view of the flooding at the time. They were both professional and polite and did the job thoroughly. I was delighted with the result”.

Sandstone Floor in Sedbergh After Milling

 
 
Source: Sandstone Flagstone Floor Cleaning and Restoration service in Cumbria

Refreshing Sandstone Flagstone in a Barn Conversion

These photographs are from a fantastic barn conversion in the town of Newark, Nottinghamshire. The owners of the property, however, were unhappy with the state of their modern Sandstone Flagstone tiled floor, which was looking dull and tired. Flagstones are typically quite hard-wearing and durable but will need proper maintenance over time and I was called in get them looking like new again.

Sandstone Flagstone Floor Before Cleaning Newark

Cleaning Sandstone Flagstones

Firstly, I mixed a solution of one part Tile Doctor Pro-Clean, which is a high alkaline cleaner, to 10 parts water; this was then applied to the floor and left it to dwell for 15 minutes before agitating the solution into the Flagstones with a scrubbing brush fitted to a low-speed weighted rotary machine. This helped to remove the soil build-up and also break down the old sealer, the resulting residue was promptly removed using a wet-vac machine and the entire floor rinsed with fresh water.

Following the clean, I installed two whole room air mover driers to accelerate the drying of the floor overnight. It is essential to ensure any tiled floor is completely dry before sealing, as excess moisture has the potential to upset the performance of the sealer.

Sealing a Sandstone Flagstone tiled floor

On my return the next day, I ran some damp tests to check for excess moisture. Once I was satisfied that the floor was ready to seal, I applied a total of four coats of Tile Doctor’s colour intensifying, topical sealer, Colour Grow.

The sealer impregnates the stone, providing durable protection from within, and thereby protecting the stone from soil ingress, and both oil and water based spills. Colour Grow was the ideal choice of sealer since my clients did not want a shiny finish, and this product dries matte in appearance whilst enriching the natural mineral colours in the stone.

Sandstone Flagstone Floor After Cleaning Newark

After completing the job, I made sure to offer my clients some day-to-day cleaning advice. The simplest form of maintenance is damp washing with a mop, using Tile Doctor pH Neutral Tile Cleaning Solution, providing that is has been correctly diluted. I also recommended changing the mop water every 7-10 metres squared, to help avoid suspended soils from being re-deposited back onto the surface of the floor.
 
 
Source: Sandstone Flagstone and Grout cleaning and sealing service in Nottinghamshire

Removing Stains for Sandstone Flagstones

Recently, I was asked to visit a property in the small port town of Boston, Lincolnshire, to quote for a clean and seal. My client had recently moved into a new home, but the riven natural Sandstone flagstone floor had not been properly cared for or sealed by the previous owners and was now in need of a thorough clean. Sandstone flagstones are a popular choice for both residential and commercial use, and are especially popular in kitchens and hallways.

This particular floor was blemished by noticeable stains that had seeped into the stone. Further liquid stains were visible in other areas of the floor, as they had soaked into the stone due to the lack of a surface sealer. My primary tasks would be removing these blemishes and to provide a stain resistant surface seal to prevent damage in the future. My client also requested a natural look finish to the floor rather than a topical shine seal.

Riven Flagstone Floor Before Cleaning Boston Riven Flagstone Floor Before Cleaning Boston

Cleaning a stained Flagstone tiled floor

This was a two day job. On day one, my main focus was on eliminating the stubborn stains on the stone tiles. I mixed a strong solution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean, a high alkaline cleaner, with water to tackle the heavy soil build-up and applied the solution to the floor in sections leaving it to dwell for a short period first so it could get underneath the dirt and lift it to the surface.

I then used a combination of a stiff brush and a specialist Rotovac machine to scrub and clean the floor. The Rotovac uses water under high pressure to clean the floor and is highly effective in eliminating the difficult-to-reach dirt, particularly where it might be hidden due to the riven nature of the tiles. The cleaning process was repeated until I was satisfied with the results.

Sealing a Flagstone tiled floor

After finishing the clean I left the house, allowing the floor to dry off overnight. On day two, I returned to the house and ran damp tests to ensure that the surface was completely dry before commencing the seal.

Riven Flagstone Floor During Sealing Boston

My choice of sealer was Tile Doctor Colour Grow. As an impregnating sealer, this product soaks into the stone to provide robust protection from within. It also contains a colour intensifier and so, as you can see from the photographs, it really helped to enhance the natural shades in the Sandstone.

Riven Flagstone Floor After Sealing Boston

My client was delighted with the results and I think you will agree the floor looks transformed and much more appealing. Additionally the sealer is now protecting the stone from staining and liquids form puddles on the surface of the tile instead of soaking into its pores.

Riven Flagstone Floor After Sealing Boston

 
 
Source: Professional Tile, Stone and Grout cleaning and maintenance services in Lincolnshire

Refreshing A Flagstone Floor

Here’s a job I completed not too long ago in the town of Maldon, which sits alongside the Blackwater estuary in South Essex. Although the Flagstone tiled floor in my client’s kitchen was – generally speaking – in good physical condition, the surface seal had worn down over time, leaving the tiles looking dull and lifeless.

Flagstone is quite a hard wearing stone that is commonly used for both internal and external surfaces, whether this is something as simple as a kitchen floor, or something more complex like a public monument. I was commissioned to restore the floor back to looking it best, by way of a thorough clean and a new seal.

Flagstone Floor Before Cleaning Maldon

Cleaning a Flagstone tiled floor

My go to cleaner for most kinds of natural stone tile is Tile Doctor Pro-Clean, a high alkaline product which contains both cleaning and stripping properties depending on the dilution ratio. In this case I wanted a strong solution so I could strip off any remaining sealer and so it was diluted one part Pro-Clean to three parts clean water. The solution was left to dwell for 10 minutes, allowing it to soak into the stone and get to work breaking down any remaining sealer.

I then attached a black scrubbing pad to my rotary machine, and used this to agitate the solution into the tiles. This helped to lift out any ingrained dirt and remove the stubborn marks blemishing the floor. Once the initial clean had been completed, I turned my attention to the grout between the tiles, using Pro-Clean in combination with a stiff grout brush to clean up the grout as much as possible. I cleaned the floor twice in total before rinsing the entire area with water and leaving the house for a few days, giving the surface time to dry.

Sealing a Flagstone tiled floor

Upon my return to the house, I ran some damp tests to double check that the floor had dried completely. This is important as any residual moisture can potentially damage the performance of the sealer. Once I was satisfied that the tiles were able to take the seal, I applied two coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow sealant.

Flagstone Floor After Cleaning Maldon

Colour Grow is an impregnating sealer that seeps into the pores of the stone provides durable stain protection from within, along with a nice finish. It’s also specially designed to intensify the natural shades and colours in the stone, turning dull floors into characterful household features. Colour Grow is suitable for use most stone surfaces, including Flagstone, Limestone, Marble, Quarry, Sandstone and Slate.

My customer was very pleased with the result, with marked differences in condition and appearance achieved in the space of a few short days.

Flagstone Floor During Sealing Maldon

 
 
Source: Professional Shower Tile, Stone and Grout cleaning and maintenance services in Essex

Restoring the appearance of a Sandstone Kitchen Tiles

Here’s an interesting job that I recently completed down in Penrith, a small market town just under three miles from the Lake District National Park.

My client had a Sandstone tiled flagstone floor in her kitchen which had been continually sealed over its lifetime – but without removing the old sealer first. This is not advised, as it can lead to a severe problem where the layers of sealer become compacted on the surface. The result is a significant build-up of old sealer which is almost impossible to remove, even with some of the best and strongest products available.

Sandstone floor before milling in Penrith

This problem is particularly acute in Sandstone because, as a naturally porous stone, it has a high grab factor when it comes to polyurethane type wax sealers. As a result, it would take me a significant amount of work to reduce the problem as far as possible.

Milling Sandstone tiles

As no chemical products would prove effective in resolving the issue, I opted to use a milling technique using abrasive, coarse milling pads. The idea is that the milling pads penetrate beneath the many layers of old sealer and re-finish the stone. In order to validate the proposed solution I conducted an experiment in a test area under the dishwasher. The test proved satisfactory, and so my client was happy to extend the solution to the rest of the kitchen floor.

Sandstone floor during milling in Penrith

As you can see from the photos, the milling pads allowed me to get in deep where chemical products were simply unable to make a difference, giving the Sandstone tiles a much more refined look. As well as flattening a stone milling does strip a tile naked so it’s necessary to seal the stone after to enhance the natural colours and features as well as protect the stone going forward.

Cleaning and sealing Sandstone tiles

After spending all day milling the rest of the floor, it came time to give it a thorough clean to remove any remaining dirt and muck, especially along the grout lines. My choice of cleaner was Tile Doctor Pro-Clean, a high-alkaline cleaner which is used on most natural stone floors, including Sandstone, Granite, Limestone and Slate. The Pro-Clean was diluted with water and then scrubbed into the tile and grout.

After finishing the clean, I left for a few days as the floor needed at least 48 hours to dry completely before it could be sealed. Tiled floors must always be left to dry completely before being sealed because any excess moisture or residue can damage the performance of the sealer. When I returned, I applied three layers of Tile Doctor Colour Grow, an impregnating, colour intensifying sealer which is designed to provide durable surface protection from within, while also accentuating the natural shades and colours in the stone.

Sandstone floor after milling and sealing in Penrith

My client was very pleased with the results, and was amazed I was able to do anything to resolve the compacted sealer issue considering that the chemical products used previously were unsuccessful.
 
 
Source: Professional Tile, Stone and Grout cleaning services in North-Cumbria