Traditionally Terracotta tiled floors were protected using wax and this floor at a house in Battersea had been protected with a number of treatments including wax and other sealers, without a full history of the floor it’s not that easy to tell what you’re dealing with. Wax isn’t an ideal sealer as it can scratch easily which allows dirt to become ingrained and modern sealers outperform it in many ways.
Cleaning Terracotta Tile
To get the floor clean I started the job using a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which was scrubbed into the tiles using a rotary machine fitted with a scrubbing pad. Pro-Clean is a heavy duty alkaline cleaner which can be used to remove wax residues and old sealants and being an alkaline product its safe for use on tiles. Unfortunately because there was so much old sealer and wax in the tiles it took several attempts to get the tiles clean and in the end it took five days to get them back to their natural state. Once this was done the floor was given a thorough rinse to remove any trace of cleaning product and allowed left to dry.
Sealing Terracotta Tile
Tiles need to be bone dry before sealing or it will upset the final effect of the sealer and in the end I had to wait three weeks before I was happy to start sealing, Terracotta being clay based is very porous so this is not that unusual.
To seal the tiles I used eight coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go which is a water based topical sealer which leaves no smell as it dries and also adds a nice sheen to the floor, eight coats is not unusual for Terracotta again due to its porosity.
The customer could not believe the transformation and even though it took a lot longer than first anticipated he was really pleased, especially when he got his invoice, because he was expecting to be charged for the extra time it took to complete. I told him that once I had given him my price I do not add extras.
Although officially the East Surrey Tile Doctor we often get requests further afield through customer recommendations, this particular Terracotta Tiled floor was in Brixton, South London. You can see from the photographs below that the floor was not looking its best and had been splashed with paint.
Terracotta Tile Cleaning
To get the tiles clean we applied a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean mixed 50/50 with NanoTech Ultra Clean which combines well to produce a heavy duty alkaline cleaner/coatings stripper with a cleaner containing tiny nano sized abrasive particles that work deep into the floor. This combination is ideal for dealing difficult floors, its best to let it dwell on the floor for 10 to 20 minutes before working it into the tiles with a rotary machine fitted with a black scrubbing pad.
Once that was done the soiled solution was removed from the floor using a wet vacuum and we were then able to see a few spots where old wax remained on the floor. To deal with the wax Tile Doctor Remove and Go, which is a powerful coatings remover, was applied to the floor and left to dwell for a while before rinsing thoroughly with clean water and then treated with a steam cleaning machine to ensure the floor had been neutralised of all chemicals. It’s important not to leave a trace of chemical on the floor as they could react with the sealer.
The floor was still quite wet at this stage with small puddles of water forming in the dips of the uneven floor; the wet vacuum took care of most of this but the floor was still too damp for sealing so I left a couple of air blowers to assist with the drying of the floor and returned two days later to start the sealing.
Terracotta Tile Sealing
When we returned the floor was mainly dry but there were a couple of damp spots which I took care of with a heat gun. Tile Doctor Seal and Go was used to seal the floor; Terracotta can be very porous so eight coats were required to completely seal the floor so it was some time before it was finished.
When I finished I gave the customer instructions on how to maintain the floor. He was over the moon with the result and said that it had far exceeded his expectations.
We were consulted on this Terracotta Tiled floor because the owner complained that whenever she cleaned and sealed them they always got dirty quickly. I asked how many coats of seal was used on the floor and as it turns out only two coats were used because that was the instructions on the bottle. I suspect the bottle hadn’t listed Terracotta specifically and I informed the owner that with this type of floor the minimum amount of coats would be seven, she was very surprised by this but the fact is Terracotta is very porous.
Cleaning Terracotta Tile
I started the job using a strong solution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean, which is a heavy duty alkaline product ideal for cleaning tiles, scrubbed in with a black pad fitted to a rotary machine. I had to repeat this about five times and also used a steamer to clean out the grout lines and any bits left on the tiles, once this was done I thoroughly rinsed the floor to remove any remaining chemical and left it to dry overnight.
Sealing Terracotta Tile
I left the floor to dry overnight and the next day came back to do the sealing. There were a couple of spots that needed further attention which were tackled using the steamer which has the added advantage to neutralising the floor and evaporating leaving the floor dry again. Tile Doctor Seal and Go was used to seal the floor, it’s a water based sealer so it doesn’t give off an odour when it’s drying and also offers durable stain protection together with a low sheen finish. In the end the floor actually took nine coats of sealer before it was fully sealed, which naturally took a long time to apply as you have to wait for it to dry before applying the next coat.
The lady was extremely happy and said it turned out exactly as she had always wanted it to.