Deep Cleaning Dirty Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor in Moretonhampstead


Earlier this year I was called to the Dartmoor town of Moretonhampstead in order to take a look at a large Terracotta tiled kitchen/dining room which the owners had ‘lived with’ for over a decade but were finding it harder and harder to keep clean. Upon arrival, I could see that any sealer that had been used previously was well beyond its best and the floor was holding in the dirt and grime because of how porous unsealed terracotta is.

Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor Before Cleaning Moretonhampstead

I conducted a test on a small area of the floor which not only helped me to identify the most suitable product to clean the floor with but also to show the customer how much of an impact a professional clean and seal of a floor is likely to have. The first product I tried was Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which although cleaned the tiles very well I could tell was going to be a problem when it came to rinsing because the floor was absorbing it almost as quickly as I was able to put it down! My solution came in the form of Tile Doctor Oxy-Gel which is a very similar product to Pro-Clean and is a very powerful stripper/degreaser but has the added benefit of being in gel form, so it sits on the tiles rather than becomes absorbed into them. It is also a very good option for riven stone, uneven tiles or undulating floors because unlike a liquid it will not run off the high spots.

The clients were thrilled with the test area and couldn’t believe how much lighter the tiles were and as soon as I sent them my quote they booked me in at my next availability.

Deep Cleaning Terracotta Tiles

When I returned to the property my first task was to protect the woodwork from splashing by dressing the skirting boards and kitchen plinths in a blue plastic covering. I then set to work applying Oxy-Gel to the tiles and allowing it to dwell for about five minutes before scrubbing it in with a stiff bristled brush fitted to a rotary buffer.

The scrubbing action released the dirt form the Terracotta and I was then able to extract it from the floor using a wet vacuum. I worked methodically in small areas at a time and when the whole floor was done it was given a thorough rinse to remove any trace of cleaning products from the floor. I also checked the floor carefully and spot treated any stubborn staining and used the wet vacuum to get the floor as dry as possible before leaving for the day.

Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor Before Sealing Moretonhampstead

Sealing Terracotta Tiles

After I was satisfied that the tiles were all clean I then needed to wait for the floor to dry before I could seal. As I mentioned these tiles were very porous and so took longer than usual to dry out but once the moisture levels were at an acceptable level I returned to finish the job.

Once terracotta has been stripped it can reveal historic damage such as acid stains or from inappropriate cleaning products which look like lighter patches on the tiles. Upon my return I spent a while improving any areas like this by using diamond encrusted burnishing pads to resurface the tiles. In general, it is not recommended on terracotta because you lose the natural texture of the tiles and create a smooth finish but in this instance the customer decided that this was preferable to the stains remaining visible.

After both the customer and I were happy with the condition of the tiles I began to seal the floor with Tile Doctor Seal and Go, an acrylic based sealer which would give the tiles a slightly glazed or freshly mopped appearance. Because of the porosity of this particular batch of terracotta tile it took eleven coats before the floor was fully sealed!

The customer was very happy, and the tiles lit the room up, transforming it.

Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor After Cleaning and Sealing Moretonhampstead
 
 

Professional Renovation of a Dirty Terracotta Tiled Floor in Devon



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Flood Damaged Sandstone Flagstone Floor Renovated in Chagford


Chagford is a small town on the north-east edge of Dartmoor and so as you can expect is surrounded by plenty of old farmhouses, some still as part of a working farm, some long since converted to family homes with just a small area around the property remaining and some having made use of the land and reinvented farmland. I visited a property that falls into the latter category, having converted pastoral farmland into stables and a riding school with a family home at the centre. Whilst the owners were on holiday having a well-earned rest a pipe burst flooding the ground floor of their house, damaging the Sandstone flagstone flooring in the process.

I went over to inspect the floor and could see that the stone floor had dried out but was now dull from dirt and in addition some of the stones were now suffering from shaling. This is where the top layers of the stone start to delaminate, and the only treatment is to cut the stones back to a decent surface through a process called milling. Tile Doctor has available a set of very coarse diamond encrusted pads for this purpose which I was able to demonstrate. I carried out the demonstration on a small area so that the customers could be confident that there was a remedy and then I measured the floor so that I could work out the amount of products that would be needed and priced the job accordingly.

Flood Damaged Sandstone Tiled Floor Chagford Before Restoration

The customers were keen to go ahead with the quote and I arranged to go back and restore the floor at a mutually suitable date.

Milling Delaminated Sandstone Flagstones

On my return I prepped the skirting boards around the hallway with plastic tape to protect them from the soil generated during the milling process. Once done I started the floor treatment using a very coarse with a 50-grit diamond milling pad to cut the sandstone back and then followed with a 100, 200 and finally a 400-grit pad to get rid of any scratches caused by the coarser pads and to tighten the pores of the sandstone which would allow for easier maintenance. Water is used to lubricate the process and the floor is rinsed with more water, which is then extracted with a wet vacuum between the application of each pad.

Once this was completed and the sandstone floor was thoroughly rinsed and then dried with the wet vacuum to remove as much moisture as possible. The floor was then left to dry out thoroughly before I returned to seal. This was a large area and so the milling was done in various stages over a few days so by the time I had finished the last area the first one was nearly ready to be sealed.

Sealing Sandstone Flagstones

The customers wanted a slight sheen to the stone floor, but not too shiny and so Tile Doctor’s Seal and Go was used; this is an acrylic sealer which once fully cured will settle to a satin finish which works really well on this Sandstone. Like the cleaning the sealing was also staggered into sections to avoid the whole of the ground floor being out of action whilst the sealer dried.

Flood Damaged Sandstone Tiled Floor Chagford After Restoration

Similar to paint drying, the polymers in Seal and Go initially give the floor a semi-gloss appearance and so I warned the customer of this, reassuring them that it would dull to a satin finish over the next week or so. In fact, I called back two weeks later to check and they confirmed this had happened and they were very happy with the result.
 
 

Restoration of Water Damaged Sandstone Flagstone Flooring in Devon



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Victorian Tiled Farmhouse Hallway Deep Cleaned in Broadclyst


I was contacted by the owners of an old Farmhouse in the East Devon village of Broadclyst to look at their Victorian Tiled Hallway floor which as you can see from the photograph below was heavily stained and had also been splashed with paint from decorating. Victorian tiles are very robust and can take a lot of punishment which you certainly get in a farmhouse, however once the sealer wears off dirt gets into the pores of the tile making it very difficult to clean.

I visited the property to take a closer look and to take some moisture readings because these old floors don’t have a Damp Proof Course and moisture levels too high can restrict when this type of work can be done due to the sealers needing the floor to be dry in order to cure. I also did a test piece to show the customers what level of cleaning could be achieved.

Victorian Tiled Hallway Broadclyst Farmhouse before cleaning

Cleaning a Victorian Tiled Hallway

With the customers happy with the quote I returned to complete the work starting by covered the skirting and bottom of the stairs to protect the paintwork and carpet. I then put a strong stripper/degreaser called Pro Clean on to the floor, ensuring even coverage and keeping and eye on the floor to make sure that it didn’t dry out.

After a short dwell time I set to work scrubbing the floor with a 400 grit diamond burnishing pad and using small hand blocks to get into the corners and any edges not reached by my machine. Once I was satisfied that the tiles were as good as they could be I rinsed the floor to remove the alkaline cleaner and soiled water.

This was followed by giving the floor an Acid rinse using Tile Doctor’s Acid Gel, this process counteracts any alkaline salts that can rise up through the tile as it dries out, a process which is more commonly known as efflorescence. This can be quite a problem on floors like this that don’t have a damp proof course (floors generally didn’t pre-1950s). I had to be careful not to leave the acid down for too long because these tiles are susceptible to acid damage.

Dealing with salt issues on these old floors (efflorescence) is essential because they can damage the sealer or become trapped under it, detracting from the beauty of the floor. Given the age of the farmhouse it’s difficult to know what the floor had been laid onto. Often it was compacted rubble and building works from the erection of the adjoining buildings; additionally some of the later Victorian floors were laid on a wet limecrete scree which contain a high salt-content.

Before I left for the day I left an air mover on the floor to aid in the drying of the tiles. If there are radiators in the area I also suggest that they are turned on overnight to further aid the drying process. Occasionally these types of floors need to be left for several days to dry but it is worth the wait and the floors can be used in the meantime provided indoor shoes and socks only are used and care is taken not to get the floor dirty.

Sealing an Old Victorian Tiled Hallway

Upon returning the next day I tested the moisture content of the floor and was pleased to find that it was well within acceptable levels for the application of the sealer that I was planning to use. I quickly checked the floor for areas that I felt may be able to be improved and once satisfied a single coat of matt-finish, colour-enhancing sealer called Colour Grow was applied before two coats of a Seal and Go sealer was used to give the floor a satin finish, which I think gives it a slight glaze and freshly mopped appearance.

Victorian Tiled Hallway Broadclyst Farmhouse before cleaning

The customers were thrilled and said that they wished they had brought me in sooner!
 
 

Professional Deep Clean and Seal of a Victorian Tiled Hallway in East Devon



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Original Victorian Tiles Restored at B&B in Bude


Bude is a lovely coastal resort in North Cornwall and is home to several B&Bs for visitors to the area. It became popular during the latter half of Queen Victoria’s reign, as sea bathing became a popular trend amongst the upper and middle classes, and as a result there are plenty of period houses.

In fact, I was recently contacted by a lucky Bed and Breakfast owner who had uncovered this late Victorian tiled hallway and entrance lobby which was around a hundred years old during renovation work. It had been under carpet for at least twenty years and had a variety of stains including paint, tar and glue!

The customer rightly wanted to reinstate it as a showpiece to greet clients upon entering the upmarket guesthouse but had no luck trying to remove stains themselves and had spent many hours on hands and knees but to no avail and were nearly ready to take the builder’s advice and cover it in a self-levelling cement and install a carpet throughout which would have been sacrilege!

Victorian Tiled Hallway Before Restoration at Bude Bed and Breakfast

Cleaning an Original Victorian Tiled Hallway and Entrance Lobby

To begin with diamond-impregnated buffing pads were used with a rotary machine to scrub the floor and open up the pores. Small diamond hand blocks were also used to get into those difficult to reach areas such as corners and under the stairs.

Afterwards the floor was thoroughly rinsed with water which was then extracted using a wet vacuum. This was followed by giving the floor an Acid rinse using Tile Doctor’s Acid Gel. This helped to remove old mineral deposits and residue from carpet underlay. I had to be careful not to leave the acid down for too long because these tiles are susceptible to acid damage. This is also a great product to use as par for the course on floors like this that don’t have a damp proof course (floors generally didn’t pre-1950s) and the acid will neutralise any salts coming rising up through the tile later.

Dealing with salt issues on these old floors (efflorescence) is essential because they can damage the sealer or become trapped under it, detracting from the beauty of the floor. Given the age of the house It’s difficult to know what the floor had been laid onto. Often it was compacted rubble and building works from the erection of the adjoining houses. Terraced and some of the later Victorian floors were laid on a wet limecrete scree which contain a high salt-content.

Sealing an Original Victorian Tiled Hallway and Entrance Lobby

Once the tiles had been cleaned, I rinsed the entire floor thoroughly using fresh water to remove any traces of chemicals, before leaving it to dry completely overnight.

Upon my return to the B&B the next day, I sealed the tiles using several coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow, an impregnating sealer which provides robust protection and intensifies the natural colours in the tile. It does this while leaving a natural-look matte finish which is befitting of a classic Victorian geometric patterned floor like this one.

Now cleaned and freshly sealed, the Victorian tiles will be in a much strong position to cope with the busy B&B season over the Summer. The owner was very pleased and I’m sure visitors to the B&B will be very impressed with this original feature!

Victorian Tiled Hallway After Restoration at Bude Bed and Breakfast

As part of the package a cleaning and maintenance guide is provided once the work has been completed but unfortunately the owner’s uncle didn’t consult this when house-sitting and attempted to clean the floor with white spirit. Fortunately, I was able to return and improve the damage that was caused much to the owner’s relief and just in time for opening!
 
 

Professional Restoration of an Original Geometric Victorian Tiled Hallway at a Bude B&B



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Cleaning a 40m2 Light-Limestone Kitchen Floor at a Cottage in Ashprington


Ashprington is a small, picturesque village just outside of Totnes and boasts a quaint stream running through the centre of the village, several listed cottages and a pub, ‘The Watermans Arms’, which offers good food – including their now famous triple-fried chips!

I was approached by the owners of one of the beautiful listed cottages in the village, which had the river running through the garden and was a stone’s throw from the pub, because they had extensively developed the building around five years ago. This work included the installation of a lovely light-limestone floor spanning the kitchen and open-plan extension, however the floor was starting to lose its natural appeal and the owners were finding it harder to clean.

With summer fast approaching the owners were keen to get the property ready for their annual holiday and a visit was quickly arranged. I took a closer look at the floor and conducted a test on a small area to give the clients an idea of what to expect. The limestone was honed smooth but was not polished and the customers were keen not to add too much of an unnatural shine to the floor.

The grout lines in some of the more heavily used areas, such as by the sink, were also discoloured and would require a decent scrub with an appropriate Tile Doctor product.

Light Limestone Kitchen Floor Ashprington Before

I spoke to the clients about options for the finish to be applied after cleaning and they decided that they wanted to keep the tiles as light as possible with a slight shine. With the clients impressed with the test area I prepared I went away and produced a detailed quote which was sent to them along with our general T&Cs and the work was booked in to be completed shortly after.

Cleaning a Light-Limestone Tiled Kitchen Floor

The floor spanned quite a large area, some 40m2, and had some larger items of furniture that needed to be moved before starting. Because the house was empty at the time it was a straightforward task to divide the area into two and stagger the work over four days so that the furniture could be moved to suit.

The first task was to scrub the grout with a specialist grout brush, designed to get right into the grout lines and work the product in. Limestone is an acid-sensitive stone so a strong alkaline cleaner called Remove & Go was used which was then allowed to dwell for around 45 minutes to work its magic. The area was quickly rinsed before using a series of diamond impregnated burnishing pads attached to a rotary scrubbing machine, ranging from a coarse 400 grit (200 in some of the more stubborn areas) up to a fine 1500 grit to clean the stone. The whole area was then rinsed using a truck-mounted system that feeds pressurised water to the floor whilst extracting the dirty water at the same time. A rotary spinner tool was also used which helps to get a really thorough rinse. The first area was then left to dry overnight, aided by the underfloor heating which was installed with the tiles.

Polishing a Light-Limestone Tiled Kitchen Floor

The following day a very fine 3000 grit diamond pad was used to ‘spray burnish’ the floor which uses very little water and ensures that any remaining residues are lifted as well as finishing the floor in the highest level of mechanical polishing possible prior to sealing.

If the clients desired a higher level of shine a powdered high shine sealer would have been worked into the tiles to achieve a highly reflective surface, however the mechanical polish was the highest level of shine wanted.

Sealing a Light-Limestone Tiled Kitchen Floor

My client has requested a completely natural finish so to seal the stone after cleaning I applied an impregnating sealer called Tile Doctor Ultra Seal. Impregnating sealers soak into the pores of the tile protecting them from within and Ultra-Seal doesn’t alter the appearance of the floor and so maintained the natural appearance of the stone keeping it as light as possible.

Light Limestone Kitchen Floor Ashprington After

The following day the furniture was carefully moved to the recently sealed area and the whole process was repeated for the second area. Aftercare instructions and a bottle of suitable pH-neutral cleaner were supplied.

The customer was thrilled with the final result and was surprised at the transformation of the floor and left me the following feedback:

“Great service, and the floor looks new again.”
Elaine M, Ashprington
 
 

Professional Renovation of a Light Limestone Floor in Devon



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Original Herringbone Pattern Edwardian Tiles Restored in Colyton


Colyton is a small village in the Coly Valley, which itself is part of Devon’s Area of Outstanding Beauty. As you can imagine, it was very nice to drive through the countryside to reach the village to visit a customer. The customer was keen to restore her Edwardian tiled entranceway and hallway in a classic herringbone pattern, which consists of an arrangement of rectangles.

Parts of the floor had been under carpet for a long time and other areas were covered in at least three layers of thick masonry paint. There was some damage to the floor at thresholds where the carpet grips had been hammered into the floor and a few holes with rawl plugs in scattered the area. This had left the floor looking worse for wear and all in all, there was a lot to be done to restore the tiles back to their original condition – just take a look at the photos below.

Edwardian Hallway Tiles Herringbone Pattern Colyton Before Edwardian Hallway Tiles Herringbone Pattern Colyton Before

Several methods were tried on each area during the initial visit to determine the best way forward including chemicals, diamond pads and heat plus a razor scraper. It was clear a mixture of these methods would be needed to get the best results.

Cleaning an Edwardian Tiled Entranceway and Hallway

On my return, I removed the rawl plugs filled the holes with an epoxy resin in a matching colour. Next I started on giving the tiles a deep and thorough clean to remove not just the copious ingrained dirt, but also the unappealing paint smears.

I did this by applying Tile Doctor Remove and Go, which not only cleans the stone, but also strips away any old sealer. Remove and Go is particularly good for removing most artificial coatings and finishes, adhesives, and paints – and can be used on most unpolished natural stone.

Next, I give the tile and grout an acid rinse with Tile Doctor Grout Clean Up, which is a concentrated phosphoric acid product, to negate any underlying efflorescence and alkaline salt deposits. Efflorescence and salt deposits can be common problems for older, original tiled floors because they often lack a damp proof course.

Having finished cleaning the floor, I gave it a thorough rinse using fresh water to remove any traces of chemicals, before leaving it to dry overnight.

Sealing an Edwardian Tiled Entranceway and Hallway

Returning to the property next day, I ran some quick damp tests to check the floor was ready to be sealed.

To seal the floor, I used a single coat of an impregnating sealer called Colour Grow and followed this up with five coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go. Both sealers will allow for vapour to rise up through the floor ensuring any damp can rise up through the floor in future which is essential for an old floor like this one which has no damp proof membrane.
The also combine to provide stain resistance surface and a robust, low-sheen finish.

And, with that, the job was done. Two days of work later and the floor is back to looking it best, as you can see in the photos below. Another satisfied client for the Devon Tile Doctor who left the following feedback.

“Very good work,we are very pleased with the result.
Stuart was a very professional hard worker and gave us clear advice on taking care of the floor.“

Edwardian Hallway Tiles Herringbone Pattern Colyton After Edwardian Hallway Tiles Herringbone Pattern Colyton After

 
 

Professional Tile Cleaning and Sealing for a Herringbone Pattern Edwardian Tiled Entranceway and Hallway Restoration in Colyton



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Restoring Neglected Geometric Victorian Hallway Tiles in Barnstaple


Barnstaple in North Devon is known to be one of, if not the oldest boroughs in the whole of the United Kingdom. The area certainly has a rich history and many of the properties built in the 19th century still exist and are in use.

It’s not uncommon for the owners of houses built in this era to discover original Victorian tiled floors and hallways. They’ve usually been covered up at some point in the past, either by carpet or linoleum, but if maintained correctly they can be a real asset to any property.

I recently visited one such customer, who lives in Barnstaple, to restore a recently uncovered Victorian tiled hallway that had been tiled in a geometric pattern. This hallway had been neglected and covered for some time by carpet so the colours had faded and there were patches of carpet underlay firmly embedded in some of the tiles.

The property owner uncovered the floor after seeing a similar one in the entrance hallway of a neighbour and was thrilled with her find. After a bit of scrubbing and cleaning the customer decided to call in professional help after a recommendation for the Tile Doctor Devon from a friend. A home visit was conducted and a test patch was done to show what was possible and to talk through options. A quote was then produced which the customer was happy with and the work was arranged for the following week.

Victorian Tiled Hallway Barnstaple before restoration

Cleaning a Neglected Victorian Tiled Hallway

As the floor was really in quite a bad state, I opted to use Tile Doctor NanoTech HBU as my main cleaning product. HBU stands for ‘Heavy Build-Up’ – and that’s exactly what the product is formulated to tackle: heavy build-up of ingrained dirt and soil. It used nano-sized cleaning particles to penetrate deep into the pores of the stone and get underneath stains to lift them to the surface.

I applied NanoTech HBU to the entire hallway and left it to dwell for several hours, before scrubbing it as thoroughly as possible with a brush fitted to a rotary cleaning machine. The soil that was brought to the surface was subsequently rinsed away with fresh water and the resulting slurry was extracted using a wet vacuum.

Sealing a Victorian Tiled Hallway

Once finished with the cleaning process, I left the floor to dry out completely. This was important as older floors which lack a damp proof membrane can suffer from moisture issues, and these issues can damage the performance of the sealer.

Thankfully there were no problems with drying the floor. I was able to seal the tiles using a colour-enhancing impregnating sealer from our range, known as Tile Doctor Colour Grow. For extra protection – and to provide the finish the customer had requested – I also applied a topical sealer called Tile Doctor Seal and Go. This left the floor with a high-quality, long-lasting satin finish.

A properly sealed floor will be much more resistant to stain as well as easier to clean. As with every job a cleaning and maintenance guide was provided which gives handy tips and do’s and don’ts for the floor and that particular sealer.

The restoration reinstated this great Victorian tiled hallway as the showpiece upon entering the property and the customer was absolutely thrilled. You can see the final result below.

Victorian Tiled Hallway Barnstaple after restoration

The customer was thrilled with the floor and was very surprised at just how well the colour came back to the tiles and provided the following feedback:

“I am so pleased with the service Stuart provided. After the initial quote and patch test I felt under no pressure to ask him to proceed, but I was happy with the quote and he arranged a date convenient to me. I am chuffed with my floor, it looks great. The after care has been great also. Thank you Stuart.”
 
 

Professional Restoration of a Dirty and Neglected Victorian Tiled Hallway in North Devon



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Centuries Old Limestone Flagstones Resurfaced and Restored in South Milton


South Milton is a small, but very old town of about 400 inhabitants in South Devon. The village has been there for at least 1,000 years and is known for the nearby National Trust beach area of South Milton Sands.

I recently visited the area to visited a customer who had discovered a Limestone tiled floor that had been hidden under carpet for around twenty years. The floor was several centuries old – as is the property itself – and it was suffering from a problem known as flaking or shaling, which is when the top layer of the stone starts to flake off.

The customer had already made the decision to remove the carpet and underlay because they wanted to reinstate some character and original features to their dining room! The floor was very dry and dusty and had the imprint of the underlay firmly embedded in some areas. As a result, the floor appeared cracked and damaged (see the photo below) and was in dire need of restoration.

A test was conducted using both chemicals and diamond-enhanced abrasive pads to ascertain the most appropriate restoration method; although the diamond pads are the only real option to address the shaling the chemicals could have also been used in the cleaning of the floor. The test showed that the diamond pads were the most effective solution for the floor and a quote was produced which as accepted.

Limestone Flagstone South Molton before cleaning

Milling a Damaged Limestone Tiled Floor

With the state the floor was in, I needed to use a process called milling, which involves using Very Coarse diamond encrusted pads fitted to a heavy rotary scrubbing machine to cut back the damaged layer of stone to unveil a fresh surface. The floor was suffering from mild lippage and undulation problems, and the milling would be able to resolve these problems too.

Lippage occurs when the surface of the floor becomes uneven and the tiles are not level with one another, and this can be quite hazardous. Undulation is when the floor gets a wave-like appearance.

After cutting the floor back with a 50 and 100 grit coarse milling pads to expose the new surface, I gradually smoothed the surface with finer pads up to 400 grit to close the pores in the stone.

The floor was then given a thorough rinse which ensured it was clear of all dirt and soil that had been generated, even the imprint from the underlay had been effectively removed.

Sealing a Limestone Tiled Floor

After cleaning the floor was left to dry for two days to ensure it would be fully dry before our return to seal the floor. To seal I used a colour-enhancing sealer called Colour Grow which impregnates into the pores of the stone, lifting the colours and protecting the stone from within. Colour Grow is suitable for use on a variety of natural stone, including Flagstones, Flamed Granite, Limestone, Marble, Quarry Tile, Sandstone, Slate, Travertine as well as Victorian tiles.

You can see the complete transformation of the Limestone tiled floor in the photo below.

Limestone Flagstone South Molton after cleaning

The difference made is quite remarkable! The customer had believed the tiles to be unsalvageable, and so she was over the moon with the outcome.
 
 

Professional Restoration of a Damaged Limestone Flagstone Floor in Devon



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