Renovating a Sandstone Tiled Floor at a 12th-Century Undercroft Near Bedale


When I was asked to visit this job, I understood that the property was Grade One Listed and I was in for a treat when I arrived. The property is an undercroft which is traditionally a cellar or storage room, often brick-lined and vaulted and used for storage in buildings since medieval times. In modern usage, an undercroft is generally a ground (street-level) area which is relatively open to the sides but covered by the building above.

Sandstone Floor Before Cleaning 12th Century Undercroft Bedale

This example was part of a large 12th Century building near Bedale which is halfway between Harrogate and Middlesbrough, that had been converted into luxury apartments. It was truly impressive, by far one of my favourite jobs to date.

Sandstone Floor Before Cleaning 12th Century Undercroft Bedale

The magnificent building had been tastefully restored and renovated some years ago. You will see from the photos how unique it is, although it is hard to do it justice in photos. Since that time the huge 60sqm Sandstone flagstones had become dirty and now needed to be deep cleaned and restored to its’ former self.

Sandstone Floor Before Cleaning 12th Century Undercroft Bedale

I discussed what was required with the owner and went through the cleaning procedure I felt would be most appropriate. This was well received, and we agreed my quote and arranged a suitable time to return and complete the work. I must say I felt honoured and privileged to be asked to work on the floor as this is not something you would trust many people with.

Cleaning a Large Sandstone Floor in an Undercroft

I returned on the agreed date to start the cleaning and I was a bit apprehensive at first, as naturally with such an old building I wanted to be confident that the methods I was going to use would work without issue. Also, there was some very, very expensive Marble statues scattered about near the edge of the floor which I was very mindful of. It was clear that the utmost care was required to restore this beautiful floor. In the end I did not need to worry as it was quite straightforward. The floor was nice and flat and graded sandstone, in pretty good physical condition.

I cleaned the floor by applying a strong dilution Tile Doctor Pro-Clean to remove old sealers and break down the dirt. I left this on the floor for ten minutes before scrubbing it in with what turned out to be several black scrubbing pads to get the dirt out of the stone. Pro-Clean is a highly effective Tile and Grout cleaner which can deal with all sorts of issues including grease, grime and general dirt build up.

Sandstone Floor During Cleaning 12th Century Undercroft Bedale

I worked in sections and found some of the flagstones quite challenging to clean due to their sharp edges which tore into the pads and destroyed a few during the process. Luckily, I had bought plenty of replacements along and with a bit of perseverance, I was able to give the floor a very thorough clean. The floor was then rinsed with water and the soil extracted using a wet vacuum.

Sandstone Floor During Cleaning 12th Century Undercroft Bedale

After cleaning and rinsing the whole floor I left it for a few days, so it could dry out thoroughly before I returned to seal it.

Sealing a 60m2 Sandstone Floor in a 12th Century Undercroft

When I returned I checked that the floor was completely dry by taking some moisture readings. All was well, but I noticed that the room became dusty very quickly from all the exposed stone, so l vacuumed the floor first.

Sandstone Floor After Cleaning 12th Century Undercroft Bedale

I chose to use Tile Doctor Ultra Seal for this floor, main reasons being it’s an impregnating sealer that works by occupying the pores in the stone thus preventing dirt from becoming ingrained there also, it leaves a natural look finish that doesn’t darken the stone which was ideal for use in the Undercroft where there isn’t much natural light. I applied a couple of coats to the floor and it was soon looking good.

Sandstone Floor After Sealing 12th Century Undercroft Bedale

It was a massive transformation and the clean floor really lightened up the whole room. The client was very pleased with the result. I think you will agree this is a very special room!

 

Professional Clean of a Sandstone Undercroft Floor in North Yorkshire



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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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Old Yorkshire Flagstone Floor Covered in Bitumen Renovated in Sedgefield


This property in Sedgefield, County Durham, recently came under new ownership and the new owner planned several renovations including replacing the carpet in the front room. Removing the carpet was straightforward but unfortunately it had been glued down using a good layer of bitumen which left quite a mess and upon further inspection she realised there was a perfectly sound Yorkshire flagstone floor underneath.

Realising the flagstones would make an impressive floor she was keen to have them restored and spoke to a number of people including a builder who all said it would be an impossible job. Bitumen is an awful material and it was clear removing it from the stone would not be easy.

Yorkshire Flagstone Floor Covered in Bitumen Before Renovation Yorkshire Flagstone Floor Covered in Bitumen Before Renovation

Having exhausted local connections, she turned to the internet and came across details of a Victorian floor stained with Bitumen that a colleague of mine had worked on and so gave Tile Doctor a call.

Cleaning Bitumen off Yorkshire Flagstones

With a floor like this you can’t really make too many promises as to the outcome or how long it will take however we do access to a lot of experience and some very powerful cleaning products so I was confident we could improve the look of the floor significantly.

To start we carefully scrapped off as much of the black bitumen as possible which took a lot longer than I had initially thought. Next I created a strong mixture of two Tile Doctor Products Acid Gel and Nanotech HBU Remover applying it in sections to the floor like a poultice and leaving it to soak in for a while before agitating it with a rotary scrubber. Acid Gel is used to remove minerals such as salt deposits, cement and grout smears and in this case, I felt it would also help to weaken the Bitumen. Nantotech HBU is another strong product which is named after the tiny Nano sized particles it contains and HBU is an acronym for Heavy Build-Up.

Yorkshire Flagstone Floor Covered in Bitumen During Renovation Yorkshire Flagstone Floor Covered in Bitumen During Renovation

After being worked into floor it was rinsed off with water to neutralise the acid and the resultant slurry extracted using a wet vacuum. Once a section was clear we moved onto the next and repeated the process, we also spot treated any ugly spots that needed further treatment. It took about a week to complete the cleaning but using this process I’m happy to report we were able to remove about 99% of the Bitumen and the Flagstone floor was now fully visible.

Yorkshire Flagstone Floor Covered in Bitumen During Renovation

Sealing Yorkshire Stone

The floor was left to dry overnight and I returned the next day to seal the floor first checking it for dampness using a Damp Meter. The flagstones were dry so I then proceeded to seal the floor using a couple of coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is a matt sealer that impregnates the pores of the stone protecting it from within whilst enhancing the natural colours of the stone.

Yorkshire Flagstone Floor Covered in Bitumen During Sealing

The owner was very pleased with the difference we had made and whilst the Yorkshire stone had been darkened by the Bitumen in places it has defiantly added a lot of character to the floor and blends in well with the rustic wood burner in the hearth.

Yorkshire Flagstone Floor Covered in Bitumen After Renovation Yorkshire Flagstone Floor Covered in Bitumen After Renovation

 
 

Restoring the Appearance of Yorkshire Flagstones in County Durham



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Old Reclaimed Slate Flagstone Floor Rejuvenated in Dawlish


These lovely old Slate flagstones were reclaimed form an old waterworks in Exeter about twenty years ago and had been laid in an old fisherman cottage in Dawlish during a sympathetic renovation, replacing an old floor that had been laid in the 1970s (which have a lot to answer for with old houses!). The flagstones really looked the part and were larger and thicker than usually available on the market new. Other than being dirty and a pain to clean because of the dogs living in the house, around the edges of some of the larger tiles there was some sort of fluorescent orange residue which was up to 10mm thick in places and as hard as the stone it was adhered to.

Dawlish is a lovely little fishing harbour village on the South-East Cornwall coast with lots of interesting history. For hundreds of years the practice of smuggling imported goods prospered in the area thanks to its convenient harbour. The village is home to only around 5,000 inhabitants.

As you can see from the photo below, the tiles – along with the grout lines – were very dirty and stained. No wonder the property owner was beginning to give up on salvaging them! However, I assured the customer that with the right cleaning products and techniques, I could make a significant improvement to the condition of the floor.

Slate Flagstones Before Cleaning in Dawlish

Burnishing and Cleaning Old Slate Flagstones

To tackle the orange residue staining I used a grout removal tool which allowed the natural texture of the stone to remain rather than smoothing off the whole edge.

The dirt and staining in the slate flagstones however was so deeply ingrained I felt it best to strip back the affected layer of stone using a process known as burnishing. This involves the application of diamond encrusted burnishing pads to the floor, effectively grinding away the muck to reveal a cleaner surface beneath. When dealing with polished stone such as Limestone, Marble and Travertine, we will normally use a system of four burnishing pads – each with a different level of grit – to gradually restore the shine to the tiles.

However, in the case of these rustic, unpolished Slate Flagstones, I opted only to use only the Coarse and Medium grit burnishing pads to cut back the affected layer of stone, leaving a surface that could subsequently be scrubbed using Tile Doctor Remove and Go. This is a multi-purpose product that strips away any old sealer, adhesive marks and paint stains, while also cleaning the stone and grout.

This process ensured all traces of old sealer were removed and that the whole floor was left fresh and clean. The resulting soiled solution was extracted from the floor using a wet vacuum and the whole area rinsed with fresh water to remove any traces of cleaning product. To end the first day of work, the floor was left to dry overnight.

The village the cottage is situated in is very isolated to traffic; there is a car park at the top of the town and the only option is to walk the nearly half a mile each way to the cottage on the harbour so streamlining the kit used was a necessity! In the end two trips each way go the kit required there and back with the biggest machines being a wet vac and a rotary scrubber.

Sealing Old Slate Flagstones

Returning to the property the next day, I ran some damp tests to check if the floor was dry and ready to be sealed. This is particularly important in older properties like this, as it’s quite likely that there is no damp proof course present and moisture issues are far from uncommon.

Thankfully, the tiles proved dry and I could seal them using Tile Doctor Colour Grow. This impregnating, colour-enhancing sealer provides a robust seal, as well as a natural-look matte finish which really matches the character of these original Flagstones. It also really lifted the natural shades in the stone.

Slate Flagstones After Cleaning in Dawlish

The customer was ecstatic with the result. To make sure the floor can be kept looking great for many years to come, I recommended that the customer clean it regularly using a product called Tile Doctor Stone Soap. It’s specially formulated for the routine maintenance of natural stone floors; not only will it clean the floor very well, it will also continue to add to the natural patina of the stone.
 
 

Professional Restoration of an Old Slate Flagstone Tiled Floor 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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