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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Restoring the Appearance of Yorkshire Flagstones in County Durham
Slightly different story for you below; this time from the medieval town of Tewksbury which dates all the way back to the 8th century. A customer there had asked if there was anything that could be done to restore the appearance of their polished Limestone kitchen floor on which he had previously applied a wood sealer which had turned the tiles brown.
I inspected the floor and ran a test clean on a small section of tile which successfully removed the wood seal. This gave the customer the confidence to book me into to complete the job which I estimated would take three days to strip off the old sealer, deep clean and reseal with a more appropriate product.
You probably can’t appreciate how bad the tiles looked from the photograph above but if you look at the indicated area under the kitchen units where the kick boards have been removed you can really see how the brown stain in the wood sealer has darkened the look of the tile.
Removing Old Sealers from Limestone Kitchen Floor
On the first day I prepared the area by removing the kick boards from the underneath the kitchen units so they wouldn’t get affected by the cleaning process and started wetting the floor with water. The water lubricates the burnishing process whereby coarse diamond encrusted pads are applied to the floor with a buffing machine. We started the process using a very coarse 100 grit milling pad to remove the wood sealer before moving onto the finer pads from 200 grit, 400 grit, 800 grit and finally 1500 grit pad building the finish of the floor as we progressed. The floor is rinsed with water between pads and the slurry is removed using a wet vacuum.
This burnishing process took up all of the first day so the next day I returned to focus on the edges I had missed and the grout lines, being a relatively small format tile for Limestone there was a lot of grout to cover. I tacked the grout lines with Remove and Go which is a powerful stripper and cleaning agent which is applied along the grout line and then scrubbed in with a narrow stiff brush before being rinsed away with water. The edges were treated with a set of small six inch milling pads fitted to a hand held buffing machine in a similar process as on the first day.
Sealing a Limestone Tiled Floor
On the third and final day the floor was spray burnished which a process is involving a very fine 3,000 grit floor burnishing pad and a little water spayed onto the floor during the application. This process really tightens up the pores in the stone and restores its appearance.
After making sure the floor was free of any lose grit I then proceeded to seal the Limestone with Tile Doctor Ultra Seal which is a natural look sealer that doesn’t alter the appearance of the stone but penetrates into the pores of the stone to protect it from within. I left it to dry for an hour then buffed the floor with a white buffing pad before apply a second coat. This was also left to dry for an hour before running the buffing pad over for a last time.
It took a fair amount of work to get the floor looking back the way it was meant to be but I’m very pleased with the outcome and more importantly my customer was really happy.
Professional Limestone Floor Polishing and Sealing in Gloucestershire