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

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