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

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

Restoring a Stained Limestone Tiled Floor in a Plymouth Basement

Hidden underneath a lot of grime and staining in the basement of a building of special interest (Grade II-listed) in Plymouth is a fantastic Limestone tiled floor that was originally sourced from a local quarry near the city.

The floor had been hidden under a covering at some point in its history, but for at least the last decade it had been used to house dogs. As far as the new owner of the building could tell, the floor had never once been cleaned! To worsen the situation, the floor had also suffered from damp during winters and periods of heavy rain.

The customer got in touch because the suggested solution that was accepted by the council was to install an expensive floating floor on top of the limestone and hide this lovely feature. I produced a report on the floor about how the design of the traditional floors worked, plus my findings and recommendations which was passed to the council. The recommendations to re-grout in a natural lime mortar, mill the stones to lift any grime and improve any mild undulation and lippage to help with any pooling issues and to seal the floor in a breathable sealer were endorsed.

Plymouth Limestone Floor Plymouth Before Restoration

Milling a Stained Limestone Tiled Floor

The first job was to rake out all the existing grout, an inappropriate patchwork of cement and lime which had been completely scuffed away in parts and was contributing to the damp issues by preventing the floor from working how it was designed to (moisture permeates evenly through the lime-based grout and evaporates into the house due to the heat of the people living there). The grout, or pointing, was then replaced with lime mixed with a ratio of 1:3 with sand which is what would have been used originally, allowing the floor to ‘breathe’.

Following this, a process called milling was used which uses diamond-impregnated discs to cut the surface of the stone back and strip the stone, opening the pores to remove any stains as well as flatten any stones out where necessary.

Sealing a Limestone Tiled Floor

After successfully removing the grime and stains on the surface of the floor, it was necessary to seal the stone to protect it against ingrained muck in the future.

To do this, I used Tile Doctor Colour Grow, which is our colour-enhancing, breathable sealer which prevents moisture from becoming trapped. Additionally Colour Grow is an impregnating sealer that penetrates and fills the pores of the stone to block dirt and stains becoming trapper there, it also leaves an aesthetically pleasing natural look finish which really suited the character of this Limestone tiled floor.

Plymouth Limestone Floor Plymouth After Restoration

It took some work and once done the floor looked fantastic, certainly the new property owner seemed to think so – he was exceptionally happy to have this fantastic feature back to looking its absolute best and left the following feedback.

“Stuart completed the restoration of a stone floor within a Grade II listed building. He completed milling and polishing of the 200 year old stones over around 50m2. The outcome of the work was amazing; the floor was transformed from a dull grey colour to a finish like marble. Great service provided and looking forward to working with you on again on the next project.”
Mr J. Yorke, Plymouth
 
 

Professional Restoration of Limestone Floor in a Listed Building in Plymouth