Terracotta Tile Cleaning

Welcome to my Work History archive where you will find detailed examples of the cleaning and renovation of Terracotta tiles carried out in Monmouthshire

Cleaning and Renovating Terracotta Tiles

Terracotta tiles have been around in certain parts of the world for over two millennia, in fact the word Terracotta means burned earth. The ancient Romans used a variety of terracotta tiles in their villas and palaces for many centuries. Terracotta tiles are thicker than most modern tiles giving them strength and durability.

The one big downside to Terracotta is the fact that it has no glaze on the surface and being very porous can soon pick up and store muck and dirt very quickly. If you have ever owned a Terracotta floor before you will be able to relate to this problem however the answer is to ensure you have the correct sealer in place.

Traditionally Wax was used to protect terracotta tiles however with the advent of modern purpose made sealers we don’t recommend it. Not only is it troublesome to remove but it scratches easily and we have seen situations in kitchens where dirt and oil trapped in the wax turns black and becomes very unsightly.

For sealing Terracotta we actually recommend Tile Doctor Seal and Go which works well on clay tiles such as Terracotta and is also water based so doesn’t give off a smell as it dries. When applying a sealer always make sure the floor is dry first as applying a sealer to a damp floor can lead to inconsistent results. Because of this we typically clean and seal Terracotta floors over two days so we can clean on day one and then apply the sealer on day two having let the floor dry off overnight.

Below you will find detailed examples of work we have carried out in the past, it should give you some idea of what’s involved and what can be achieved with the right techniques and products.

Farmhouse Terracotta Tiled Floor Before After Clean Seal Symonds Yat

Terracotta Farmhouse Floor Renovated at Symonds Yat Holiday Home

The pictures below are of a Terracotta tiled floor that was laid in a Farmhouse in Symonds Yat around twenty years ago when the house was being renovated. The Terracotta tiles had been installed throughout the kitchen, utility and downstairs cloakroom and were well overdue a deep clean and seal.

Symonds Yat is a beautiful location amidst the fields of Wye Valley and set on the famous River Wye and is very popular with tourists. The farmhouse has been rented out as a holiday home for some time and with the floor looking faded and dull it was not giving the best impressions with visitors which is not good when you are using the property as a business.

Terracotta Tiled Floor Before Cleaning Symonds Yat Holiday Home

I visited the property to survey the floor as the picture’s customers send you never show up all the problems. I could immediately see the tiles were indeed in need of some tender love and care, the old sealer had long since eroded away and now the Terracotta was susceptible to dirt becoming ingrained. I carried out a test clean on a small area so they could see what the result might look like. They were over the moon with the test area and amazed that how much it would bring the floor back to life. I quoted them a price which they were happy to accept, and we booked the job in for later in the month.

Cleaning/Repairing a Terracotta Tiled Farmhouse Floor

To put the life back into the floor it needed to be stripped of any remaining sealer, cleaned and then resealed. I began this process by spraying the floor with a medium dilution of
Tile Doctor Remove and Go and left it to soak into the tile and grout for ten minutes. This product is designed to strip off old sealers from tile which is important as you will find the sealer will be completely worn off in the busier parts of the floor but will still be present around the edges etc. If you don’t strip off the sealer and apply a new sealer on top you will find the result becomes inconsistent and leaves a patchy finish.

After ten minutes the Remove and Go was scrubbed into the Terracotta using a rotary floor machine fitted with a black scrubbing pad. This action removed what was left of the old sealer and after rinsing and extracting I was able to move onto the cleaning process.

This process was repeated using Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which is tile and grout cleaning product that will remove ingrained dirt. As before the product was diluted, applied to the floor and after leaving it to dwell for a short while it was scrubbed in as before. Some of the grout and corners had to be done by hand as the rotary machine can struggle to reach in places. After rinsing off with water and extracting with a wet vacuum there were a few stubborn areas that required a repeat treatment, but we soon had the floor looking clean.

Terracotta Tiled Floor After Cleaning Symonds Yat Holiday Home

Sealing a Terracotta Tiled Farmhouse Floor

After leaving the tile and grout to dry off overnight I came back the next day and checked the floor was dry with the moisture meter. The readings were fine, so I began applying the sealer. I started with a single coat of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is a colour enhancing product that seeps into the pores of the Terracotta protecting it from within. This was followed with seven coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go. Terracotta is very porous and does take a lot of sealer.

Terracotta Tiled Floor After Cleaning and Sealing Symonds Yat Holiday Home

Once the sealer had dried the floor had a lovely satin finish that wasn’t too shiny. The client was over the moon with the restored floor and was keen for his next clients to see it.


Professional Restoration of a Terracotta Tiled Farmhouse Floor in Monmouthshire

Terracotta Kitchen Floor Forest of Dean Before and After

Terracotta Tiles Ingrained with Dirt Cleaned and Sealed in the Forest of Dean

Terracotta may be one of the most aesthetically pleasing types of tiled floor, but as many of our customers will tell you can be particularly difficult to keep clean. This is due to the naturally high porosity of clay, which allows dirt to become very easily trapped. Quite commonly this situation is made worse by a lack of an adequate sealer to block the intrusion of muck. Of course, poor quality cleaning products also make it difficult for property owners to keep their Terracotta tiles clean, and a combination of the two problems can leave these floors looking a lot like this one, located in the kitchen of a house in the beautiful Forest of Dean.

Terracotta Kitchen Floor Forest of Dean Before
The property owner was keen to have me restore some character to her dull Terracotta tiles. It was proving increasingly difficult for her to keep them clean due to the reasons described before, and the grout had also become very dirty. So, the customer turned to me for some professional assistance.

Cleaning a Dirty Terracotta Tiled Floor in the Forest of Dean

While these Terracotta tiles had been sealed previously it had, over time, lost its ability to protect the stone against ingrained dirt. To remove the old excess sealer my product of choice was the heavy duty soil remover and stripper, Tile Doctor Remove & Go, which I applied liberally across the surface and scrubbed in to the tile used a rotary machine fitted with a scrubbing pad. This also helped to remove the trapped dirt and left the stone looking fresher.

Once the old sealer was removed – to be replaced with a fresh sealer once cleaning was complete – I was free to focus on the troublesome grout lines with Tile Doctor Pro Clean, an alkaline cleaner that reliably breaks down dirt. When cleaning the grout, I opted to use a handheld grout brush that allowed for more precise, careful application of the product.

As per usual, the floor was given a good rinse and left to dry for 24 hours.

Sealing a Terracotta Tiled Floor

Upon returning to the property I checked the floor was completely dry, ready for sealing. My process for sealing actually involved the application of two different kinds of sealer; initially I applied a single coat of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which has soaks into the pores of the tile and has the added bonus of enhancing its natural colours.

Once this had dried I then applied ix coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go, a product which forms a durable layer of protection of the surface of the tiles and at the same time provides a lovely sheen finish.

Terracotta Kitchen Floor Forest of Dean After
The combination of the two sealers will certainly offer a long-term solution to the ingrained dirt problem, and the appearance-enhancing properties in the products really helped to transform the tiles from dull and dirty to lively and eye-catching. Nonetheless, before departing the property, I also left my very pleased customer with some cleaning advice for the future.

Professional Terracotta Floor Cleaning and Sealing in Monmouthshire


Monmouthshire Tile Doctor

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