The photos below show what can only be described as a botched installation of a black Slate tiled living room floor by a non-expert builder. It may not be immediately obvious what the problems were – but the property owner was pulling his hair out with the situation (having spent a small fortune) as the floor was incredibly dirty. He decided to call us in to take a closer look at what could be done to put his mind to rest.
This property was located in Bexhill, a large seaside town on the South East coast that is known for its abundance of Edwardian and Victorian architecture.
We arrived at the property and, upon closer inspection, we could see that the floor was covered in unsightly marks. At first glance I thought it might be grout smears (aka grout haze) which is a fine powder that is meant to be polished off after tiling, but it was in fact excess grout that had been left on the tile and then to compound the problem sealed over. To make things worse the slate tiles had not been laid completely flat and there was a great amount of lippage between them. However, despite all the problems I was confident we could resolve the issues for the customer and we set a date to come back and do the work.
Restoring a Poorly Installed Black Slate Tiled Floor
On our return we set about covering the skirting boards with a thin plastic sheet to protect them from any splashing from cleaning products.
Once this was done work started on the restoration beginning with an application of Tile Doctor Acid Gel, which is a blend of phosphoric and hydrochloric acids that comes in a gel form that is easy to control. This is used to break down the existing sealer and – in combination with some diamond encrusted burnishing pads – to dissolve and grind away the excess grout which was marking the floor.
The floor was then rinsed with water and the soiled solution extracted using a wet vacuum. Following this the slate tiles were inspected and stubborn areas re-treated.
It’s worth noting we would not take this aggressive approach on acid-sensitive stone such as Marble, Limestone, Travertine and some types of Terrazzo. We would use a more neutral cleaning product, combined with the burnishing pads. Acidic products can cause etching on these sensitive types of stone, but thankfully Slate is hard-wearing and is compatible with Acid Gel.
Sealing a Black Slate Tiled Floor
The floor was left to dry completely over the course of two days. We then returned to apply a fresh seal to ensure the floor was be protected for the future.
First, we applied Tile Doctor Stone Oil, which is an impregnating, colour enhancing sealer. It’s designed for low porosity stone like Slate and does a remarkable job of restoring the dark tones in the stone. Once this had dried it was followed by a couple of coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go which adds a high-quality and aesthetically pleasing sheen finish to the tile.
In the space of a few days, we were able to help the customer avert what initially seemed to be a crisis caused by amateur tiling. The customer was very relieved not to have to take a costly and drastic action like replacing the floor entirely. With the right products and cleaning methods, we were able to get these tiles looking the way they should have in the first place.