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.
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.
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
Source: Limestone Tile Cleaning and Restoration in Devon