Slate Tile Cleaning

Semi Riven Green Slate Floor in Keswick

The owner of this property in Keswick requested a visit to take a look at their Green Slate kitchen floor. The Slate tile was the Semi Riven variety which works well in a Kitchen due to the rough surface being anti-slip however that rough surface can also trap dirt.

Some areas needed a deep clean and other areas were still in good order but because the client was not sure of which sealer, they had used in the past it would be necessary to treat all three floors with the same process and strip off the original sealer first. All were interconnected and if we only covered one room and not the next there would be a difference in the finish between the floor areas.

Semi Riven Green Slate Before Cleaning Keswick

Although the Green Slate floor was the main issue, I noticed that they had a small Quarry tiled hallway at the front of the property which looked tired, so I offered to renovate that as well. The process for cleaning and sealing Quarry tiles is virtually the same as Slate so it made sense.

Quarry Tiled Hall Floor Before Cleaning Keswick

Cleaning a Semi Riven Green Slate Tiled Kitchen Diner Floor

Before we do any work at all you will notice on one of the pictures that we apply a thin coat of clear silicone to the bottom of the units where it meets the slate, this stops water getting underneath and causing a capillary action forming and blowing the wood, or in this case MDF which is very absorbent more so than standard wood and will blow within 10 to 15 minutes of water being left to stand underneath it. Using the silicone stops this problem completely (assuming no gaps have been left for water to seep into).

Semi Riven Green Slate Before Cleaning Keswick

Working in three separate zones I started by removing the original sealer with the application of a medium dilution of Tile Doctor Remove and Go. This product is a sealer and coatings remover. My method was to let the solution soak into the tiles for about ten minutes and then work it in using a coarse 200-grit milling pad fitted to a rotary buffer. These pads really get into the rough surface of the slate stripping off the old sealer and getting the tile clean at the same time. The slurry generated was rinsed away with water and then extracted with a wet vacuum.

Next the Slate was treated to an acid rinse using Tile Doctor Grout Clean-Up. This process removes mineral deposits including old grout smears and really shows the tile at its best. The acidic nature of the product will also serve to neutralise the alkalinity in the tile caused by the application of Remove and Go earlier. Additionally Remove and Go is designed to strip off sealers, so I didn’t want any trace of it hanging around in the pores of the stone.

After a thorough rinse and extraction, the floor was left to dry off overnight.

Sealing a Semi Riven Green Slate Tiled Kitchen Diner Floor

I came back the next day to apply a fresh sealer to the floor checking first it was dry by taking a few moisture readings with a damp meter. Slate and Quarry tiles are porous, as it’s the top layer of Grout and without a sealer in place dirt can become lodged in the pores making it very difficult to lean.

The moisture readings confirmed the floor was dry enough to be sealed however my client was still unsure of the finish they wanted so before starting different sealers were applied on different parts of the floor so they could get an idea of how it would look.

Semi Riven Green Slate After Cleaning Keswick Semi Riven Green Slate After Cleaning Keswick

After reviewing the results Tile Doctor Colour Grow was chosen, it’s a matt effect sealer which lifts the overall finish of the stone by enhancing its natural colours, it also worked well on the Quarry tiles and will provide many years of protection.

Quarry Tiled Hall Floor After Cleaning Keswick

The client was very happy with the finished floor and especially how improved the grout looked which was an additional bonus. Before leaving I took time to explain how to maintain the floors going forward for which I always recommend a mild tile cleaner such as Tile Doctor Neutral Tile Cleaner. Many of the products you find in supermarkets are simply too strong for cleaning a sealed floor and will strip the sealer off prematurely.


Professional Restoration of a Semi Riven Green Slate Tiled Kitchen diner in North Cumbria

Deep Cleaning a Mixed Chinese Slate Floor in Clifton near Penrith

The pictures below are of Chinese Slate floor in the Kitchen of a property in the small village of Clifton just south of Penrith. We often get asked what the difference is between Rough and Semi Riven Slate, and this floor was a mixture of both.

If you look closely at the pictures and check out the darker parts of the floor you will see these smoother Semi Riven Slate, whereas the light copper-coloured parts of the floor were of the rougher textured variety. It’s not that unusual for stone to be mixed in this fashion as it can be supplied from different quarries in order to achieve a particular look.

Rough Chinese Slate Floor Before Cleaning Clifton Penrith

The blend of different slates makes little difference when it comes to cleaning as the process is essentially the same. I would advise though if you intend to clean the floor using a mop then you should opt for Semi Riven Slate as Rough Slate can shred your mops and make it harder to maintain. We tend to use industrial floor buffing machines which work well on both surfaces so are less effected.

Rough Chinese Slate Floor Before Cleaning Clifton Penrith

Cleaning a Rough Chinese Slate Kitchen Floor

There was a bit of wax on this floor so to remove this Tile Doctor Wax Away was applied. The product was left to stand for fifteen minutes before being scrubbed into the stone, rinsed and then the soil extracted with a wet vacuum.

We then finished the cleaning with an Acid Rinse which involves scrubbing the Slate with Tile Doctor Grout Clean-up. This not only works well at cleaning up the stone and grout but also neutralises the alkaline pH left over from using Wax Away. I am very wary of the pH level of the floor as it could have an impact on the new sealer, giving the floor an acid rinse before sealing also ensures a better bond with the sealer.

Naturally, you can’t leave a strong product like Grout Clean-up on the Stone for long as it could etch the surface so once done the floor was thoroughly rinsed with water and extracted again with a wet vacuum. A mop and bucket and lots of sponges won’t do the job on a large area like this.

Sealing a Rough Chinese Slate Tiled Kitchen Floor

Once we finished the clean, we left it to dry off overnight and came back the next day to apply the sealer. We were originally going to apply a satin finish sealer, but the client had a big dog with sharp claws which could of scratched and marked the sealer so decided against it. I advised the client to use an Impregnating sealer called Tile Doctor Colour Grow, which lifts the natural colours in the stone, but is not a topical shiny sealer as the seal soaks into the Slate and leaves a a nice matt finish instead. Only two coats of sealer were needed, and the floor looked like new again.

Rough Chinese Slate Floor After Cleaning Clifton Penrith

My client was very happy with the difference in the appearance of the stone and how much cleaner the grout was, so much so they the following feedback for us, which is always appreciated.

“Totally impressed with the team they couldn’t have been more professional and even left me with some cleaner. My horrible 12 year old slate tiles look fabulous”

As usual we left a free bottle of Tile Doctor Neutral Tile Cleaner for aftercare, it’s very important not to undo all that hard work by using a product which will damage the seal, using a pH neutral cleaner will keep the seal looking sharp and fresh for years to come.

Rough Chinese Slate Floor After Cleaning Clifton Penrith


Professional Restoration of a Rough Chinese Slate Tiled Kitchen in North Cumbria

Cleaning and Sealing Slate Tiles in Ulveston

This property in Ulveston had previously been used as a guest house and was now being refurbished and turned back into a home. The kitchen and conservatory had a Slate tiled floor and as you can imagine had seen a fair amount of wear from the numerous fried breakfasts that had been prepared in there. The owners had decided to replace the kitchen but were keen to keep the slate floor however it was in a bad state and looked as if it had never been cleaned and sealed for some time.

I did a small test using Tile Doctor Remove and Go (which you can see in the photograph below) and it came up really well, naturally we were booked to come back and finish the rest of the floor which I had estimated would take two days.

Slate Floor in Ulveston Test Area Slate Floor in Ulveston Test Area

Cleaning Slate Floor Tiles

Two weeks later I turned up at 9am as agreed and set up my equipment, the kitchen had already been removed so with the exception on the cooker little preparation was required. I worked in small areas using a high pressure spinner tool to remove as much dirt off the tiles as possible and a wet vacuum to remove the soiled water.

Slate Floor in Ulveston Before Cleaning Slate Floor in Ulveston Before Cleaning

Stubborn areas were treated with Remove and Go and then I moved onto the next job which was to clean up the grout. For this I used a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which is a alkaline tile and grout cleaner that is safe to use on natural stone. It was scrubbed in using a stiff brush and then rinsed off with clean water, again using the wet vacuum to remove the soiled solution. The floor was now clean but still damp so I tidied up my tools and left for the day.

Slate Floor in Ulveston After Cleaning Slate Floor in Ulveston After Cleaning

Sealing Slate Floor Tiles

The Next day I came back and inspected the floor to ensure it was dry and that I hadn’t missed anything. All was well so I started to seal the floor with five thin coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go which is an ideal sealer for slate as it adds a nice subtle sheen to the tile and being water based there is no smell as it dries. The sealer was applied using a paint pad applicator and each coat took around about twenty minutes to dry.

Slate Floor in Ulveston After Sealing Slate Floor in Ulveston After Sealing

When it was complete and the floor had dried I packed up my equipment and spent some time talking to the customer to check they were happy with the results (they were very happy) and to advise them on how to maintain the floor using with a neutral tile cleaner going forward which will help extend the life of the sealer.

Slate Floor Cleaning in South Cumbria

Cleaning and Sealing Slate Tiles in Windermere

The customer from Windermere called me in to take a look at their Slate tiled kitchen floor which was looking very dirty with ingrained stains and marks on the stone from spills etc. that were proving difficult for the customer to clean. The brief was to give the floor a deep clean, remove the stains and make it easier for them to maintain thereafter. On inspection I could see the sealer had broken down, which is why the slate was getting stained and hard to clean. I did a test area on the slate and grout to show them how it could look and it came up really well so the signed my Work survey form and booked me in to do the work.

Slate Tile Floor Cleaning Before Slate Tile Floor Cleaning Before

Cleaning Slate Floor Tiles

On my arrival I covered the wood and carpet in the kitchen and hallway to protect it then started on removing what was left of the old sealer with Tile Doctor Remove and Go; I sprayed it on working in small areas and activated it with a brush making sure I scrubbed well around the areas of slate that are risen as in this slate its uneven and then washed it off using a wet vacuum to remove the soiled solution. It was very satisfying to watch the tiles come back to life with bright colours, I kept at it all day until all the Slate tiles were clean and the sealer was fully removed, I then scrubbed all the grout joints to make sure they were all clean then I washed all the floor down before I left ready for sealing the next day.

Sealing Slate Floor Tiles

The next day I sealed the floor with Tile Doctor Seal and Go to protect and enhance the tile putting on five coats before it was fully sealed. I used an industrial air blower to help it dry quicker as the house owner had a dog and I did not want any paw prints in my work. Below is a photograph of the end results in which you can see the natural colours have come back to life.

Slate Tile Floor Cleaning After
This job took me two days and the owner was extremely happy with the result, I also spent time to explain a maintenance program discussing how to clean the floor with Tile Doctor Neutral Tile Cleaner which has a low PH and not an off the shelf supermarket cleaner which being mildly acidic can break down the sealer and reduce its life.

Restoration of Slate Floor in Windermere


North Cumbria Tile Doctor

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