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Mick Conlon
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East Sussex Tile and Stone Cleaning
East Sussex Tile and Stone Cleaning

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Deep Cleaning Flagstone Flooring in Vines Cross

This customer who lived in the old Sussex village of Vines Cross near Horam, had a lovely Flagstone floor installed in the Kitchen some years earlier but because they wanted a completely natural look no sealer had been applied. With no protection in place dirt had become ingrained into the pores of the stone over time making it dull and difficult to clean effectively.

Their beautiful flagstone floor no longer looked as it should and the owner of the house was keen to have it deep cleaned and looking its best again. I was happy to do the work and before starting I made sure to discuss the topic of sealing and recommended one called Tile Doctor Ultra-Seal which is a natural look sealer that doesn’t change the look of the stone yet protects it from dirt becoming ingrained.

Deep Cleaning a Lapicida Sandstone Floor
With no sealer evident on the stone there was no need to use a coatings remover on the tiles, so after protecting the Kitchen units and skirting board with plastic tape I started with a combination of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean tile and grout cleaner mixed with a small amount of another Tile Doctor product called NanoTech HBU. HBU stands for Heavy Build-Up and this product utilises nano-sized abrasive particles to assist in the cleaning process.

The solution was left to dwell and soak into the stone for ten minutes before being scrubbed in using a rotary buffing machine fitted with a black pad. With the cleaning solution on the floor I also took the time to run a stiff brush along the grout lines to make sure they were also scrubbed clean. After a while the cleaning solution became dirty with all the soil that was being released from the tile and was then extracted using a wet vacuum. The floor was then rinsed with water and stubborn areas re-treated using the same process until I was satisfied it was thoroughly clean.

After giving the floor a final rinse and drying it as much as possible with a wet vacuum it was left to dry off fully overnight.

Sealing a Flagstone Floor
I returned the next day to seal the floor first checking it for dampness using a damp meter. All was well, and the flagstones were dry, so I was able to proceed with sealing the stone.

As I mentioned earlier my client liked the natural look but having experienced the problems of maintaining an un-sealed floor had agreed for me to seal it with Tile Doctor Ultra-Seal. I applied a single base coat of Tile Doctor Ultra Seal as agreed and then recommended that we add a coat of Tile Doctor Seal and Go as well, just to brighten up the floor and add a slight sheen.

I knew from experience this would work well on Flagstones and my client was happy to trust me. As suspected the combination of the two sealers was a winner and my client was overjoyed with the resulting effect and more so that she can now maintain it satisfactorily.
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Cleaning and Grout Colouring of a Porcelain Tiled Kitchen Floor in Lewes

Recently, I was called to a work on a Porcelain tiled floor in the kitchen of a house in the East Sussex market town of Lewes where the grout was looking tired. Lewes has a long history that dates all the way back to the Saxons and has many old buildings as a result; this house of course with its modern kitchen and Porcelain tiles wasn’t one of them however the grout certainly looked old.

Cleaning Porcelain Tile and Grout floor
The floor was in good physical condition and Porcelain tiles being very robust as they are didn’t need much maintenance however the grout was very stained, and the house owner wanted it freshening up.

My first course of action was to give the whole floor a good clean with a medium dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean scrubbed in with a black pad attached to a floor buffer machine. I paid particular attention to the grout and gave it a good scrub using a narrow brush that was run along the grout lines. The now dirty cleaning solution was rinsed off the floor with water and extracted with a wet vacuum, so I could see the improvement. I could then see the difference the cleaning process had made to the look of the Tile and Grout, but it was clear that some of the staining had gone deep into the grout and no amount of scrubbing would get it looking new again.

Recolouring the Grout
It was clear to me that the only course of action to get back a uniform appearance to the grout would be to recolour it so as an initial step I set about drying the grout.

Once dry I began to recolour the grout using a white Tile Doctor Grout Colourant which was applied using a small brush. I was careful to apply thin, even coats and any excess was removed.

The tiles were of the large format type, so it only took a few hours to colour the grout lines so the whole job took less than a day to complete.

Once done I revealed the rejuvenated Kitchen floor to the client who was delighted with the results as it lifted the whole look of the kitchen.
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Badly Stained Grout in Porcelain Tiled Shower Cubicle Recoloured in Hove

Hove is a town in East Sussex which is confused with – and somewhat overshadowed by – its larger, more well-known neighbour, Brighton. In fact, the tendency for people to confuse Hove and Brighton is such that a running joke in the area amongst residents of Hove is to reply “Hove, actually” when they are asked if they live in Brighton.

But Hove is no small town – in fact, its home to more than 90,000 people. As the East Sussex Tile Doctor I am a frequent visitor to the Brighton and Hove area. Most recently, I was called to a property to address a Porcelain tiled shower cubicle which was really starting to annoy the owner.

She felt like she could never seem to keep it clean of grime and the dyes in soaps that invariably stain the grouting. As a result, the whole cubicle looked worse for wear – you can see this in the photo below.

Not only did the customer want the tiles and grout cleaned up, but she had been impressed by some subway tiles she had seen where a darker grout had been used, she liked the effect it gave and wanted to see if it could be replicated. I suggested that we could clean up the tiles and recolour the grout using a Black Tile Doctor Grout Colourant. She accepted the quote for the work and I was able to get started soon after.

Cleaning Porcelain Shower Tiles and Grout
To begin the restoration, I gave the tile and grout a deep clean using Tile Doctor Pro-Clean, which is a highly effective alkaline-based cleaner for Tile, Stone and Grout.

This left the tiles looking fresher, but the grout lines – which were very badly stained – would as need to be recoloured for the best result. Before applying the Grout Colourant, the grout needed to be prepped in order to achieve a strong bond with the colourant. To do this I applied Tile Doctor Grout Clean-Up which is an acidic product normally used for removing grout smears but in this case, I used it to etch the surface of the grout. Once done I gave the grout a rinse with water to remove any trace of cleaning product.

Recolouring Shower Tile Grout
The final step in the restoration was to recolour the grout in black to achieve that subway effect the customer desired. There are actually ten different colours in the Tile Doctor Grout Colourant range, including Charcoal Grey, White, and Chocolate, as well as Black.
The colourant in basically painted onto the grout using an applicator brush, you then let it dry for a while and then wipe off any excess from the tile surface. It looks a little horrendous in the photographs above but wait until you see the final result.

Once the grout colourant sets you find that not only does it effectively recolour and rejuvenate the grout, but it also makes a barrier over the grout effectively sealing it in and making it easier to clean in future.

The last step was to strip out the mould stained silicone sealant from around the base of the shower cubicle and replace with a quality mould resistant sealant. This final step really finished off the renovation and the photographs below show the outcome, which I think you will agree was quite a transformation. Thankfully, it was exactly what the customer was looking for!
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Scratched and Dirty Slate Tiles Rejuvenated in Eastbourne

This Slate tiled floor had been installed in the conservatory of a property in Eastbourne, which I’m sure your aware is a large and well-known seaside resort town on the south coast of England. The home owner contacted Tile Doctor to see if a deep clean and a fresh seal could turn this floor’s fortunes around.

The combination of durability and price makes Slate a popular choice for floor covering, it’s also available in a number of colours, ranging from plain black to a more diverse array of shades. The Slate tiles pictured below are a good example of the latter. Unfortunately, they were looking very tired and had many obvious scratches which were further spoiling their appearance. In other words, they were desperately in need of restoration!

The word Slate actually comes from the Old French word Esclate, which means ‘piece broken off’, or ‘to split and break’. Which makes sense as Slate tiles are actually made by splitting a larger piece along the grain.

Cleaning a Scratched and Dirty Slate Tiled Floor
To deep clean this floor, we used a combination of two Tile Doctor products. First was Pro-Clean, an alkaline-based cleaner which we use in the majority of natural stone cleaning jobs we undertake as it very reliably removes heavy soil build-up. The second product was Tile Doctor NanoTech HBU, a very strong product which utilises nano-sized cleaning particles to penetrate into the pores of the stone, getting underneath and dissolving any stubborn muck. The combined solution was applied to the floor and then covered in a thin plastic sheet so that it wouldn’t dry out and left to sweat for an hour.

The cleaning solution of Pro Clean and NanoTech HBU was then worked into the entire floor using a scrubbing pad fitted to a heavy rotary machine. The floor was rinsed with water and the resultant slurry removed with a wet vacuum. The revealed floor was much cleaner and fresher, and I was able to spot treat stubborn areas before giving it a final rinse.

The slate floor was then left to dry completely overnight so that it would be ready for sealing the following day.

Sealing a Slate Tiled Floor
To seal the tiles, we once again opted to use two different products. Firstly, we applied Tile Doctor Stone Oil, which is an impregnating sealer that adds colour making any imperfections blend back into the tile, which was useful as there were quite a few scratches on this floor.

Secondly, we applied four coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go, which is a topical sealer formulated to provide long-lasting protection against ingrained dirt. It also leaves a high-quality sheen finish which really enhances the overall character of the floor.

The results of the restoration can be seen in the photos above. We were very pleased with the outcome and the customer was equally very happy. As you can see the patina of the Slate tiles is much more impressive – and it lends more personality to the entire room.
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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.
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Terracotta Kitchen Tiles Restored for New Homeowners in Brighton

This couple, who live in the seaside resort of Brighton, had purchased their house four months before Christmas and wanted to have the fantastic Terracotta tiled floor in the kitchen and conservatory looking its best before the festive period, since they had family visiting. The floor was looking washed out and it was clear the sealer had failed in the high traffic areas and was now allowing dirt to penetrate into the pores of the tile making it difficult to clean.

We often get calls from new home owners keen to put their own stamp on a property shortly after moving in; stone floors rarely come with cleaning instructions so if you have a stone floor it makes sense to get in touch, so we can advise you on how best to maintain it.

We provided a quote which included stripping the floor of old sealers, cleaning, oiling and then sealing it again to restore cleanliness and character to the Terracotta. There was a lot to do and two areas to clean so I anticipated it would take four days to complete.

Cleaning a Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor
Having accepted the quote our first task upon returning to the property was to give the Terracotta tiles a deep clean and remove any remaining sealer present on the tile. This was achieved by applying a strong combination of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean and Tile Doctor NanoTech HBU to the tiles and then covering it in a plastic sheet, so it wouldn’t dry out. This method allows the products to really soak into the pores of the Terracotta and draw out the dirt. I should also mention that Pro-Clean is a very effective Tile and Grout cleaner whilst HBU enhances it by adding nano-sized cleaning particles.

The plastic blanket was left in place for a few hours before being peeled off and then the cleaning products scrubbed into the tile and grout using a black pad fitted to a rotary floor machine and hand brushes. The now soiled product was rinsed off with water which was then extracted using a wet vacuum. The floor was inspected, and stubborn marks spot treated until the floor was clean.

After thoroughly cleaning the Terracotta over two days, we left the floor to completely dry off over the weekend. The tiles would need to be sufficiently dry to receive fresh sealant, as excess moisture can cloud the sealant and prevent it from working correctly.

Sealing a Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor
When we returned to the property, we proceeded to apply Tile Doctor Stone Oil to the tiles. Stone Oil is a sealer which restores the colour and texture of tiled floors, as well as mechanical strength once cured.

We applied a single coat of the Stone Oil before topping it up with multiple coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go, a topical sealer which provides a high-quality sheen finish to help accentuate the appearance of the Terracotta tiles as well as adding protection.

You can see the results of the restoration below. The couple were so impressed that they have now agreed to have Tile Doctor visit once a year (at a fraction of the cost of the original restoration) to complete a maintenance clean. This will make sure this Terracotta is always looking at its best!
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Porcelain Shower Cubicle Grout Refreshed and Recoloured in Eastbourne

Anyone who wants to put their house up for sale should consider refurbishment projects that can help increase the value of the property and make it more appealing to potential buyers. This is especially the case in rooms with tiled floors or features, which many buyers find particularly attractive. If you’ve left your tiles – whether they’re in the bathroom, kitchen or elsewhere – in a bit of a state, chances are that it’ll put people off.

Recently, I was contacted by a customer who was in the process of refurbishing their house in Eastbourne prior to putting it up for sale. As part of the refurbishment, the customer wanted the Porcelain bathroom tiles to look ts absolute best for anyone viewing the property. While the bathroom room had been installed not too long ago, the grout was not looking very attractive.

This was due mainly to the fact that the grout was looking dark and stained. I was asked to give the tiles and grout a thorough clean before recolouring the grout to make it lighter and more appealing.

Cleaning and Re-Colouring Porcelain Shower Tiles and Grout

To achieve the best results, the grouting in shower cubicles needs to be cleaned before it can be recoloured. To do this, I used Tile Doctor Duo Clean, a product which acts fast to removes any mould and black spots from the grout. If necessary, it can also be used to clean plastic or enamel baths and showers.

The product was applied and then scrubbed into the grout carefully using a specialised grout brush, and the area was left to dry. Once the cubicle was dry, I applied the Tile Doctor Grout Colourant in small sections, so that I could wipe off any excess from the tile surface before it dried.

Tile Doctor Grout Colourants are available in 10 different colours, but in this case the customer opted for a normal white as it contrasts nicely with the grey tiles. The Colourant not only recolours the grout lines; it also seals and rejuvenates them.

The shower room was quite large, so the job took most of the day to complete. But it was certainly worth it. The customer was very pleased with the results, and we wish them the best of luck with selling the property.
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Restorative Cleaning of a Stone Fireplace in Brighton

I’m really pleased with the transformation I managed to achieve cleaning this Stone Fireplace at a lovely period house in Brighton. The client had been decorating the room which highlighted just how grubby the Stone Fireplace now looked and she desperately wanted to use it for the cold nights towards Christmas.

The run up to Christmas is generally a busy time for us as we usually find homeowners are really keen to have their tiles cleaned in time for the festivities. However these jobs tend to only take a day at most so I was confident I could squeeze it in quite quickly.

Cleaning a Stone Fireplace

Before starting any job I make sure the surrounding furnishings are protected from splashes from the cleaning products we use. I tend to use a thin blue film for this as it sticks well to most surfaces and like professional decorators masking tape it doesn’t remove the paint when you remove it later.

To clean the fireplace I used a diluted combination of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean and Acid Gel which was applied to the stone and left to soak in for few minutes before scrubbing it by hand and then carefully rinsing it off. Pro-Clean is a powerful cleaning product on it’s own but I needed something that would deal with the soot and Acid Gel is able to remove all sorts of deposits plus being a gel it sticks well to vertical surfaces.

I couldn’t really use any machinery on the Fireplace that would make the job easier so I had to use a lot of elbow grease instead. The intricate carvings in the stone took some time to get really clean and so in total the job took me about four hours. The Stone Fireplace was transformed by the time I had finished and I think you will agree it now looks fantastic.

Brighton is a great place to go shopping especially around “The Lanes” behind the main promenade where they have lots of unusual gift shops and with Christmas looming I was able to spend what was left of the afternoon roaming around.
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Unearthed Tiles Exchanged for Pavement Cleaning in Eastbourne

So, I had an enquiry from a very nice lady in Eastbourne who wanted to know if I could use some old tiles she had dug up from her garden. It seems her house was the last one to be built in the street many years ago and the builders threw all the tiles into her garden. Since then some were recovered to make a mosaic front pathway but there were four buckets of tiles she couldn’t use.

I’m based in Eastbourne, so it was no trouble to go around and take a look. I popped round and in my profession you never know when they might come in handy so I bought them off her for £20 which was a bargain really. Well I was very grateful to her and after seeing her front pathway and garden I offered to clean the paving and tiles up for free.

There were two sections of paving that needed cleaning including the mosaic tiles and with my van being parked right in front of the house I was able to reach them with my van mounted high-pressure cleaning system.

Cleaning Dirty Paving

The first job was to use low pressure jet wash to the paving to remove surface dirt and then apply a medium dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean and let it soak into the tile for about ten minutes. The solution was then scrubbed into the tile using a stiff brush to release the ingrained dirt.

The last step was to finish the process using our high-powered state of the art truck mount extraction system. These machines are a big investment but well worth the cost in the amount of time they save. They work by applying hot water under pressure to the surface via a special spinner tool whilst simultaneously extracting the soiled water back to a collection tank on the van. You can set the pressure of the machine and in the case of paving I use a lower pressure to ensure the mortar between the paving isn’t dislodged.

The paving came out remarkably well as you can see from the photographs.

Thank you Joy for your enthusiasm in the finished product, for the opportunity to reveal your lovely pathway, for the buckets of tiles you recovered and for the copious amounts of tea you served to me.
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Quarry tiled floor restoration done at a cottage in Rotherfield.
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