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Barry Woodward
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Oxfordshire Tile Doctor
Oxfordshire Tile Doctor

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Filthy Limestone Fireplace Restored in Oxford

A stone fireplace adds a classic and period look to any home but like the stone floors we deal with its only a matter of time before the appearance degrades, however not from foot traffic but from soot. This process happens so gradually it goes without being noticed until one day you realise it really does need a good clean and the dirtier it gets, the harder it is to clean.

I recently visited a customer living in the historic city of Oxford who had never once cleaned their black Limestone fireplace. One day, they decided to finally clean it but found that it would take a lot more than just a light scrub with some soapy water!

As you can see from the photograph below, the Limestone was extremely dirty, dusty and stained. Upon examining the situation, I decided that the best way to restore the stone to its original condition would be to use a polishing process known as burnishing. Keen to see the natural beauty of the Limestone again, the customer was more than happy to book in the job.

Cleaning and Burnishing a Limestone Fireplace
As I would be focusing solely on the Fireplace, it was necessary for me to start by protecting the surrounding area with tape. I then began the process of burnishing, starting with a 200-grit diamond encrusted handheld burnishing block. I sprayed a small amount of water onto the fireplace to act as a lubricant and rubbed the diamond encrusted block onto the stone.

This coarse grit pad helps to grind away the thick layers of dirt on the surface of the Limestone and starts to gradually polish the surface beneath. I completed the burnishing working in small sections at a time, rinsing with fresh water and wiping excess off regularly as I progressed.

After finishing with the 200-grit block I then repeated the process using a 400-grit block. This block possesses a finer grit and really helped to achieve a high-quality polished effect.
While the Limestone was drying, I treated the black fire grate with the correct grate paste (or polish) which cleaned it and recoloured it.

To complete the cleaning process, I paid attention to the black tiles on the floor. These were cleaned using Tile Doctor Pro-Clean diluted with water, and scrubbed into the stone and grout using a small specialised brush. Finally, I rinsed the area with fresh water and dried it with a towel.

Sealing a Limestone Fireplace
I then had to leave the fireplace to dry for about an hour so it would be ready to seal. To seal the Limestone, I used Tile Doctor Ultra-Seal, which offers the natural looking finish that the customer wanted. This sealer is formulated to provide maximum protection against stains and dirt, and is suitable for use on all types of natural stone.

The customer has decided that although this will no longer be used as a working fireplace it, will certainly give the room a focal point – so she was very happy to have it back to looking its best!
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Refreshing a Victorian Tiled floor in Oxford

The Victorian tiled hallway shown below had until recently been covered by carpet and was in surprisingly good condition for its age which is a testament to the durability of these floors. My client who lives in Oxford had managed to remove most of the glue that had been used to secure the carpet to the tile but found it had left an imprint on the floor. Unable to take the restoration any further we were asked to remove the ground in grime and seal the floor.

Restoring Victorian Quarry Tiles
My first task was to remove what was left of the carpet adhesive primarily with the aid of scraper which was used carefully along the edges. This removed the thicker parts of the glue but needed more work to remove all the traces; so a 50 grit disc fitted to a handheld machine was run around the edges of the whole floor to complete the job removing the residue and dirt in the process.

I then used a 50 grit milling pad attached to a rotary floor machine to remove the ground in grime and clean the whole floor. The floor was then rinsed with water to remove the soil that was generated afterwards and then the process repeated this with a 100 grit and 200 grit milling pad to fully restore the appearance of the tile.

This process took up most of the day so before leaving I gave the floor an acid wash using a mild dilution of Tile Doctor Grout Clean-up and then followed this with a good rinse and final clean with Tile Doctor Neutral Cleaner.

Sealing Victorian Tiles
Having finished cleaning the floor I left it to dry off completely for three days to ensure it was bone dry before returning to seal it.

To seal I applied Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is an impregnating sealer that protects the tile from within by occupying the pores in the clay, it also enhances the natural colours in the tile in the process and leaves a matt finish.

The finished floor looks a lot brighter now it’s now free of all the dirt and glue marks, the new sealer will also ensure it’s easy to clean and keeps its appearance for some time to come.
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100 Year Old Brick Floor Renovated in Oxford

We were contacted by a customer living in Oxford who had a property with a brick floor in the living room that was in a bad state and in need of restoration. Brick has always been used as an alternative flooring material to stone due its durability and low cost. Oxford has a long history dating back over a thousand years so it not unusual to discover something like this in older properties.

The owner believed the floor to be over 100 years old and had been patched up in numerous places in the past with holes filled in with modern bricks and concrete. I was confident we could dramatically improve the floor but naturally give its long history it would never look like it was new again.

Restoring a Brick Floor
To remove the dirt I stated with the application of a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro Clean, a high alkaline product that is our go to cleaning product. I applied the product to the floor and left it to dwell for twenty minutes before scrubbing into the brick with a black scrubbing pad fitted to a low speed rotary machine. The soiled cleaning solution was then extracted using a wet vacuum and the floor rinsed with water.

With a lot of the dirt removed I could see I would need to use something abrasive to remove the layers of concrete and give the floor a consistent appearance. Fortunately we a number of techniques we can use for dealing with these issues and in this case I opted to apply a series of coarse abrasive milling pads. I started with the 50grit grit pad which is applied by attaching it to a weighted floor buffer and lubricated with water. Then the floor is rinsed and the process repeated with a 100 grit pad and finally a 200 grit pad to finish the process. The pads use industrial diamonds to slowly grind down the surface and improve its appearance. After the final rinse I could see the floor was much improved, I then had to wait for the floor to dry off fully before I could seal it.

Sealing a Brick Floor
On my return the next day I checked the floor with a damp meter to make sure it had dried. All was well so I set about applying a sealer to protect the floor from staining going forward and also make it easier to clean. This sealer I opted for was Tile Doctor Colour Grow which protects the brick from within by become ingrained into the pores of the material and has the added benefit of enhancing the natural colour to bring back the redness of the brick in the process.

I appreciate the photographs are not my best but hopefully you can appreciate the improvement, certainly the customer was very pleased with transformation and left the feedback for me below. In fact they were originally of the opinion that it probably wasn’t salvageable so this was a major bonus.

We went from dirty old brick living room floor to shiny new (looking) floor in the space of two days. Barry called back immediately came round to have a look the same day then set a date and time and met every promise.
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Dirty White Limestone Tiled Kitchen Floor Cleaned in Wallingford

Photographs below of a White Limestone tiled kitchen floor at a house in Wallingford that was proving difficult for the owner to clean effectively. I went around to inspect the floor and could see that the sealer had worn off leaving the tiles vulnerable to dirt becoming ingrained in the pores of the stone. Once this happens it makes the job of keeping the floor clean quite difficult as you really need to get the dirt out of the pores of the stone to do it right and of course once you do dirt will soon become trapped again without a sealer in place.

Given these Limestone tiles were White the dirt was more visible than usual, so the customer was keen to have the floor deep cleaned to remove the ingrained dirt and then sealed to prevent the problem reoccurring.

Cleaning White Limestone Kitchen Floor Tiles

To restore the floor back to its original condition I used a set of burnishing pads which are encrusted with industrial diamonds and come in different grades from coarse to very fine. Applied with a little water the coarse 400 grit pad is designed to strip the floor of dirt and old sealers whilst the remaining pads which are a finer restore the polished surface. Between each pad you need to rinse the floor with fresh water which is removed with a wet vacuum before finally being left to dry overnight.

On this occasion I found when I started with the 400 grit pad it wasn’t having the effect I was expecting and quickly established that this floor would need grinding back with a much coarser milling pad first. Fortunately I have numerous different types of pads available and was able to switch to a 50 grit milling pad which not only got rid of any remaining seal but also grinded out the ground in dirt. This does leave the stone in a rough condition so to restore the final finish I followed up with the 400 and 800 grit pads and finished with the 1500 grit pad, rinsing with water between each pad to remove the soil that is generated. It was quote a large floor, so it took two days to complete the process over every Limestone tile.

Sealing White Limestone Kitchen Floor Tiles

To seal the floor, I used Tile Doctor Ultra Seal which works by impregnates the stone occupying its pores and thus preventing dirt from becoming ingrained in there. This particular sealer doesn’t change the appearance of the stone and so leaves it with a natural look. Again, it was a large area, so it took two days to apply two coats. I then returned on day 5 to go over the whole floor with a 3000 grit polishing pad to give the floor a slight sheen.
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Slate Tiled Conservatory Floor Covered in Sticky Oil Residue Restored in Bicester

A recent customer of mine had a Slate tiled conservatory that had not been used in a long time since it had become covered in a sticky oil residue and couldn’t be walked over. I can’t go into detail as to how it became it this sate however suffice to say my customer had not been successful in removing it and having tried a number of products and suggestions had decided to call in their local Tile Doctor to remedy the situation.

The customer lives in Bicester just off Junction 9 of the M40 and famous for its Bicester Village outlet shopping centre, which has recently been expanded and is popular for containing discount retail outlets for several major designer clothing stores as well as restaurants and coffee shops.

Cleaning Conservatory Slate Tiles

I could see this was going to be a tricky job so to begin, I created a cocktail of cleaning products consisting of Tile Doctor NanoTech HBU and Tile Doctor Oxy-Gel. NanoTech HBU is one of our most powerful cleaners (HBU = Heavy Build-Up) as it uses Nano-sized particles to penetrate deep into the pores of the stone to release ingrained dirt. Oxy-Gel is an alkaline-based cleaner and degreaser, which helps to break down oily and sticky residues.

I applied this cleaning solution across the floor and left it to work its magic for about four hours. Next, I rinsed the floor with fresh water and extracted the soil using a wet vacuum before proceeding to clean the tiles again using a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean.

Once again, I rinsed away any remaining chemicals with fresh water, before giving the floor an acid wash using Tile Doctor Grout Clean-Up. Giving the stone and Acid Wash removes grout smears, mineral deposits and efflorescence and really gets the stone clean. After completing the cleaning process with another rinse, I left the floor to dry for a couple of days.

Sealing Conservatory Slate Tiles

On my return to the property 48 hours later, I treated the tiles to fresh sealant to protect them from stains and ingrained dirt for the long term. To do this, I used six coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go, which works really well on Slate to provide a high-quality and highly aesthetic low-sheen finish.

The customer was very pleased with the transformation – not least because it meant she could use the conservatory again!
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Slate Shower Cubicle Cleaned and Sealed to Achieve Natural Look Finish in Kidlington

Just Southwest of Bicester, Kidlington is one of the largest villages in England with a population of nearly 14,000. There are a lot of amenities, making it a great place for families to make their homes and I recently visited the area to see a customer with a Slate tiled shower cubicle in need of restoration.

It’s not unusual to get asked to restore natural stone shower cubicles because they can suffer with mould, water marks and Limescale issues and can easily get into poor condition. Quite a lot of these problems can be avoided by rinsing the tiles down after a shower to remove traces of shampoos and soaps and ensuring the room has adequate ventilation. If you want to read more on this subject take a look at http://shower.tilecleaning.co.uk/

Cleaning a Slate Tiled Shower Cubicle

The first process involved in restoring this cubicle was to cover the entire area in Tile Doctor Remove and Go, which is a multi-purpose cleaner designed to strip away any old sealers, synthetic finishes, adhesives and paint stains. It also helps to draw out ingrained stains and remove heavy grease build-up.

The product was left to dwell for roughly ten minutes before I scrubbed it into the tiles and grout with a stiff hand brush. Next, I rinsed the area with water to remove traces of chemicals and wiped it dry with a cloth.

Following this, I covered the tiles with Tile Doctor Grout Clean-Up, which is a concentrated phosphoric acid cleaner formulated to remove grout smears and mineral deposits such as Limescale. The product was scrubbed into the grout a couple of times, before the area was rinsed again with water and wiped dry with a cloth. Grout Clean-up is an acidic product and so shouldn’t be left on stone for too long as it can damage it.

Sealing a Slate Tiled Shower Cubicle

To seal the Slate, I used Tile Doctor Stone Oil, which is an easy-to -apply, impregnating sealer that is particularly effective on low porosity stone. It is formulated to restore the naturally dark colour and patina in the stone.

To finish I applied a single coat of Tile Doctor Ultra Seal which is an impregnating sealer that gives a natural look finish to the slate. I applied the sealer with a lint-free cloth, left it for about 30 minutes to cure and then wiped off any excess with a clean cloth.

The results were fantastic and the customer was especially pleased with the clean, natural look the sealer had given the Slate.
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Mould-Covered Porcelain Shower Tiles Refreshed in Didcot

Available in a variety of styles and designs Porcelain tiles are harder than normal Ceramic tiles and are known for their durability and water resistance, making them ideal for use in shower cubicles and bathrooms.

However, as I’m sure most people already know, shower tiles are not the easiest to keep clean and fresh. These tiles are exposed daily to a multitude of acidic soaps and shampoo dyes, and if proper precaution is not taken to rinse away the excess after using the shower, mould will grow very quickly on the grout.

This shower cubicle, constructed from Porcelain tiles, is a typical example of this. As you can see from the photo below, the mould problem was very apparent. I was asked by the property owner, who lives in Didcot, a railway town in South Oxfordshire, to refresh it after what must have been years of neglect. Here’s how I did it.

Cleaning a Porcelain Tiled Shower Cubicle

The first process in restoring this shower cubicle was to spray the walls with Tile Doctor Duo Clean, which is both a grout cleaner and a mould remover. I left it to dwell for 45 minutes, before proceeding to scrubbing into the grout with a stiff brush. I worked in sections, spraying more Duo Clean onto the tiles as I moved along the length of the walls.

Following this, I rinsed the entire cubicle with fresh water to remove any traces of chemicals and used my wet-vac machine to dry it quickly. The next process was to remove the old, mouldy silicone and replace it with fresh silicone.

Sealing a Porcelain Tiled Shower Cubicle

With the shower cubicle now fresh and clean, it was now time for me to seal the grout and tiles.

I did this using Tile Doctor Wall Grout Sealer Spray, which is a water-based grout sealer that prevents oil, water and acid-based contaminants – including soaps and shampoos – from spoiling the appearance and colour of grout. It does this while allowing for moisture vapour transmission.

Check out the photo below – you can see that after a short day’s work, the appearance of the cubicle has been completely transformed. The customer was very pleased with the result and the addition of the sealer will ensure it stays this way for some time to come.
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Slate Tiled Shower Cubicle Ruined by Limescale Renovated in Wantage

This house in Wantage was on the market to be sold but many potential buyers had been put off by the poor condition of the Slate tiled shower cubicle. Wantage is a lovely little market town in the south of Oxfordshire and a desirable location to live.

However, before this house could be sold, the shower cubicle needed to be renovated; as you can see from the photos below, there was a heavy build-up of limescale that needed to be removed.

With the property owner keen to sell the house, he asked me to get the shower cubicle back to looking its very best. This would involve a deep clean, acid wash and seal.

Cleaning Limescale Damaged Slate Shower Tiles

To begin the restoration, I cleaned the walls using Tile Doctor Pro Clean. This is a strong alkaline product which is powerful and sage to use on natural stone to eradicate dirt and residue that has built up over time. I scrubbed the Pro Clean into the tiles and grout lines, before rinsing the entire area with fresh water.

The next stage involved removing the heavy build-up of limescale. This was done using Tile Doctor Acid Gel, which is a blend of phosphoric and hydrochloric acids in gel form. Being in this form makes it especially effective for use on sloped and vertical surfaces as it it’s easier to control and can dwell for a long time where required. The product deals with alkaline-based limescale and mineral salt deposits (efflorescence).

I scrubbed the Acid Gel into the affected areas with a stiff nylon brush, before rinsing with fresh water. I then needed to repeat this process twice more to make sure all the limescale was completely removed. Following this, I left the shower to dry before sealing.

Sealing Slate Shower Tiles

After letting the shower cubicle tiles dry, I sealed them using Tile Doctor Colour Grow, which is an impregnating, colour-enhancing sealer.

The sealer is specially formulated to really emphasise the different natural tones and shades in the stone, in turn lifting the appearance of the entire room. In this situation, two coats of Colour Grow were used to provide robust, long-lasting protection.

The customer was very impressed with the finished result and I’m sure any prospective property buyers will be equally impressed by the feature bathroom! Another satisfied client.
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Deep Cleaning a Chequered Vinyl Floors in Oxford Catholic Church

These photos of a Black and White Chequered Vinyl floor are actually from the Holy Rood Catholic Church in Oxford which is part of the North Hinksey Parish. It’s a popular church visited by many parishioners so the floor gets a lot of wear and I was asked to give it a good deep clean and re-seal.

Cleaning Soiled Vinyl Floor Tiles

The Vinyl tiles had been sealed with a polish before so my first job was to strip the old polish off the floor. Fortunately, I have a good product for doing that in the shape of Tile Doctor Vinyl Strip which is an effective heavy-duty floor polish stripper that quickly removes polish and coatings from vinyl floors.

The Vinyl Strip was applied to the floor, left to soak in for a while and then scrubbed in using a scrubbing pad attached to a rotary machine. I then rinsed the floor with water.

The cleaning process released a lot of dirt from the floor which was rinsed away with water and then extracted using a wet vacuum. Once the floor was clean I was able to check the floor and repeat the process for any stubborn areas that needed extra work and once I was 100% happy I left for the evening.

Sealing a Victorian Tiled Floor

I returned the next day to seal the floor with two coats of Tile Doctor Vinyl Shine applying the first coat in an up and down direction and the second coat side to side.

Vinyl Shine is a high solids polymer floor seal and polish designed to protect and enhance the appearance of Vinyl floor tiles. The formula includes special polymers which produce a ‘Wet Look’ finish whilst enhancing slip-resistance. A first coat seals and protects the floor and a second produces a gloss finish.

This was a huge floor and naturally the Church was open most days so the work was spread over two weeks doing two days each week.

I’m not sure the photographs I took actually do the work justice however my customer was certainly pleased with the difference and left the following glowing testimonial for me.

“Barry and Nick did a great job and was a pleasure to have around, always letting us know what was going to happen next. The final invoice was exactly as his initial quote. We are very impressed with his work and I will definitely contact him for some work in my home.”
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Heavily Stained Quarry Tiled Floors Restored in Oxford Shop Conversion

This ground floor flat in the City of Oxford had been converted from a shop which as you can imagine, was quite complex. One significant element involved in the conversation was the restoration of an old Quarry tiled floor which ran through the main hallway and had for many years been covered in a commercial linoleum covering.

When the linoleum covering was removed, the sheer amount of glue which had been used to affix it had completely ruined the appearance and condition of the Quarry tiles. There was also a lot of concrete in the bathroom, and our client was keen to have this removed in the hope that the tiles beneath were salvageable.

Removing Concrete and Glue Stains from a Quarry Tiled Floor

My first task at the property was to deal with the adhesive. I covered the entire floor area with Tile Doctor Remove and Go and then covered it with a plastic sheet and leaving it to soak into the glue and break it down overnight. Remove and Go is powerful stripper with a long-dwell time, formulated to break down adhesives and paint stains, amongst other coatings.

I returned the next day and, removing the plastic sheeting, I scrubbed the floor with a carbon brush attached to a rotary floor scrubber to remove the huge glue deposits. I worked in sections, rinsing each area of the floor with water after it had been scrubbed. Once I had finished the entire floor there was still some glue remaining, so I covered it again with a solution of Remove and Go combined with Tile Doctor HBU Nanotech, which utilises nano-sized particles to get underneath tough stains, dissolve them, and lift them out. I left this solution on the floor for about two hours to dwell and scrubbed it again.

During the next day of work, I used a very coarse 100 grit diamond burnishing pad to manually grind away the remaining stubborn bits of glue. Paying attention to the bathroom, I used a 50-grit coarse milling pad followed up with a 100-grit diamond burnishing pad to do the same to the area of concrete.

The next part of the process was to use Tile Doctor Grout Clean Up to acid wash the floor. This was successful in removing the last bits of cement and the remaining residue of the glue. To complete the cleaning process, I then rinsed the floor with plenty of water and vacuumed up any soiled solution.

Sealing a Quarry Tiled Floor

I opted to leave the floor alone for a couple of days to fully dry off so that it could be sealed upon my return. This is crucial as any moisture or damp issues can damage the performance of the sealer and expose the floor to further ingrained dirt and staining.

To seal the floor, I used Tile Doctor Colour Grow. This is an impregnating sealer that also enhances the natural reddish shades in the Quarry. I applied two coats of the sealer, giving the floor the natural look matte finish the customer desired.

The customer was very impressed with the results of this thorough restoration. She even left the following feedback:

“I cannot recommend this service enough. The Oxford Tile Doctor (Barry) was a superstar: he cleaned up the tiles in my hallway, which were covered in a very thick layer of glue, and removed concrete from the tiles. They now look superb and I’m really happy with the outcome. Barry was always on time, considerate, and kept me up to date. The quote for the job was exactly right. I would not hesitate to recommend him.”
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