Renovating Grubby Encaustic Bathroom Floor Tiles in Sydenham

The customer had Encaustic Concrete tiles laid in two bathrooms and a hallway around a year ago at their house in Sydenham, South East London. Encaustic tiles have been around for a very long time however they are currently undergoing a resurgence and are once again proving very popular due the varied patterns being created.

Concrete Encaustic Bathroom Floor Tiles Before Cleaning Sydenham

It’s probably difficult to appreciate from the photographs but this particular brand of encaustic tiles were very porous and had become very grubby since being installed and were now staining easily. I suspect they had only been lightly sealed after installation (if at all) and this had allowed dirt to penetrate the pores of the tile making it difficult to clean.

Concrete Encaustic Bathroom Floor Tiles Before Cleaning Sydenham Concrete Encaustic Bathroom Floor Tiles Before Cleaning Sydenham

Cleaning a Dirty Encaustic Tiled Hallway

The process I used for cleaning the tiles was the same one I would use on polished stone such as Limestone or Travertine. It involves applying a set of Diamond encrusted burnishing pads starting with a coarse 400 grit pad fitted to a rotary floor buffing machine and lubricated with water. The water becomes soiled with the slurry from the burnishing process and once all the tiles have been treated its rinsed off with more water.

You then apply the medium 800 grit pad, again with water to help lubricate and rinse off afterwards like before. The process is repeated with the fine 1500 grit pad and the tiles given another rinse.

Before applying the final super fine 3000 grit pad I scrubbed the grout lines with a solution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which is a strong alkaline cleaner that’s designed for use on Tile and Stone. I used a handheld narrow brush to scrub the grout and followed that up with another rinse with water using a wet vacuum to extract the water and dry the floor afterwards.

Sealing Encaustic Tiles

The beauty of honing the tiles with the burnishing pads in this manner is that the system closes up a lot of the pores in the tiles, making them less porous and easier to seal. Burnishing also uses less water so it wasn’t long before the floor was dry, and I was able to start the sealing process.

I sealed the floor using Tile Doctor Colour Grow, which is a colour enhancing impregnating sealer that seeps into the pores of the tile and protects it from within. Three even coats with a drying time in between is sufficient for these tiles, and once the final coat had dried I went over the floor with the 3000-grit pad on my floor machine, to leave the floor with a slight sheen.

Concrete Encaustic Bathroom Floor Tiles After Cleaning Sydenham Concrete Encaustic Bathroom Floor Tiles After Cleaning Sydenham

After care is so important when it comes to maintaining a sealed floor, so I always leave the customer with a small bottle of a recommend cleaning product. In this case I left them with Tile Doctor Stone Soap which is made with vegetable oil extract and will help maintain the patina on the floor.

Concrete Encaustic Bathroom Floor Tiles After Cleaning Sydenham
 
 
Source: Encaustic Tile Cleaning and Sealing Service in Kent

Restoring an Encaustic Tiled Hallway Hidden Under Carpet in Cheshire

This floor may look like it’s made from Victorian tiles but if you look closely you will see the floor is actually made of 72 Encaustic tiles each one containing a regular pattern. Encaustic tiles have more in common with Ceramic tiles than Victorian and are actually made using layers of cement where are often hand painted with patterns which and hydraulically pressed into the surface.

Encaustic Tiled Hallway Padgate Before Cleaning Encaustic Tiled Hallway Padgate Before Cleaning

The tiled floor was actually floor found hiding under the hallway carpet by the new owners of the house which is in Padgate near Warrington. Were not sure of the age of the tiles but suspect they may be 100 years old. Certainly, Padgate has many older houses so they could be although it’s mainly known for its large RAF base during the 2nd world war.

Encaustic tiles are porous and so need to be sealed to protect them from dirt becoming ingrained in the floor. However, hallway floors get a lot of foot traffic which over time wears down the sealer until it becomes so thin and patchy it’s no longer effective. As a result, you need to regularly top up the sealer or every three to four years it will need to be stripped off and reapplied.

Deep Cleaning the Encaustic Tiled Floor

You can see from the pictures that the tiles were in good physical shape but had accumulated a lot of dirt which was especially visible near the front door. As I mentioned earlier Encaustic tiles being made from cement and need to be sealed in order to protect them from dirt becoming in trapped in the pores of the tile.

Encaustic Tiled Hallway Padgate Before Cleaning

These tiles would need a deep penetrative clean to extract the dirt, so my first course of action was to apply a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean across the floor and left it to soak into the tiles for ten minutes. Pro-Clean is a very effective alkaline product that’s safe to use on tile, stone and grout and is designed for tile cleaning. It was then worked into the tile using a black scrubbing pad fitted to a floor buffing machine and the soiled cleaning solution extracted off the floor with a wet vacuum.

I then used a set of diamond encrusted burnishing pads to restore the surface or the encaustic tiles starting with the 400 and 800 grit pads and lubricated with a little water. This also dealt with other deposits on the floor left behind from the carpet. I rinsed the floor with water to remove the slurry and then finished the burnishing process by applying the 1500 and 3000 grit pads to really restore the shine to the tiles.

Sealing the Encaustic Tiled Hallway Floor

To seal the floor and grout I applied Tile Doctor colour grow which is an impregnating sealer that enhances colour and soaks into the pores of the encaustic tile to protect it from dirt becoming ingrained into the tile in future. Any sealer not taken up by the pores of the tile is rubbed off afterwards.

Encaustic Tiled Hallway Padgate After Cleaning Encaustic Tiled Hallway Padgate After Cleaning

The transformation was quite remarkable and as you can imagine my customer was over the moon when he returned from work.
 
 
Source: Encaustic Tile Cleaning and Renovation Service in Cheshire