Cleaning Terracotta Tiles Marked With Dirty Boot Prints

I had a rather long conversation with this worried terracotta flooring customer in Weymouth. This was a new installation of around 30 m2 of terracotta tiles. The tiler had laid the tiles and was in the process of sealing with a rather nasty rubber based yellow coloured sealer when his assistant walked through from outside with dirty boots. Being a very absorbent tile the dirty prints penetrated into the tiles within the sealer leaving lovely dirty chevrons all over the new floor.

To rectify this the tiler tried first of all with Nitromors and then with Gripex paint and glue strippers. Using these on any tile is not a good idea but on terracotta due to porosity all it was sink in and remain there along with the foot print. So at this point the tiler decided to try angle grinding one of the tiles which eventually he did manage to take out one of the prints although damaging the integrity of the tile. After visiting a tillers forum he was wrongly advised to sand the tiles with an industrial sander so he hired a sander for a day and set about sanding the tile back. After spending a fortune on sandpaper that just got gunked up with rubber sealer and a days of labour he had managed to sand around 5sqm and cover the whole house with orange dust…

This was when he said ‘ok enough is enough just don’t pay me for the tiling’ and walked off the job!

Before Restoration Before Restoration Before Restoration

I spent two days stripping the sealer out with Tile Doctor Remove and Go and cleaning with Tile Doctor Pro-Clean assisted with a rotary machine fitted with a scrubbing pad in order to remove both the sealer and the dirty foot prints. After a hot pressure wash to clear the pores and remove any remaining chemical from the floor we left it to dry for a week.

Sealing Terracotta Tiles

We sealed the Terracotta Tiles with Tile Doctor Seal and Go which is a low sheen water based sealer recommended for Terracotta floors. Terracotta is quite porous and in this case the tiles required a lot of sealer where tops had been sanded off and in the end it took 12 coats before if was fully sealed.

During Sealing After Sealing

The results were outstanding, you wouldn’t know that there had been any damage at all and the customer was very happy, not only that the job cost less than what was due to the tiler.

Terracotta Tiles Restoration in Weymouth