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How-to Guides

How to clean quarry tiles

how to clean quarry tiles

How to clean quarry tiles

If you wish to clean an interior quarry tiled floor and are unsure what to use, please read on!

When cleaning your quarry tiles, it is important to select the correct cleaning product for the contaminations you may encounter.

You will probably need to remove general dirt, grime, and oily residues. You could also encounter grout haze from newly laid floors. Older floors may have previous coatings such as acrylics. Efflorescence may also be present on older floors, particularly after cleaning.

The information provided within this article covers issues with both new quarry tiles (post-1940) and much older Victorian quarry tiles.

Most of the pointers within this article are applicable to old and new tiles. There is also a link at the foot of the page to our associated guide about sealing quarry tiles. Links to specific products mentioned in this guide are highlighted in blue.

how to deep clean old quarry tiles

How to deep clean quarry tiles floors

The best way to deep clean quarry tiled floors is with Floorseal Intensive Tile Cleaner. This tile cleaning solution will intensively clean both the face of the tile and the grout line. The solution can be used diluted from 1:10 (with clean water) up to a neat application. Adapt the dilution rate to suit the level of contamination on-site – 1:4 is a good place to start.

Floorseal Intensive Tile Cleaner will remove dirt, grime, oily residues, water-based paints and some old water-based acrylic coatings. Apply with a mop and allow to dwell on the surface for up to 15 minutes. Always keep the solution wet by adding more product/water.

Agitate for the best results, you will probably need to clean the grout lines by hand. This should be carried out with a stiff brush.

Rinse the product off the surface with clean water. Please neutralise the floor, lots of rinsing with clean water will be required to do this. You can also add a small amount of acidic solution to your rinse water (50ml approximately). See below:-

Removing grout or cement haze from quarry tiles

Light cement films or general grout haze removal can be carried out with Floorseal Cement & Grout Haze Remover. This product can be applied diluted at 1:5 (with clean water)  all the way up to be applied neat. Again test for suitability and do not apply to acid-sensitive surfaces like limestone.

Floorseal Cement & Grout Haze Remover will react with cement-based grout, general cement residues & lime staining. You can also use Floorseal Cement & Grout Haze Remover as a neutralising agent for Intensive Tile Cleaner in small amounts – 50ml in 4-5 litres of clean water approx.

Apply the product and agitate – rinse away the residues with clean water. Allowing the product to dwell on the surface for 5-10 minutes can be beneficial. Often the reaction takes place very quickly and you will see the product ‘bloom’ as it encounters cement-based grouts or cement films. Always rinse the treated surface thoroughly after use.

Removing sealers from quarry tiles

The removal of old sealers is beyond the scope of this article but as a short introduction please take note of the following information.

Old water-based acrylic topical sealers (a sealer which creates a sheen) can be removed by applying Floorseal Intensive Tile Cleaner. You will need long dwell times and lots of agitation.

This process is not easy, and reapplication of the product may be required several times. This removal process will only work on water-based acrylic sealers.

Solvent-based acrylics require solvent-based stripping agents. You would probably need a professional cleaning/renovation company to assist you.

If impregnating sealers have been used in the past (also known as subsurface sealers or penetrating sealers) a deep clean is usually all that is required.

The removal of old topical shiny sealers is not easy! Expect to spend a significant amount of time removing them. The only exception is wax which is not usually present on quarry tiled floors. Wax can be removed with Floorseal Intensive Tile Cleaner.

The old coatings which are most problematic are solvent-based acrylics and polyurethane varnish. Polyurethane is not normally applied to quarry tiled floors. Occasionally we have known it to have been applied to Victorian tiles.

old victorian quarry tiles can become very faded

How to clean Victorian quarry tiles

Please follow the processes & methodology above when cleaning old Victorian quarry tiles. The only differences are that you may encounter carpet adhesives, gripper board adhesive or imprints from old rubber-backed underlays (which leave a waffle effect on or in the tiles)

Clean the floor with Floorseal Intensive Tile Cleaner. Neutralise and/or clean the floor with Floorseal Cement & Grout Haze Remover. This will remove cement-based grouts, cement films, old lime plaster, & efflorescence (providing it has not calcified).

Something you may notice when cleaning old Victorian tiles is that they can appear to have lost colour. This may be apparent before cleaning. The tiles can look washed out and a little pastel-coloured. Black tiles may develop a grey/blue hue and red/orange may appear to be a little pink or faded.

This can be addressed by sealing the tiles – after lots of drying time.

Imprints from old rubber-backed underlay can be very difficult to remove from Victorian quarry tiles. But normally they wash off as you clean the floor. General marks are easy to remove from more modern tiles as they are significantly less porous.

A sharp scraper will be useful for the removal of adhesive/paint in conjunction with soaking with water & Intensive Tile Cleaner.

Removing rust marks from quarry tiles

Floorseal Rust Remover for Stone can be used to remove localised rust marks. The cleaner is to be applied and agitated with a stiff brush. Do not allow the product to dry on the surface. The rust remover turns purple as it reacts with anything ferrous. Always rinse off quickly (within minutes) and always ensure the product is wet whilst it works.

Cleaning grout lines between quarry tiles

The grout line on modern quarry tiles is quite wide and should be cleaned with Floorseal Intensive Tile Cleaner. Some staining may be present which you cannot remove. It depends on the contaminants which have been on the floor, and for how long.

Victorian quarry tiles are laid monolithically i.e., they have effectively no grout line. Victorian quarry tiles were laid edge to edge. There may be minor joints between the tiles but nothing significant to clean.

How much drying time is required after cleaning quarry tiles?

Before you seal your quarry tiles you should allow them to dry. Modern tiles may only require 24-48 hours.

Old Victorian tiles can take many days to fully dry. At least 5 days drying time is recommended, be prepared to wait longer in the colder winter months.

Older Victorian quarry tiles can display efflorescence, which is just a salt. You can lightly wash over the floor with Floorseal Cement & Grout Haze Remover. Or, particularly if the salting returns, it can be preferable to just brush/vacuum the salt away.

how to care for quarry tiled floors

In conclusion

Floorseal Intensive Tile Cleaner – used for deep cleaning the tiles and grout lines. The solution will remove general dirt, grime, water-based paint and oily residues. It will also remove some water-based acrylic sealers.

Floorseal Cement & Grout Haze Remover – used for the removal of cement, grouts, and efflorescence salting.

Floorseal Rust Remover for Stone – used the removal of light areas of rust.

Please click here to view our associated how-to guide for sealing quarry tiles.

The information contained within this article is not exhaustive. If you need further information please contact Floorseal on (01484) 861461 or email us Info@floorseal.co.uk our web address is www.floorseal.co.uk.