Terrazzo floor Restoration Project at Cardiff University

Last summer I was asked to carry out a survey at one of the Cardiff University buildings where they were looking at having a large Terrazzo floor restored. The University was on its summer recess so with no students around it was an ideal time for major works to be carried out.

At some point in the past the whole floor had been covered in a layer of self-levelling compound ranging from 2mm – 10mm thickness, so it could be covered with square carpet tiles which had then been secured with adhesive. You can still see the outlines of the tiles in the pictures below. It’s hard to appreciate from the photo that underneath there’s a beautiful Terrazzo floor waiting to be rediscovered.

Terrazzo Floor Before Restoration Cardiff University

The University had removed the carpet tiles but were unsure of how to remove the screed without damaging the Terrazzo underneath and so asked me to quote for restoring the whole floor. I carried out a test clean on the floor first to show the architect’s and university staff an example of what could be achieved.

Terrazzo Floor Demonstration Clean Cardiff University

The method I used for the test sample was to use a process called milling with a 50 grit Milling Pad, which I used to grind off the levelling compound until the stone became visible underneath. The test clean took me a good hour to complete but the results I achieved proved very satisfying both to myself and the clients and I was awarded with the contract.

Cleaning and Restoring a Terrazzo Tiled Floor

On commencement of the work I realised after 4 hours of milling that this method although effective was very time consuming and extremely messy! So, I tried using a long handheld sharp scraper which turned out to be a lot faster and cleaner in removing the cemented compound. In the end it took four days for two men and a great deal of hand ache to remove the screed for the floor.

Terrazzo Floor During Restoration Cardiff University

After removing the compound, I started milling the floor with a Tile Doctor Milling Pads, first the 50 segment & then a 200-segment pad to cut deep in to the floor to remove the stains in the Terrazzo and scratches from using the scraper.

This was followed by burnishing the stone with a set of four Tile Doctor Burnishing Pads. This involves the application of four pads in sequence from a coarse 400 grit through to a very fine 3000 grit to refine the surface of the Terrazzo and improve the lustre of the floor with each grade of pad.

Terrazzo Floor During Restoration Cardiff University

Sealing a Terrazzo Tiled Floor

The architect had specified a hardwearing finish as this was a very busy entrance way for students entering the buildings. So, after finishing the burnishing of the floor with a very fine 3000 grit pad I sealed the floor with three coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which seeps into the pores of the Terrazzo protecting it from within enhancing the colours of the chippings in the process whilst providing maximum protection. Finally, we polished the floor after sealing with another application of the 3000 pad and a polishing cloth to shine the floor further.

Terrazzo Floor After Restoration Cardiff University

It was a large floor, so I managed the project in sections, and this enabled me to start on the cleaning of a new section whilst the floor was drying in the previous section. As you can see from the pictures the floor was transformed and looked great. Needless to say the University were very happy with the result.

Terrazzo Floor After Restoration Cardiff University

 

Professional Restoration of a Terrazzo Tiled Floor in South Wales

Dirty Terrazzo Floor Deep Cleaned, Burnished and Sealed in Bridgend

Terrazzo is a quite a bit different from the natural stone floors we most commonly work with. It’s a type of flooring material that was made popular by Venetian builders in Italy in the 1920s, but is ultimately descended from styles of design that date back hundreds of years. A typical Terrazzo floor consists of chips of marble or granite set in concrete and polished to result in a smooth surface.

This Terrazzo floor, installed in the hallway of a property in Bridgend, South Wales, was in relatively good physical condition, but it had clearly lost its shine due to the build-up of dirt and muck over the years. In fact, it was first installed in around 1940! The owner was keen to have it rejuvenated to its best possible condition, so they asked me to come in to see what I could do.

Old terrazzo hallway floor before polishing Bridgend Old terrazzo hallway floor before polishing Bridgend

Cleaning and Burnishing a Dirty Terrazzo Tiled Floor

My first course of action was to apply Tile Doctor Pro Clean liberally across the floor and leave it to dwell for a short period. This is a high alkaline cleaner that is designed to deal with light to moderate soil build-up, and to strip away any old sealer remaining on the floor. I scrubbed the product in using a black pad fitted to a rotary machine and vacuumed up the resulting cleaning with a wet-vac machine.

Next, to restore the shine to the floor, I undertook a process known as burnishing, which involves the application of diamond encrusted polishing pads. We will typically start with a Coarse grit pad to level off any uneven areas of the floor and grind down any particularly stubborn marks and stains. Then, we gradually refine the polish on the floor using Medium and Fine grit pads. A small amount of water is used as lubrication with each pad.

After I had finished applying the first three pads in our four-pad system, I gave the floor a thorough rinse and left it to dry overnight.

Old terrazzo hallway floor during polishing Bridgend

Sealing a Terrazzo Tiled Floor

I returned to the property the next day and immediately ran some damp tests to check for excess moisture issues, which one might expect with an old floor like this one. Thankfully, the floor proved dry – and I could finish the burnishing process with the fourth and final Very Fine diamond encrusted burnishing pad, which achieved a beautiful shine finish.

Finally, I sealed the floor with three coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow, an impregnating sealer which provides robust protection and enhances the coloured patterns in the Terrazzo.

Old terrazzo hallway floor after polishing Bridgend Old terrazzo hallway floor after polishing Bridgend

As you can see from the photos above, the floor is looking so much more colourful and bright after a deep clean, polish and a fresh seal. The customer was over the moon!
 
 

Professional Restoration of a Dirty Terrazzo Tiled Floor in Bridgend

Terrazzo and Quarry Tiles Restored at a Fire Damaged Church in Bath

Back in June, I had the absolute pleasure of undertaking a large scale tiled floor restoration at St. Mary’s Church in Bath. An architect who does a lot of commissions in Bath and the surrounding areas got in touch with me as they needed to restore the very weathered and worn Church flooring, which dates back to 1840.

The Church itself had suffered a lot from fire damage and the Terrazzo flooring had lost any shine due to both exposure to the smoke and, of course, a lot of wear and tear over the course of 176 years. There were also a number of missing tiles that needed to be replaced.

St Marys Church Bath Before Fire Restoration

In addition, some old carpet which was beyond repair had been pulled up to reveal some fantastic red Quarry tiles that the architect hoped could also be restored. They had discovered that some of the tiles had been removed in front of the Altar (an area of around 2.5 square metres) and cemented over due to the Altar being moved back a metre.

St Marys Church Bath Before Fire Restoration

Fully restoring both large areas of tiled flooring would take time however with numerous contractors and trades also working in the building at the same time I completed the work in stages over a period of two months.

Cleaning and Sealing Terrazzo Tiles

To begin, I took moisture readings over all areas due to be worked on. In some places, the levels of moisture were high for two reasons: first, a significant amount of water had been used to quell the fire, and second the red Quarry tiles had been laid with no damp proof membrane due to the age of the building.

Next, I liaised with the architect to decide what tile and pattern would be best to replace the cement area in order to compliment the surrounding red tiles. We decided on a similar shape and colour from original style. I then removed the cement, re-cemented and tiled the area accordingly. Following this, I removed the badly damaged Terrazzo tiles and replaced them with spare replica tiles that the architect had leftover from previous projects.

St Marys Church Bath Before Fire Restoration

My method for restoring the Terrazzo tiles was to use the Tile Doctor four pad burnishing system, applying each diamond encrusted pad in turn – from Coarse to Very Fine – to clean and polish the stone. I then sealed the tiles with an impregnating sealer known as Tile Doctor Colour Grow which enhances the natural colours in the stone. Finally, I went over the tiles again with the Very Fine burnishing pad to refine the shine. Needless to say, I checked for moisture before sealing, and thankfully the floor proved dry.

St Marys Church Bath During Fire Restoration

Cleaning and Sealing Red Quarry Tiles

In some areas, the red Quarry tiles had glue on them from the carpet being stuck down for many years. I manually scraped off the large, tough glue residues, and once this had been done, I used Tile Doctor Remove and Go combined with Tile Doctor Pro Clean to soften and break down any particularly stubborn glue deposits. After rinsing the floor, I went over it again with the Coarse grit burnishing pad to give the surface a really good clean. The remaining Quarry tiles were cleaned by using the same Coarse grit pad. using water to lubricate the process and rinsing periodically as I worked.

St Marys Church Bath During Fire Restoration

Having cleaned the tiles, I left the Church for a week to allow the builders and other trades to finish their work. Upon my return, I ran some damp tests to and found the readings were sky high, meaning sealing was not an option at this time. I discussed this issue with the architect and we decided to carry on with the completion in a month, leaving the floor enough time to dry out and for any other building work to be completed. By that time, the heating system would have also been installed and would work to help the floor to dry out quicker.

A month passed, and I returned to seal the Quarry tiles. However, before doing so I noticed efflorescence in some areas and neutralised it using Tile Doctor Acid Gel. I then left the floor a further two days to dry, by which time the Acid Gel had successfully removed all traces of efflorescence. To my satisfaction, the moisture readings I took upon my return were low, meaning the tiles were ready to be sealed.

St Marys Church Bath After Fire Restoration

To seal the tiles, I applied several costs of Tile Doctor Colour Grow, an impregnating sealer which helps protects with no damp proof membrane, follows by a few coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go, a sealer which prices a nice satin shine finish. This really enhanced the old fire red pigment in the tiles.

St Marys Church Bath After Fire Restoration

While it was a long and difficult process to fully restore both sets of tiles, the outcome was very much worth the wait. Looking at the before and after photographs, it’s easy to see why the architect, priest and the parishioners were absolutely delighted with the results. I’m also really pleased to have contributed to the restoration and continued conservation of this wonderful building.
 
 

Fire Damaged 176-Year Old Terrazzo and Quarry Tiled Floors Retorted at Bath Church

Deep Cleaning a Terrazzo Hallway near Caerphilly Castle

I previously restored an Quarry Tiled floor for the owner of this residence near Caerphilly Castle and was asked back to deep clean their Terrazzo hallway floor which was far from looking its best.

Terrazzo Hallway before deep cleaning near Caerphilly Castle Terrazzo Hallway before deep cleaning near Caerphilly Castle

Restoring a Terrazzo Floor

Terrazzo is a very hard surface and needs to be burnished to get the best results so after scrubbing the floor with Tile Doctor Pro-Clean and a black scrubbing pad to remove what felt like 100 plus years of black dirt I set about burnishing the floor with a set of diamond encrusted burnishing pads and a little water. The set comprises of four different grades of diamond pads ranging from coarse to smooth that produce a shiny clean surface. The floor is rinsed between pads to remove any slurry from the process and given another rinse at the end.

Sealing a Terrazzo Floor

The hard Terrazzo soon dried and I was able to seal the floor with the application of three coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is a colour enhancing impregnating sealer which will prevent staining and make it easier to clean in future. Once the last coat was dry I and gave the floor a further polish with the 4th stage green pad to give a true deep shine.

Terrazzo Hallway after deep cleaning near Caerphilly Castle Terrazzo Hallway after deep cleaning near Caerphilly Castle

I think you will agree that what was once an old and tired terrazzo hallway floor now looks much better following its facelift, something that was only made possible due the quality of installation when first laid.

Quarry Tiled floor restored in South Wales

Quarry and Terrazzo floors restored near Caerphilly Castle

The owner of this residence near Caerphilly Castle had discovered a 150x150mm red Quarry tiled floor in the kitchen which dated back to before 1900 and had unfortunately been tiled over by a previous owner. Keen on restoring such an original feature the owner set about removing the tiles on top using a chisel and scraping off the adhesive, it was at this point we got the call to assist.

Quarry Tiled Floor Before Restoration near Caerphilly Castle

Restoring a Quarry Tiled Floor

Before proceeding my first job is to always check the moisture levels, many of these old floors have no damp proof membrane so without taking a base reading it’s tricky to know if the floor has thoroughly dried later. The kitchen was being replaced and the old kitchen had been removed so I was able to work on the restoration before the new one had been installed making the task easier.

Quarry Tiled Floor Before Restoration near Caerphilly Castle

To clean the floor I realised I would need a strong cleaning solution to get these old Quarry tiles clean so I diluted Tile Doctor Pro-Clean 50:50 with Heavy Build-up Remover or Tile Doctor NanoTech HBU as we like to call it. This was applied to a wet floor and scrubbed in using a scrubbing machine fitted with a coarse back pad running on slow speed. I rinsed the floor every so often so I could see the difference and discovered my choice of cleaning product has proved to be effective and fast. Before long I was happy to rinse away the now soiled cleaning solution satisfied that I could not improve the tiles any further with more cleaning.

Quarry Tiled Floor During Restoration near Caerphilly Castle

Sealing a Quarry Tiled Floor

I left the floor to dry for 24h hours before returning to seal the tiles. On my return I checked the moisture levels and there were some high readings so using a heat gun I applied some gentle heat to the tiles allowing them to cool before checking again. This did the trick and the second reading was much better so I proceeded to seal the tiles using Tile Doctor Seal and Go which I find works well on quarry tiles. The quarry tiles were quite worn and very porous and as result needed at nine coats of sealer before they were fully sealed. I do find multiple of coats of sealer works well on floors of this condition as it helped to hide the imperfections and marks caused by the chisel and scrapper.

Quarry Tiled Floor After Restoration near Caerphilly Castle

The owners were delighted with the results and asked me to come back and restore their terrazzo hallway floor which will be subject to another post.
 
 

Quarry Tiled floor restored in South Wales