The client had recently moved into this property in Forest Hill SE23 and the previous owner had used a professional cleaning company to give the house a thorough clean prior to moving out. Unfortunately, they had used an aggressive acid based cleaner on the reclaimed encaustic tiles around the shower, causing white staining. I was contacted to see if it was possible to remove the stains and correctly seal the tiles to protect them.
I was pleased to tell them it was indeed possible to restore the tiles and we discussed how I would do this. I gave them my quote which they accepted, and we arranged a mutually convenient time to carry out the work. Encaustic tiles are quite unusual they were traditionally made from clay, but today, most modern versions of the tile are made using cement and are often referred to simply as cement tiles.
Cleaning and Restoring an Encaustic Tiled Shower
The first step was to scrub the tiles with a dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean, an alkaline cleaner that is safe to use on Encaustics. The solution was scrubbed into the tile to ensure any remaining soap scum and surface grime was removed. Once done the tiles were rinsed off with water and I moved onto the next of renovating the appearance of the tiles with a set of handheld burnishing pads.
These pads are made from industrial diamonds that clean and remove scratches renovating the surface and closing the pores of the stone. For general cleaning and honing I would normally start with a 400-grit, but with the staining on these tiles, I started with the 200-grit. Once I had gone over all the tiles with the 200-grit pad with water, I then repeated the process with the 400, 800 and 1500 and 3000 pads in sequence. The tiles were rinsed off after each pad and finally left to dry.
Sealing an Encaustic Tiled Shower
Once the tiles had dried it was time to apply a sealer that would further enhance their appearance and protect them. For this I chose to use Tile Doctor Colour Grow as it’s an impregnating, colour enhancing product. It works by soaking into the pores of the tile where dirt can collect, thus protecting it from within.
The sealer was applied thinly with a cloth to all the tiles and allowed to dry for 30 minutes before the next coat was applied. Due to the porosity of these tiles, I applied four coats until I was satisfied, they were fully sealed. Once the tiles were dry, I buffed them with a dry 3000 burnishing pad to leave them with an appealing satin sheen.
The client was pleased with the result and I explained the best way to clean and maintain the tiles for the future would be to use Tile Doctor Aqua-Pro which is designed for use in bathrooms and gentle enough to use every day. They needed to avoid using strong household cleaners on these tiles otherwise the same issue would occur.