GuidesStone Care Guides
Restoring Limestone Floor Tiles: Tips and Tricks
Limestone floor tiles are great because they look absolutely stunning, especially if they have intricate designs etched into them. Over time, though, limestone floors can start to take on the appearance of dirty water stains, and this happens when there's too much moisture in the air and on the tile itself, so it's important to restore limestone floor tiles as soon as you notice this discoloration appearing on them. The good news is that restoring limestone floor tiles is very easy and doesn't require any advanced skills or professional equipment in order to do so.
How to Tell If Your Tile Is Salvageable
Before attempting any restoration project, it's important to understand whether your tile is worth fixing. Some deterioration is inevitable with age, so before you dive in, ask yourself these questions: Is your tile chipped or cracked? Are there missing pieces? Are there gaps between tiles that can't be filled in by grouting? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it might be time to replace rather than restore. Alternatively, if you answered no but are unsure if restoring your floor will be worthwhile (or even possible), bring in a professional for an evaluation—you may discover that it's more cost-effective to start over.
What Tools You Need
An array of tools should be on hand before you begin to restore your limestone floor tiles. Choose what suits your needs best, but try to include these items at a minimum: a hammer, pry bar, chisel, crowbar, hacksaw, drill (with several bits), wire brush, or stiff-bristled brush for cleaning grout. You may also want an oscillating tool for cutting tile. A wet/dry shop vacuum is helpful as well for cleaning up debris as you work. The most important thing is to wear goggles and hearing protection when working with anything noisy—it's better to be safe than sorry!
As far as safety equipment goes, you'll probably want gloves, too. Be sure to cover any exposed skin while working on concrete surfaces; otherwise, you risk injury from splinters and debris flying around. If there are large holes in your tile surface, they can become punch bowls where concrete falls into unseen cavities below. Be sure to inspect areas like these regularly during restoration so that nothing gets missed or overlooked until it's too late. Finally, remember that whatever chemicals are used in restoring limestone floor tiles will likely get absorbed into porous materials like carpeting if not cleaned up properly after use.
How To Remove Old Grout
To remove old grout, first, fill in any large gaps with new caulk. Then, you'll want to use a tile saw or diamond-edged blade to cut through your grout lines. Once your grout is removed, clean up debris using an old toothbrush. Finally, begin applying tile cleaner. Use a sponge brush for straight lines; it's best to use a rag or paint roller for shapes. Let your cleaner sit for 5–10 minutes, then scrub lightly with a soft bristle brush (don't get too rough—you don't want to scratch up your tiles). Wipe away any extra soap with a wet rag or paper towel, and rinse everything off with cool water before letting it dry completely.
Grouting the Tile
Before you can restore your limestone tiles, you'll need to grout them. Make sure to use a grout that's made of cement, not a grout made from sand. The latter may contain acid, which could react with your tiles. You will also want to wear appropriate safety gear such as protective eyewear and gloves when handling grout. To properly fill in your gaps between tiles, place about a teaspoon of grout at a time onto your surface in small sections. This will ensure that you don't overload any one section with too much grout.
Also, make sure to wipe away excess grout immediately after applying it—you should be able to see where it goes by looking through your tile. If you wait too long before wiping away excess grout, it will dry and be impossible to remove. Be patient while waiting for your grout to dry—it usually takes 24 hours or more for a new layer of grout to harden completely. Once it does harden, though, you're ready for sealing!
Sealing the Tile
After you've finished tearing up your floor, it's time to seal your tiles. Prep for a long day of clean-up by wearing old clothes and using masking tape to cover up any surfaces that will be in contact with grout. Grout stains are one of many things that can happen when working with limestone floor tiles, so prepare for them accordingly. You should also choose a sealing product that works well on limestone; not all sealants are created equal! After applying sealant to your tiles, use a grout sponge to remove dirt or other foreign matter. Sealant won't stick well over dirt, so make sure you have everything covered before painting it on.
Protecting the Tile
There are a couple of things you can do to help protect your floor tiles from daily wear. For one, it's a good idea to clean them on a regular basis with soap or detergent and water. This helps remove dirt before it becomes ingrained in your stone floors. Once or twice per year, seal your tile with an oil-based varnish or wax to keep moisture out. Before sealing, make sure you clean your tile thoroughly so that dirt doesn't gum up your varnish. If you live in a humid area, consider applying two coats of finish, one at least six months apart. The first coat should be allowed to dry for several days before applying another coat. This will ensure maximum protection against moisture seepage into your tile's surface.
The best method to keep your tiles clean is by using a floor machine or high-pressure steam cleaner. You can also opt for a do-it-yourself approach by cleaning each tile with warm water, soap, and elbow grease. If you choose to go with a commercial cleaner, make sure it won't damage your floors or tiles. You might want to test out different cleaners on small sections of tile first before using them on larger areas. Once your stone is clean and dry, move on to stripping away its old wax coating.
A well-maintained limestone floor can last a lifetime, but it may need restoration from time to time. A damaged or stained tile can mar an otherwise beautiful surface. There are many ways to restore these tiles, including professional help and DIY efforts. If you have limestone floor tiles in your home, use these tips to clean them when they get dirty or damaged. You'll be able to preserve them for years to come with just a little maintenance work on your part.