A terracotta floor is a very thick floor that is reddish brown in color and has been used for centuries. Terracotta literally means “baked earth”, and the tiles are made from natural clay. These types of floors can withstand a lot of wear and tear. The downside to terracotta is it is very porous. Water can damage terracotta floors. Dirt and grime is picked up and stored easily. If you already have damaged terracotta floors, restoring them can be a bit tedious. These tips will help.
Strip and Clean
The first step in restoring terracotta floors is stripping the old wax and sealants off of the floor and then cleaning the floor. It is best to buy tile stripper made specifically to work on terracotta floors. When you use the stripper, make sure you test on a small area of flooring first. Put the liquid on one or two tiles and let stand according to the directions on the stripper you are using. Spread the liquid with a foam brush. Use a nylon brush to scrub your terracotta tile. If your tile is really dirty, use a green scrub pad. Make sure you scrub in a circular motion. Always wash the tiles when finished stripping. Let sit until completely dry, which usually takes a day or two.
Your terracotta floor must be sealed with a sealant to protect it. Make sure the tile is stripped and clean of all dust and dirt. Just like with the tile stripper, you want to use a foam brush to spread the sealant and to soak up any extra sealant that may pool. Use a fresh clean foam brush. Your terracotta floor will soak up the sealant, because of its absorbent nature. You must put a coat of sealant; let it completely dry according to the directions on the sealer, and then recoat several times until fully sealed. After your terracotta floor is sealed and dried, you may want to consider finishing the floor with a buffer. It really brings the glossiness of your floor out.
If All Else Fails, Replace
Make sure you find replacement terracotta tiles that match as closely to the original ones as possible. Be very careful when removing the grout around the tile not to damage neighboring tiles. That also goes for hammering the tile to break it up and loosen it. Don’t get carried away or you will be replacing a lot more. It is helpful to put painters tape on the edges of the surrounding tile to protect them. It is a lot easier to get the tile out by using a chisel or a flat head screw driver and a hammer. Once the tile pieces are out make sure you get the remaining glue and debris out of the space left behind. For the best adhesion, put tile glue in the empty cavity and on the back of the tile. Then make sure it completely dries before you re-grout.