I received a request to quote for renovating a large flagstone floor in the basement of Command House pub in Chatham. The company that engaged us had been performing a major refit of the Grade II listed building and the basement was next in line for renovation.
The building dates to the 18th century and being part of the famous Chatham Dockyard had a long military history and was no doubt visited by Lord Nelson. At some point in the 20th century, it was converted into a public house. The 70sqm basement was to be a feature of the pub but the flagstone floor had been neglected for seemingly most of its life and we were tasked with getting the best out of it that it could offer.
Having inspected the floor I conducted a few cleaning tests and provided a quotation for its renovation which would include a deep cleaning of the flagstones and mortar and sealing with a hard-wearing sealer. Happy with my quote I was asked to go ahead with the work and a date set to start the renovation.
Cleaning a Neglected Flagstone Basement Floor in Chatham
Work started with the application of a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which is our go to alkaline Tile and Grout cleaner. This was left to soak in for ten minutes before being worked in using a set of diamond encrusted burnishing pads fitted to a weighed floor buffer.
You start with a coarse 400-grit pad lubricating with water as the pad is passed over each part of the stone floor three to four times, the soiling is then rinsed off the floor and extracted with a wet vacuum and you move onto the next pad in the sequence i.e., 800, then 1500 grit. Due to the rough nature of the flagstone and the sheer size of the basement meant that 4 sets of pads were needed to loosen and remove the years of dirt.
Last step of the cleaning phase was to give the stone an acid wash using a weak dilution of Tile Doctor Grout Clean-Up. This was done to neutralise the pH level of the floor after the use of the alkaline cleaner, it will also counter any efflorescent salts lurking in the stone which can be a problem with old floors like this that were laid without a damp proof membrane.
It took two of us working together a full day to complete the cleaning but by the end of the day the whole floor was cleaned and prepped for the next step which would involve applying a sealer to the stone. Happy with our progress, we left for the day for the floor to settle and dry for the sealing process.
Sealing a Flagstone Basement Floor in Chatham
Upon our return, we performed multiple point moisture tests around the basement. A lot of water had been used in the cleaning process and we were conscious that we were below ground and very near the Medway River.
Happy that all was in order, work proceeded to seal the floor with Tile Doctor X-Tra Seal which is a hard-wearing oil-based sealer that puts the life back in the stone. This sealer is known as an impregnator which works by soaking into the pores of the stone occupying the space and preventing dirt from residing there in future. This product it is also a breathable sealer that can be used externally and so more than capable of dealing with any damp issues which may occur later.
It was a very satisfying job as the colours that came through from the once very grey and lifeless floor really gave the room a new perspective. It will be interesting to see what they do next with it.