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Unread 08-15-2020, 08:34 PM   #1
idunno
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cleaning unsealed interior slate

first time home owner experiencing first time home owner stuff. pour one out for me!

I just moved into a 20 year old townhome and the first floor features slate tile bathroom, the foyer/hallway, and a mixed use room. probably around 350 sq ft in total of slate. from reading through various threads here, i suspect that the slate tiles are that opening price point, overseas origin slate tile (no offense, but "builder grade" stuff).

anyways, the wife and i have found first floor to be trying.

the current situation
- the slate tile is very dusty - both literally leaves dust on our feet, and also in the sense that it feels very dry.
- the slate tile is dirty - this is connected to the above (probably) - again don't think they were super huge on deep cleaning
- the slate tile is in pretty OK condition - minimal stains (although some paint flecks, previous painters/owners were sloppy), not a lot of spalling
- the slate i think is unsealed or hasn't been re-treated in a long time (water definitely does not bead up)
- at the moment we have to wear shoes whenever walking around our first floor because we don't want to track our blackened feet around the house. we already spent a day deep cleaning the only stairway runner leading up from the first floor (lots of ground in stuff there). good times.

our steps taken
- swept, (soft bristle broom, and push broom)
- vacuumed using a shop vac
- mopped with water and dish soap (dawn), probably four times now - pretty muddy
- most recently, scrubbed with a nylon bristle brush and dish soap/water using a rinse and clean water bucket system (just once), remopped a couple times right after to get any remnant dirt off. we followed up each pass with the shop vac to get all the water off as much as possible. after this most recent experience, we definitely still have muddy water and probably saw the most dirt - literally, like very very fine silt.

in terms of cleaning - are we on the right path? is it just mop/brush until the water is clear? i'm not sure if with this grade of slate it is ever possible to get to a "clear water" state.

end goal
we would like to be able to get the floor clean enough where we don't have blackened feet from walking around. is this possible? I would hope so!

we prefer the "matte" finish/look of the tile and aren't huge fans of the "glossy" look with enhancers (our neighbors have that) - but if that's what it takes to actually be able to use our first floor with our shoes off, then my wife and I can concede on this point.

I bought two qts of 511 impregnator... but from what i'm reading, this sounds more like a 'sealer' than maybe something that would keep the slate from being "dusty"-feeling. anyways - first things first - i gotta clean the stuff before anything else. baby steps.

any tips would be greatly appreciated. thanks in advance!

ANG
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Unread 08-16-2020, 11:56 AM   #2
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You are correct in that the issues are a function of the material. Some slates are like that and even a enhancer will wear eventually. The mop water will always have some silt in it.

If you have a closet with it, clean the floor and apply the enhancer and 511 on 2 separate areas and see what results you get cleaning after the application ie; if the water is still dirty.
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Unread 08-16-2020, 07:57 PM   #3
cx
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Welcome, Ang.

The 511 is indeed a penetrating sealer and likely to do nothing at all for your problem, but it won't hurt to give it a try.

Sounds to me as though you need some sort of topical coating or a different slate.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 08-18-2020, 07:46 AM   #4
idunno
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Thanks CX and Jeff for your responses. A few more questions.

- cleaning wise, am I following the right steps?
- it sounds like there will also be some silt in the water - so I will continue to scrub until I think I get all the topical grime off, and then let it dry out, and then seal or enhance. Is that right?
- If I apply the 511 impregnator and decide I'm not satisfied with the finish or feel, can I then apply a topical sealer/enhancer over the area treated with 511? we do have a small closet to try this out in... but only have 8 sq ft of tile to "experiment" with. I'm thinking 511 impregnator will not work with a topical sealer/enhancer, right?

Thanks again!
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Unread 08-18-2020, 09:42 AM   #5
cx
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Ang, you can keep cleaning that slate, but from your description you'll still be cleaning when you get down to the thinset mortar used to install it. Some of that "slate" is just really hard mud and is never gonna stop washing away on the surface.

I've never tried a topical sealer on top of a penetrating sealer, nor do I recall ever having anyone on the forums report doing so, but I think it could work. The penetrating sealer will not be on the surface of the slate and the topical sealer won't really penetrate all that far.

And if it doesn't work all you lose is the finish in a closet and I think you could learn to live with that.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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