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Category: Kitchen

How to Clean a Natural Stone Floor

Your new or existing natural stone floor when laid would, with any luck, have been well sealed to protect it from the grime and grease that every day traffic throws at it. And a lot of traffic it certainly gets – particularly hallways and kitchens have an endless stream of muddy boots and perhaps even dogs paws!

marble kitchen floor

The marble floor in our kitchen prior to cleaning

The problem is that the more you clean your floor (even with the cleaning products recommended by the flooring supplier) the more you erode the sealant that was originally applied, and that becomes a vicious circle, because dirt then sinks into the floor easier and is therefore harder to remove. The grout between each tile is hit particularly badly. It becomes a sponge for all the dirt and grime, and is very hard to clean with every day floor detergents.

So ever 12 to 18 months or so (don’t worry, for me it was more like 3 years!) you really ought to give your floor a deep clean, and then reseal it. That way you’re preserving the life of the floor, and making your life a whole lot easier on the cleaning front.

kitchen floor cleaning products

The floor cleaning products that I’ve assembled to sort out my kitchen floor

So just before Christmas, with a house party looming, I decided it was about time I sorted out my kitchen floor.

The products pictured above were all bought from Topps Tiles, but the FILA products have now been replaced by Topps Tiles own brands. So here’s the Tool Kit I used to clean my marble floor (take a deep breath before reading on – these products aren’t cheap!):

  • Tile and Stone Cleaner (£8.99) – for every day cleaning of the floor
  • Vileda Super Mocio Micro and Cotton Mop (£10 approx)- my choice of mop for cleaning the floor
  • Tile and Stone Stain Remover (£10.99)
  • Grout Cleaner (£10.99) – to attack and remove the dirt that has sunk into the grout
  • Paint brush and jar – to apply the Grout Cleaner and Grout Protector
  • Scrubbing brush – to remove the dirt from the grout
  • Large sponge (£2 approx) – to wipe off the Grout Cleaner once it’s done its job
  • Grout Protector (£18.99) – to seal the grout once you’ve got it clean
  • Satin Effect Finish Wax (£19.99) – to seal the entire floor once you’ve removed all the dirt
  • Roller and emulsion insert (£3 approx) – to apply the two coats of Satin Effect Finish Wax to the floor

If you’ve got a travertine, marble or other natural stone floor, then the chances are, like me, you’re a bit unhappy with the degree to which it’s muddied in tone over the years (particularly the grout).

But with a bit of elbow grease and the right products you can do a pretty effective job of restoring it to something like its former glory – check out my video to see how I got on!

mopping kitchen floor

I mopped my floor about 4 times before applying the grout cleaner

The key to all this is to get the floor as clean as you can – I think I did 4 laps of the kitchen floor with my Vileda mop, before I had even started cleaning the grout. You want to keep mopping the floor until the water in the bucket is no longer brown when you pour it away!

cleaning grout on marble kitchen floor

With the grout cleaner applied, a scrubbing brush quickly lifts the dirt from the grout

Then came the Grout Cleaner, which I applied with a paint brush, left for a minute or two and then scrubbed out. The grout cleaner is incredibly effective, and you can clearly see the dirt lifting out of the grout. A large sponge is then used to wipe up the dirt and grout cleaner, rinsing well and regularly in a bucket of water.

kitchen floor grout protector

Applying the Grout Protector to seal the grout

Once the grout was dry I then applied a coat of Grout Protector to all the grout lines, to seal the grout.

applying satin effect finish wax to marble floor

The Satin Effect Finish Wax then seals the floor

The final and most important step: when the Grout Protector was dry I then applied two coats of Satin Effect Finish Wax to the floor using a roller with a medium pile emulsion roller sleeve. Applying two coats doubles the protection and also ensures that you don’t miss any of the floor (which is easier to do than you would think!)

As I emphasise in the video, this is the most important part of the process, because after all your hard work cleaning the floor, it is very raw and susceptible to dirt. By comprehensibly sealing the floor you are protecting it, but also making it much easier to mop clean – because none of the dirt can actually sink into the tiles or grout.

marble kitchen floor after cleaning

The cleaned and sealed floor – restored to its former glory!

 

How to reduce Condensation in your Home

The giant leap we’ve all taken (well, those of you who are lucky enough not to live in leaky old cottages!) in making our homes draughtproof over the last 15 years has led to a rise in condensation.

So those of you reading this blog might be tuning in because you’ve got water running down the inside of your windows this winter. You’ve possibly also got black spot mould in difficult to reach, unheated areas of your house.

Condensation happens when air that has become saturated with moisture comes into contact with a cold surface – eg window panes or an external wall.  There are some simple, DIY ways to lower the level of condensation in your home, and some slightly more sophisticated (dare I say it expensive) solutions (PIV or positive input ventilation systems) that I will come to later in the blog.

3 DIY Steps to reducing condensation in your home

  1. Reduce moisture in the air,
  2.  Provide decent ventilation; and
  3. Turn the heating up.

Cooking and boiling kettles, bathing and showering, and drying clothes inside are the obvious ways we inadvertently pump litres and litres of moisture into the air in our homes on a daily basis.

The above steps are pretty obvious, but I bet you (like I before I started researching this blog/ vlog) don’t do half the things you could so easily do, to keep condensation down in your home.

Kitchen

When you’re cooking in the kitchen, close all doors connecting the kitchen to the rest of the house, turn on your cooker extractor hood, and open a window as this makes the hood’s extraction much more effective. Cover saucepans with lids, and switch off your kettle just before it boils – rather than leaving it to billow steam into the room until it finally switches off automatically. I also pour cold water into the kettle straight after using it – that way it stops the remaining steam leaving the kettle and gets it ready for your next cupper later in the day!

Washing

Do use your tumble drier, ensuring this ventilates straight outside or is a condenser drier. Don’t simply hang your clothes on a drying rack, as all the water that evaporates off your clothes will go into the air, soon to be deposited as thick condensation all over your windows!!

Bathrooms

You’ll get a lot of condensation in the bathroom – especially on external walls, cold tiled surfaces and of course the windows. A heated towel rail and/or radiator can help by raising the temperature in the room, although this will also help increase condensation as most of us hang our wet towels on the radiator to dry, after our bath or shower! So this being the case it’s really important to keep your bathroom well ventilated.

shower window

If you can bare it, open the window when you shower or bath as this will let out a huge percentage of the steam that you’re generating. In our new bathroom, the entire family is actually in the habit of doing this now, and our son actually takes pride in keeping the bathroom condensation free, bless him – so it is possible, and when you’re standing under a nice warm shower you really don’t notice the window’s open, so give it a go!

Again, as with the kitchen, keep the bathroom door shut when you’re using it, that way the steam generated won’t spread to the rest of your house.

Install a decent extractor fan, and turn the in-built timer switch if you have one to the maximum time, so that the fan keeps working hard to remove moisture from the air long after you’ve left the room. I bought an Enviro-vent Silent 100 fan for our new bathroom as I was very impressed with the online reviews. I have to say though that the humid-stat on it wasn’t nearly effective enough (it just didn’t kick in as often as I would have liked) so I rewired it to turn on whenever the bathroom light is switched on. I’ve set the timer to the maximum so when the light is switched off it continues for 20minutes or so.

Wall insulation

As condensation forms on cold walls, if you dry line your existing walls, preferably with an insulation board behind, you will reduce the risk of condensation forming.

plaster boad with ecotherm 25mmm insulation board

12mm plasterboard with 24mm ecotherm PIR insulation board – as used to insulate my bathroom walls

Double glazing

The same goes for double glazing. As you’ll see from the above video, my cottage has a mix of double glazed windows (not argon filled as I couldn’t afford these) and 1970s single glazed leaded windows. The difference as we gradually replace the single glazed windows with double glazing has been extraordinary.

I’ve got to admit we do still get small beads of condensation along the bottom edge of the double glazed panes, but nothing compared to what we get on our single glazed windows.

Spare rooms

If these are unheated, keep the door shut, so that damp air doesn’t get in from other parts of the house.

PIV (positive input ventilation) Systems

For a total, belt and braces solution, in addition to taking the above steps you might consider installing a PIV system if you’re struggling to tackle your condensation problem.

NUAIRE DRIMASTER 2000

The nuaire Drimaster 2000 PIV System provides whole house ventilation

A friend got me onto this recently when he mentioned he had installed a Nuaire PIV system in his house. Positive input ventilation systems  ventilate your entire property with one single fan – which either ventilates straight outside (appropriate if you live in a flat) or alternatively into the loft space. To quote Nuaire’s website, “Positive Input Ventilation gently supplies fresh filtered air into a property, ensuring that the moisture laden air is continuously diluted, displaced and replaced with good quality air”.

Removal of Condensation

The way you remove the condensation that has formed on your windows is also incredibly important. The worst thing you can do is to mop it off with a towel and then put the towel on the radiator because then all you’re doing is reintroducing the moisture back into the air for it to wreak its havoc on your windows the following night!

By all means use a cloth as you can effectively remove the moisture by wringing it out into the sink. A quicker and more effective solution though is to use a squeegee – which you can get from any DIY or homeware store, or better still a window vacuum.

karcher window vacuum

The Karcher WV50 window vac in action on my windows this weekend.

I borrowed one of these from a friend to do my video and I was amazed how effective it was. Even though the squeegee was wider than the leaded panels, it sucked away all the condensation leaving the glass immediately bone dry!

Depending on which one you get, it will set you back about £50, but I would say this is a great investment considering how quickly and effectively it removes all your condensation, and who knows, it’s such fun using this little tool you may even manage to persuade your children to do it as a bit of a treat!

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