Challenging Limestone Floor Refinishing

by Pierre Hannon Owner/operator

Today, we started refinishing a large honed French Limestone floor in a kitchen and dining area of a house in Santa Barbara, California.

The honed stone tiles are large hexagon cream color, installed with large joints (1”). The grout is also cream colored.

The tiles and the grout have been badly soiled by traffic dirt, food stains, cooking oil and red wine stains. Also, we discovered deep scratches in the limestone caused by chairs and tables feet.

To top it off, the owner asked us to remove a large rug in the middle of the main area. The rug was secured to the floor on its perimeter by about 40’ of double faced sticky tape. The tape was easy to remove but it left some brown residue of glue firmly adhering to the stone tiles and grout.

Since the tiles where not absolutely flat because they were probably finished by hand to accomplish a special design, we could not use our large floor machines with diamond or and vinyl pads to accomplish the refinishing process.

We decided to use hand held stiff brushes with special biological stripper followed by a solution of liquid poultice to remove the dirt on the surface. After that, we sanded down and honed by hand the deep scratches and applied the appropriate poultice paste on every stain on the floor.

We encountered serious problems when we started working on the marks left by the double face sticky tape. The glue on the tape had leeched into the material and left deeply embedded, brown marks on the stone and grout. There was a checkered darker pattern imprinted deeply in the tiles.

We could not simply sand down and hone the visible marks because it would have left a visible depression in the Limestone. It took about 8 hours to fix the problem on 40 linear feet of stone.

Here is the succession of the operations used to bring the stone a nice new finish:

  • Delicate scraping with razor blades.
  • Light hand sanding completed application of rubbing alcohol and acetone.
  • Delicate application of stone colorants.
  • Sealing with a good quality silicone sealer.

We accomplished a perfect job in about 3 days.