No more ‘fade to grey’ with new LTP Blackstone sealer & restorer

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UK surface care specialist, LTP has launched a new outdoor sealer and restorer for dark natural stone and artificial stone surfaces. New Blackstone has a water-based, impregnating formulation, which restores the appearance of faded limestone, marble, slate and concrete.  Like all LTP treatments, the new product is manufactured in the UK and is offered alongside expert advice from LTP’s technical team.

Ideal for paths, terraces and external cladding, LTP Blackstone is fast and safe to use and the permanent finish created provides protection against the elements.  It can be applied in multiple coats until the desired colour effect is achieved – from grey to ebony.  On honed surfaces, it is applied with a cloth or sealant applicator and, on rough cut/textured surfaces, with a foam roller or paintbrush.  Surfaces can be walked on four hours after the final application and can be returned to ‘heavy use’ after 24 hours.

New Blackstone is available in one litre and five litre units and is offered as part of LTP’s extensive range of surface maintenance products.  To find out more, please visit http://www.ltp-online.co.uk.  For further information, please contact LTP on tel. 01823 666213 or email info@ltp-online.co.uk

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How to remove rust from stone pavers

Rust stains are one of the most difficult marks to remove from stone paving slabs.  They’re generally caused by metal objects – furniture, firepits, BBQ’s, garden tools, pots and parasol stands are common culprits.  Contact with water washes deposits of iron particles onto the pavers which then leave a rust stain.  Some weed killers also contain ferric sulphate which can cause rust stains.

As well as marks from external sources, discolouration can appear naturally within hard ferrous-type stone pavers, including sandstone, slate and granite. These stones naturally contain iron which can oxidise or rust when it comes into contact with moisture, from rain, washing with excessive amounts of water – for example, with a jet wash or patio cleaner – and from contact with some cleaning products.  In addition, certain acidic cleaners, like brick acid and cement removers, also contain ingredients that can stain/damage limestone and sandstone pavers, and can accelerate oxidisation in hard ferrous stone.  Ironically, these same products are often used to remove rust marks and can create an even greater problem.  So, it’s really important to use the correct rust remover.

For safe removal of rust, we recommend one of two products, depending on the stone type and the nature of the stain – LTP Rust Stain Remover and LTP Ferrex.  Both treatments can also be used indoors.

LTP Rust Stain Remover is a non-caustic solution that removes marks caused by external sources – like furniture and firepits.  It is safe to use on all polished and unpolished natural and artificial stone tiles.  After applying, the reaction between the rust stain and the treatment causes it to turn purple, so you can clearly see the product working. More stubborn stains may need more than one treatment. If this is the case, we recommend leaving 15 minutes after the first dosing, then removing the rust residue with a sponge or water and repeating until all of the ‘purpling’ has stopped.  Once there is no colour reaction, all of the iron has been removed. 

Here’s a link to more information, including a Video Aid which shows the treatment being applied, step by step. 

LTP Rust Stain Remover – directions for use

  1. Ensure that the surface to be treated is completely free from dust and dirt before application. If necessary, first wash the pavers with LTP Power Stripper diluted 1:10 with water. 
  2. SHAKE WELL BEFORE USE. Do not dilute. Completely cover the rust stain with the product. Leave to act for 15 minutes. The product colour will change to a deep purple as it reacts with the rust. Once the indicated time has elapsed, remove the residue and rinse the surface thoroughly with plenty of water and leave to dry. Repeat application until the stain is completely removed. 

LTP Ferrex is a professional product designed to remove the orange staining that results from naturally occurring particles of iron from within acid-resistant hard ferrous stone. Ferrex is an acid-based cleaner but it’s the right kind of acid for harder stones.  It is, however, not suitable for use on softer limestones, marble or pavers with a highly polished finish. It’s worth diluting the product with water before use and testing it at different strengths on a spot clean basis; in this way, you can establish the best dilution for your tile before general application. Here’s a link for more information on application and dilutions. Treatment to remove the iron can take between 3-6 hours. The reaction won’t be visible like LTP Rust Stain Remover; the treatment should be left to work and no agitation is generally needed. Once the staining has disappeared, rinse well with water and leave the pavers to dry. 

LTP Ferrex – directions for use

  1. After testing on a small area, apply the solution to the surface and spread out evenly. For external applications garden sprayers can be used.
  2. For severe staining, surfaces should be agitated using a short haired scrubbing brush or black emulsifying pad. 
  3. After 3 – 6 hours, rinse with plenty of clean water. If traces remain after a couple of days, repeat the process. 
  4. After treatment, we recommend that the surface is protected from water with an impregnating sealer like LTP External Stone Sealer or LTP Mattstone H20.  This will greatly reduce the risk of rust discolouration returning. 

Some natural stones will appear darker after treatment, as the product continues to work following the initial application. This is normal and the darkening effect will gradually subside. 

For more advice, visit our blog section on the website or https://www.ltp-online.co.uk.  To contact the LTP team direct, call 01823 666213 or email info@ltp-online.co.uk

Stone patio care – top tips for easy ongoing maintenance

With patios now a key social area in all settings, many will be in need of more regular maintenance. Our latest blog includes top tips on cleaning a stone patio – to restore good looks, keep surfaces safe and make ongoing maintenance easier. 

A clean sweep

Firstly, remove furniture, pots and all other objects.  Sweep to remove leaves, organic growth, dirt and debris, and remove any weeds.  Pay attention to accumulation in grout joints and any hidden areas. 

The deep down clean

To thoroughly clean, we recommend LTP Grimex which is applied using a brush or garden broom and rinsed with clean water. Stone pavers – especially limestone and sandstone – are porous and a specialist treatment like LTP Grimex will react with stubborn, ingrained residue and organic matter, drawing it out of the stone’s porosity.

We do not recommend power or jet washing.  Cleaning with pressurised water will open capillaries in the surface of the stone, creating the perfect breeding ground for black spot, lichen, moss and other organic matter. 

If you have a build-up of black spot, lichen, moss and algae, we also recommend LTP Blackspot & Algae Remover, which breaks down microspores and black spot ‘hyphae’ before they colonise within the stone. LTP Blackspot is acid-free, so it’s safe to use on all types of paving, even acid-sensitive stone.  However, it does contain a bleaching action to remove stains, so always carry out a test on an inconspicuous area first.

How to apply LTP Grimex:

  1. To remove mild staining, dilute one part of Grimex with 6 parts of warm water. Wash the surface thoroughly, using a brush or yard broom, and rinse with clean water.  
  2. For more severe staining, dilute one part of Grimex with 3 parts of warm water, depending on severity.  Agitate with a scrubbing brush and leave to act for 5-10 minutes, adding more solution to keep the surface wet.  
  3. Sweep up any residue and rinse thoroughly with clean water. 

How to apply LTP Blackspot & Algae Remover:

  1. Apply neat Blackspot onto clean pavers with a plastic watering can or light pressure garden spray.
  2. Leave to absorb for 2-4 hours; the product will begin to turn white as it gets to work.
  3. Hose off thoroughly with clean water.  

Stone patios will benefit from a thorough clean every couple of months or so – ideally, three times during late spring/summer and a couple of times during the winter.  Surfaces that are regularly cleaned will be far easier to keep clean.  Regular cleaning of inside-to-outside surfaces, like those that run through bifold doors, will also help maintain a seamless aesthetic.  Read more about in Don’t stop at the door.

Stopping water ingress

Once the pavers are clean and dry, it’s an ideal time to replace any lost jointing sand or cement mortar.  This will stop the ingress of water and will help protect paving during the winter freeze and thaw cycle.

Added protection for the seasons ahead

If your patio hasn’t been sealed, consider applying a protective treatment. We recommend LTP External Stone Sealer – a non-film forming impregnator that will help prevent the absorption of moisture and organic particles, reducing staining and the spread of algae, mould and black spot. 

LTP External Stone Sealer is a water-based, impregnating sealer that’s applied using a foam roller or paint brush, as shown in the Video Aid.  It can be applied over residual moisture and it will protect pavers from stains, weathering, damp and efflorescence.  It’s also UV resistant and non-yellowing.  

To find out more, please visit http://www.ltp-online.co.uk.  For further information, please contact LTP on tel. 01823 666213 or email info@ltp-online.co.uk

How to remove epoxy resin grout from porcelain tiles

Porcelain tiles are an increasingly popular choice for patios and many installers are opting to use pre-mixed brush-in resin grouts.  Unlike traditional sand and cement grouts, resin-based products combine an epoxy resin with a filler.  This provides greater bond strength, durability and resistance to water, stains and chemicals.  However, these benefits have a down side – brush-in resins can be more difficult to work with and can easily stain tiles.  

New installations

If you’re installing a new porcelain patio, issues around staining can be avoided by using a barrier treatment to protect the tile.  We recommend LTP Porcelain Tile Protector, which provides a number of benefits:

  1. It prevents grout and resins from taking hold.  
  1. It makes the removal of any residues much easier, should they occur. 
  2. Porcelain needs to be kept as wet as possible during installation, to improve and increase grout working times.  The protector does this, which also aids points 1 and 2.
  3. A further coat applied after installation will make ongoing maintenance easier too.

Before the protector is applied, the tiles should be cleaned and left to dry overnight.  To apply the protector:

  1. Use a broad paint brush, foam roller or light pressure sprayer. 
  2. Leave to dry for 30 minutes before applying a second coat. 
  3. Leave the treatment to cure for a minimum of one hour before grouting or pointing. Once the grout is dry, and all residues have been removed, a further coat of Protector can be applied to the tiles and the grout joints. This helps with future cleaning and aftercare.

Old installations

To remove epoxy resin grout residue and white haze from existing installations, without damaging the joint or the paver, we recommend LTP Solvex – a non-caustic intensive cleaner/stripper.  Solvex helps to soften the resin residues, allowing for easier removal.  Application is normally followed by a final wash with LTP Grimex cleaning solution before rinsing down.

How to use LTP Solvex & Grimex

  1. Pour Solvex directly onto the pavers. 
  2. Apply generously by dabbing onto stains with a cloth or brush. NB. Always wear gloves to protect your hands.
  3. Work in manageable areas; normally in strips as far as you can reach without treading into the solution.  Do not brush out. 
  4. Leave for up to 30 minutes, but don’t allow the solution to dry out. If it starts to dry out within this time-frame, apply more solution. 
  5. Use a coarse, stiff brush or LTP Black Emulsifying Pad to remove the softened coating from the surface of the paver. Repeat this process if some staining remains. 
  6. Wash down the pavers with LTP Grimex, diluted 1:3 with water.
  7. Rinse with plenty of water and leave to dry.

As well as tackling brush-in resin grout, LTP Solvex can be used to remove wax, oil, silicone, acrylic and polyurethane sealer from porcelain.  It can also be used on stone, travertine, terracotta, slate, sandstone, flagstones, quarry tiles and glazed ceramic.  (If you’re removing residue from a previously sealed stone tile, a sealant should be reapplied after cleaning and when the surface is sufficiently dry; this may take a minimum of 24 hours.)

Ongoing maintenance

To thoroughly clean a porcelain patio, we recommend LTP Grimex. Grimex can be used at different dilutions depending on the severity of staining.  Tiles are washed, using a brush or garden broom, and rinsed with clean water.   

For periodic cleaning, you can also use LTP Porcelain Floor Tile Cleaner.  This detergent can be used inside and outside, so it’s especially practical for surfaces installed from home to garden, through bi-fold doors.  Just dilute 2 or 3 capfuls in a bucket of warm water – or 5 on dirtier floors – wash the floor and allow to dry.   This product doesn’t require rinsing. 

To remove other stains from outdoor slabs, solutions include LTP Blackspot & Algae RemoverLTP Rust Stain Remover and, for efflorescence, LTP Cement Grout & Salt Residue Remover.  All three treatments are safe to use on porcelain and stone tiles.   

For more expert advice and information, contact the LTP team on tel. 01823 666213 or email info@ltp-online.co.uk

LTP launches new porcelain-focused retail tool

LTP has introduced a new point-of-sale display and brochure stand, to support the growing external porcelain sector.  LTP’s external porcelain range – which includes products for all treatment stages – is designed for commercial and domestic installations, from outdoor eateries to paths and patios.  The new complimentary display and supporting brochures are offered alongside the external products, providing a focal sales point and retail aid. 

LTP’s external porcelain range includes eight core water-based treatments, for the care and protection of new and existing surfaces.  The first line of defence – LTP’s Porcelain Tile Protector – prevents grouts and resins from ‘taking hold’ and makes it easy to wipe residues away.  It also improves and increases grout working times by ensuring that surfaces stay wetter for longer.  A further coat after installation also makes ongoing maintenance easier. New deep cleaner, LTP Black Spot & Algae Remover, targets organic residue and stains caused by damp and slippery leaf matter, giving results in as little as two hours. Other treatments include LTP’s Porcelain Tile Cleaner – which can be used indoors and outside; two heavy-duty cleaners – LTP Solvex and Grimex – and three stain removers: LTP Grout Stain Remover, LTP Cement, Grout & Salt Residue Remover and LTP Rust Stain Remover.

To find out more about the external porcelain package – and for more advice and information about LTP’s range – please call 01823 666213, email info@ltp-online.co.uk or visit https://www.ltp-online.co.uk

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For media information and photography, please contact Angela Fitzhugh PR Ltd on tel. (01590) 610313 or email angie@afpr.co.uk

Don’t stop at the door!

Outside areas have become so important, providing an extension to the home and, in recent months, a safe place to meet.  Often, the same tile finish is used from home to garden, through bi-fold doors, creating a stunning, seamless look… but this aesthetic generally doesn’t last.  Issues arise because maintenance regimes adopted indoors are rarely continued outside.  While indoor tiles are sealed and regularly cleaned, patio tiles are generally ignored – apart from an occasional jet wash and sweep – and, very quickly, they become darker and dirtier.  That seamless aesthetic is lost in a matter of months, but it doesn’t need to be.  It’s simply a case of not stopping at the door.

The idea of adopting a regular cleaning regime for outdoor tiles may seem a little strange here in the UK.  But, elsewhere in Europe, regular mopping and cleaning of outside spaces is commonplace. As our weather can be rather unpredictable, there’s perhaps an even greater need to keep on top of outdoor surfaces; it will make a big difference to the general appearance and it will reduce the need for future intensive cleaning and sealing.

How to maintain a seamless aesthetic

Step One: Protection

STONE PATIOS:  External stone tiles will benefit from a protective seal, just like internal stone tiles.  Treatments designed for outdoor surfaces tend to be slightly different from indoor products; rather than just protecting against water and stains, they will also protect against weather and efflorescence, and help prevent the formation of moss and mould, etc.  Water-based treatments, like LTP External Stone Sealer, now offer even greater performance than traditional spirit-based products.  They’re also much safer to apply, more eco-friendly and you can apply them over residual moisture, rather than having to wait for days on end until a surface is completely bone dry.

Before applying LTP External Stone Sealer, we recommend a first wash with a dilute solution of LTP Grimex (1:10). This will remove any fixing residues. The wet surface should be scrubbed, using a white pad, rinsed and left overnight to dry.  LTP External Stone Sealer is then applied with a foam roller or paint brush.  See the Datasheet for more information on application, coverage and preparation of older surfaces –  or link to the product page and watch the Video Aid.

PORCELAIN PATIOS:  Matt porcelain tiles (which are normally used outside) don’t need to be sealed in the traditional way.  However, because they are generally textured (to create a non-slip surface), they can be prone to grout staining.  Fixing residues and dirt become trapped in the ‘high-low’ surface, creating unslightly white marks which are hard to remove.  This residue makes ongoing maintenance more difficult and potentially creates a slip hazard.

To reduce the risk of staining, a barrier treatment can be applied before grouting. We recommend LTP Porcelain Tile Protector which provides a number of benefits: 

  1. It prevents grout and resins from taking hold.  
  2. It makes the removal of any residues much easier, should they occur. 
  3. Porcelain needs to be kept as wet as possible during installation, to improve and increase grout working times.  The protector does this, which also aids points 1 and 2.  
  4. A further coat applied after installation will make ongoing maintenance easier too.

Tiles should be clean and dry before applying LTP Porcelain Tile Protector.  Like the stone sealer, it might be necessary to give the surface a first wash with a dilute solution of LTP Grimex, at a 1:5 dilution, using a white pad. The tiles should then be rinsed and left overnight to dry before applying the Protector.  

Before grouting, LTP Porcelain Tile Protector should be applied evenly to the surface using a broad paint brush, foam roller or light pressure sprayer. Allow 30 minutes drying time and then apply a second coat. The surface should then be left to cure for a minimum of one hour before grouting or pointing. Once the grout is dry, and all residues have been removed, a further coat of Protector can be applied to the tiles and the grout joint. 

How to maintain a seamless aesthetic

Step Two: A regular maintenance regime

Whilst it may not be practical to mop the patio as often as indoor tiles, it’s worth giving it a thorough clean every couple of months or so – ideally, three times during late spring/summer and a couple of times during the winter.    Surfaces that are regularly cleaned will be easier to keep clean – and it will help to maintain that aesthetic.

NB. A blast with a jet wash may seem like the best method but it will only wash dirt off the tile surface, whereas as a specialist treatment will react with stubborn, ingrained residue & organic matter and help break it down.  This is especially important with porous surfaces, like limestone and sandstone.

For a thorough clean, we recommend LTP Grimex for stone and porcelain tiles. Grimex can be used at different dilutions depending on the severity of staining.  Tiles are washed, using a brush or garden broom, and rinsed with clean water. 

For periodic cleaning of porcelain tiles, you can also use LTP Porcelain Floor Tile Cleaner inside and outside.  Just dilute 2 or 3 capfuls in a bucket of warm water – or 5 on dirtier floors – wash the floor and allow to dry.   This product doesn’t require rinsing. 

To remove specific stains from outdoor slabs, like black spot and algae, rust or efflorescence, there are targeted treatments. These include LTP Blackspot & Algae RemoverLTP Rust Stain Remover and, for efflorescence, LTP Cement Grout & Salt Residue Remover.  All three treatments are safe to use on stone and porcelain tiles.   As with routine cleaning, it’s best to remove stains on a regular basis, especially black spot and algae; this will break down microspores before they colonise within the stone, and prevent slippery residue from building up on all types of tile.

For more advice and information about LTP’s range, please call 01823 666213 or email info@ltp-online.co.uk

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For media information and photography, please contact Angela Fitzhugh PR Ltd on tel. (01590) 610313 or email angie@afpr.co.uk

Keeping poolsides safe

Natural stone and porcelain are a popular choice for pool surrounds but if they’re not correctly maintained, they can quickly create a slip hazard. This is rarely the fault of the tile. Most materials specified for pool sides have good slip qualities, with a textured surface that provides grip under foot. Problems are caused by a build-up of residue and a poor cleaning regime, which fails to remove them.

Swimming pools come in contact with a host of organic contaminants – from food, cosmetics and sun creams, to environmental contaminants like microscopic algae spores and bird droppings. During maintenance, it’s not uncommon for surfaces to be washed with a detergent and rinsed with pool water, which re-contaminates the surface. Many detergents also fail to break down the residue and a cycle of poor cleaning and residue build-up is created.

In order to remove organic-type residue, you’ll need to use an alkaline-based cleaner. LTP Grimex is a great option as it will break down these deposits, without damaging the surface. For general use, Grimex is diluted 1:5 with water, but a lower dilution of 1:3 may be needed for very dirty pool surrounds. The cleaner is applied with a sponge or water brush and should be left to act until the dirt releases – this will normally take between 5 and 30 minutes. The tiles should then be thoroughly rinsed with clean water to neutralize the surface. Scrubber machines can also be used, where suitable.

Another really good option is LTP Black Spot & Algae Remover. Like Grimex, it’s also an alkaline-based cleaner and it is especially useful where there’s a greater build-up of environmental contaminants, like mould, black spot, lichen, fungus and algae. It’s applied directly to the tile surface, left to act and should then be thoroughly rinsed with clean water. As well as removing residue, Black Spot & Algae Remover also has an antibacterial and bleaching action, so it helps prevent regrowth and restores light-toned paving to its original colour.

During a deep clean, any limescale residue should also be removed; limescale quickly builds up in wet environments, especially in hard-water areas, and is a magnet for dirt. We recommend treatment with LTP Cement, Grout & Salt Residue Remover which can be used on unpolished stone, ceramic and porcelain surfaces. It doesn’t tarnish or affect chrome or stainless steel either, which makes it ideal for those pool side shower areas that sometimes suffer from limescale build-up. Also, as limescale has a similar composition to cementitious grout, treatment will remove new and old installation residues. LTP Cement, Grout & Salt Residue Remover is diluted according to build-up, applied with a cloth or sponge, scrubbed with a white emulsifying pad and then thoroughly rinsed with clean water.

Another common issue in humid pool environments is rust staining. This often occurs as a result of oxidisation and degradation of metal fixtures, furniture, barbeques and tables in and around pool areas. Rust deposits can easily transfer onto other surfaces leaving an orange stain that’s very difficult to remove. A good option for this is LTP Rust Stain Remover, which you apply to the stain and leave to work; once the treated area has turned deep purple in colour, you scrub and then remove the residue with a sponge before rinsing with water.

If you’re laying a new natural stone pool surface, or have renovated older stone tiles, you’ll need to protect the surface from stains going forward. We recommend LTP External Stone Sealer – an impregnating treatment that protects without forming a film, which could potentially affect anti-slip properties. It’s water-based so offers a safe application and it can also be applied in damp conditions. For ongoing aftercare, choose a pH-neutral, phosphate-free cleaner, like LTP Waxwash, which will protect the tile, any sealant applied and will make ongoing maintenance much easier.

Before embarking on a pool deep clean, always check that the solution you’re using is suitable for your surface. And, once the surface is clean, ensure that a regular maintenance regime is adopted to keep residue build-up under control and surfaces safe all summer long.

For more information and expert advice, please contact LTP on tel. 01823 666213 and email technical@ltp-online.co.uk

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For media information and photography, please contact Angela Fitzhugh PR Ltd on tel. (01590) 610313 or email angie@afpr.co.uk

How to clean your patio ready for spring

After weeks of wet weather – and, for many, a fair covering of snow – our patios are looking rather worse for wear.  And, whilst it may seem a little bit early to brave the cool temperatures, now’s the perfect time to get your patio ready for spring.  In our latest blog, we look at the most important steps and recommend the best treatments for cleaning and protecting pavers – and tackling specific issues:

A thorough sweep

First of all, remove furniture and pots and give the surface a thorough sweep to remove leaves, organic growth, dirt and debris. Pay attention to accumulation in grout joints and any hidden areas. 

A deep down clean

To properly remove stains and ingrained dirt from all types of natural and engineered stone (including porcelain), we recommend a thorough wash with LTP Grimex.   A blast with a jet wash may seem like a much quicker and easier option but it will only wash dirt off the surface.  Stone pavers – especially limestone and sandstone – are porous and a specialist treatment will react with stubborn, ingrained residue and organic matter, drawing it out of the stone’s porosity.

How to apply LTP Grimex:

  1. To remove mild staining, dilute one part of Grimex with 10 parts of warm water. Wash the surface thoroughly, using a brush or yard broom, and rinse with clean water.  
  2. For more severe staining, dilute one part of Grimex with 3 parts of warm water.  Agitate with a scrubbing brush and leave to act for 5-10 minutes, adding more solution to keep the surface wet.  
  3. Sweep up any residue and rinse thoroughly with clean water. 

Removing black spot and slippery matter

If your patio is prone to black spot, lichen, moss and algae, it’s worth targeting this now too.  Periodic treatment with LTP Blackspot & Algae Remover will break down microspores and black spot ‘hyphae’ before they colonise within the stone. LTP Blackspot is acid-free, so it’s safe to use on all types of paving, even acid-sensitive stone.  However, it does contain a bleaching action to remove stains, so always carry out a test on an inconspicuous area first.

How to apply LTP Blackspot & Algae Remover:

  1. Apply neat Blackspot onto clean pavers with a plastic watering can or light pressure garden spray.
  2. Leave to absorb for 2-4 hours; the product will begin to fizz as it gets to work.
  3. Hose off thoroughly with clean water.  

Stopping water ingress

Once you’ve cleaned your pavers and they’re dry, it’s an ideal time to replace any lost jointing sand or cement mortar. This will stop the ingress of water and will help protect paving during the freeze and thaw cycle next winter.

Added protection for the seasons ahead

If your patio hasn’t been sealed, consider applying a protective treatment. We recommend LTP External Stone Sealer for natural stone and our new barrier treatment, LTP Porcelain Tile Protector for matt porcelain pavers.  Both are non-film forming and will help prevent the absorption of moisture and organic particles, reducing staining and the spread of algae, mould and black spot.  

LTP External Stone Sealer is a water-based, impregnating sealer that’s applied using a foam roller or paint brush, as shown in the Video Aid.  It can be applied over residual moisture and it will protect pavers from stains, weathering, damp and efflorescence. It’s also UV resistant and non-yellowing.  LTP Porcelain Tile Protector creates a barrier against organic matter and makes ongoing maintenance easier.  On newly laid tiles, it also protects against staining and helps increase working times of grouts and jointing compounds.  Our External Porcelain Tile guide includes lots of useful information on cleaning, protecting and caring for these surfaces. 

To find out more, please visit http://www.ltp-online.co.uk.  For further information, please contact LTP on tel. 01823 666213 or email info@ltp-online.co.uk

All about black spot

We’re really looking forward to spring, after one of the coldest and wettest winters on record – not to mention lock-down.  Our patios, paths and driveways have taken a hit – and where there’s damp, there’s black spot.  But, with the correct treatment, it’s something that can be remedied and halted in its tracks.  

Black spot – which can be black or white – originates from plants and trees. It’s a dust-like lichen microspore carried by the wind and rain.  It colonises on stonework, taking about 2-3 years to get really established below the surface.  Black spot thrives in damp, shady places, sending its tendrils or ‘hyphae’ down into the stone’s pores, searching for nutrients.  It’s a particular menace in porous stone, as its open texture enables the microspores to spread more easily, but even less porous materials like porcelain aren’t immune.  Here, the lichen can still create a slippery residue on the tile surface.  

Most people try to remove it with a pressure washer and, sometimes, a dose of household cleaner.  This doesn’t work because hyphae become anchored into place below the surface.  In fact, the extra dose of water only makes conditions even better for the rampant lichen.  Also, pressure washing can damage the surface of the stone, loosen the grout and, if any protective sealer is applied, it will damage that too.

A specialist, two-pronged attack is necessary in order to remove black spot stains and the microspore colonises below the surface.  Any treatment used needs to have a bleaching action, to restore the colour of the tile or paver.  It also needs to target the hyphae below the surface.  But care needs to be taken.  If a treatment is acidic, it could damage acid sensitive material and erode the grout joint.

We’ve recently introduced a treatment called LTP Black Spot & Algae Remover that can be used on all types of natural stone, concrete, brick and porcelain.  It removes organic residues – including black spot, lichen, moss and algae – shifting the surface stains and breaking down the hyphae below the surface, preventing regrowth.  

When applying the remover, it’s important to treat the whole area of paving, for a uniform appearance.  It should also be left to act for the correct amount of time, so that it’s able to penetrate deep into the porosity of the stone, where the black spot has colonised; if these hyphae are left untreated, they will spread back to the surface and throughout the stone.  A second treatment may be necessary if the black spot is really established.  After treatment, it’s worth protecting the surface; we recommend LTP External Stone Sealer for natural stone and our new barrier treatment, LTP Porcelain Tile Protector, for matt porcelain pavers.  Both will help prevent the absorption of moisture and organic particles, reducing staining and the spread of algae, mould and black spot – something that may become even more of a problem, as our winters warm up.

Patio, before and after treatment with LTP Black Spot & Algae Remover

To find out more, please visit http://www.ltp-online.co.uk.  For further information, please contact LTP on tel. 01823 666213 or email info@ltp-online.co.uk

Vintage cleaning hacks – and what not to use for a spring clean

There’s nothing quite like a home-made recipe.  Something passed down the generations, made from wholesome ingredients.  But when it comes to old fashioned cleaning remedies, they can sometimes do more harm than good.

If, like us, you’ve seen lots of articles on deep cleaning, you may be tempted to try out some of the popular ‘cleaning hacks’.  Many people are recommending mixtures of vinegar, soda crystals, bicarbonate of soda, water and lemon to make disinfectants, all-purpose cleaners and limescale removers.  The problem is that lots of natural materials, like limestone and marble, are very sensitive to acid and alkaline.  Vinegar and lemon are both very acidic – and soda has high alkaline levels.  Both can erode or ‘eat away’ natural surfaces like stone floors, tiles, countertops and mosaics – and damage any protective sealer that’s been applied.  These surfaces should always be cleaned with a gentle pH-neutral product.

It’s useful to think about the pH scale before choosing – or making – a cleaning product. Running from 0-14, anything that scores a 7 is considered neutral and safe to use on all surfaces. Anything below a 7 is considered acidic and anything above a 7 is considered alkaline.  Acidic solutions are best at removing calcium, rust and other mineral ‘non-organic’ stains. Lemon and vinegar score around 3 on the pH-scale and toilet bowl cleaner is the most acidic, with a pH of 1-3. At the alkaline end of the scale, you’ll find bleach and many tile cleaners; they have a high pH value of 11-13 and are best at removing ‘organic’ dirt, grease and oil.  

Surprisingly, many ‘toxic-free’ products can also cause damage to natural surfaces. Look closely at the label on a leading anti-bacterial all-purpose cleaner and it states that it isn’t suitable for natural stone because it is acid-based.  It’s always worth reading the small print.  

Another common misconception is that an extra dose of the right product will do an even better job.  But this can actually create problems. Using a lower dilution may mean that a surface needs to be rinsed; if it isn’t, the residue may form a film on the surface, which could make future cleaning more difficult.  

LTP’s range includes lots of different products for tackling specific jobs – and removing stains – as well as pH-neutral cleaners that are safe and all purpose.  LTP Stonewash is a great all-rounder, if you’re looking for a combined bathroom and kitchen cleaner for all types of tile and stone.   The LTP website also includes various Video Aids and others resources to help you Identify your surface and calculate how much product you need.

To see the whole range, find our more and stock up with the right product, visit https://www.ltp-online.co.uk, or contact LTP on tel. 01823 666213 or email info@ltp-online.co.uk

Cleaning for Christmas

With Christmas fast-approaching – and a promise of sharing it with loved ones for five days – now’s a good time to give floors and tiles a once-over, to restore appearance and make ongoing maintenance easier.  

Kitchen floors and bathroom tiles are two areas that often need a thorough deep clean, to remove a build-up of organic dirt and stains that thrive in moisture.  Grout and silicone joints, and tiled shower areas can be particularly tricky to clean and tough cleaning products may seem like the best solution…. but take care. Many of the ‘best-selling’ products, and sometimes even those from eco ranges, contain acid which can damage tiles, grout, chrome fittings and any protective sealer that’s been applied.  To deep clean safely, we recommend LTP Grimex.  As the name suggests, it removes grime and stains, including oil, grease, ingrained dirt and wax.  It’s safe to use on natural stone, as well as porcelain and ceramics, and it comes in one litre and five litre cartons, as well as a trigger spray for more precise application.

For grout and silicone that’s stained with mould spores, we recommend LTP Mouldex.   This treatment comes in a pump spray and it’s formulated to cling to surfaces, which targets the treatment and prevents run-off.   Mouldex has a bleaching action which helps restore colour and it’s antibacterial, so it helps prevent mould regrowth.  It can be used on natural as well as artificial stone – and on coloured grout – but it’s always best to test first, in an inconspicuous area.

How to use LTP Grimex

For areas that are slightly grubby – and for absorbent tiles – dilute one part of Grimex to ten parts of warm water.  Apply with a cloth or mop and rinse with clean water.  

For dirtier surfaces, use a stronger 1-3 dilution and agitate the surface with a brush.  Let the solution act for 5-10 minutes, mopping with additional solution to keep the tiles wet, and agitate again before mopping up and rinsing thoroughly with clean water.

For built-up grime and stubborn stains, Grimex can be used neat and then thoroughly rinsed.

Sometimes, tiles that have been deep cleaned with a low dilution of intensive cleaner will need to be resealed.  The easiest way to see if a sealer is still performing is to carry out a water test:

  1. Drop a bead of water onto the surface.
  2. If it sits in place, it is well sealed. If the water quickly soaks into the tile or makes the surface look darker, then it needs resealing.

To top up protection, choose a suitable sealer from LTP’s range and carefully follow application directions.

How to use LTP Mouldex

Before applying the treatment, make sure that tiles are completely dry.  Spray Mouldex 5-10cm from the surface and leave it to act for 45 minutes.  Then, apply a little water and agitate with a stuff brush to help lift the grime and dirt. Finally, rinse the surface thoroughly with water and a clean sponge.  For silicone and elastic grouting, and for stubborn stains, the treatment can be left overnight.    NB.  Mouldex shouldn’t be used with acid-based residual grout removers or other acid- based cleaners.

Other recommended treatments

Grimex Spray is really handy for cleaning wall tiles, work tops, grout lines and fireplace surrounds. It’s sprayed directly onto the surface, once any dust has been removed, and left to act for a few minutes.  A little water can be applied and the surface can be agitated with a brush or mild abrasive pad if need be – and the treatment can be repeated if necessary.  

We also recommend LTP Multiclean spray for grease and limescale removal in kitchens and bathrooms.  It can be used on glazed ceramics, glazed or un-glazed porcelain, sanitary ware, chrome, glass laminate and stainless steel. The cleaner should be sprayed 20 cm from the surface, wiped over with a clean, damp cloth, rinsed and left to dry. For stubborn stains, LTP Multiclean can be applied directly to problem areas and left for 15-20 minutes before agitating and rinsing.

For more advice, please visit https://www.ltp-online.co.ukor contact the LTP team on tel. 01823 666213 or email info@ltp-online.co.uk