LTP was thrilled to be involved in a recent greenhouse floor project with Somerset-based natural stone specialist, Parish Stone. There are many different options for a greenhouse floor. Concrete is a popular choice, as are stone, gravel, weed matting and speciality vinyl. But, at this very special property in Somerset, the Alitex Victorian-style greenhouse featured Terracotta brick slips, laid in a herringbone pattern and incorporating drainage grates and gravel areas. The tiles were supplied by Exmoor Flagstones.
Made from natural clay, terracotta is dried in the sun or fired in an oven; the name literally means “baked earth”. Along with its burnt orange colouring, it provides a robust finish that’s versatile and easy to look after. However, like many natural materials, it is porous and can easily become stained. There are two ways of protecting terracotta tiles – either by applying a synthetic sealer or the more traditional method using oil and wax; this was the method adapted by Eli from Parish Stone who used LTP Boiled Linseed Oil and Antique Wax to create the golden-toned vintage finish.
Using the traditional method to treat terracotta takes longer but it does create a more characterful aesthetic, LTP says. It also provides longer-term mechanical strength, by effectively filling the pores within the terracotta.
During the first stage of treatment – following a thorough clean – Boiled Linseed Oil is applied with a brush until the tiles are saturated. You should allow at least 12 hours between each coat to ensure the oil is completely cured. Most terracotta will take one or two coats to reach saturation, but some tiles, especially handmade terracotta, may take four to five coats. The tiles should then be left to dry for at least 24 hours.
During the second stage of treatment, wax is applied. This provides a resilient protective layer against water, dust and dirt, as well as extra sheen. LTP’s treatments include Clear Wax and medium brown Antique Wax (used at the greenhouse) designed to deepen the colour tone and instantly age the appearance of the terracotta. Both treatments have a soft paste consistency. They are applied with a cloth and the surface is then buffed.
As well as in installations, this treatment method can also be used to restore older floors, once the tiles have been thoroughly cleaned and any existing sealant removed. For ongoing cleaning and aftercare, the company recommends its Waxwash – described as a gentle, pH neutral cleaner which contains a trace of Linseed Oil to reinforce protection.