Many times slate tiles are sealed with a topical sealer that over time will become scratched and scuffed and loose its luster and shine.
The first thing to do when you strip slate tile is to determine what type of topical sealer has been applied to the slate.
You should first test the topical sealer by applying a water based floor stripper or a strong alkaline cleaning solution to the tile surface. Let the stripper or alkaline cleaning solution sit on the surface for about 10 minutes and see if the sealer breaks down. If the sealer becomes gummy and breaks down then you are dealing with at water based topical sealer.
If you see no reaction then you could be dealing with some type of polyurethane based topical sealer that will need paint stripper or a solvent based MEK type floor stripper.
This type of sealer is extremely difficult to use and the paint stripper or solvent based MEK type floor strippers are dangerous to your health and home. You should seek a tile restoration professional at this point to do this type of job as this type of slate floor stripping should only be done by trained professionals.
If you determine that there is a water based topical sealer on your slate tile and grout then you should use a professional water based floor stripper to remove this topical sealer.
It is important to wear a rain suit or rubber suit as well as knee pads, rubber gloves and eye protection when working with floor strippers. Mix the floor stripper mixed with water according to the manufactures instructions and apply it to the slate tiles and grout. Allow it to dwell there for as long as possible and keep adding the stripper solution to ensure that none of the stripping solution dries on the tile and grout.
Test to see how the stripper is working by scrubbing some of the tiles and grout to ensure that the topical sealer is emulsifying.
You will most likely have to scrub the tiles and especially the grout to loosen up the topical from the tile and grout surface. After you have scrubbed away all the topical sealer from the tile and grout you should extract the residue with a wet vac. then you should rinse the surface to ensure that there is no topical sealer residue on the tile and grout. Typically it will take a couple of applications of sealer combined with scrubbing to remove all traces of the sealer from the tile and grout.
After you are satisfied that you have removed all the sealer from their tile and grout surface you should thoroughly rinse the tile and grout surface with a pH neutral tile and grout cleaner to remove any traces of the sealer from the slate tile and grout.
After you have stripped and rinsed the slate tile you should let the slate tiles and grout completely dry before applying any type of sealer to the slate..
Stripping Slate tiles can be present many difficult challenges to the average DIY homeowner. Many times this task should be performed by an experienced tile and grout cleaning and restoration contractor.
You can read some valuable information and tips on how to hire a tile, grout and stone cleaning and restoration contractor at our contractor information page here. Tile Restoration Contractor.