How to treat a brick floor?

Hi, We have a C17th house, one of the downstairs rooms (24'x15') has a brick floor which at some point has had a very thin layer of screen? (is that right it looks like cement) on it. I'd like to take the screed up and expose the bricks, our damp proof people also suggest that the floor needs to breathe and we should remove the screed. I have pulled up a corner to check the state of the bricks and they look fine however there is a residue of the cement or whatever was used for the screed. Before I start to strip the whole floor I need to know how I'm going to clean the bricks up and then what I can coat them with to protect them and make it easy to clean whilst still alloing the floor to breathe.
Can anyone help?
Thanks
David
Ps the bricks are on dirt.
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Have a look through here David,
http://tinyurl.com/g0m0
the site goes into quite a bit of detail and has links to different sites for products.
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DavidD wrote:

Test an area with brick acid, neutralise after with lime, wash.
I don't know what you could coat them with to allow them to breath & still be easy to clean.

On *dirt*? Oy, yuck. Doesn't it smell?
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To remove the residue of the concrete screed, use brick acid (an example is Seloclean made by selocrete). This will unfortunately also attack the mortar (probably lime based) between the bricks so this will have to be repointed afterwards (again use a lime based mortar to maintain breathability). The "traditional" top coat for quary tile and brick floors is a polish made from beeswax and turpentine. Dont seal it with a non breathable sealer or varnish. For lots of advice on this exact issue search the disscussion forum on www.periodproperty.co.uk.
Its encouraging to note that the damp proof people suggested that the floor needs to breathe. The normal advice from the trade is take the whole lot up install a concrete slab and dpm and put the bricks back down again. This has the effect of exhaerbating damp problems elsewhere (like the walls).
Andy

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You can buy hydrochloric acid from most builders for cleaning bricks. It is quite concentrated and thus dangerous to use. I would think twice before doing it in situ.
Can't you just take them up and turn them over?

They can be resurfaced using a belt sander and red paper. The quality of finish depending on your lapidiary skills. Use a dry lime/sand mix brushed into the surface as a grout.
You might consider replacing any breakages with something. Polished stones from a souvenier shop perhaps? In which case you will have to let the lady of the house choose their type and place. Otherwise you will have to settle for mixing old and new bricks.
It is almost certain their will be snags like that. More than likely the centre had dished with wear and with pressure.
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