Geometric Victorian Tiled Hallway Renovation in Sedbergh

This beautiful Geometric Victorian Tiled Hallway at a property in the small Cumbrian town of Sedbergh had been covered by carpet and then Vinyl beneath the carpet. Far from causing an issue with the floor however it had protected the beautiful old tiles, but they needed a deep clean and seal. The client really wanted to make the most of the character features of the property and the hall floor was their first priority.

Geometric Victorian Tiled Hallway Before Cleaning Sedbergh

I discussed with the client the process of cleaning and we agreed a quote for the work, arranging a date for the work to be carried out later in the month. If you have never been Sedbergh is well worth a visit, it sits just within the Yorkshire Dales National Park at the foot of the Howgill Fells making it very popular with walkers.

Geometric Victorian Tiled Hallway Before Cleaning Sedbergh

Cleaning a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor

The floor had a lovely decorative tile border that ran along the perimeter of the hallway however some damage had occurred when fitting central heating pipers many years earlier. There were also small holes around the edges that I suspect were used to secure the carpet gripper. To resolve this my first task was to replace the damaged tiles and fill the small holes with grout in a matching colour.

Once the repairs had set, I started the cleaning process with a coarse 200-grit Diamond pad followed by a 400-grit pad which were run over the floor using a weighed buffing machine. Only water is used during this process to add lubrication, no chemicals are needed and once done the floor is rinsed with water and the slurry removed with a wet vacuum.

The corners and edges which were are not accessible with the machine had to be done by hand, so we used small burnishing blocks for these. The Green block is great at getting the dirt off the tiles, but leaves the pores of the clay open, so this needs to be finished with the Black 100, Red 200 and Yellow 400 Diamond Block used in sequence which then matches the pores of the clay tiles in the rest of the floor.

We finished the clean, with a light acid rinse using Tile Doctor Grout Clean-up, left on the surface for no more than 5 minutes before rinsing and extracting. This process further cleans the floor and counters any potential efflorescence issues by neutralising alkaline salts in the floor. This is a common problem with old Victorian tiles which don’t have a damp-proof membrane.

Sealing a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor

The floor was left to dry out overnight and the next day I came back to inspect the floor and make sure it was dry so it could be sealed. Usually one night to dry is fine during the summer although in the winter sometimes it takes two or even three days. Sealers don’t cure well on damp floors resulting in a patchy appearance so before sealing we always check the floor is fully dry with a damp meter in several areas. Only once we are happy that the moisture readings in the floor are below a certain level do go ahead and apply a sealer.

Geometric Victorian Tiled Hallway After Cleaning Sedbergh

To seal and protect the Victorian tile, a couple of coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow were applied to the floor. Colour Grow is a fully breathable, colour enhancing sealer which ticks a lot of boxes for this type of floor as old floors don’t have a damp-proof membrane fitted. This is an important consideration as moisture will be also to rise through the tile from the subfloor and not get trapped underneath where it could spread to the walls. Other types of sealer such as acrylic, wax, polishes etc don’t last long if there is dampness in the floor. Tile Doctor Colour Grow copes well in these conditions and can be used in wet rooms, shower cubicles and external patio areas so its’s more than suitable for a slightly damp floor which is often the case with a Victorian base.

Geometric Victorian Tiled Hallway After Cleaning Sedbergh

 

Professional Restoration of a Victorian Tiled Hallway in South Cumbria

Cream and Black Victorian Hallway Floor Restoration in Ulverston

This property located near the pretty market town of Ulverston was built in 1874 as inscribed on the front of the building. The Victorian Tiled floor comprised of Cream and Black tiles was original from when the house was built so that made the tiles at least 145 years old, in fact this was one of the oldest Victorian tiled floors I have ever worked on.

Cream Black Victorian Hallway Floor Tiles Before Restoration Ulverston

The floor was in good condition for its age but had experienced problems with broken and loose tiles around two of the door thresholds which is a common problem with floors of this age. Unfortunately, those tiles had been lost over the years and now the customer wanted this part of the floor rebuilding as part of the restoration. Fortunately, these tiles are still popular so finding suitable replacements wasn’t a big of a challenge as you might think.

Cream Black Victorian Hallway Floor Tiles Before Restoration Ulverston

I discussed with the client what needed to be done and after finding a suitable supplier for the replacement tiles was able to produce a quote which was accepted, and we agreed a price for the work.

Repairing a Cream and Black Victorian Hallway Floor

My first task was to rebuild the areas of broken and missing tiles. For the larger areas I mapped out a suitable pattern and set about cutting the replacement tiles to fit. A thick bed of flexible rapid set floor adhesive was applied to the floor and the replacement tiles bedded into the old cement base. Once the adhesive had hardened the tiles were grouted, cleaned-up and left to dry.

Cream Black Victorian Hallway Floor Tiles Before Restoration Ulverston

There were several areas that needed this treatment, so the work took some time to complete.

Cream Black Victorian Hallway Floor Tiles During Restoration Ulverston

Cleaning/Repairing a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor

Returning the next day, I first checked that the replacement tiles had set and that there were no further problems that needed addressing. All was well so I began cleaning the floor using a 200-grit followed by a 400-grit Diamond pad fitted to a weighted buffing machine running at slow speed and lubricated with water. The floor was rinsed with water after each pad and then the soil extracted using a wet vacuum.

The floor was then given an acid wash using Tile Doctor Grout Clean-Up, which at this stage acts in two ways for these old floors:

1. The Tile Doctor Grout Clean-Up product is made from Phosphoric Acid (not a brick Acid, which is a lot cheaper, more widely available but too strong for use on tile.) The acid we use works with us not against us and gives us time to change the pH of the floor to a slightly acidic pH. This is important on old floors like these where no damp proof membrane has been installed and it’s important to counter any alkaline salts in the floor which could lead to efflorescence later.
2. The sealer will bond to the surface a lot better when it has had this treatment and as a result you get a sharper cleaner finish.

Cream Black Victorian Hallway Floor Tiles Before Restoration Ulverston

Once done the floor was given another rinse and extraction with water and the wet vacuum and then left to dry out for a few days,

Sealing a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor

We returned as promised to seal the whole floor using a couple of coats of a breathable colour enhancing sealer called Tile Doctor Colour Grow. As you can see form the pictures this really brought the hallway floor to life. Colour Grow works from the inside by occupying the pores in the tile and will protect it from ingrained dirt staining going forward.

Cream Black Victorian Hallway Floor Tiles After Restoration Ulverston

It’s very important for a customer to use the correct cleaner after having there tiles cleaned and sealed professionally as using the wrong product can prematurely degrade the sealer. As a result, we recommend Tile Doctor Concentrated Neutral Tile Cleaner, its pH balanced and will not upset the sealer, thus getting maximum longevity out of the whole process.

Cream Black Victorian Hallway Floor Tiles After Restoration Ulverston

Professional Restoration of a Victorian Tiled Hallway in South Cumbria

Restoring and Cleaning a Victorian Tiled Vestibule in Kendal

I often get asked to do small jobs as well as large kitchens, conservatories and hallways, and there is something especially satisfying about restoring a small entrance like this lovely Victorian tessellated tile floor. The property was in the historic market town of Kendal just to the south of the Lake District and famous for making Kendal Mint Cake.

Being at the entrance to the property the floor had seen some wear over the years and the once beautiful colours in the original tiles had become dull and dreary, and some of the smaller tiles along the edge of the floor had become loose over the years and were now missing. I was asked to repair the damage, clean the floor and restore the colours to their original glory!

Small Victorian Tiled Vestibule Before Cleaning Kendal

Deep Cleaning an Intricate Victorian Tessellated Tile Floor

My first task was to thoroughly clean the tiles and given these old Victorian floors have no damp proof membrane I was wary of potential damp problems which can be exacerbated by the excessive use of water. I decided the best approach would be to apply a coarse Tile Doctor 200-Grit Milling Pad fitted to a slow speed Victor burnishing machine. To lubricate the process, I used 500 ml of water and then added a little more as needed. I carefully went over the whole floor, then vacuumed up the excess water which was now saturated with dirt and grime!

I then went over the whole floor again, replacing the coarse Milling Pad with a Black scrubbing pad. This is designed to deal with heavily built up grime and dirt. I also applied Tile Doctor Acid Gel, a specially formulated PH1 blend of Phosphoric and Hydrochloric acids. This slow release gel works by breaking down any mineral salt deposits that might have built on tiled surfaces up over the years and removes grout smears. The final stage in this part of the project was to scrub the floor with a deck brush, rinse with water and extract immediately with a wet vacuum to leave the floor as dry as possible.

Small Victorian Tiled Vestibule After Acid Wash Kendal

Repairing a Victorian Tiled Vestibule Floor

Once the tiles had been deep cleaned I moved on to repairing the floor. Reproduction tessellated tiles in a design like this one can cost anything up to £300+ per square metre, so restoration is nearly always a cost-effective solution. It is, however, a precise process. The original floor would have been laid by highly skilled tilers who had to accurately position each element of the intricate mosaic pattern. The grout lines were also very fine to allow for tiny dimensional differences without spoiling the beautiful pattern.

Sometimes new tiles can be a shade lighter or darker than the original tiles which are usually well over 100 years old! I always explain this to customers before taking on a job like this because sometimes it is just not possible to find an acceptable match and it is then the customer’s choice whether or not to go ahead. In this case, luckily, I was able to find replacement tiles that were going to work, so I took out all the damaged tiles and carefully replaced them with new ones.

Small Victorian Tiled Vestibule During Repair Kendal

The last stage for that day was to carefully grout the restored areas to secure the tiles and then clean off the excess grout haze. I left the floor over night to dry out completely.

Sealing a Victorian Tiled Vestibule Floor

The next day I checked the floor for damp with a damp meter as too much moisture in the floor can affect the sealer. All was well, so I sealed the now clean and restored floor with Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is a colour intensifying sealer that brings out the amazing colours in the tiles. The sealer will provide durable surface protection and Colour Grow is what we call a breathable sealer that will allows any damp or mineral salts to rise up through the tile. The acid wash we gave the floor during cleaning should counter any efflorescence salt issues however if they do appear they can be easily washed off with clean water.

Small Victorian Tiled Vestibule After Cleaning Kendal

This may have been a small vestibule, but the restored floor now makes a real statement as you enter the customer’s house!
 
 

Professional Restoration of a Victorian Tiled Vestibule in Kendal

Original Victorian Hallway with Loose Tiles Restored in Kendal

A customer who lives in Kendal recently called us out to examine their Victorian tiled hallway which when walked upon, sounded like it was a making a crunching noise. This may seem like an odd phenomenon, but it can be reasonably easily explained. These tiles, being made of Victorian-style encaustic cement, are very hard-wearing. However, the cement screed upon which they were laid had lost its bond with the tiles and the tiles were now loose.

Most other types of tile would crack under the pressure of being walked upon, but since Victorian tiles are quite small and hard-wearing, they don’t seem to suffer this problem. Instead, they just make this crunching noise when walked upon.

So, what would we need to do to resolve the situation? In theory, it should be the simple matter of taking up the loose tiles and relaying them. Yet this takes a lot of preparation, including removing the old cement from the back and sides of the individual tiles and then smoothening the floor so that the tiles can be re-laid flat. This is easier said than done with a floor of this age.

Victorian Tiled Hallway Being Relaid in Kendal

Repairing and Cleaning Loose Victorian Tiles

We began the restoration by lifting the loose tiles, cleaning the old cement off and then re-laying them using a suitable tile adhesive. Once the adhesive had set, we grouted the tiles with a grout that matched the original.

Victorian Tiled Hallway After Being Relaid and Grouted in Kendal

The floor was left to set overnight, and we returned to the property the next day. The floor was checked and then we carried out a full deep clean of tiles using Tile Doctor Pro Clean, our go-to cleaning product for tile, stone and grout. The product, which is alkaline-based, was worked into the tiles using a black buffing pad fitted to a rotary machine.

In some of the harder to reach areas and corners of the room – those which the buffing rotary machine struggles to reach – we used diamond-encrusted handheld blocks to grind away the stubborn dirt and stains.

The soiled cleaning solution was rinsed off the tiles with water and extracted using a wet vacuum to get the as much moisture off the tiles as possible.

Sealing Victorian Tiles

After the cleaning process was complete, we left the floor for another few days to dry off completely. A suitable drying period is especially important for Victorian tiles, since most of these old properties do not have a damp proof membrane installed.

We then returned to seal the tiles with several coats of a breathable, impregnating sealer called Tile Doctor Colour Grow that not only protects it also enhances the natural colours in the tile. Now, much to the customer’s pleasure the tiles are fully functional again with there’s no crunching noise when you walk on them. They also look amazing as well.

You will see in the photos below the level of work that goes into a job like this but, as this is an original Victorian floor, a restoration will add great value to the house upon re-sale.

Victorian Tiled Hallway After Full Restoration in Kendal

 
 

Professional Restoration of a Loose Victorian Tiled Hallway in Cumbria

Victorian Tiled Floor Cleaned and Sealed in Ulverston

Ulverston is one of several historic market towns in Cumbria which has some excellent views of Morecambe Bay and the Southern Lake District. It is also home to some lovely old properties, including one that I visited recently to provide some repairs, cleaning and sealing for a Victorian tiled floor.

Although the floor was in good condition overall, the tiles were starting to loosen in some areas because the grout had come adrift and needed to be replaced.In fact, several tiles had broken as a result of this and so they would need to replaced too.

Victorian Hallway Before Cleaning in Ulverston Victorian Hallway Before Cleaning in Ulverston

Cleaning a Victorian Tiled Floor

As I’ve mentioned, the floor had been well maintained, but I opted in any case to give the tiles a routine clean with our reliable high alkaline product, Tile Doctor Pro Clean, scrubbed in using a pad fitted to a rotary machine. This helped to remove any debris and dirt left over on the tiles.

After the initial clean I proceeded to replace the broken tiles with matching reproduction Victorian tiles, as well as the grout in the areas where the tiles had loosened.

Sealing a Victorian Tiled Floor

After finishing the cleaning and repair processes, it was time to seal the floor with a combination of sealers.

To do this I firstly applied one coat of Tile Doctor Colour Grow, which is an impregnating, colour intensifying sealer. We find that by applying a base coat of Colour Grow we can lock out the damp that can come through from underneath as many old floors don’t have damp proof membranes fitted, unlike many modern floors. What’s more, acrylic polymer sealers such as Tile Doctor Seal and Go do not respond well to a damp environment.

Once the Colour Grow had been applied and had dried completely, I applied five thin coats of Seal and Go to add further protection and a quality sheen finish. This sealer is also fully breathable and allows Vapour Moisture Transmission (VMT).

Victorian Hallway After Cleaning and Sealing in Ulverston Victorian Hallway After Cleaning and Sealing in Ulverston

The finish was exactly what the customer was looking for and they were very happy with the overall restoration of the floor. Another satisfied customer!
 
 

Professional Tile Repairing, Cleaning and Sealing for a Victorian Tiled Floor in Ulverston

Victorian Black and White Tiles Cleaned and Sealed in Windermere

This job was at a house in near Windermere in South Cumbria, a place which is very popular amongst tourists to the Lake District. My client had a Black and White Victorian tiled floor in dire need of a clean and re-seal.

Victorian Black and White Tiles before cleaning and sealing Windermere

Cleaning a Victorian tiled floor

Prior to the application of any cleaning products, my first task was to run damp tests to make sure there were no inherent damp problems. With old floors of this type it’s good to know if there is a damp problem as this will affect the choice of sealer and also the length of time the floor requires to dry.

Fortunately, there were no damp issues present, and I was able to proceed however had the floor been damp and being December I would have offered to carry out the clean and seal in the Summer, when the water tables were lower and the damp levels would be more settled, thus creating a better environment for the sealer to operate in.

I started cleaning the Victorian tiles with Tile Doctor Remove & Go, a product which breaks down old sealers in preparation for a fresh seal to be applied. The product is diluted with water and then scrubbed into the floor with a scrubbing pad fitted to rotary machine; the resulting slurry is then removed using a wet vacuum.

Next step was to apply Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which was applied liberally to the floor, left to dwell for a short period and then agitated with a black scrubbing pad to lift out the ingrained dirt. I also paid special attention to cleaning the grout lines with a stiff scrubbing brush. The floor was then rinsed with clean water, and the resulting residue was extracted using a wet-vac machine.

Sealing a Victorian tiled floor

After the cleaning was completed, the tiles were left for a couple of days to allow them ample time to dry. Upon my return to the house I checked the damp levels again and then applied two coats of the impregnating, colour enhancing sealer Tile Doctor Colour Grow which gives the black tiles more depth of colour, along with the robust surface seal and Matt finish my client had requested.

Victorian Black and White Tiles after cleaning and sealing Windermere

My client was exceptionally pleased the results – but really, the photographs speak for themselves.
 
 

Professional Victorian Floor Restoration in the Lake District