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

Shower Room Tile and Grout Restoration in Kendal

One of the first issues people have with shower rooms is the Silicone needs to be replaced, even a good quality Silicone like Mapei Ultra-seal which is fully waterproof and stain and mould resistant can still succumb to persistent damp issues. In fact it can get so humid in these areas the warm atmosphere is akin to a tropical rain forest.

To avoid the build-up of mould I recommend you rinse the wall tile and silicone down with plain water from the shower head after every shower and then leave the tiles to dry. Open the window and door to let out the warm condensation and after 5 to 10 minutes partly close the window (to the security setting) and then partly close the door, this then normalizes the room temperature thus inhibiting mould spores from blooming, as mould wont start to Spore on a cold room.

Shower Room Before Restoration Kendal

The pictures were taken from a shower room at a house a few miles up the road in Kendal where mould had caused a lot of staining to the silicone sealant and to the tile and grout both inside the shower cubicle and in the bathroom itself. There were also a couple of loose tiles around the base of the shower cubicle which needed to be re-fixed.

Shower Cubicle Before Restoration Kendal

Cleaning Ceramic Tile and Grout

We started by spraying the tile and grout down with Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which is a strong alkaline cleaner, spraying it on mixes it air which helps it to stick to Vertical surfaces allowing it to get to work on the dirt. We left it to dwell for ten minutes before scrubbing it in by hand using a stiff grout brush; this process certainly improved the grout but unfortunately it had become too badly stained to be satisfactory so we decided to recolour the grout using a white grout colourant.

Once the shower tile was dry the loose tiles were removed and the damp plaster board behind chopped out and replaced. The tiles were then cleaned up, fixed back into position, then grouted and the silicone sealant around the base of the shower cubicle was stripped out and replaced with new.

Shower Cubicle During Restoration Kendal Shower Cubicle During Restoration Kendal

Colouring Grout

One to two coats of white colourant were applied to the grout throughout the shower cubicle and shower room in order to get a uniform appearance and this final touch completed the transformation.

Shower Cubicle After Restoration Kendal

The other advantage of these particular colourant products is that they are epoxy based and form a barrier of the grout preventing future staining and making it very easy to clean going forward.

Shower Cubicle After Restoration Kendal

I think you will agree bathroom now looks like it was recently installed.
 
 

Restoring the Appearance of Shower Cubicles in South Cumbria

Quarry Tile Cleaning in Kendal Utility Room

A customer from Kendal (famous for its Kendal Mintcake) called me in to look at their Quarry Tiled Utility floor, which was looking very dirty and stained. On inspection the sealer had broken down and was no longer protecting the tile resulting in dirt getting ingrained into the pores of the tile resulting in discolouration. We agreed what short of finish was required and the customer booked me in to do the work.

Quarry Tile Cleaning Kendal Before

Cleaning Quarry Floor Tiles

My first job was to protect the surrounding areas from splashes so on my arrival I covered the wooden floor in the hallway before starting to remove the old sealer with Tile Doctor Remove and Go, I sprayed it on working in small areas leaving it to dwell for a while before scrubbing it in with a stiff brush making sure I scrubbed it in well before removing the soiled solution with a wet vacuum. I scrubbed all the grout joints at this point to make sure they were all clean and then washed the floor down to remove any chemical and neutralise the floor. It was a relatively small floor so I left it to dry and returned a few house later to seal it.

Quarry Tile Sealing Kendal

Sealing Quarry Floor Tiles

On my return I used a damp tester to make sure the floor was dry, which it was, so I sealed it with two coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is a as well as protecting the floor brings the natural colours out in the tile. Naturally if the damp tester had showed that it was damp I would not have sealed the floor that day as the sealer would not have taken properly.

Quarry Tile Cleaning Kendal After
This job took me one day as it was only a very small floor and I was able to seal it in the same day the customer were happy with the result I went through the maintenance program and explained how to clean the floor.

To source Quarry tiles similar to these visit www.KendalTileandStone.co.uk

Restoration of Quarry Tiles in Kendal

Changing the Grout Colour used on Porcelain tiles in Kendal

A customer in Kendal requested that the colour of grout installed on 20m2 newly laid textured Porcelain tile floor was changed; the tiler had used a Sandstone coloured grout and they were not happy with the colour or the grouting in general which looked patchy. I recommended the use of an epoxy Grout Colouring product that re-colours, seals and rejuvenates existing grout joints and comes in twelve different colours and after showing the customer the different colour options they picked Charcoal Grey.

Textured Porcelain Tile with Limestone Grout in Kendal

Applying Grout Colourant

I did a test area so they could see how it might look under the lights which went well and so I started to apply the grout colouring to the whole kitchen floor completing small areas until the entire floor was covered and taking care not to get any on the Porcelain tile as the textured surface makes it difficult to remove and requires the use of an white abrasive scouring pad. Normally you have to use a Pre-Treater product on the grout before Grout Colouring however this grout was new and so this step was unnecessary.

Textured Porcelain Tile with Charcoal Grey Grout in Kendal Textured Porcelain Tile with Charcoal Grey Grout in Kendal

This job took me one day and only required one tube of Grout Colourant. The owner was extremely happy with the result will now have a fairly maintenance free tiled floor as Porcelain tiles are very hard wearing and the epoxy grout colourant acts as a barrier and therefore unlikely to discolour.

To source similar Quarry tiles visit www.KendalTileandStone.co.uk

Changing the colour of grout in Kendal