Red and Black Victorian Tiled Period Floor Restored in Beetham

The floor of this property in Beetham had been covered with carpet and underlay for what the client believed was between 25 and 30 years. Now under new ownership the carpet had been partially removed to reveal an original Red and Black Victorian tiled floor hidden underneath. Before considering other options, the customer wanted to investigate having it renovated and preserving as an original period feature so they called their local Tile Doctor to see what could be done.

Classic Red Black Victorian Period Floor During Restoration Beetham

We have a long history of successfully restoring old Victorian floors back to their original state so did not anticipate having any issues. Having said that however you can never be sure what your going to find with old floors like these so where possible we like to visit the property to run a few tests before quoting. Older properties do not have a damp proof membrane therefore damp was an obvious consideration and so before running any cleaning tests we took a few damp readings from the floor. We worked out a quote which the client was happy with and we set a date for the restoration.

Cleaning Repairing a Victorian Tiled Kitchen Floor

To start with we had to hack up the old black underlay, which had been glued down to the floor, this was hard work but had to be done. We then worked on removing the remnants of the underlay and started cleaning the whole floor with a weighted buffing machine, a black buffing pad and Tile Doctor Remove and Go to breakdown the glue.

Classic Red Black Victorian Period Floor During Restoration Beetham

Once the majority was removed, we went a bit harder with the deep clean as it still didn’t look clean enough so we switched to milling pads, starting with a 100-grit, then 200-grit and finished with a 400-grit diamond pad. The soiling was rinsed away and then the floor was given and acid wash using Tile Doctor Acid Gel. This last step is designed to neutralise any alkaline salt issues, aka efflorescence, that may be have been trapped in the tile over the years.

Classic Red Black Victorian Period Floor During Restoration Beetham

Sealing a Victorian Tiled Kitchen Floor

When choosing a sealer for a floor with no damp-proof membrane you have to be aware of the need for moisture to rise through the floor and evaporate at the surface. The moisture readings we took on our first trip out to the property did indicate damp around the edges of the room even after being allowed to dry for quite a while.

To allow for this you need to use a fully breathable sealer, so we advised the use of Tile Doctor Colour Grow. This sealer also enhances the natural colours and will protect the tile from ingrained dirt by impregnating the tiny holes in the clay tile with sealant. Using a non-breathable sealer on a floor like this would prevent it from breathing and result in rising damp as the trapped moisture is forced out to the walls. Worst case tiles can be destroyed by the rising salt issues.

Classic Red Black Victorian Period Floor After Cleaning Beetham

It was quite a big floor and it took longer to clean than we had planned for. The client wanted the kitchen fitted before being sealed in case the fitter made a mess, so we returned later to seal the floor with four coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow. Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me take photos afterwards so the pictures on this page are before it was sealed.

Classic Red Black Victorian Period Floor After Cleaning Beetham

Before leaving we discussed on-going cleaning and so I recommended Tile Doctor Neutral Cleaner which having a neutral Ph will not prematurely erode the newly applied sealer. Its mild enough to use daily and leaves a nice fresh fragrance.

The client was very pleased with the newly restored floor and glad they could retain the period feature of the Victorian tiles which was much more in keeping with the property than the awful carpet that had been laid previously.


Professional Restoration of a Victorian Tiled Kitchen in Lancashire

Restoration of a Victorian Tiled Floor in Prizet, Kendal

The photos below are of a 1.7 metre by 3 metre Victorian tiled floor at the entrance to a property in Prizet, south of Kendal. As you can see the hallway and porch was in a poor state due to old age and neglect. Some tiles were cracked, missing and stained with cement, and what I suspect was carpet adhesive. One of the tiles had a four-inch hole down to the cellar where a soil pipe was installed previously when the room was used as a downstairs W.C. The client was doubtful that we would be able to restore the floor but thought it would be worth contacting us just in case.

Victorian Tiled Entrance Floor Before Rebuild Prizet Kendal Victorian Tiled Entrance Floor Before Rebuild Prizet Kendal

I visited the property to take a proper look and found their description of the floor was accurate and clearly overdue some serious attention. I also noticed that some point in the past cracked tiles had been removed and replaced with cement. However, I was confident the floor could be restored and gave them a price for the restoration which they were happy to proceed with.

Victorian Tiled Entrance Floor Before Rebuild Prizet Kendal

Repairing a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor

Work started by rebuilding the worst part of the floor which would require the services of my partner Russell. This involved removing the existing tiles, then preparing the concrete base which needed to be level and smooth before we started tiling.

Victorian Tiled Entrance Floor During Rebuild Prizet Kendal

We had previously managed to source very similar tiles which would be needed to replace those that were missing or damaged. Once the floor was prepped, the replacements were cut to fit taking care to ensure they matched the original pattern. Once cut they were fixed in place with flexible adhesive. We recommend the use of flexible floor adhesive on old floors due to the potential movement and the flexible floor adhesive doubles up as a grout as well. The floor was then left overnight to dry.

Victorian Tiled Entrance Floor During Rebuild Prizet Kendal

Deep Cleaning a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor

On day two the floor was deep cleaned using a 100-grit resurfacing pad followed by a 200-grit pad and then a 400-grit burnishing pad. The pads are attached to a rotary machine and the floor is rinsed with water and the soil extracted with a wet vacuum in-between.

We then finished the clean with an acid rinse using Tile Doctor Grout Clean Up. This is needed to remove the cement stains from the surface of the Victorian tiles and neutralise any potential efflorescent salt issues in the tiles. Another advantage is the acid slightly etches the tiles making a better bond with the sealer.

The floor was given another rinse with water and then the wet vacuum was pressed into surface again to extract the fluids and get the floor as dry as possible before leaving for the day.

Sealing a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor

We returned on the third day and first checked the floor was fully dry using a moisture meter. Four coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow were applied to achieve a strong enduring seal that will cope well with the traffic coming through the entrance.

Colour Grow is a colour intensifying sealer that provides durable surface protection to the tiles, but at the same time allows the surface to breath which is important in a floor such as this where no damp proof membrane is present. The results speak for themselves I was particularly happy with the area where we had repaired the hole, it was barely noticeable.

Victorian Tiled Entrance Floor After Rebuild Prizet Kendal

Many thanks to my customer for sending over the before photos and for leaving the following testimonial.

“Great restoration job done on our Victorian hall and porch tiles including replacing broken tiles and cleaning. Now looking better than ever. Russell was very professional and knowledgeable. Nicola F. Kendal”


Professional Restoration of a Victorian Tiled Hallway in South Cumbria

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

Stone Effect Pre-Cast Concrete Kitchen Flooring Deep Cleaned in Arnside

The stone floor in these pictures are in fact pre-cast concrete tiles created to emulate Limestone flagstones laid in a Kitchen in Arnside. You can’t beat the natural beauty of Limestone but these concrete tiles do give the Kitchen that rustic look the customer sought. The odd thing is, it’s actually less expensive to buy real Limestone these days as Pre-cast concrete is not a cheap product.

Stone Effect Concrete Kitchen Flooring Before Cleaning Arnside Stone Effect Concrete Kitchen Flooring Before Cleaning Arnside

Unfortunately, in this case, the concrete had been smeared with Ivory Grout during installation and the tiler had failed to remove it after grouting and this had dulled the look of the tile. The customer was led to believe by the Tiler that the off-white colour was indeed part of the stone and had put up with it for several years before we were called out.

Cleaning a Damaged Flagstone Tiled Floor

First of all we conducted a test clean to make sure our usual cleaning system would work as well on pre-cast concrete. I was aware that this type of product has a colour dye added to it which does seem to lose colour over the years and also can lose quite a bit of this dye once we start cleaning with strong chemical’s. Not wanting to risk any depreciation in the colouring I opted instead for the application of a set of Tile Doctor Burnishing pads. The pads are encrusted with industrial Diamonds and come in different grits from coarse to fine and I found that not only did the process remove a lot of the of White grout haze left by the tiler but also gave us a good start to the cleaning process without losing any more of the colour Dye.

The customer has specified they were keen for the floor to have more of a sheen finish, so we finished the cleaning with the rest of the Diamond pads finally ending on the super fine pad. We had to do some edging work where the circular pads could not reach but apart from that the pre-cast concrete responded well to this treatment as you will see on the before and after pictures.

Sealing a Flagstone Tiled Floor

The next day we called back to seal the Kitchen floor to protect it from staining, something that is more than likely in a Kitchen. For this we used a couple of coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which not only protects by soaking into the pores of the tile but also restores a lot of the colour that had previously been lost.

Stone Effect Concrete Kitchen Flooring Before Cleaning Arnside Stone Effect Concrete Kitchen Flooring Before Cleaning Arnside

For aftercare I explained to the customer that sealers do wear off over time and so to get maximum life out of the sealer they should clean the floor with a pH Neutral Cleaner like Tile Doctor Neutral cleaner. It’s designed for cleaning sealed tiled floors and it won’t affect the colour dye or the Sealer we have applied unlike stronger products will eat away at the sealer over time. Additionally, pre-cast concrete like Limestone is Acid Sensitive and as such products like certain types of the Cillit-Bang range cannot be used on a floor like this as it will cause surface damage.

Restoration of a Damaged Flagstone Tiled Floor in South Cumbria

Damaged Flagstone Tiled Floor Deep Cleaned and Sealed in Grange-over-Sands

This customer in Grange-over-Sands, a town on the Morecambe Bay, contacted us because an oven cleaning company had spilt a strong cleaning solution onto their Sandstone Flagstone Kitchen tiles, damaging them. The customer hadn’t realised the damage until after the oven company had been paid, and because nothing had been said at the time the cleaning company unfortunately wouldn’t accept responsibility.

When we arrived at the property, we were asked to do a spot clean on the affected tiles, however to do so would have resulted in a patchy finish compared to the rest of the floor. However, we could see that the rest of the floor was well overdue a deep clean and the sealer was past its best. So, we suggested the best course of action was to deep clean and reseal the whole floor to ensure a consistent finish across the tiles.

Flagstone Floor Grange Over Sands Before Cleaning Flagstone Floor Grange Over Sands Before Cleaning

Cleaning a Damaged Flagstone Tiled Floor

The customer agreed to the work, and we started on the same day. To begin, we used a Coarse 200 grit diamond encrusted burnishing pad fitted to a heavy weight buffing machine to grind away the damaged layer of stone.

This worked well on about 90% of the area, but the harder to reach spots needed a chemical clean, so Tile Doctor Oxy-Gel cleaner was applied. This is an alkaline-based gel cleaner that is effective for neutralising acidic stains. The product was left to dwell for 30 minutes and then scrubbed into the tiles, before being rinsed away. Following this, we extracted the dirty solution off the tiles using a wet vacuum.

Sealing a Flagstone Tiled Floor

Since we used quite a lot of water to rinse away the chemically-infused cleaning solution, we had to leave the floor to dry overnight before we could seal it. This is really important because excess moisture can cloud the sealer and damage its performance.

Arriving back at the property the next day, we ran some damp tests. Once satisfied that the tiles could be sealed, we applied four coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go. This sealer provides an aesthetically pleasing, low-sheen finish and is fully breathable. Most of the old Flagstone tiled floors found in properties don’t have a damp proof membrane installed underneath them, so a sealer which allows for moisture vapour transmission is essential.

Flagstone Floor Grange Over Sands After Cleaning Flagstone Floor Grange Over Sands After Cleaning

The customer was very happy with the work, not only because we restored the condition of the damaged tiles, but also because we were able to drastically improve the overall appearance of the floor. We recommended that the customer use Tile Doctor Stone Soap as a regular aftercare cleaner. This product not only cleans the stone, but adds to the natural stone patina by maintaining and enhancing its shine.

Restoration of a Damaged Flagstone Tiled Floor in South Cumbria

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