Victorian Tile Cleaning

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

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

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