This old Victorian tiled Hallway floor, laid in a geometric pattern, at a house in Barrow in Furness was a challenging project. The tiles were extremely dirty and also stained with Black Bitumen which has been used as an adhesive, however we have come across these sorts of problems before and so I was confident it could be resolved.
Deep Cleaning an Old Victorian Tiled Floor
I roped in Heidi and my son Lewis who spent a whole day cleaning with chemicals, steam, buffing pads and unfortunately the results were far from satisfactory; the customer wasn’t happy and Heidi wasn’t happy with it either. It was clear that the black bitumen had penetrated deep into the pores of the clay and becoming so embedded that no chemical or technique we were using would shift it fully.
To top it off I had gone out earlier to tile the old mat well with matching tiles before we started the cleaning but due to the depth of the floor matt. The matt well was at least 35mm so it was clear I couldn’t use standard floor adhesive. I opted instead for a sand cement mix, similar to what the Victorians would have used originally. This filled up the depth and allowed me to tile and grout the same day, however overnight there was a bit of shrinkage and some of the new tiles settled unevenly.
I racked my head for a solution to both issues and decided the best course of action would be to Mill the clay tiles to remove the Bitumen and smooth down the uneven effect of my tiling. This is not something we would normally do on a clay tile as this system can leave scratches which potentially would look worse that the dirt. After I had milled the Tiles down with a course pad fitted to a heavy buffing machine and removed all the issues I then counteracted any scratches left over using a higher grit milling pad. This solution fully resolved both issues leaving it ready for the final step of sealing.
Sealing an Original Victorian Tiled Floor
The floor was left to dry off overnight and we returned the next day to seal the tiles using Tile Doctor Colour Grow, which is a matt finish, fully breathable and colour enhancing sealer which really lifts the colour of the stone or in this case clay tile. Colour Grow is impregnating – meaning that it penetrates the pores of the stone to fill them and prevent trapped dirt and stains. We recommend Colour Grow for both internal and external applications and especially for areas where no damp proof membrane is evident, since the sealer allows for the floor to breathe moisture.
There were plenty of problems to overcome and It took a lot of work but I’m pleased to say the floor was transformed by our efforts and now looks fantastic and I’m sure has added a lot of value to this period property.
Hallway Restoration of Bitumen-Stained Victorian Floor in Barrow in Furness
We often get asked to do a combination of jobs at Tile Doctor so we have to be prepared for the unexpected, like getting asked to clean an old Sandstone fireplace whilst your cleaning a Victorian tiled floor at a house in Preston. We normally charge extra for these types of jobs but it depends how much cleaning is required.
This Fireplace had been in use for a number of years and due to its grainy texture was hard to keep clean, dirt and soot had built up on its surface and there was no sealer visible, either that or it had worn off with the heat.
Cleaning and Sealing a Sandstone Fireplace
To clean the uprights and Hearth I applied Tile Doctor Oxy-Gel which being in Gel form and not a liquid, stays in place increasing dwell times and doesn’t drip where it shouldn’t. In this case I let it soak into the stone for about forty minutes before scrubbing it in with a stiff hand brush and steam. Some marks were still visible after this process so we opted for using handheld Diamond blocks in 50.100.200 and then 400 grit to grind off the staining and restore the surface finish. Using these small handheld blocks takes off some of the heavier texture as well as cleaning the stone at the same time, but is really useful to use where chemicals alone struggle to get the results required. Once fully clean the fireplace was rinsed with water a couple of times and the slurry removed using a wet vacuum. After speed drying the stone with a heat gun it was ready for a couple of coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow, even we were impressed with the results.
Cleaning and Sealing a Victorian Tiled Floor
The Red and Black Victorian Tiles were cleaned with a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which is very similar to Oxy-Gel only in a liquid form. The product was left to soak into the tiles for about ten minutes before being scrubbed in with a black buffing pad attached to a slow speed buffing machine. I used the wet vacuum again to soak up the residue and stubborn stains were retreated until I was satisfied.
Old Victorian floors rarely have a damp proof membrane installed and so it’s not uncommon for damp to rise-up through the ground and tile resulting in white salt deposits being left on the surface. To prevent this process, which is commonly referred to as Efflorescence, Tile Doctor Acid Gel was applied. The solution is scrubbed into the tiles and then rinsed off with clean water and removed with a wet vacuum ready for sealing.
Victorian Tiles can take a while to dry and in this case I left it two days before returning to apply a breathable sealer to protect the tiles from ingrained dirt and staining. In this case a couple of coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow were applied. If you recall this was the same sealer we used on the fireplace as the customer wished to bring out the colour and have a Matt finish.
Professional Restoration of a Sandstone Fireplace and Victorian Floor in Lancashire
As Tile Doctor operates in Europe as well as mainland UK we have to be ready for certain logistical challenges i.e. flying over to Mallorca to help a customer who has had a number of issues cleaning and sealing their Terracotta floor tiles at their residence on the island. Naturally you would have thought a local firm would have been able to resolve these issues, unfortunately it seems this is not the case and we were asked to step in.
As is it was not economical to ship our machinery to the island the customer sourced the necessary machinery locally.
Stripping Old Sealer and Cleaning Terracotta Tiles
On this occasion we used a new product called Tile Doctor Oxy-Gel which is a gel based version of the popular Tile Doctor Pro-Clean. It is applied neat to the tile and then left to dwell for fifteen minutes or so and then using a black buffing pad attached to a buffing machine we then stripped the old sealer very effectively with this method adding water as required, the soiled solution was then extracted from the floor using a wet Vax. Then we proceeded to rinse the floor with more water and repeat this process until all of the new Oxy-Gel and dirty water , this is called Neutralisation, if this isn’t done sufficiently then the chemical left in the clay can impact on the clay when it is sealed.
Sealing Victorian Tiles
The Terracotta was left to dry overnight and then a damp test was conducted after which it was dry enough to apply 1 coat for Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is a breathable Impregnating Sealer and add colour to the Clay, this was polished off and left to dry for a couple of hours before we applied several coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go, which then gave the Tiles a sheen and lifted the colours even more as you can see from the picture’s.
This was only a 2 day visit to help with the issues with the floor, more time was needed to do all of the tiles in the house of which their was several rooms, the customer was of the mind to do the rest of the floor themselves which was the understanding before we flew out, this was a cost saving exercise on behalf of the customer of which we were happy to oblige as long as our expenses were met.
This honed Travertine tiled floor was newly laid by a professional tiler in South Lancaster, unfortunately however the tiler mistook some white lines in the stone as resin post installation and tried very hard to remove them damaging the finish of the stone (it’s quite common for new stone to have this issue). The white marks turned out be in the stone itself and not on the surface, to complicate things further the Travertine had been laid onto electric under floor heating so it would have been tricky to lift and replace the tiles without compromising the expensive heating matts placed underneath the stone.
The customer was left in a dilemma as the suppliers of the stone were blaming the tiler and the tiler the supplier, the only option was to call out Tile Doctor. On inspection and after conducting two cleaning tests we managed to get a result with our burnishing system with no white lines showing after the Travertine had dried out.
Stripping and Re-Polishing Travertine
To get the Travertine looking new again we had to strip back the surface of the tile using a set of Diamond Encrusted burnishing pads fitted to a rotary machine. You start with a coarse stripper pad with water to strip back the surface and then move onto the finer pads to polish the floor. We also use some grinding discs to remove scratches left behind by the kitchen fitters who were clumsy when fitting the kitchen.
Once I was happy that all the problems had been resolved with the Travertine tile we resealed it using two coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow to get a nice overall finish for the floor. Colour grow is a great sealer to use on natural stone as now only will it offer good stain protection it brings out the colours in the stone.
Honed Travertine Tiled Floor Problems resolved in Lancaster
Previously I had solved a lippage problem on this customers Limestone kitchen floor where the tiler had laid the tiles unevenly and they had asked me to remove and level the edges which we can do with diamond encrusted burnishing pads. I sorted that out and they asked me back to look at their Conservatory floor as well which was a Silver Black Pearlescent Slate, again laid with lippage but the slate had also been oiled prior to sealing causing it to loose all its Silver colouring making it look black all over. It was at this point the customer shared the whole story of how the floor had been laid when she had been away on her holidays and had trusted the Tiler to do a good job; unfortunately he hadn’t and was unable to correct the problem. The floor was left in a sad and sorry state for a number of years and the owner unhappy with the floor had to cover most of the floor in rugs so she wouldn’t trip on the lippage. It probably would have stayed that way until one day they noticed my Tile Doctor Van in a Lancaster car park where they stopped me so to get my business card.
So a few days later I called round to assess the problem and came up with a solution; I offered to Mill the whole floor with Diamond segments using burnishing pads and just to prove my faith in this system to help solve her floor issues, I moved the settee away and proceeded to Mill a small section, after rinsing with water and Vaxing the waste up, the customer was delighted with the results, not only had the rough lippage disappeared but she could see the Silver Pearlescent colour shine through the Black Slate, which is exactly why she bought the Tiles. We think the Tiler oiled the floor to darken it so you couldn’t see what a bad job he had done on laying the tiles, unfortunately this didn’t stop people tripping over them.
The great thing about milling a stone tile is it actually improves the look not diminish it, unlike wood the more it’s worked at the better it will look. I spent an extra day on this floor to get it right for the customer and the results were very satisfying for us both especially after I had put down several coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go on The Slate to lift the colours in the stone and also add a sheen to the tiles as well.
I always mention to my customers the importance of using a nuetral cleaner like PH Neutral cleaning product for aftercare cleaning and not to use a bleach based cleaning product like flash, Domestos etc, or even Washing up Liquid which is slightly Acidic; all these will damage a stone sealer given time and diminish it’s protective qualities.
Sandstone is generally a rough textured surface requiring regular cleaning and sealing to keep it looking good, I’ve also known customers to complain that the rough texture can shred mops during regular cleaning. This Sandstone tiled floor installed in a house in Lancaster was no different and so with the owner’s approval we decided to gently grind the sandstone to produce a smoother more manageable surface. At Tile Doctor we refer to this process as Milling and it’s especially useful for flattening a raised surface between tiles often called lippage.
Milling and Sealing a Sandstone Tiled Floor
As far as I know Milling was developed at Tile Doctor to basically smooth down a rough textured surface to make it easy to clean, seal and maintain; it’s a one off process and is akin to sanding down a rough piece of wood with sandpaper. We don’t use sandpaper for this purpose but diamond encrusted burnishing pads which like sandpaper come in different levels of coarseness. Milling actually reveals more of the character in the surface of the stone which is further enhanced during sealing for which recommend the use of a matt finish sealer such as Tile Doctor Colour Grow or if there is still a bit of texture in the stone we recommend the use of a topical sealer such as Tile Doctor Seal and Go which also leaves a nice low sheen finish.
The customer was on holiday when the work was done but was so pleased with the effect of the milled Sandstone floor she rang me up personally to say thanks and left the comment below on the Tile Doctor feedback system, she was experiencing a lot of trouble cleaning this floor and we managed to resolve that and still keep the texture and character of this beautiful floor.
“Total transformation of our floor. Can’t quite believe the results. No mess and an amazing result. Thank you v much
D. Rix, Lancaster”
Smoothing a Rough Textured Sandstone Floor in Lancashire
Customer had these Dennis Ruabon Quarry Tiles fitted over 20 years ago in the WC of his house in Low Bentham, various cleaning and sealing products have been used since however this left a build-up of contamination on the Tiles which was detrimental to their aesthetic appeal and also left a noticeable residue smell.
Cleaning Quarry Tiles
To clean the Tiles and strip off previous sealing coatings we used Tile Doctor Pro-clean diluted 1 to 10 with warm water. This was left to dwell on the floor for a while before being worked into the tile using and black buffer pad fitted to a rotary buffing machine. The whole area was cleaned in this manner along with a stiff hand brush to get into the grout lines and a wet vacuum which was used to suck up the dirty residue before the floor was rinsed down with cold water. The wet vacuum was used again to remove the water, one tile was loose so this was re-fixed and the floor left to dry.
Sealing Quarry Tiles
Once the floor was fully dry we applied two coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which will protect it going forward and also helps to bring out the colour in the tile whilst maintaining a more natural appearance. There were some stubborn stains and discolouration on the tiles that could not be treated however I think you will agree it is much improved and you will have to take my word for this but it also smells better
Before leaving we left the customer with a bottle of Tile Doctor Neutral cleaner, this product is recommended for sealed floors due to its very low PH formula; there are a number of acidic floor cleaning products available which should not be used with stone or sealed floors as the acid will eat into the seal or stone surface over time reducing its life.
This sandstone floor was installed in a house in the village of Stodday, Lancashire, the floor was looking dull and if you look closely you should be able to see surface staining, there were also a number of marks the customer was eager for us to deal with.
We cleaned the floor using Tile Doctor Pro-Clean diluted with 10 parts warm water and worked in using a Black Scrubbing pad. This action certainly gave the floor a good clean but the marks mentioned earlier were proving stubborn to shift so we tried a stronger product called Remove and Go combined 50/50 with NanoTech UltraClean which add nano sized abrasive particles. We left the resulting formula to soak into the stone for about an hour and then used a steam cleaner to penetrate deep into the pores of the stone and lift out the dirt, this did the trick and so we then removed the cleaning products with a wet vacuum and washed down the floor with clean water to neutralise the floor before sealing and left for the evening so the floor could dry overnight.
Sealing a Sandstone Tiled Floor
We came back the next day and tested the floor with a damp meter in a few different locations to make sure no dampness remained in the stone. The sandstone was dry so we proceeded to seal the floor with Tile Doctor Seal and Go which gives a nice low sheen finish, Sandstone is fairly porous so it took five coats of sealer in the end. Seal and Go is a topical sealer and really brings out the true colour of the Stone and also leaves them a lot easier to clean with a mop as it takes a lot of the rough texture out of the stone.