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
Photographs below from the maintenance of Amtico Vinyl Floor Tiles in the kitchen of a house in the village of Heysham which is famous for its ferry port that has links to the Isle of Man and Ireland. This Vinyl wasn’t that dirty but it was starting to lose its sheen and when this happens it’s an indication that the sealer has started to wear down leaving it looking patchy in the high traffic areas. Once the sealer has failed then dirt will start to accumulate making it look less appealing, so my customer decided to call Tile Doctor in before it got to that point.
It wasn’t a big area and unlike a clay or Stone tile, Vinyl is a lot less porous and can be cleaned and sealed within the same day rather than leave it do dry overnight or even longer. This means less hassle for the customer and a better price for doing the work as well. As a guideline, a 10m2 floor area usually takes around two to three hours to deep clean and re-seal, naturally the larger the area the longer it takes.
Deep Cleaning Amtico Vinyl Floor Tiles
We started with a deep cleaning product developed for Tile Doctor called Vinyl strip which as well as leaving a pleasant floral aroma is biodegradable and phosphate free. You dilute the concentrate with ten parts of water to 1 part Vinyl Strip or if you prefer a litre of water to 100ml of product. This was mixed together in a clear container and then applied to the area to be cleaned. It’s left to soak into the floor for a while so it can break down any remaining old sealer and dirt and then scrubbed in using a deck brush.
I find a wet vacuum machine invaluable at this point at this junction, mopping is okay but you really need to make sure all the product is extracted off the surface to be sealed otherwise it will do to the new sealer what it has done to the old. We call this process Neutralisation and a good rinse with fresh water also helps as does having an industrial air mover in place to help speed dry the floor.
Sealing Amtico Vinyl Floor Tiles
You can’t seal the Vinyl until the tiles are dry as dampness can cloud the sealer so if you don’t have an air blower we recommend leaving the floor for six to eight hours. Our air mover is quite large and it soon had the floor dry so we could move onto sealing quite quickly and applied three coats of Vinyl Shine which gave the floor a nice sheen. Each coat must dry out before the next coat can be applied but it’s worth doing correctly as each coat builds up another layer of protection on the Vinyl, again we used an Air blower to speed up the drying process.
Amtico Vinyl Floor After Care
Once dried we left the customer with a free bottle of Tile Doctor PH Neutral Tile Cleaner for the regular cleaning of the floor. We always recommend this product for the regular cleaning of sealed surfaces as it’s PH neutral and won’t degrade the sealer like most domestic cleaning products you find on supermarket shelves.
Maintaining Amtico Vinyl Floor Tiles in Lancashire