Renovating Old Victorian Floor Tiles at a Lancaster Garage

We don’t get many requests to clean garage floors but this particular floor was quite old and tiled in black and red Victorian tiles. Many would have just washed it down with a hose pipe however this garage in the city of Lancaster housed a classic British built AC sports car which doesn’t like getting dust in its Carburettor’s and as a result the owner was keen to have the floor restored.

Lancaster Garage AC Sports Car

You can see from the photograph below the floor was in quite a state and as such the whole floor needed a thorough deep clean to remove the ingrained dirt and grease and then sealing to protect it.

Lancaster Garage Victorian Tiled Floor Before Cleaning

Cleaning a Victorian Tiled Garage Floor

With the exception of moving the vehicle little preparation was required and we soon got on with the job starting with the application of a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-clean which is a great product for deep cleaning tile and grout. The solution was left to soak into the tile for ten or so minutes before being worked in with a buffing machine fitted with a black buffing pad. This soon lifted the dirt from the tile turning the cleaning solution into a dark fluid that was rinsed from the floor with water and extracted using a wet vacuum.

With old floors like these where no damp proof course has been installed it’s not unusual to get white salt marks appearing which leave a white bloom on the surface of the tile. This problem is known as efflorescence however it can be treated early on by giving the floor a wash with a strong acid which removes the salts. So the next step was to apply a Tile Doctor Acid Gel which being in gel form makes it easy to control once it’s on the floor, naturally acids are not good in general for any floor so it was not left on the tiles for too long before being extracted.

Last step was to give the floor a good rinse with water to remove any remaining trace of cleaning products before sealing, once this was done we used the wet vacuum to suck up as much moisture from the floor as possible.

Because of the water that was used, we had to let the floor dry out for several days before the sealer could be applied, this is especially relevant in the winter months when the water tables are high and thus a longer time is required for drying. Modern floors have a damp proof membrane so drying out can take twelve hours or less.

Sealing a Victorian Tiled Garage Floor

When we returned to seal the floor we first checked the floor was suitably dry by checking for dampness using a damp meter. The readings were good so several coats of a breathable sealer called Tile Doctor Colour Grow which has a matt finish was applied. I should mention that Colour Grow has good VMT (Vapour Moisture Transmission) properties that will ensure any trapped moisture can rise up through the tile and sealer, it also lifts the colours of the clay and gives its a deeper hue, in fact its one of our most popular sealers for these tiles. Having good VMT properties also means that is , Also if efflorescence do come back, the sealer allows the substance to breathe through and you can just wash off the crystals with a wetted mop.

Lancaster Garage Victorian Tiled Floor After Cleaning

Last photo is of the car being parked in the garage by the owner, happy in the knowledge his prized possession is now living in a clean environment.

Lancaster Garage Victorian Tiled Floor After Cleaning

 
 

Restoring a Victorian Tiled Floor

Victorian Tiled Hallway Restored to New in Lancaster

Sometimes we get asked to do restore very small areas of tiles, while more usually we will restore large area of up to 30 metres squared. However, we don’t mind adding small jobs to our busy schedule, especially if it helps homeowners who are struggling to keep their tiles looking great.

Victorian floor Tile Vestibule Lancaster Before

A recent example of this was a small Victorian tiled doorway we restored at a property in Lancaster. It clearly had not seen a thorough clean or a fresh seal in a while, but with the right Tile Doctor cleaning products and methods. I knew I could restore its appearance very simply.

Victorian floor Tile Vestibule Lancaster Before

Cleaning a Dirty Victorian Tiled Doorway

It doesn’t take that long to restore a small floor, but it still needs to be cleaned and sealed over two days. This is because we use a very strong cleaning system which involves chemicals that need to be rinsed away, and the tiles need to dry completely before we apply the sealer.

Our process for cleaning Victorian tiles involves firstly the application of Tile Doctor Remove and Go to strip away any old and no longer effectual sealers. This exposes the stone and allows the cleaning products to penetrate and eliminate ingrained dirt and stains. Normally we would do this with a black scrubbing pad fitted to a rotary machine however in this case due to the space restrictions it was easier to do it by hand with a scrubbing brush.

The tiles quickly began to regain their original character once the years of muck had been removed, but to complete the restoration they would also need to be sealed. First, however, they were left to dry completely overnight.

Sealing a Victorian Tiled Doorway

The next day, the Victorian tiles were ready to be sealed. Since there was was no damp proof membrane (DPM) present in the floor we need to use a fully breathable sealer and so for these tiles we used Tile Doctor Colour Grow to seal the tiles.

As a fully breathable sealer, Colour Grow will help ensure that the tiles won’t be affected by issues such as efflorescence where your left with white salt deposits on the surface of the tile, or damp issues which are very common with these old floors (the DPM is after all a fairly modern invention!)

Victorian floor Tile Vestibule Lancaster After

I’ve included a few photos to show the huge difference made over a couple of days. We’re always happy to restore these fantastic Victorian tiled floors, regardless of size and I have to say this customer was very happy with the results here.

Victorian floor Tile Vestibule Lancaster After

 
 

Professional Victorian Tiled Floor Restoration in Lancashire

Poorly Maintained Victorian Tiled Floor Revitalised in Ribchester

This post details the work we did at a house in the Lancashire town of Ribchester where the floor had been covered with a carpet for many years and the owner now wanted the floor restoring. As you see from the photographs, these Victorian tiles were in an extremely dirty condition and in dire need of a deep clean.

Upon visiting the property and witnessing the condition of the tiles first hand, I decided that rather than spending time attempting to penetrate through the thick layers of ingrained dirt, it would be more effective to go with the application of coarse 200 grit diamond encrusted pads (also known as burnishing pads).

Victorian Tile Restoration Ribchester Before Cleaning Victorian Tile Restoration Ribchester Before Cleaning

Usually we only use this type of pad on stone floors, including Limestone; however, we have been successfully experimenting with them on other surfaces at the Tile Doctor training centre including Victorian Tiles so I was confident they would do well.

Cleaning a Victorian Tiled Floor

In the case of this floor a carpet underlay had been in place and this is something that has often proved very difficult to remove in the past, but by using the 200 grit pads to open the pores of the clay it proved not to be a problem. The pads worked well on the main floor however being circular they do struggle to get into corners and right up to the edges so ensure these areas were equally cleaned I used small hand held burnishing pads.

One problem I did find, nonetheless, was that the pads revealed a pattern had been impressed onto the floor. To remove this I applied Tile Doctor Acid Gel, which is a blend of phosphoric and hydrochloric acids in gel form. This was so effective that within ten minutes the pattern had completely disappeared.

Victorian Tile Restoration Ribchester During Cleaning

Following this, I gave the floor a thorough wash with water, and the resulting slurry was extracted by a wet vacuum. The property owner and I then agreed that I would return to the house in a few days, leaving the area enough time to fully dry.

I returned to the property two days later to find that alkaline salt deposits (commonly known as efflorescence) had appeared on the floor while it was drying out, with the exception of the area to which I had applied Acid Gel. I polished off the efflorescence with a cloth, before giving the whole floor a rinse with Acid Gel to neutralise the salts. The floor was then given another rinse with water to remove any trace of the product, and was thoroughly dried using a wet vacuum to extract the moisture.

Sealing a Victorian Tiled Floor

I left the floor to dry unassisted for a few hours before running damp tests. All tests came back with decent results, and so I proceeded to seal the floor using three coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow.

This is a breathable solvent sealer, particularly notable for its capability to cope with any further efflorescence salt issues that could potentially affect most normal surface sealers. It also contains properties which intensify the natural colours and shades in the stone, leaving a bold and vibrant appearance.

Victorian Tile Restoration Ribchester After Cleaning and Sealing Victorian Tile Restoration Ribchester After Cleaning and Sealing

The owner was very happy with the big improvement in the floor, leaving the following feedback:
“Thanks Russell for doing such a good job on the Victorian tiles.”
 
 

Professional Victorian Tiled Floor Restoration in Lancashire

Resolving Lippage Issues With Uneven Victorian Floor Tiles In Turton

Recently Heidi and I worked on a Victorian tiled hallway floor at a house in Turton, Lancashire, an area which lies on the southern slopes of the West Pennine Moors. Victorian tile floors are commonly found in the reception area and hallways of older houses and public buildings, many of which date back to the reign of Queen Victoria (hence ‘Victorian’ tiles). It was during this time that the tile industry really started to boom.

Victorian Tile Lippage Turton Before

Upon inspection it was evident that the floor in question had suffered from some settlement in the past resulting in a crack in the base under the tiles which had lifted one side and dropped the other; this is quite common in old houses resulting in some of the tiles becoming loose and would need to be fixed back in place before the floor could be given a good clean and re-seal.

Victorian Tile Lippage Turton Before

Removing Lippage from Victorian Tiles

The concrete floor under the tile was patched as best as could be without pulling up more of the floor and the tiles were fixed in place, unfortunately however many of the triangular tiles in the adjacent border would not lay flat resulting in a lippage issue between them which naturally the customer was not very happy about.

Victorian Tile Lippage Turton Tiles Relaid

Not wishing to cause the customer the extra expense of pulling up more tiles and relaying the concrete subfloor I left the tiles to fully set and then came back a few days later with a handheld Flex Machine fitted with a small 220 Grit Diamond pad to grind the tiles flat. As the pictures show, this made the difference and the diamond did not scratch the tiles despite the surface being dry.

Diamond pads are usually used on stone floors but after some investigation back at the Tile Doctor training centre we also realised they can be used on other types of tile including Victorian.

Once this was resolved the entire floor was given a thorough clean using a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean worked in with a scrubbing pad. As well as cleaning the tile and grout it also removed any remaining sealer which is important if you don’t know the history of the floor as the previous coating maybe incompatible with the new sealer. Once done the floor was given a thorough rinse with water which was then extracted from the floor with a wet vacuum.

Victorian Tile Lippage Turton During Grinding

Sealing Victorian Tiles

The floor was left to dry and I returned later to seal the tiles with a couple of coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is an impregnating sealer that soaks into the pores of the tile and intensifies colour whilst also providing durable protection from within. Normally I use Seal and Go on Victorian Tiles however in this case the customer had specified a matt finish.

Victorian Tile Lippage Turton After

The results were fantastic and the client was very pleased with the now flat Victorian tiled floor which, thanks to the cleaning and sealing, was back to looking its best. Another happy customer for the Lancashire Tile Doctor!
 
 

Restoring a Victorian Tiled Floor with settlement issues

Uncovered Victorian Floor Tiles Restored

Photographs below from the restoration of Victorian Floor Tiles in the hallway of a house in the town of Garstang near Preston. The owner of the house had discovered the tiled floor during renovations and was keen to repair and restore it as a period feature. The carpet had done a reasonable job of protecting the floor and I have come across floors in much worse condition in the past so we were confident it could be restored.

Cleaning a Victorian Floor Tiles

The floor was stained from carpet adhesives and some cement haze which we managed to remove using Tile Doctor Grout Clean-up which contains concentrated Hydrochloric Acid and solves a number of problems of this nature. Acids can dissolve calcium based stone so you have to be careful what you use it on, my advice is not to leave it too long on any surface and to wash it down afterwards with water.

Victorian Tiled Floor Before Victorian Tiled Floor Before

The next step was to give the floor a thorough clean which we did using Tile Doctor Remove and Go mixed 50/50 with Nanotech Ultra-Clean; a steamer came in really handy at this point for those tricky stubborn areas. Last step was to give the floor a good rinse with water to remove any remaining chemical before sealing, if you’re doing this work yourself I recommend you hire a Wet Vacuum as it makes light work of removing surface water.

Sealing the Victorian Tiled Floor

The last step was to seal the floor however before we could do that it need to be dry so we checked for dampness first using a Damp Meter. When we happy the floor was sufficiently dry with sealed the floor using 4 coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go which provides a low sheen finish whilst offering excellent stain protection. You have to leave each coat to dry before applying the next.

Victorian Tiled Floor After Clean Victorian Tiled Floor After Clean

 
To source Victorian tiles similar to these visit www.rockform.co.uk
 

Restoring a Victorian Tiled Floor

Victorian Floor Restoration

You can see from the pictures, the floor had been covered first old plastic vinyl which had been glued down with a strong adhesive and then later with a carpet.

Victorian Floor Covered in Carpet and Lino

The customer had tried removing the vinyl themselves to reveal the real floor but gave up after eight hours and called in Tile Doctor.

Removing the Vinyl was arduous work and care was required not to damage the floor underneath. Naturally we managed and then had to contend with the rubber matting that the vinyl was stuck to and this proved to be even harder to lift.

Removing the Lino glued to a Victorian Floor

Removing the Lino glued to a Victorian Floor

To remove the rubber matting and adhesive the whole floor had to be covered with a special product that breaks down the glue.  Once the rubber had been disposed of we got down to cleaning the floor and removed any remaining stubborn marks.

Victorian Floor Revealed

Victorian Floor Revealed

The revealed floor looked dull so we then sealed it using Tile Doctor Seal and Go which really brought out the colour.

Restored Victorian Floor

Restored Victorian Floor

As you can see from the comment below the customer was ecstatic with the result.

“Just got the second e-mail with the photos – they are great and really show how much hard work went into the job.  As I said we did get several “Tile Experts” in to look at the job and they wouldn’t touch the lino, so well done done and many thanks again – would definately recommend you to prospective customers.  Regards John.”