Large Victorian Manor House Hall Floor Restored in Ulverston

Earlier this year we had the privilege to be involved in the restoration of a large Victorian tiled hall at Stone Cross Manor in Ulverston which is being sympathetically redeveloped into nineteen apartments by Persimmon Homes at a reported cost of £4 million. The magnificent Grade II-listed stately home was built in 1874 for Myles Kennedy who was a Limestone Quarry owner and chairman of an Ironworks.

The property continued to be occupied by the Kennedy family until 1943 when it was requisitioned by the military who then sold it to Lancashire County Council in 1946. The council used it as a boarding school for some decades and allegedly had the central oak staircase removed so the hall could be used to play indoor football. Since that time, it has had different owners and states of disrepair until finally being acquired by Persimmon who contacted us to quote for restoring the floor to its former glory. This would be no easy task and would require plenty of help. However, we are a resourceful bunch and being part of a large network of Tile Doctors means we were able to draft in other Tile Doctors to assist.

Stone Cross Manor Ulverston

Before we took the job on, I went over to survey the floor and was immediately taken aback by the sheer size and scale of the project. The impressive Victorian hall has now had its large wooden staircase rebuilt and this sits in the centre of a series of architectural stone columns.

The floor was in a sorry state though and it certainly had a story to tell. At some point in its long history sections of the beautiful Victorian tiles had been cut out for the installation of central heating and then back filled with cement. There were also other areas that had been given the same treatment for some inexplicable reason. I suspect that the floor must have been covered in carpet during its later life to hide the mess.

Victorian Tiled Stone Cross Manor Hall Before Restoration Victorian Tiled Stone Cross Manor Hall Before Restoration

The biggest problem was the realisation that with so many tiles missing the only way we could get exact duplicates would be to have them made by a company such as Craven and Dunhill. They are specialist tile manufacturer who date back to 1872 and can reproduce old tiles using the same tones and colours to match the originals. This was a high spec job, so this was the right approach however the price for the moulds and the time needed to manufacture threatened to push the cost of renovating the floor off the scale.

Victorian Tiled Stone Cross Manor Hall Before Restoration

We discussed this with the developer and manged to come to a compromise by reusing tiles from another room in the property. Many of the tiles in that room had been damaged and were beyond restoration however there were enough tiles in good condition to fulfil our requirements in the main hall. They would have to be carefully lifted and cleaned but the tiles matched the colour and tone, size and texture to the main hallway perfectly. When you look at the before and after pictures on this page you will really struggle to see any difference and this is rare on old floor like this, the only exception being the black tiles underneath the radiators where a matching tone wasn’t available.

Rebuilding a Large Victorian Tiled Floor

The first week was spent lifting and replacing broken tiles, it was a large floor area of about 120m2 which was set to be the main showpiece of the building, so it had to be right. As part of the floor prep it was also necessary to level parts of the floor with the application of a a self-levelling compound. We brought in Cardiff Tile Doctor Julian Iaconno to run this part of the job, he is an absolute master tiler and one of the best Victorian Tile installers in the country. At one point there was three of us working on the floor in order to keep to schedule.

Victorian Tiled Stone Cross Manor Hall During Restoration Victorian Tiled Stone Cross Manor Hall During Restoration

Deep Cleaning a Large Victorian Tiled Floor

The second week was spent cleaning the floor various Diamond burnishing pads, moving though increasingly finer girts until we achieved the desired finish. We also used a lot of Tile Doctor Grout Clean-up and Pro-clean to remove the old grout and dirt from the recycled tiles. As is always the case on a building site you get a lot of tradesmen who like to have a look at what we have done and walk all over our nice clean tiles, thus leaving dusty footprints everywhere. I must give credit to the Site Foreman for keeping these guys out although best intentioned they weren’t helping with the cleaning process, so all doors were locked off and access was limited to the site foreman and Tile Doctor only.

Victorian Tiled Stone Cross Manor Hall During Restoration Victorian Tiled Stone Cross Manor Hall During Restoration

Sealing a Large Victorian Tiled Floor

Victorian Tiled Floor Stone Cross Manor Hall After Restoration Victorian Tiled Floor Stone Cross Manor Hall After Restoration

We applied a Matt finish sealer called Colour Grow, which copes very well with potential damp issues that can cause problems with old floors with no damp proof course, it’s also excellent at bringing out the colour of Tiles whether Clay or Stone. Four coats of Colour Grow were applied to the Victorian tiles and being such a large floor area, it took a few days to fully seal the floor.

Victorian Tiled Floor Stone Cross Manor Hall After Restoration Victorian Tiled Stone Cross Manor Hall After Restoration

We cannot praise Persimmon enough for the dedication they have shown in the restoration of this historic property which has had a chequered past and will now have a long future.

 

Professional Restoration of a Victorian Tiled Hallway in Lancashire

Grout Colour Restoration on a Ceramic Kitchen Floor Ulverston

This client got in touch to see if we could clean the grout in her large kitchen floor which was tiled with Terracotta style Ceramic tiles. As per usual we visited the property first which was in the market town of Ulverston to survey the floor and get a better idea of what was required.

Ceramic Tiled Kitchen Floor Before Grout Colouring Ulverston

Believe it or not the grout had originally been Sandstone in colour, but poor cleaning practices had reduced the colour back to grey as all floor grouts (apart from white) are basically a cement grey with a colour dye added. I suspect the customer had been using a strong bleach-based product to clean the floor with which as well as removing colour can also lead to dehydration resulting in cracking. It’s work knowing that even the “Green Cleaning Products” on the market generally contain at least 5% of “non-ionic surfactants” which can also impact grout with constant use.

Ceramic Tiled Kitchen Floor Before Grout Colouring Ulverston Ceramic Tiled Kitchen Floor Before Grout Colouring Ulverston

Our recommendation was to re-colour the grout using a durable Tile Doctor Grout Colourant which seals and rejuvenates existing grout and is available in ten popular colours. The client was happy that we could improve the appearance of the floor, we agreed a price and scheduled the work in which would take two days to complete.

Cleaning and Colouring Grout on a Ceramic Tiled Kitchen Floor

It was a large 45m2 kitchen and so it took most of the first day just to clean the grout using Tile Doctor Grout Colourant Pre-Treater. This is an effective ready-to-use acidic cleaner which is designed to lightly etch and clean the grout joints so that you achieve a superior bond with the colourant. The product comes in a spray bottle so its just a question of spraying it onto the tile, leaving it for five minutes and then scrubbing it in with a brush. Afterwards you rinse it off with water and extract with a wet vacuum.

We worked our way across the large floor area in sections leaving an air blower in place over the completed section to accelerate the drying process. Once we managed to get a cleaned area dry, we started to apply the first coat of Grout Colourant. The colourant is relatively easy to apply with a small brush, you just need to ensure that any excess that gets on the tile is wiped off before it dries.

Once the second of coat of grout colourant had been applied and had dried the floor was inspected and touched up further where required. Before leaving we gave the floor a dry polish with our buffing machine just so it all looked spick and span before we handed the floor back to the customer. There was no need to seal the floor, Ceramic tiles won’t accept a sealer and the grout will now be protected by the colourant which acts like a barrier.

Ceramic Tiled Kitchen Floor After Grout Colouring Ulverston Ceramic Tiled Kitchen Floor After Grout Colouring Ulverston

The transformation to the floor was huge as you can see in the pictures. My customer was over the moon with the results and left the following feedback:

‘I can recommend the professional services of Russell and team, nothing was too much trouble and the job was completed on time with excellent results’
Karen. Ulverston

Ceramic Tiled Kitchen Floor After Grout Colouring Ulverston

 

Professional Grout Restoration of a Ceramic Tiled Kitchen Floor in Lancashire

Bitumen Stained Victorian Geometric Hallway Rejuvenated in Barrow in Furness

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.

Geometric floor before Restoration Barrow in Furness Geometric floor before Restoration Barrow in Furness

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.

Geometric floor before Restoration Barrow in Furness

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.

Geometric floor before Milling Barrow in Furness

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.

Geometric floor After Milling Barrow in Furness

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.

Geometric floor After Restoration Barrow in Furness Geometric floor After Restoration Barrow in Furness

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

Cleaning Rough Black Slate at an Enterprise Centre in Millom

These photographs are taken at an Enterprise Centre in Millom where local business are encouraged to network and they also offer various training courses, all of which results in a large amount of people coming and going across the 120m2 of rough black Slate which covers the communal areas. Interestingly enough this is not the first time we have cleaned and sealed this floor with the last visit being five years ago. Five years of wear and tear had taken its toll on the tiles though and the black Slate was looking tired but not horrendous given its location so I think it’s fair to say the sealer had performed well over the Intermitting period.

Rough Black Slate Millom Before Cleaning

Cleaning Rough Black Slate

As I mentioned before the area in total was about 120m2 which is a large area so we operated in sections working around the public and ensuring the correct signage was displayed were relevant.

To clean the Slate tile and grout and remove the remaining sealer the floor a good deep clean using a dilution of Tile Doctor Remove and Go leaving it to soak in for fifteen minutes before working it in with a black scrubbing pad fitted to a rotary buffing machine. This process was followed by rinsing and cleaning with fresh water, stubborn areas were retreated and the water was removed using a wet vacuum to the get the floor as dry as possible.

Sealing Rough Black Slate

Once the section of floor was clean we left it to dry and moved onto cleaning the next section coming back later to seal it which we did with two coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is an impregnating sealer that occupies the pores preventing contaminates from becoming ingrained. Colour Grow is also a colour enhancing sealer that brings out the deep colour in the slate.

Rough Black Slate Millom After Cleaning
The customer knew about using the right cleaning solution for regular cleaning however as it had been five years since our last visit we thought it best to remind them and recommend the use of Tile Doctor Neutral Cleaner which will not reduce the life of the sealer like an acidic cleaning product would.

To source slate tiles similar to these visit www.PremierTilesBarrow.co.uk

Cleaning and Sealing a Slate Tiled floor in Southport