Cleaning and Repairing a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor
Detailed below is the restoration of a Victorian tiled hallway floor that we started back in June in Preston. Although we started in June there was so much damage to the subfloor and the tiles it took some time to complete, additionally, the client did not like the colour samples of the replacement tiles we had brought along and so decided to source their own which took some time.
Deep Cleaning a Victorian Tiled Hallway
Three months later with replacement tiles now sourced we were given the go ahead to start the restoration. The first day’s focus was cleaning the original floor using very coarse 100-grit and 200-grit Diamond pads fitted to a rotary buffer machine and applied to the floor using a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Remove and Go to add extra cleaning power. Tile edges were given special attention using a flex machine fitted with small diamond grit pads.
The floor was rinsed with water to remove the soil generated and this was followed up with an acid rinse using a 1:3 dilution of Tile Doctor Grout Clean Up. This last step in the cleaning process is especially recommend for old floors like this which don’t have a damp proof membrane and can suffer from efflorescence issues.
Replacing Damaged Victorian Tiles
The next stage focused on repairing the floor and started by carefully knocking out all the broken and chipped tiles. We had previously estimated over 30 tiles needed replacing and so the client had bought two boxes, meaning I had plenty of spares to work with.
Before tiling however, the subfloor had suffered over the years and needed attention first. To deal with this the damaged areas were raked out, cleaned up and then back filled with rapid setting self-levelling screed from Mapie adhesives. Once the sub-base was fixed then we put the new tiles back in, they were not an exact match, about 5mm too short and lighter in tone, but the colour was pretty close.
Tiling an old Victorian floor like this can be a bit like dominoes as you move one out of place 2 decent ones come loose and then they also need refixing. Some of the tiles had hair line cracks in them and once they were loose, they just cracked in half. As such the 20 spare tiles that I thought were spare came into good use and I actually ended up using all of them. I could have done with a few more so it was decided to reset the last four broken tiles and grout them in. Luckily for me the client was very understanding about the nature of tile restoration and had accepted that there would be some imperfections and they were not expecting a new floor.
The Tiles were fixed down using Ultralite Rapid Flex (another product from Mapie) and then grouted using the same adhesive (not a grout, as they did not have grout back in the day, just cement and screed).
The floor was left this to cure overnight, and we came back the next day to finish the clean using a 200-grit diamond pad fitted to a buffing machine and lubricated with water, then one last acid rinse to get the tiles as clean as possible and remove any lingering grout haze. This last clean helps to blend the new tiles in with the original.
Sealing a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor
Before applying a protective sealer, the floor was left to dry for a couple of days, the tiles need to be thoroughly dry before sealing or you can end up with a patchy appearance.
For this floor with no damp proof membrane, it was important to use a fully breathable sealer that will allow moisture to rise through the tile and evaporate at the surface, so Tile Doctor Colour Grow was chosen. This is a good choice for old floors like this as its fully breathable, head wearing, and it contains a colour enhancer that improves the overall appearance of the tile.
Three coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is a fully breathable, colour enhancing sealer hat works by soaking into the pores of the tile protecting it from within. It has a matt finish, and it works really well with all clay tiles and is ideal for these types of floors.
You can probably spot the lighter coloured tiles in the after photos on this page, however it’s a very subtle difference and I think they have blended in quite well with the original. Certainly, my client was very pleased with the newly restored floor, its completely transformed from when we first visited the client, and the floor has now gained character and history. For aftercare we recommend Tile Doctor Neutral Cleaner, its an effective pH neutral product that is compatible with the new sealer.