Our clients from the Doncaster suburb of Wheatley Hills contacted us to see if we could rescue their Victorian floor. They were a young professional couple who had recently purchased and renovated a beautiful Victorian terraced house. They loved the Victorian hallway tiles, but they did need some attention and we were asked to renovate them.
Victorian floors often have areas of damage, usually at the bottom of staircases and in doorways due to heavy usage. This floor was no different. We decided not to replace every cracked tile but to concentrate on the worst areas which was at the bottom of the staircase.
A nice little feature of Victorian floors you often find is an upside tile left by the original tiler, it is usually a small tile tucked away at the edge. The Victorians believed that only god could create something perfect so one small imperfection was normally left and in this case one tile had been installed upside down.
Cleaning and Repairing a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor
Before starting, replica tiles were sourced to closely match the originals and as you will see from the final pictures its now impossible to tell the difference. Standard sizes have changed though so to achieve a perfect fit the old tiles were used as templates and new tiles cut to match the originals. In total around twenty badly damaged tiles were replaced, I could have replaced more however with an old floor like this its good to keep some character and history in the floor.
Once the new tiles had set, work started on cleaning the floor which was done using a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean and Tile Doctor Remove and Go combined. This makes a powerful formula that can clean and strips old sealers from tiles and after being left to soak in for ten minutes is scrubbed into the floor with a coarse 200-grit pad. Pads can struggle to get into the corners etc so for those tricky areas I use hand-held diamond blocks.
After rinsing the floor with water and extracting the soil with a wet vacuum I gave the floor an acid rinse with Tile Doctor Acid Gel. This removes mineral salts trapped in the tiles and cleans off old grout smears. I always recommend an acid wash for old floors like this one as they do not have a damp proof membrane installed under the floor and this can result in salts rising through the tile as moisture evaporates, a process commonly known as efflorescence.
Sealing a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor
The floor was left to dry off overnight and I returned the following day to seal the tiles with Tile Doctor Colour Grow. Before starting, moisture readings are taken from the tiles to ensure its dry, applying a sealer to a damp floor can cloud the sealer so it’s worth checking.
Colour Grow is an impregnating sealer that soaks into the pores of the tile protecting it from within and enhancing its colours in the process. Old Victorian tiles are quite porous after being deep cleaned so in total six coats were applied before the it was fully protected and waterproof. To check enough sealer has been applied I like to conduct a water test which should result in a water droplet forming a bubble on the tile as in the picture below.
Each coat of sealer needs to dry before applying the next, so it does take some time to fully apply the sealer.
Once sealed the Victorian floor looked much lighter, had a lovely natural sheen and the vibrant colours of the tiles really shone through. Our clients were overjoyed with the finished results and pictures of the floor were soon all over Instagram!