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).
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.
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.
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.”
Source: Victorian Tile Restoration Service in Lancashire