Full Restoration of a Victorian Manor House Floor in Lancashire

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.

 

Source: Victorian Listed Building Floor Restoration Service in Lancashire

Old Victorian Floor Tiles Renovated at Listed Church in Rushock, Worcestershire

I recently completed a Victorian floor restoration at St Michaels Church in Rushock which is a very small village in Worcestershire in the Wyre Forest District. The church is a listed building that dates to 1758 however I suspect the floor was installed in 1872 when the building was subject to a major restoration. Interestingly its most famous as the resting place of Jon Bonham from Led Zeppelin who is regarded as one of most influential rock drummers in history.

I was contacted by the church as the floor had become dull and the floor was experiencing efflorescent salt issues. The chairman of Rushock church was unhappy with its appearance and was keen to have it restored to ensure the church looked it’s best for the residents and the churches parishioner’s.

I completed the inspection of this beautiful church and as you can see from the pictures why the chairman was so keen to have the floor renovated. Confident we could significantly improve the floors appearance and restore the feature aisle for them I costed out a plan for the work.

Victorian Floor Before Cleaning St Michaels Church Rushock Victorian Floor Before Cleaning St Michaels Church Rushock

The quote was accepted, and we arranged a mutually convenient date to fit round their service schedule. An extra pair of hands would be required to meet their schedule, so I arranged to work on this floor with the Warwickshire Tile Doctor Mick Gayton. Mick has a wealth of knowledge and experience and we often team up on bigger projects. With over sixty Tile Doctors in the UK it’s hugely helpful to have a network of Tile Doctors you can call upon when you need extra help.

Cleaning and Restoring a Church Tiled Floor

The first day was spent cleaning the floor both by hand and with a rotary machine fitted with a black scrubbing pad paying particular attention to the salt issues. Tile Doctor Remove and Go was applied first to tackle the dirt and remove what remained of the previous sealer. This was then rinsed off the floor and the soil extracted using a wet vacuum.

We then treated the floor to an acid wash using Tile Doctor Acid Gel, this was applied to the floor and left to dwell for a short time before more scrubbing in with the rotary machine. This made short work of cleaning the salt minerals and grout haze, it would also neutralise any alkaline salts inherent in the tile that could cause problems later. The wet vacuum was employed again to remove the resultant slurry.

We also used a steam cleaner on some of the stubborn areas where the dirt had been ingrained for some time! Once we were happy the floor was clean, we left the floor to dry off overnight.

Sealing a Church Tiled Floor

We returned the next day and got to work on some areas where the grout had perished, replacing as needed with a matching flexible grout. Once the grout had dries and any haze polished off the tiles the floor was ready for the application of a protective sealer.

The sealer chosen was Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is an impregnating colour enhancing product that works by occupying the pores in the tile preventing dirt from becoming lodges in there. This sealer is also fully breathable which is an essential feature for old floors that were laid without a damp proof membrane. Using a non-breathable sealer would trap moisture under the floor where it can spread to the walls resulting in rising damp. Four coats of Colour Grow were required in total and the colour enhancing nature of the product really brought out the colours in the tile restoring it to its original condition.

Victorian Floor After Cleaning St Michaels Church Rushock Victorian Floor After Cleaning St Michaels Church Rushock

The chairman was extremely satisfied with the restored floor and he was sure the parishioners would be to.

 

Source: Victorian Floor Cleaning and Sealing Service in Rushock, Worcestershire

Cleaning a Victorian Reception at a Listed Building in Devon

I was approached by the owner of a listed Georgian Townhouse right in the middle of the small market town of South Moulton in North Devon who was struggling to have any impact on the appearance of his Victorian tiled reception area, despite hours of back-breaking scrubbing and had become disheartened by it.

Georgian Reception Floor Tiles Before Cleaning South Molton

Upon arrival a survey on the floor was conducted where I tested the moisture level of the tiles because floors of this age and construction didn’t have a Damp Proof Course and as such were just tiled onto whatever subsurface was already there, which quite often contained rubble and other guiding materials such as lime from the construction of neighbouring properties!

Georgian Reception Floor Tiles Before Cleaning South Molton

Whilst talking to the customer he mentioned that he had some old quarry tiles in his kitchen that he also wanted cleaning, however I’ll cover that in another post. To continue I produced a quote for the work which was accepted and a date was agreed for me to return with all the equipment and products required.

Cleaning Victorian Tiled Reception Area

To clean the Victorian tiles in the reception area I applied a medium dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean and left it to soak in for ten minutes. I then set about scrubbing the solution into the tiles using a series of Diamond impregnated burnishing pads ranging from 100-400 grit.

Once the whole floor had been treated in this manner it was thoroughly rinsed with water using a wet and dry vacuum to extract the now soiled cleaning solution and I was able to see that the process had really brought the tiles up a treat.

Concerned about the damp readings I had experienced earlier I decided it would be prudent to give the floor an Acid Rinse with Grout Clean-up to counteract any potential salt issues (efflorescence) that can be a real problem on these old floors which have no Damp Proof Course. I highly recommend this step on old floors as salts can over time permeate through the tiles and the cleaning process draws them to the surface. Left unaddressed the salts can damage the sealer and leave the floor looking far from its best.

Once the tiles had been cleaned, I rinsed the entire floor thoroughly using fresh water to remove any trace of cleaning products, before leaving it to dry off completely overnight.

Sealing an Original Victorian Tiled Hallway and Entrance Lobby

The following day I returned and after rechecking the moisture levels to ensure that they had adequately dried out I started to seal the Victorian tiles in the reception area. To improve colour, I first applied a coat of Tile Doctor’s Colour Grow, a solvent based impregnating sealer which picks out and enhances the natural colour of the tiles, not only bringing the whole floor to life but helping to disguise any damage the floor has suffered over the years. After this coat had dried sufficiency four coats of Seal and Go were applied to finish off the floor and give it that ‘wow factor’.

Georgian Reception Floor Tiles After Cleaning South Molton Georgian Reception Floor Tiles After Cleaning South Molton

The customer was thrilled and left the following feedback on the Tile Doctor feedback system:

“The work was carried out in a professional manner, with excellent results.”

For aftercare I left the customer with some guidance on care and maintenance of the floor as well as a suitable bottle of tile cleaner.
 
 
Source: Victorian Floor Tile Cleaning and Restoration Service in Devon