Victorian Architect Watson Fothergill Tesserae Mosaic Floor Restored in Nottingham

Late last year we were awarded a contract to Repair and Restore a Tesserae Mosaic floor at prestigious property in the Lace Market area of Nottingham City Centre. The property was once Watson Fothergill’s office who is a famous Victorian architect who ran his business from the site in 1897 until 1912 when he retired. He designed over 100 Victorian & Edwardian buildings from 1864 mainly in Nottinghamshire and some further afield. They were mainly in the Gothic Revival and Old English Vernacular Style.

Tessera Mosaic Floor Restoration Waton Fothergill Building Lace Market Nottingham City Tessera Mosaic Floor Before Repair Lace Market Nottingham City

Inside the property is an Edwardian Tessera Mosaic Clay Floor on three small landing levels in the entrance & stairwell. Through historic building movement, inherent moisture issues, and a lorry crashing into the property a couple of years ago. The floor had developed structural movement cracks. This had resulted in sections of the tiles being raised or lowered and others becoming cracked, damaged and loose. Previous repairs to stabilise the damage had been carried before, but this has mainly involved just filling cracks.

Tessera Mosaic Floor Before Repair Lace Market Nottingham City Tessera Mosaic Floor Before Repair Lace Market Nottingham City

Repairing Edwardian Tesserae Mosaic Flooring

Repairing the damage to the floor was long and painstaking work which took three days. We started by removing the makeshift repairs and meticulously rebuilt the damaged areas replacing the damaged loose tiles, and levelling the floor were possible until it was back to a uniform appearance.

Tessera Mosaic Floor Before Repair Lace Market Nottingham City Tessera Mosaic Floor After Repair Lace Market Nottingham City

Once the repairs were complete, we carried out a low-moisture restorative cleaning process which took a further two days. The process involves using Tile Doctor Remove & Go coating and contamination removal product which is first sprayed onto the floor and left to dwell for ten minutes. The floor is then scrubbed with a set of Tile Doctor abrasive burnishing pads which level off the raised tiles and hone them to remove years of ingrained soiling. The resulting slurry is removed by vacuuming and lightly damp wiping with microfibres cloths to ensure the use of moisture was kept to a minimum. We use a low moisture cleaning system to minimise the risk of efflorescent salts appearing on the floor as it dries out; old floors are prone to this problem as they were installed without a damp proof membrane which is a relatively modern invention.

Sealing an Edwardian Tesserae Mosaic Floor

The building is being converted into accommodation and heating had not yet been installed when we carried out the work in December 2018. As a result, it was necessary to force dry the floor with portable heaters and air movers.

Only when we were happy the floor was dry did we apply a sealer. For this situation I used four coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is a colour enhancing impregnating sealer that seeps into the pores of the clay tile protecting it from within. This restored colour to the tiles and being a fully breathable product will allow the floor to breath and pass moisture vapour from the sub floor. Again, this is a very important consideration due to the lack of a damp proof membrane, if moisture was trapped below the tile then it would slowly spread out towards the walls resulting in rising damp.

Tessera Mosaic Floor After Restoration Lace Market Nottingham City Tessera Mosaic Floor After Restoration Lace Market Nottingham City

 

Source: Victorian Tile Cleaning and Sealing Service in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire

Finishing a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor in Hebden Bridge Yorkshire

The photographs below are of a lovely Victorian tiled hallway that had been repaired and cleaned by another tradesman a his a few months earlier. The workman had left the customer to seal the floor himself, which he had done but the floor ended up looking patchy and dull and he wasn’t happy with the results which didn’t highlight the beautiful colours in the tile. Realising he needed help to achieve the correct finish I was given a call and asked to finish the floor.

Victorian Tiled Hallway Before Cleaning Hebden Bridge

The property was in Hebden Bridge a market town situated between Halifax and Rochdale. After carrying out a survey, I advised that the floor would need re-cleaning to strip off the sealant he had applied and to remove the marks from the floor. We would then be able to re-seal the floor correctly for him. We agreed a price for the job and set a date to carry out the work.

Cleaning a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor

On the first day we started preparing the hallway to be cleaned by covering the stair carpet and new and expensive wood panelling and skirting boards to protect them from any possible marking during the cleaning process. I then used a 200-grit Diamond burnishing pad attached to a rotary buffing machine to remove the sealant and dirt from the floor. In this instance the pad was applied just with water which is used to lubricate the pad, the resultant slurry is then removed with a wet vacuum. The advantage of using this process as opposed to a chemical clean is that moisture is kept to a minimum which is important on old floors like this where no damp proof membrane exists.

After making sure that the floor was to a standard that I was happy with, I then repeated the process along the edges with a set of hand-held diamond blocks which makes it easier to get into the corners and edges where the machine struggles to reach effectively.

Still concerned about the moisture levels in the floor I decided to give the floor an acid wash using Tile Doctor Acid Gel which will neutralise any alkaline salts in the floor. As I mentioned earlier this is a common problem on floors of this age, they do not usually have a Damp Proof Membrane fitted so moisture is able to rise through the tiles bringing with it salt which gets left on the surface of the tile, this process is more commonly known as Efflorescence. The floor was then rinsed with water and the floor dried as much as possible using the wet vacuum. Finally, I tidied up before leaving for the day and allowing the floor to fully dry out overnight.

Sealing a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor

Returning the next day, I first took moisture readings to ensure that the floor was dry enough to seal. If a floor is too damp the seal won’t cure properly and therefore won’t be effective. Fortunately, on this occasion the floor was within limits and I could proceed to apply four coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow sealer allowing around thirty minutes between coats for drying.

Colour Grow is a breathable impregnating sealer that allow moisture to evaporate from the floor whilst also protecting it from dirt and stains. This sealer leaves a matt finish which is what the owner wanted but it also enhances the colours in the tile which really being the floor alive.

Victorian Tiled Hallway After Cleaning Hebden Bridge

The customer was very pleased with the results, the floor looked much cleaner and will be easy for them to maintain. I hope that you can see the difference from the before and after pictures.

 

Source: Victorian Tile Cleaning and Renovation Service in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire

Restoring a Victorian Tiled Hallway in London Damaged by Heating Engineers

A customer in Winchmore Hill which is part of the London borough of Enfield was having major refurbishment works done to their home which included an upgrade to the central heating system. As part of the work a new radiator had been installed in the hallway however the utility company when putting in the new heating system had chased out two deep pipe channels in the central part of their beautiful Victorian tiled hallway floor.

Victorian Hallway Before Restoration Winchmore Hill Cropped Victorian Hallway Before Restoration Winchmore Hill

This was a real shame as the majority of the floor was in good condition; the owner of course wanted the floor restored so our brief was to do exactly that and carry out repairs to the pipe channels and to all the door thresholds that were either existing or new so they all matched in.

Restoring a Victorian Tiled Hallway

Our first task was to clean the tile and grout and strip off old sealers and waxes which we did by applying a dilution of Tile Doctor Remove & Go combined with equal part of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean. This was scrubbed into the floor with a black scrubbing pad fitted to a rotary machine and then rinsed off with water and extracted with a wet vacuum.

Victorian Hallway During Restoration Winchmore Hill

After deep cleaning we then carried out the tile repairs and replacements to pipe channels, missing and mislaid tiles to thresholds. Some or the tiles were replaced with matching reclaimed tiles and others were new sourced from Original Style who have a large range. Altogether we replaced circa 500 pieces of tile in order to repair the damage caused by the heating engineers and achieve a consistent pattern throughout the hallway.

Sealing Victorian Tiles

The cleaning and re-tiling work was carried out over three days and we returned on the fourth day to seal the floor with an initial two coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is an impregnating sealer that enhances colour.

We then protected the floor for a further week with cardboard cut to size, this allowed other trades to finish their work without messing up the floor. A week later we returned to lift the cardboard to apply the finishing seal using Tile Doctor Seal & Go which adds the final protection. Five coats were applied to reach the right level of protection and desired satin finish restoring the natural appearance and lustre of the tiles.

Victorian Hallway After Restoration Winchmore Hill Cropped Victorian Hallway After Restoration Winchmore Hill

The whole job allowing for the drying times of adhesive, grout and sealing took five days in total. It was worth it though as restored Victorian hallway really gives the property the Wow factor as you enter.

Victorian Hallway After Restoration Winchmore Hill

 
 
Source: Victorian Tile Cleaning and Restoration Service in Winchmore Hill, North London

External Edwardian Pathway Repaired and Restored in North London

As you can see this Clay Tiled Pathway laid during the Edwardian period at the front of a house in Barnet, North London had suffered over the years and now had many broken and cracked tiles along the path. The concrete foundation had seen some movement in the past leading to a crack forming right across which had either cracked the tile or caused them to become loose.

Edwardian Clay Pathway Barnet Before Cleaning Edwardian Clay Pathway Barnet Before Cleaning

To restore the path to its original condition would require removing all the broken and loose tiles and then relaying with matching replacements and grout giving particular attention to the detailed edging pattern. Fortunately, having done a few of these jobs before I have learned where to find replacements and often keep an eye on salvage yards and ebay.

Edwardian Clay Pathway Barnet Before Cleaning Edwardian Clay Pathway Barnet Before Cleaning

Cleaning and Repairing an Edwardian Clay Tiled Pathway

The first job was to remove ingrained dirt and old coatings by applying a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Remove & Go across the entire length of the pathway. Remove and Go as its name suggests breaks down and strips off the old sealers as well as dislodging ingrained dirt. It was scrubbed in and then rinsed off with water and extracted using a wet vacuum.

Next some of the tiles which had experienced particularly stubborn staining were given an Acid Wash using Tile Doctor Acid Gel which removes old grout smears and mineral salts deposits which is often referred to as efflorescence. Acid Gel neutralises the alkaline salts and once scrubbed in it was removed using the wet vacuum.

Once the dirt and efflorescence had been dealt with, I focused my attention towards the tile repairs starting with the removal of the broken and loose tiles so I could get at the cracked sub-base and repair it. Once the repair had hardened I was able to relay the path using a mixture of exiting and replacement tiles taking care to match the original pattern. Before leaving for the day the tile adhesive had gone off and I was able to grout them in using a matching grout. I had also checked the weather forecast to ensure no rain was forecast that evening.

Sealing an Edwardian Clay Tiled Pathway

The weather held and the following day with a freshly cleaned and repaired path I was able to finish the job by applying two coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which really brings out the natural colours in the clay tile. Once the sealer had dried I ran a white buffing pad over the path to give it that final finish before showing it to the owner of the property who I’m happy to report was extremely pleased with the result.

Edwardian Clay Pathway Barnet After Cleaning

I should mention that when choosing a Sealer for an external application it’s important to choose one which is fully breathable and can cope with the wet conditions.
 
 
Source: Edwardian Tile Cleaning and Restoration Service in North London

Victorian Hallway Tile Clean and Repair in Prestbury

This fantastic chequered black and white Victorian Tiled Hallway was located at a house in the village of Prestbury north of Macclesfield in Cheshire. According to Wikipedia Presbury is part of the “Cheshire Golden Triangle” villages which include Wilmslow and Alderley Edge which are the most sought after and expensive places to live outside of London.

It was a lovely building however a new stair case had been fitted which didn’t quite match the foot print of the original staircase leaving a gap in the hallway tiling. The owner of the property wanted matching tiles fitted and also to give the floor and good clean and seal so they would blend in.

Chequered Victorian Floor Prestbury Before Repair and Clean

Cleaning a Victorian Tiled Floor

To clean the floor and strip off any remaining sealer I first created a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean cleaning solution which is a versatile alkaline cleaner that’s designed for use on tile, stone and grout. reliably eradicates dirt on a wide variety of natural stone floors.

The solution was applied liberally across the floor, and left to dwell for about ten minutes to allow time for it to soak into the Victorian tiles. It was then scrubbed into the tiles using a scrubbing pad fitted to a rotary cleaning machine. The resulting cleaning slurry was rinsed off with water and then extracted from the floor using a wet vacuum. I repeated this process until I was confident the tiles were clean and free of old sealer.

The next step was to treat the floor to an acid wash using Acid Gel, this is especially important on old floors where there is no damp proof course to prevent damp rising through the tile leaving salt deposits on the surface. This problem is known as efflorescence and is neutralised by the acid. The gel was then removed and the floor given another rinse using the wet vacuum to get the floor as dry as possible.

The last task of the day was to fix replacement tiles in the gap left by the original staircase. Fortunately, Tile Doctor keep a range of replacement tiles so I was able to source some that matched without too much problem. After grouting the hallway was left to dry off fully overnight so it could be ready for sealing the next day.

Chequered Victorian Floor Prestbury After Repair and Clean

Sealing a Victorian Tiled Floor

The next morning, I returned to the property and ran some damp tests. This is incredibly important to do before sealing any tiled floor because any excess moisture can cloud the sealer and prevent it from doing its job properly.

Once satisfied that the floor was dry, I applied a single coat of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is a breathable impregnating sealer that enhances colour and protects from within. I dusted off any excess sealer and then followed up with the application of four coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go which provides both a robust surface seal and a long-lasting low sheen finish. I waited two hours for the sealer to dry and then the rotary machine fitted with a white buffing pad over the floor to makes sure everything was nice and tight.

Chequered Victorian Floor Prestbury After Repair and Clean Chequered Victorian Floor Prestbury After Repair and Clean

 
 
Source: Victorian Tile Cleaning and Restoration in Prestbury, Cheshire

Geometric Edwardian Tiled Floor Restoration in Leicestershire

Our customers typically ask us a lot of questions about their tiled floors with the most common being “Can it be restored?” This reflects the UK trend to restore period features in older properties including original tiled floors dating back several decades and sometimes over a century. These floors are, as you might expect, usually worse for wear but – importantly to know – they can in most circumstances be salvaged and even restored to look even better than when they were first installed.

Here’s a good example of this at a property in Quorn (not to be confused with meat substitute product), a town in Leicestershire situated near to the university town of Loughborough. Over three days we restored a beautiful black and white geometric Edwardian tiled hallway floor back to its former glory. Our customer had discovered the badly damaged and dirty floor after lifting the laminate wood flooring in the hallway, and we were called in to provide repairs and restorative cleaning and sealing.

Black White Edwardian Geometric Floor Before Restoration Quorn

A number of matching tiles would be required for this job so before beginning the work, we advised the customer as to where suitable replacements could be sourced.

Repairing and Cleaning a Damaged Edwardian Tiled Floor

To begin, we carefully removed the cracked concrete fill, before cleaning up the substrate and using a self-levelling compound to restore the surface to the point that new tiles could be installed. The damaged tiles along the edge of the recess were carefully cut out and removed. Using the modern reproduction tiles, we patched the area to complete the repairs to the floor. We also had to cut many tiles to size to achieve the best fit.

Next, we set about cleaning the tiles to restore a pre-soiled appearance to the floor. This was done using Tile Doctor Oxy-Gel, a strong alkaline-based gel cleaner that is used to break down dirt and grime. We chose to use this product over the similar alkaline-based cleaner Tile Doctor Pro-Clean because Oxy-Gel is gel based and therefore contains less moisture and therefore would exacerbate inherent damp issues in the old floor. The cleaner was left to dwell for a short period before being agitated with a scrubbing pad, and the resulting soiled cleaning solution was then soaked up using a wet vacuum.

Black White Edwardian Geometric Floor During Restoration Quorn

The floor was then allowed to dry off overnight, ready for sealing the following day.

Sealing an Edwardian Tiled Floor

Upon returning the next day, we checked for any excess moisture that may have delayed us from sealing the floor. Thankfully the tiles were dry and could be sealed with Tile Doctor Colour Grow, our colour intensifying, solvent-based impregnating sealer which is highly durable and provides an aesthetically pleasing natural matte finish. Three coats were applied to offer maximum protection.

Black White Edwardian Geometric Floor After Restoration Quorn

As you can see from the photographs, the restoration was a fantastic success. We left the ecstatic customer with a Tile Doctor maintenance guide, as well as with a litre of Tile Doctor Neutral Tile Cleaner for regular cleaning. Correctly diluted, this product effectively cleans without effecting the integrity of the sealer.
 
 
Source: Victorian Tile Cleaning and Restoration in Leicestershire