Large Victorian Manor House Hall Floor Restored in Ulverston

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</h2
The third week was reserved for Sealing the tiles however this dragged on due to issues with the heating which was basically non-existent at the time and not an ideal situation in January. Persimmon went out of the way to chase up the plumbers who had been running behind and got this sorted for us, without heat we would struggle to get the sealer to dry.

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.

 

Professional Restoration of a Victorian Tiled Hallway in Lancashire

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Victorian Tiled Vicarage Floor Restored in Sutton Coldfield


This property in Sutton Coldfield dates to the early 1800s and was owned by the local church until recently. The property needed a lot of work and the new owners had asked me to restore the beautiful Victorian Tiled Flooring which I suspect was as old as the property itself. The property was in the process of a complete refurb when I first visited to survey the floor and so I recommended that they call me in to work on the floor when all the other work was complete. I find leaving the floor restoration until last is the best approach as tradesmen usually exacerbate the problem.

Old Victorian Tiled Floor Sutton Coldfield Vicarage Before Cleaning Old Victorian Tiled Floor Sutton Coldfield Vicarage Before Cleaning

Although incredibly dirty the Victorian Tiles were in good condition for their age, however there were some areas where tiles were missing or damaged and replacements would need to be sourced and fitted. Sourcing replacements is not usually a problem for Victorian Floors as there are a few companies such as the Vintage Floor Tile Company that still sell them due to their popularity. I also find you can pickup old tiles at restoration yards and eBay.

Old Victorian Tiled Floor Sutton Coldfield Vicarage Before Cleaning Old Victorian Tiled Floor Sutton Coldfield Vicarage Before Cleaning

Day 1 – Replacing Damaged Victorian Floor Tiles

On the first day I set about replacing the missing and broken tiles; I had taken photographs of the floor before hand and had plenty of time to source replacements. This process involves carefully removing the damaged tiles and scrapping out the subfloor to remove old adhesives and grout. This is followed by cutting the replacement tiles to size and fixing them in place using a flexible adhesive. If the subfloor has crumbled away, then this also needs cleaning out and building backup with cement to the right level before fixing the tiles. Needless to say, this is painstaking work and takes time to get right, in this case most of the day.

Day 2 – Deep Cleaning Victorian Floor Tiles

On the second day I set about giving the tiles a good deep clean using a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which a very effective alkaline cleaning product that’s safe to use on tile, stone and grout.

The Pro-Clean was applied to the floor and then left to soak into the pores in the tile for about ten minutes before being scrubbed in using a rotary machine. The machine was fitted with a Polyscrub brush and run over the tiles at slow speed. This process worked well, and it wasn’t long before the cleaning solution had turned black with the dirt that had been released from the floor. The soiled solution was then extracted from the floor using a wet vacuum and the process repeated in areas that I felt could do with more work.

Old floors like these don’t have a damp proof membrane installed and can suffer from white alkaline salts being deposited on the surface of the tile and damp evaporates up through the tile as it dries. To counter this problem, I decided to follow up the cleaning by giving the tiles an acid wash using Tile Doctor Grout Clean-up, not only does this neutralise the salts it also removes old grout smears and other mineral deposits from tiles making them much cleaner.

Old Victorian Tiled Floor Sutton Coldfield Vicarage During Cleaning

I scrubbed the product into the tiles using a deck brush and then rinsed it off with water and extracted with the wet vacuum. Being an Acid, we don’t recommend you leave it on the floor for too long.

Day 3 – Sealing Victorian floor Tiles

The next day I confirmed the floor had dried and then proceeded to apply five coats of Tile Doctor Seal & Go Extra. This product is fully breathable and will cope well with any inherent damp issues that can cause problems in an old floor such as this, it also adds a nice shine to the tile as you can see in the photographs below.

Old Victorian Tiled Floor Sutton Coldfield Vicarage After Sealing

The final result was a huge transformation and my customer was very happy with the outcome and booked me in to seal the new flooring in the kitchen/utility and conservatory areas.

Old Victorian Tiled Floor Sutton Coldfield Vicarage After Sealing Old Victorian Tiled Floor Sutton Coldfield Vicarage After Sealing

 

Professional Restoration of Victorian Vicarage floor in Staffordshire



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Removing Wax Scratches from Victorian Hallway Tiles in Rushden


This customer called me as she was concerned about the scratches on her hallway tiles, they were not only unsightly but were also starting to trap dirt. The Victorian property in Rushden which lies between Bedford and Kettering on the east side of Northamptonshire.

We always offer a site visit to take a look at the job before doing any work, that way we can discuss what the cleaning options are, and it also demonstrates to the customer that we know what we’re talking about.

The hallway floor was a lovely and intricate example of Victorian tile installation and I could see that overall it was in good condition for its age. On closer inspection the customer was relieved to find out that it was the old wax sealant breaking down and not actually scratches on the tiles. I carried out a test on a small area to ascertain how difficult it would be to remove this wax. I realised I would be able to use Tile Doctors new product for the removal of the wax sealant, Tile Doctor Wax Away which is a fast and effective formula that is designed just for this type of job, it offers safe removal of wax and polish from tile and natural stone. We agreed the quote and the work was booked in for the following month.

Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor Before Wax Removal Rushden

Cleaning/Repairing a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor

On our return we started to remove the wax coating using the Tile Doctor Wax Away product. It was applied neat and left to dwell for ten to fifteen minutes before working it into the floor with a small amount of water and a black stripping pad attached to a rotary machine. The resulting slurry was then removed using a wet vacuum. The floor was then inspected, and I decided to repeat this process with a hand brush in a couple of small areas and around the edges to ensure the old wax sealant was fully removed in these stubborn areas. The floor was then rinsed with water to remove any remaining slurry and trace of cleaning product and the wet vacuum was used to dry the floor again.

Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor During Wax Removal Rushden

My next course of action was to run over the floor with a 400-grit burnishing pad to remove imbedded dirt and stains from the tiles, this was followed by a second rinse with water. After removing the water with wet vacuum, the floor was then left to dry out fully for a few days aided by a large fan that I left on site. It’s important that the tiles are fully dry before applying a sealer and this is even more important on older floors where no damp proof membrane has been installed.

Sealing a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor

I returned three days later and started by giving the floor a light vacuum and clean. I also took damp meter readings to check the floor was fully dry. Once I was satisfied I started to apply 2 coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow Sealant, this is a breathable sealant which will allow the tiles to breath and allow moisture vapour from the sub floor to rise through the tiles which is important in these old houses where no damp proof membrane exists. Colour Grow is an impregnating sealer that works by occupying the pores in the tile thus preventing dirt from becoming ingrained there, the sealant enhances the natural colours in the tile and dries to a lovely natural matt finish.

Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor After Cleaning Rushden

Once finished the floor looked great and the customer was hugely relieved that the tiles could be restored easily and cost effectively, she had thought the damage may have been irreversible. Moving forward it will now be easier for her to maintain and keep clean. The floor is now back to its’ true self and properly in keeping with the rest of the period features in the house.

Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor After Cleaning Rushden

 

Professional Restoration of a Victorian Tiled Hallway in Northamptonshire



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Victorian Hallway Restoration Mill Hill, North London


This 1930’s North London property in Mill Hill had a classic tiled hallway floor laid with black and white tiles in a diamond pattern and reminiscent of the Victorian era some thirty years earlier but still popular at the time the house was built. Mill Hill was first recorded as Myllehill in 1547 and appears to be named after a “hill with a windmill”. Over the years it’s merged with the surrounding towns and is now a desirable suburb in the North London Borough of Barnet.

I first spoke to the owner of the property over the phone to get an idea of what was required and work out a convenient time to take a look at the floor; we often get customers looking for a quote over the phone but this is not always easy to do as you never know what problems you might find with an older floor until you get there.

On inspection I could see there were in fact a large number of loose tiles in the central part of the floor which would need to be reset and grouted, the floor would also need to be deep cleaned and re-sealed with a suitable sealer to get it back to its former glory. I was confident we could soon get the floor looking how it should and after discussing the process, agreed a price and a timescale for the project. The owner was keen to get the job completed as soon as possible.

Cleaning/Repairing a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor

Firstly, we prepared the area with protective polythene tapes to thresholds, carpets, and door fronts to ensure the surrounding areas were protected. To clean the floor a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean was applied, this is a concentrated, multi-purpose high-alkaline cleaner, stripper and degreaser and is highly recommended for use on natural stone, tile and grout. The tiles were scrubbed with both floor pads and brushes, it is easier to use brushes in the more intricate areas.

Victorian Tiled Hallway Restoration During Cleaning Mill Hill

After the scrubbing we rinsed, and steam cleaned the floor, removing the slurry generated during the cleaning process with a wet vacuum. It was now nicely prepared ready for carrying out the repairs and the cleaning process was useful in identifying those tiles which needed extra attention.

The repairs involved resetting 50 to 60 loose tiles, the process requires carefully removing the tile, scraping out the old adhesive and grout and then replacing with new. The area is cleaned and then when the adhesive has set the tiles are re grouted in a grout chosen to best match the original. Luckily there were no damaged tiles on this floor which made the job easier. Although, we can usually track down replacements when they are needed!

Sealing a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor

We then left the hallway to dry off overnight, returning the next day we used a moisture meter to check the floor was dry and suitable for sealing. Old floors like these have no damp proof membrane fitted under the floor so can take time to dry out, fortunately we completed this work during warm weather, so all the readings were good.

Victorian style tiles are quite porous, so we found we need to apply give coats of sealer before they were fully sealed. We selected Tile Doctor Seal & Go to seal the tiles, it’s a specially formulated water-based blend of acrylic polymers that adds a durable stain resistant surface and leaves an appealing low-sheen finish. Being water based it doesn’t leave a smell as it dries, and it also a breathable sealer that can cope with the lack of a damp proof membrane ensuring moisture doesn’t become trapped under the floor.

Victorian Tiled Hallway Restoration After Cleaning Mill Hill

The client was very happy with the completed job, the work took a day and half to complete. Considering how many tiles had been loose the job had turned out very well. The floor is now much more manageable for her and the hallway tiles life has now been prolonged.

Victorian Tiled Hallway Restoration After Cleaning Mill Hill

 

Professional Restoration of a Victorian Tiled Hallway in North London



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Mid Victorian Farmhouse Hallway Clyst Hydon


The owners of this floor in the hallway of their Mid-Victorian farmhouse in Clyde Hydon just outside of Honiton, in Devon asked me to visit shortly after they had moved in. Whilst ripping out the old carpet throughout the house they had come across this stunning Victorian tiled floor. Honiton is a market town, more well known for its lace making. As it is my home town, it was a very short commute to work for me, so I was able to visit the property quickly and take a look.

Mid Victorian Tiled Farmhouse Hallway Clyst Hydon Before Cleaning

During my visit I took some moisture readings because these old floors will not have had a damp proof membrane installed and if the moisture levels are too high it can restrict when this type of work can be done due to the sealers needing the floor to be dry(ish), in order to cure. I also did a test clean to show the customers what level of cleaning could be achieved and looked at areas of loose tiles to see if any replacement tiles would need to be sourced. I always like to do a test clean as it demonstrates what can be achieved and it also allows me to work out which methods and products work best.

Cleaning and Repairing a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor

With the customers happy with the quote I returned to complete the work starting by covering the wooden skirting and bottom of the stairs to protect the paint and carpet from splashing. I then applied a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean on to the floor, ensuring even coverage and keeping an eye on the floor to make sure that it didn’t dry out. Pro-Clean is quite a flexible product than can strip off old sealers when applied in a strong dilution.

After a short time, I set to work scrubbing the Pro-Clean into the floor with a 400-grit diamond pad fitted to a rotary floor buffer. I also used 400-grit hand held burnishing block to cover the corners and any edges not reached by my machine. Once I was satisfied that the tiles were as good as they could be I rinsed the floor to remove the now soiled alkaline cleaner before giving the floor an acid wash with Acid Gel to neutralise with any inherent salts in the tiles.

Before I left for the day I fixed the loose tiles back in place, re-grouted the areas that I had replaced tiles and left an air mover on the floor to aid in the drying process. I also suggested that the radiators in the hallway were turned on overnight to further aid the drying process. Occasionally these types of floors need to be left for several days to dry but it is worth the wait and the floors can be used in the meantime provided only socks and indoor shoes are used and care is taken not to get the floor dirty.

Sealing a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor

Upon returning the next day I tested the moisture content of the floor and was pleased to find that it was well within acceptable levels for the application of the sealer that I was planning to use. I quickly checked the floor for areas that I felt may be able to be improved and once satisfied a single coat of Tile Doctor Colour Grow sealer was applied to the floor. Colour Grow is a colour enhancing impregnating sealer that occupies the pores in the tile thus preventing dirt from becoming ingrained there.

Once this was dry it was followed up by applying two further coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go Extra which is a compatible surface sealer that leaves a nice subtle sheen finish. Both sealers are fully breathable and able to cope with any damp issues that may impact the floor over time.

Mid Victorian Tiled Farmhouse Hallway Clyst Hydon After Cleaning

The customers were thrilled and said that they were going to reinstate the hallway as the main entrance to the farmhouse in order to show it off to all their visitors!

 

Professional Restoration of a Victorian Tiled Hallway in Devon



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Screed and Bitumen Covered Victorian Tiled Floor Caversham


Details below of a floor I recently worked on where my client had removed the linoleum that covered the hallway floor and discovered an original Victorian Tiled floor buried underneath bitumen which had been used an adhesive, there was also some leveling screed that would need removing. The house was situated in Caversham Reading, Berkshire which lies on the north bank of the River Thames, opposite the rest of Reading.

Bitumen Covered Victorian Floor Before Restoration Caversham Reading

She had been renovating the whole house when she came across it and realising the value an original feature like this could add to the property was keen to restore it. Having tried several methods to remove the bitumen herself she realised it was too difficult and messy to do and decided to call in some help.

Bitumen Covered Victorian Floor Before Restoration Caversham Reading

Tile Doctor have successfully restored bitumen covered Victorian floors before and being their local agent, I was asked to look at the floor. I went round to take a look and ran a number of tests primarily to demonstrate it could be done and also, so I could work out the best method to clean the floor and therefore provide the customer with an accurate quote.

Bitumen Covered Victorian Floor Before Restoration Caversham Reading

Victorian tiles are very durable and having worked on similar floors before I was confident the tiles could be restored to a satisfactory state and be returned to its former glory. We discussed the process and a price and then scheduled the work to be done.

Removing Screed and Bitumen from Victorian Hallway Tiles

The first job was to apply protective tape around surrounding area to protect the wooden skirting etc. from splashing. Then I took a scraper and mallet to carefully chip away at the screed parts of the floor and remove it to expose the tiles underneath. Once this was done I could start with the more difficult task of dealing with the thick build-up of bitumen.

Bitumen is a horrible sticky black substance that required a fair bit of time and different methods to remove. My first method was to apply a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Remove and Go, leaving it to dwell and work on breaking down the bitumen before scrubbing it in. This product is particularly good at breaking down old sealers and paint and although it made an impact I could see that I would need something with a bit more punch to finish the job, so I decided to try Tile Doctor Nanotech HBU remover.

The Nanotech HBU (Heavy Build Up) Remover was generously applied in small sections adding more as the product began to dry. After about twenty minutes I could see the HBU had weakened the bitumen making it soft enough that it could be worked off the tile using a black scrubbing pad fitted to a rotary machine running at slow speed. With the bitumen now turned to a messy slurry I removed the substance with a wet vacuum. I then gave the floor a thorough rinse using a hot water extraction machine operating at low pressure that runs from a compressor in my van. This machine was an expensive investment however it makes light work of rinsing floors.

The tiles looked great after the initial rinse, but I could see the black dye from the bitumen had bled into the surface of the tile. However, us Tile Doctors are well trained and have a solution for every problem and I was able to remove these spots using a 100-grit followed by a 200-grit milling pad fitted to the rotary machine. After yet another rinse the tiles were looking fantastic and I left the floor to dry out.

Bitumen Covered Victorian Floor After Cleaning Caversham Reading

Sealing a Restored Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor

Originally the plan was to return five days later to seal but with other works going on in the house and the hallway being in constant use I decided to wait until that had completed requesting that the floor was covered up in order to protect it.

Bitumen Covered Victorian Floor After Restoration Caversham Reading

Two weeks later I returned to the house and gave the floor a quick inspection to make sure all was well before sealing. All was well, the floor just need a quick vacuum to remove dust and was able to proceed with the sealing. The customer wanted a matt finish, so I opted to use Tile Doctor Colour Grow, a colour intensive impregnating sealer that works by occupying the pores in the tile preventing dirt from becoming ingrained there. Three coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow left the tiles looking rich and vibrant. Both the porch and the hallway now look inviting.

Bitumen Covered Victorian Floor After Restoration Caversham Reading

Overall the customer was over the moon with the final result and was glad she decided to have it restored rather than replaced.

Bitumen Covered Victorian Floor After Restoration Caversham Reading

 

Professional Restoration of Bitumen Stained Victorian Tiled Hallway in Berkshire



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