Neglected Victorian Encaustic Cement Hallway Renovated in Twickenham

This Encaustic Cement tiled floor dates to the Victorian period and was found under hallway carpet at a property in Twickenham. The tiles had been covered up for years with carpet and other floor coverings and although structurally intact their appearance had suffered from the neglect.

When the current owners discovered the pattered tiled floor, they were keen to restore it as a period feature, so they set about cleaning the tiles themselves. Unfortunately, they used some very harsh acidic products which badly pitted and etched the surface of the tile. In places, the tile pattern had started to disappear so when they got in contact, they were quite concerned.

Victorian Encaustic Cement Hallway Tiles Before Renovation Twickenham

Being based in Shepperton it wasn’t long before I was able to call in at the property to survey the Encaustic Cement tiles and quote for renovating the floor. The property was in a road with similar age properties, a lot still with lovely tiled Victorian porches and paths in fact we had carried out some work in the same street previously.

We advised the customer that the best course of action would be to deep clean the tiles to remove the years of ingrained dirt and then apply a sealer in order to protect the pores of the Encaustic Cement tiles from trapping ingrained dirt.

Victorian Encaustic Cement Hallway Tiles Before Renovation Twickenham

Now normally I would clean Encaustic Cement tiles with a set of burnishing pads and then seal with an impregnator like Tile Doctor Colour Grow. However, due to the damage caused by the DIY restoration I didn’t want to risk an abrasive cleaning process such as Burnishing on the tiles. After discussing the options, I recommend the best approach would be to deep clean the tiles with Tile Doctor Pro Clean which I was confident would improve their appearance. I would then seal the tiles to protect them from future damage whilst making the patterns much brighter and defined. We agreed a price and scheduled a date to start the work.

Deep Cleaning Victorian Encaustic Cement Tiles

Arriving on day one I applied a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean, this is a strong alkaline cleaner that is safe to use on Tile and Stone. It was left to dwell for roughly ten minutes so it could soak into the pores of the cement tile and breakdown the ingrained dirt. I then ran over the tiles with a black scrubbing pad fitted to a rotary floor buffer running at slow speed. This action released the dirt from the floor turning the cleaning solution into a slurry that was then extracted from the floor using a wet vacuum. The floor was then rinsed with water, then extracted again to remove remaining dirt.

Once the whole floor had been treated, I repeated the process for a second time to ensure all the dirt had been removed. After the second rinse the floor looked much better and was left overnight to dry off.

Sealing a Victorian Encaustic Cement Tiled Hallway Floor

Returning the following day, I checked the floor for excess moisture and was pleased to find everything was nice and dry. It’s important that the floor is dry before applying a sealer, so I was able to set about sealing the floor. Multiple thin coats of Tile Doctor Seal and Go we applied which adds a lovely subtle sheen to the tiles. Five coats were applied allowing the tile to dry in between.

Victorian Encaustic Cement Hallway Tiles After Renovation Twickenham

As you can see from the pictures, the deep clean and fresh sealer has brought out the best in the floor and given it a new lease of life. The sealer should last for a good few years and there is very little evidence of the damage done previously. Needless to say, the client was very happy and much relieved.

Victorian Encaustic Cement Hallway Tiles After Renovation Twickenham

 

Professional Restoration of a Victorian Encaustic Cement Tiled Hallway in Middlesex

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Deep Cleaning Dirty Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor in Moretonhampstead

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Earlier this year I was called to the Dartmoor town of Moretonhampstead in order to take a look at a large Terracotta tiled kitchen/dining room which the owners had ‘lived with’ for over a decade but were finding it harder and harder to keep clean. Upon arrival, I could see that any sealer that had been used previously was well beyond its best and the floor was holding in the dirt and grime because of how porous unsealed terracotta is.

Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor Before Cleaning Moretonhampstead

I conducted a test on a small area of the floor which not only helped me to identify the most suitable product to clean the floor with but also to show the customer how much of an impact a professional clean and seal of a floor is likely to have. The first product I tried was Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which although cleaned the tiles very well I could tell was going to be a problem when it came to rinsing because the floor was absorbing it almost as quickly as I was able to put it down! My solution came in the form of Tile Doctor Oxy-Gel which is a very similar product to Pro-Clean and is a very powerful stripper/degreaser but has the added benefit of being in gel form, so it sits on the tiles rather than becomes absorbed into them. It is also a very good option for riven stone, uneven tiles or undulating floors because unlike a liquid it will not run off the high spots.

The clients were thrilled with the test area and couldn’t believe how much lighter the tiles were and as soon as I sent them my quote they booked me in at my next availability.

Deep Cleaning Terracotta Tiles

When I returned to the property my first task was to protect the woodwork from splashing by dressing the skirting boards and kitchen plinths in a blue plastic covering. I then set to work applying Oxy-Gel to the tiles and allowing it to dwell for about five minutes before scrubbing it in with a stiff bristled brush fitted to a rotary buffer.

The scrubbing action released the dirt form the Terracotta and I was then able to extract it from the floor using a wet vacuum. I worked methodically in small areas at a time and when the whole floor was done it was given a thorough rinse to remove any trace of cleaning products from the floor. I also checked the floor carefully and spot treated any stubborn staining and used the wet vacuum to get the floor as dry as possible before leaving for the day.

Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor Before Sealing Moretonhampstead

Sealing Terracotta Tiles

After I was satisfied that the tiles were all clean I then needed to wait for the floor to dry before I could seal. As I mentioned these tiles were very porous and so took longer than usual to dry out but once the moisture levels were at an acceptable level I returned to finish the job.

Once terracotta has been stripped it can reveal historic damage such as acid stains or from inappropriate cleaning products which look like lighter patches on the tiles. Upon my return I spent a while improving any areas like this by using diamond encrusted burnishing pads to resurface the tiles. In general, it is not recommended on terracotta because you lose the natural texture of the tiles and create a smooth finish but in this instance the customer decided that this was preferable to the stains remaining visible.

After both the customer and I were happy with the condition of the tiles I began to seal the floor with Tile Doctor Seal and Go, an acrylic based sealer which would give the tiles a slightly glazed or freshly mopped appearance. Because of the porosity of this particular batch of terracotta tile it took eleven coats before the floor was fully sealed!

The customer was very happy, and the tiles lit the room up, transforming it.

Terracotta Tiled Kitchen Floor After Cleaning and Sealing Moretonhampstead
 
 

Professional Renovation of a Dirty Terracotta Tiled Floor in Devon

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