Tile Cleaning

Diamond Pattern Victorian Hallway Floor Renovated in Llanelli

This job was carried out in a terraced property in Llanelli which had a Victorian Tiled Hallway laid in a diamond pattern that looking worse for wear and in need of some attention. The clients were a young couple who had moved in two years previously and had only recently decided they wanted the floor renovated. This was earlier in the year, so I was able to pop over to the property and take a detailed look at the floor before recommending a course of action to renovate the tiles.

Victorian Tiled Floor Before Cleaning Llanelli

Upon arrival the first thing we noticed was that the border had been laid with an inconsistent pattern, non- matching tiles had been patched in essentially filling voids as you can see in the images. The floor wasn’t terribly dirty however it wasn’t very clean either.

I discussed with the client replacing the non-matching tiles, so the floor pattern was uniform however they decided against it and were happy to just to have it cleaned and sealed. We can usually source either reclaimed original tiles or some great reproduction ones, so most floors can be restored if needed. I worked out a quote for the work and they were happy to go ahead.

If you have never been you should know that Llanelli is the largest town in the county of Carmarthenshire and famous for Rugby and the production of Tin. It is located on the Loughor Estuary, some 10 miles from Swansea and 12 miles from Carmarthen.

Cleaning a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor

With no tiling to do the first job was to protect the woodwork such as skirting and staircase with tape. Once done the process of cleaning began with the application of a 400-grit burnishing pad fitted to a buffing machine. The process is lubricated with water and the pad run over the whole floor two to three times to remove dirt and refine the appearance of the tile. Even after the first application of the pad we could see a massive improvement to the appearance of the tiles. To get right into the edges of the tiled floor we use a 400-grit handheld diamond block, this proved especially useful under the stairs where our buffer machine could not reach.

During this process, the water turns into a fine slurry which is rinsed off with more water and extracted with a wet vacuum. On this occasion the floor was not dirty enough to require any chemicals, the use of water and the machine was enough to get the floor cleaned up.

Sealing a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor

This job was very straight forward, and we did not run into any problems at all. After allowing the floor to dry out for 24 hours we returned to seal the tiles checking first that the floor was sufficiently dry first using a damp meter. Fortunately, the burnishing method uses a lot less water than a chemical clean, so I was able to get straight on with sealing.

The client wanted a satin sheen finish, so I applied four coats of Tile Doctors Seal and Go which works well on Victorian tiles. The sealer really put the life back into the tiles and will protect them from staining going forward. It will also make the floor much easier to maintain and keep it looking good for much longer.

Victorian Tiled Floor After Cleaning Llanelli

I’m pleased to say the owners were very happy with the floor and recommended us to one of their friends who we also did some work for. For aftercare I recommended the use of Tile Doctor Neutral Tile Cleaner. This is an everyday tile cleaning product that is sealer friendly and not prematurely reduce the life of the sealer which can happen with many household cleaning products which are simply too strong.


Professional Restoration of a Victorian Tiled Hallway in Carmarthenshire

Victorian Hallway Floor Tiles, Mumbles, Swansea

I was called to a property in the Mumbles area of Swansea, one of my favourite places and in fact listed in 2018 Best Places to Live. In the UK report, The Sunday Times listed Mumbles as the best in Wales, so it is always a pleasure to visit this area.

The hallway at the property had a lovely example of a classic Victorian Tiled floor containing a very detailed pattern consisting of expensive blue square and triangular shaped tiles. The tiles were a lovely and unusual pattern and in good physical condition with no cracked or replacement tiles required. It had however, been some time since the floor was last cleaned and sealed and so they contacted me, their local Tile Doctor representative to renovate the floor for them. The owners of the house recognised that it’s well worth preserving original features like Victorian tiled floors as period floors like this are in demand and add value to a property. They were therefore keen to get it back to its’ near original state.

Victorian Hallway Floor Tiles Before Cleaning The Mumbles

Cleaning/Repairing a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor

To restore the appearance of the tiles I used a 200-Grit diamond encrusted burnishing pad to remove the dirt and restore the condition of the tiles. This is run over the floor using water to lubricate and then rinsed off with water afterwards to remove the soil that is generated. This was then followed up with a 400-Grit pad which cleans and restores the surface which is left roughened after the application of the coarse 200-grit pad. This pad is again applied with water and then the floor rinsed afterwards to remove the soiling and the water is extracted using a wet vacuum.

The next step was to acid rinse the floor using Tile Doctor Acid-Gel, this is an important step for old Victorian tiled floors which have no damp proof membrane. It neutralises any inherent salts in the floor which rise through the tile from evaporation leaving unsightly white deposits on the surface. The acid gel is left to dwell for a short time and then it is scrubbed into the tile with a deck brush and then removed using the wet vacuum, the floor was then given a final rinse to neutralise it before sealing. However, for that to happen I needed the floor to be dry so after cleaning the floor I left it to dry off overnight.

Sealing a Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor

The next day I came back to the house to seal the floor. The floor had dried out nicely due to the fine weather, I quickly did a moisture test to be sure, then I was ready to move on to the sealing process.

The Mumbles area is close to the coast, so for this project I decided to use Tile Doctor Colour Grow which being an impregnating fully breathable sealer would cope better with the salty sea air. Colour Grow is a matt finish sealer that seeps into the tile occupying the small pores and in doing so prevents dirt from becoming ingrained there, it’s also a colour enhancing product that improves the colour in the tile.

After I had finished the floor was left looking restored, fresh and the vibrantly coloured pattern shone through. The client was very happy with the end result.

Victorian Hallway Floor Tiles After Cleaning The Mumbles

Professional Restoration of a Victorian Tiled Hallway in Swansea

Victorian Tiled Hallway Floor Renovated in Swansea

This is a great example of a classic Victorian Tiled Hallway and shows just how hard wearing and durable these floors are. The floor had been installed at a house in Swansea what must have been well over a hundred years ago and was now very badly soiled however I knew from experience that with the right techniques and products they can be given a new lease of life.

Victorian Tiled hallway floor before cleaning Swansea
We mainly use diamond burnishing pads on original Victorian tiles these days, the alternative is to use cleaning products however that method tends to use a lot of water and can aggravate an issue known as efflorescence whereby salts from the sub floor are carried up through the tile as moisture evaporates leaving white salt stains on the surface of the floor. This is not a problem with modern floors as they are usually have a damp proof membrane installed under the floor which prevents damp.

Deep Cleaning Victorian Hallway Tiles

To restore the appearance of the Victorian tiles I started with the application of a coarse 200-Grit diamond encrusted burnishing pad which cuts through the dirt and removes surface staining. The pad is run over the tiles using water to lubricate and then the floor rinsed afterwards to remove the soil that is generated. The soil is then extracted off the floor with a wet vacuum. This is then followed up with a 400-Grit pad which cleans and restores the surface which is left roughened after the application of the coarse 200-grit pad, again the pad is applied with water and then the flor rinsed afterwards to remove the soiling and the water is extracted using a wet vacuum.

The next step was to give the floor an acid wash using Tile Doctor Acid Gel, the acid neutralises the alkaline mineral salts in the floor and reduces the chance of efflorescence occurring, After being scrubbed into the floor the gel is rinsed off the floor using water which is then quickly extracted with the wet vacuum.

The floor was left to dry off overnight and I came back the next day to apply the sealer.

Sealing Victorian Floor Tiles

Before starting the sealing process it’s important to check the floor is dry first for which I use a hand-help damp tester. I find it’s a good idea to take readings from various parts of the floor before I start a job so I can establish a normal background level for the floor.

All was well so the floor was sealed using a couple of coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is an impregnating sealer that works by occupying the pores in the clay tile thus preventing dirt from becoming ingrained there. This particular sealer also enhances the natural colours in the tile and is fully breathable which is important in these situations where you need moisture to evaporate through the tile and not become trapped underneath where it could work its way into the walls of the house.

Victorian Tiled hallway floor after cleaning Swansea
It’s worth knowing that if you do experience effluence salts which are more likely in the damp winter weather, then they can be mopped off the floor before they harden without any damage to the sealer itself.


Victorian Tiled Floor Rejuvenated in Glamorgan

Dull Spanish Terracotta Tiled Floor Renovated in Swansea

This lovely old Spanish Terracotta tiled floor was installed at a house in Swansea. Over the years the sealer had worn down and dirt had become ingrained in the pores of the clay tile making it impossible to clean effectively. The owner called me in to give the tiles a really deep clean and bring the floor back to its former glory.

I went round to take a look at the floor and carried out a cleaning test of the tiles with a medium strength dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean scrubbed into the tiles by hand. This demonstrates to the customer how the floor could look, and it also helps me to work out which product will work best as well as the likely quantities required for the quote. The Terracotta tile and Grout in the test area came out well and after showing the customer the result and working out a price for the whole floor and he was happy to book me in.

Stripping and Re-Polishing Terracotta

On my return I continued with the cleaning process using more Tile Doctor Pro-Clean but this time I left it to soak into the floor for longer and was assisted by a Black Scrubbing pad attached to a rotary buffing machine. I like to use a slow speed buffing machine for this process as it makes less mess than a high speed and this keeps my customers happy.

Spanish Terracotta During Cleaning Swansea
It wasn’t long before the cleaning solution changed colour with the dirt that was becoming released from the floor. The dirt was then rinsed off the floor using water and a wet vacuum, and the process repeated until I was happy the tiles were clean.

The next step was to clean the grout lines, this task is best done by hand with a stiff brush and more Pro-Clean as the scrubbing pads struggle to reach into the recesses of the grout line. Once I had finished the cleaning I rinsed the floor down several times with water, to make sure all traces of Pro-Clean were removed.

The cleaning process took up most of the day and the Terracotta would need to be dry before being sealed so I before leaving it to dry off fully overnight I covered the floor with a clean linen dust sheet (not plastic) to protect it overnight. This allows evaporation to continue whilst protecting it from getting dirty again.

Spanish Terracotta After Cleaning Swansea

Sealing Terracotta Floor Tiles

The next day i came back and took some moisture readings to make sure the floor had dried out. Most of the readings were fine apart from a few edges and corners where the moisture must have settled; I used a heat gun on these areas to ensure these areas were dry before starting with sealing.

Terracotta is a very porous clay in its unsealed state, so I like to put down a coat of Impregnating sealer first called Tile Doctor Colour Grow. Colour Grow works by occupying the pores in the tile making a good base, it also has the added benefit of enhancing the natural colours in the clay tiles.

After leaving it to soak into the tiles for about ten minutes I removed the excess Colour Grow with a cloth and started to apply a Topical sealer Called Tile Doctor High Shine. The customer had requested a high sheen finish, so after several coats of this the job was completed and looking a million times better than before.

Spanish Terracotta After Sealing Swansea
I left the customer a complimentary bottle of Tile Doctor Concentrated Neutral cleaner for aftercare. We recommend using this product for the regular cleaning of sealed tiles, being pH neutral is doesn’t eat into the sealer prematurely reducing its longevity like your regular acidic cleaning products.

Spanish Terracotta Tiled Floor Rejuvenated in Glamorgan

Stripping, Polishing and Sealing Travertine Tiles in Swansea

This customer from Swansea was unhappy with the look of her Travertine floor tiles and so decided to call in tile doctor after she had seen pictures of other travertine floor tiles on one of our websites and wanted hers to look the same. The natural brown shades of her own Travertine tiles had become very dark and were looking dull and lifeless in comparison.

It was clear to me that the Sealer was wearing thin with use and dirt had now penetrated the pores of the stone making it difficult to clean effectively. This is a common problem with stone floors and this is why Tile Doctor offer a maintenance service where we pop round once a year to top-up the sealer on your floor.

Travertine Floor Swansea Before Cleaning Travertine Floor Swansea Before Cleaning

Stripping and Re-Polishing Travertine

To restore the polished appearance of the floor the stone would need to be stripped of any remaining sealer and dirt, re-polished and then sealed; we find the best way to achieve that is through the application of a set of Diamond encrusted burnishing pads.

I started the burnishing process by fitting a coarse 400 grit no.1 burnishing pad to a floor buffer and running at a slow speed ran the pad across the whole floor. This coarse pad is designed to strip off old sealers and dirt from the tile. You use a little water to help lubricate and once complete it’s necessary to rinse the area with water to remove the soil that is generated. The next step is to start building back the polish with the 800 and then 1500 grit pads which are applied in the same manner.

The floor was then rinsed again with water and I turned my attention to the grout which was scrubbed by hand using Tile Doctor Pro-Clean and a stiff brush. The floor was given another rinse and then inspected to ensure I hadn’t missed anything. Before leaving for the day I used the wet vacuum to extract as much moisture from the floor as possible.

Sealing Travertine Floor Tiles

On the second day I finished the banishing process with the application of the final of the four pads which is a very fine 3000 grit pad which adds a final polish to the surface leaving it looking shiny. This last pad is applied with a small amount of water spayed onto the tile in a process we call a spray burnish. The use of water is so small the floor remains dry enabling us to apply a sealer shortly afterwards.

There are some beautiful brown shades in Travertine and so to really make them standout I sealed the floor using a couple of coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is a colour enhancing impregnating sealer that soaks into the pores of the stone protecting it from within. The sealer will also make ongoing cleaning and maintenance easier for the customer.

Travertine Floor Swansea After Cleaning
The customer was very pleased with the result and commented on how clean and deep the shine had come out using the Diamond pad system.

Travertine Floor Swansea After Cleaning
Before leaving I recommended the use of Tile Doctor Stone Soap as an aftercare cleaner, this produce is specially designed for cleaning polished stone, not only does it helps build patina, but it won’t prematurely erode the sealer like many acidic cleaners you find in the supermarket which should really only be used on ceramics and Vinyl tiles.

Travertine Tiled Floor Polished in Glamorgan

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