Restoring Neglected Geometric Victorian Hallway Tiles in Barnstaple

Barnstaple in North Devon is known to be one of, if not the oldest boroughs in the whole of the United Kingdom. The area certainly has a rich history and many of the properties built in the 19th century still exist and are in use.

It’s not uncommon for the owners of houses built in this era to discover original Victorian tiled floors and hallways. They’ve usually been covered up at some point in the past, either by carpet or linoleum, but if maintained correctly they can be a real asset to any property.

I recently visited one such customer, who lives in Barnstaple, to restore a recently uncovered Victorian tiled hallway that had been tiled in a geometric pattern. This hallway had been neglected and covered for some time by carpet so the colours had faded and there were patches of carpet underlay firmly embedded in some of the tiles.

The property owner uncovered the floor after seeing a similar one in the entrance hallway of a neighbour and was thrilled with her find. After a bit of scrubbing and cleaning the customer decided to call in professional help after a recommendation for the Tile Doctor Devon from a friend. A home visit was conducted and a test patch was done to show what was possible and to talk through options. A quote was then produced which the customer was happy with and the work was arranged for the following week.

Victorian Tiled Hallway Barnstaple before restoration

Cleaning a Neglected Victorian Tiled Hallway

As the floor was really in quite a bad state, I opted to use Tile Doctor NanoTech HBU as my main cleaning product. HBU stands for ‘Heavy Build-Up’ – and that’s exactly what the product is formulated to tackle: heavy build-up of ingrained dirt and soil. It used nano-sized cleaning particles to penetrate deep into the pores of the stone and get underneath stains to lift them to the surface.

I applied NanoTech HBU to the entire hallway and left it to dwell for several hours, before scrubbing it as thoroughly as possible with a brush fitted to a rotary cleaning machine. The soil that was brought to the surface was subsequently rinsed away with fresh water and the resulting slurry was extracted using a wet vacuum.

Sealing a Victorian Tiled Hallway

Once finished with the cleaning process, I left the floor to dry out completely. This was important as older floors which lack a damp proof membrane can suffer from moisture issues, and these issues can damage the performance of the sealer.

Thankfully there were no problems with drying the floor. I was able to seal the tiles using a colour-enhancing impregnating sealer from our range, known as Tile Doctor Colour Grow. For extra protection – and to provide the finish the customer had requested – I also applied a topical sealer called Tile Doctor Seal and Go. This left the floor with a high-quality, long-lasting satin finish.

A properly sealed floor will be much more resistant to stain as well as easier to clean. As with every job a cleaning and maintenance guide was provided which gives handy tips and do’s and don’ts for the floor and that particular sealer.

The restoration reinstated this great Victorian tiled hallway as the showpiece upon entering the property and the customer was absolutely thrilled. You can see the final result below.

Victorian Tiled Hallway Barnstaple after restoration

The customer was thrilled with the floor and was very surprised at just how well the colour came back to the tiles and provided the following feedback:

“I am so pleased with the service Stuart provided. After the initial quote and patch test I felt under no pressure to ask him to proceed, but I was happy with the quote and he arranged a date convenient to me. I am chuffed with my floor, it looks great. The after care has been great also. Thank you Stuart.”
 
 

Professional Restoration of a Dirty and Neglected Victorian Tiled Hallway in North Devon

Terracotta Tiled Floor Transformed with a Deep Clean and Seal in Lympstone

Terracotta, terra cotta or terra-cotta meaning baked earth is a clay based tile which can be glazed or unglazed and were traditionally hand-made. Because of the material used to produce the tiles they are very porous and the firing process creates a lot of variation of colour not just between each tile but within each individual tile. The two main types of terracotta tile are Spanish and Mexican, or Saltillo, and have different colour variations and characteristics but are essentially treated in the same way. There are even some manufacturers that offer paw prints in tiles, although they cost extra!

Of course, Terracotta is also commonly used as a material for tiled floors due to the warming and homely characteristics of the stone, associated with old country living. Indeed, a Terracotta tiled floor can be an asset to any home, but only if it is routinely maintained.

I recently visited a property in Lympstone, a small picturesque harbour village in East Devon in the area of Woodbury, to tend to a lovely Terracotta tiled floor that had been installed in an open-plan kitchen/diner. The tiles had gotten very dirty over its fifteen-year life and the current owners were struggling to clean it and had spent a long time scrubbing the floor with very little reward.

Once on-site I conducted a small test clean on the floor which was very successful and gave the customers confidence in going forward. Happy to give me the work we agreed a date and I came back a few weeks later.

Terracotta Tiled Floor in Lympstone Before Cleaning

Deep Cleaning Terracotta Tiles

Because of the undulation and texture in the tiles, the floor was treated using Tile Doctor’s Oxy-Gel, a powerful and fast-acting alkaline stripper/degreaser which is ideal for use on vertical surface and uneven tiles such as terracotta because the gel doesn’t run off the higher areas and pool in the lower areas. The product also has a short dwell time which enabled the entire floor to be cleaned in a day.

The Oxy Gel was scrubbed into the tile and grout with the aid of a stiff bristled monster brush fitter to rotary scrubbing machine. Once the cleaning process had been completed, I extracted the dirty cleaning solution using a wet vacuum and then re-treated any stubborn areas.

Following the cleaning the whole floor was given a thorough rinse to remove any trace of cleaning product. This required a lot more water and brushing than usual because of the tiles acting more like a sponge because they weren’t sealed. Again, a wet vacuum was used to extract the water and get the floor as dry as possible.

Sealing Terracotta Tiles

Because Terracotta is a very porous tile I left the floor for five days to ensure it would be dry enough when I returned to seal it. Tiles need to be dry before sealing as any excess moisture and damp issues can upset the performance of the sealer.

I tested the floor for dampness on my return and found it had dried well and was ready to be sealed. This allowed me to proceed with sealing the tiles using Tile Doctor Seal and Go, which is an acrylic, topical sealer. It provides a both a stain resistant surface seal and a durable low-sheen satin finish.

Being the product is water-based there no smell is given off by the sealer as it dries, and since the Terracotta is very porous I ended up using nine coats of sealer which is not uncommon on this type of tile. Once fully sealed the floor will not absorb water and so is easier to clean and much more resistant to staining.

Terracotta Tiled Floor in Lympstone After Cleaning

As you can see from the above photo, the condition of the floor was massively improved. What was a very dull and stained Terracotta floor is now colourful and clean. Certainly, the customer was really pleased with the outcome and left the following feedback:

“Stuart was punctual to the minute and thoroughly friendly and professional at all times.
We are very pleased with the floor and highly recommend him. Ryan S.”
 
 

Professional Cleaning and Sealing of a Dirty Terracotta Tiled Floor in Devon