Introduction: How to Restore a Victorian Tiled Floor
A few years ago our old Victorian house had an infestation of carpet moths in the red hallway carpet; my wife always hated it anyway and so it was a good excuse to pull it up. Underneath we found a beautiful old Victorian tiled floor. Unfortunately it was in a terrible state with layers of ground in dirt, epoxy resin and lashings of paint. Thankfully no-one had drilled holes to fit the carpet like they did at my mum's house up the road. It has taken me some time to get round to restoring it; here is what I did.
I have put links to the products I used on Amazon.
1) Floor cleaning soap. I used FILAPS87 which was incredible. https://amzn.to/2GG0NlP
2) Floor shine restorer https://amzn.to/2NaZ4Jj
3) Porous tile sealant (I didn't use this but you will need to if your tiles are porous, for example, terracotta) https://amzn.to/2NaZ4Jj
4) White spirit. You can get the one I use on Amazon here https://amzn.to/2KataL9
5) Scraper, here on Amazon; https://amzn.to/2Z95cZc
6) Wire brush https://amzn.to/2Zfnyrc
7) Heavy duty sponge scourers https://amzn.to/2Ndme1I
8) Wire wool https://amzn.to/2Za33MQ
9) Kitchen towel/old paper https://amzn.to/31HSn5F
10) Stiff broom https://amzn.to/2ZcXZ66
11) Mop https://amzn.to/2KGFN0N
12) Mop-squeezing bucket https://amzn.to/2MndWVn
13) Power drill polishing disc. If you are using a power drill at close proximity to you ears make sure you wear some decent PPE ear plugs such as mine from zenplugs.com
14) Some music to listen to. If you are using earphones I can highly recommend our moulded earphone adaptors here; https://zenplugs.com/zenplugs-molded-earphones
Step 1: Lots of Scrubbing!
I spent about 20 hours on my hands and knees scrubbing with various materials to get the floor clean. I found it came away in layers and often took several goes with different techniques to get rid of it all. Definitely start gently in an inconspicuous area with everything you use; check you aren't damaging the tiles. The techniques I used are only good for non-porous glazed tiles, not terracotta or other absorbent materials.
I was surprised to find the tiles could be scrubbed really hard with a wire brush without any sign of damage at all. It was excellent at removing the really ground-in dirt and I was able lean on it very hard without damaging the tiles, but do check yours aren't damaged by the process. Start gently and build up gradually.
I started using the white spirit to loosen the paint but found it was also really effective at removing the ground in dirt as well. I needed to wipe the filthy mixture away with paper intermittently so I could see which parts of the tiles still needed a good scrub. The scraper was really good at removing layers of paint and glue but I found I got through quite a few blades. Luckily the one I suggested above comes with about 10 which was more than enough. The sponge scourers and wire wool were good for removing some of the less ground in dirt and for the final stages of cleaning.
Try a rotary polishing disc on a power drill; these can take some of the hard work out. Make sure your wear PPE rated ear plugs when using power tools.
I often found cycling through the different methods worked well, removing the dirt in layers until you are happy with the result. The process can take quite a long time so make sure you have some music to listen to. If you are using earphones I can highly recommend our super-comfortable moulded earphone adaptors here; https://zenplugs.com/zenplugs-molded-earphones
Step 2: Scrub With Soap
The soap I used was surprisingly good at removing layers of dirt. I bought FILAPS87 which was widely recommended, not terribly expensive, didn't require a license and was available on Amazon. It ticked all the boxes for me. It worked better than I expected and dissolved the dirt in much weaker mixture with water than I thought it would. Mix it at a lower concentration with warm water, spread over the floor and leave for fifteen minutes. Scrub hard with stiff brush. My floor quickly turned into a muddy puddy; if you can't see the floor it's time to mop with warm water.
Step 3: Finishing Off
There are quite a few broken tiles in the floor, as you can see in the photos. I decided not to repair or replace them, mostly because I couldn't find good matches. It would also cost a lot of money and time. In any case, I decided that I wanted to make it look like a clean old floor, not a clean new floor.
If you have a porous floor a porous floor use tile sealant to seal the tiles. Lastly, use a tile shine restorer which gives them a coating which looks like a glaze to make them shine. Follow the instructions on the tin and spread it over the floor, leaving it to dry. I used three applications to make it shine like you can see in the photos. I was very pleased with the final result.
Clean with light detergent and reapply the when the shine is fading.
The Amazon links I have used here are Affiliate links. This means I get a few pence if you buy something! Please help support my Instructables by using the links to buy anything you need, it won't cost you any extra. Thank you!
3 years ago
What a fantastic surprise! You did it justice, and now it's a proud highlight in your home, I hope! : )
Reply 3 years ago
Thank you! It was hard work but we love it now.
3 years ago
Wow! What an incredible floor to find under the carpet. Looks beautiful! You did a great job. :)
Reply 3 years ago
Thank you! We were thrilled to find it and so surprised someone wanted to cover it up with a carpet.