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Steve Thomson
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Victorian Tiled Vestibule Rebuilt and Restored in Glasgow West End

Vestibules (aka entranceways) are not that commonly found in new build houses, but they certainly were a popular architectural feature back in the Victorian period. Many of the Victorian properties which are still in use today still contain their original geometric patterned encaustic cement tiles. These tiles can be very beautiful and colourful – that is if they’re kept looking that way with routine cleaning and maintenance.

I recently visited a Victorian property in Glasgow’s West End to carry out the restoration of one of these tiled floor vestibules. This Victorian tiled vestibule was in truly awful condition. Not only were the tiles caked in years’ worth of muck and paint stains – some of the tiles were completely missing or, at the very least, loose and damaged.

I could see that restoring these tiles back to their peak condition would require several days of work however the owner has keen to get the work done so we set a date for my return to complete the work.

Cleaning and Rebuilding Damaged Victorian Entranceway Tiles
On the first day of work, our priority was to undertake a much needed deep clean of the tiles. This was done using Tile Doctor Pro Clean combined with Tile Doctor Remove and Go. Pro Clean is an alkaline-based cleaner specialised for heavy soil removal, while Remove and Go is formulated to strip away any old sealers, as well as the paint splashes that were very prominent on these tiles.

Th combined cleaning solution was left to dwell for a short period of time on the surface of the floor before being scrubbed into the tiles to cut through the thick muck. A steaming machine was used to ensure the products penetrated deep into the pores of the stone to extract ingrained dirt.

During the cleaning process, we could identify which tiles were loose, damaged and missing. These tiles were carefully removed and put to one side. Once the clean was completed the tiles were left to dry off overnight.

The next the floor had dried, and we started to rebuild the floor. This involved installing and grouting new tiles that we had previously sourced for the job to match as closely possible with the original pattern of the floor.

Next, the newly installed tiles were left to set, before we gave the floor an acid rinse using Tile Doctor Grout Clean-Up. This product removed any grout haze from the tiles and will neutralise any efflorescence salts that may rise up through the tiles as they dry. This issue can be quite a problem with older properties which don’t have a damp proof course installed.

Sealing a Victorian Tiled Vestibule
Once again, we left the floor to dry out completely overnight, this is especially important when applying a sealer to a tile as sealing damp tiles will lead to issues. We recommend the use of a damp meter at this point to ensure the tiles are indeed dry before sealing.

To seal the floor, we used three coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow, which is ideal for these uniquely patterned Victorian tiles as it intensifies the different colours in the stone, while also offering a natural-look matte finish. Of course, the sealer will also provide the tiles with lasting protection again dirt and muck and is also breathable so any damp rising up through from the sub floor will be able to evaporate.

Photos really do speak louder than words in this case, as the restoration achieve some fantastic results. Take a look at the photo below – I’m sure you’ll agree the difference is incredible. Certainly, our very happy customer seemed to think so!
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Smoke Damaged Shower Cubicle Renovation in Ayr

Below are a few photos of a smoke damaged shower cubicle where we were asked by an insurance company to restore the tiles following a house fire in the town of Ayr. Just south of Prestwick airport on the South West Coast of Scotland, Ayr is built along the river of the same name and dates all the way back to 1205.

You can see from the photograph below that the tiles how bad that smoke damage was. When we arrived work had already started to strip out the electric shower and screen removing a strip of tiles in the process. It was also clear that someone had also attempted to clean the ceramic tile and grout but had given up after realising how much work was needed.

Cleaning Smoke Damaged Tile and Grout
We had to give the tile and grout several deep cleans using a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean which was sprayed on, left to dwell for a while and then scrubbed in by hand. On reflection Oxy-Gel might have been a better product for the job as it has the same active ingredients but comes in a gel form which allows it to stick to vertical surfaces resulting in longer dwell times.

We managed to successfully remove all the smoke and soot from the surface of the tile and grout with this process. However although the grout was now clean I could see it was going to need more work if it was going to pass muster.

Grout Colouring
To overcome the grout issue I decided to colour it with a White grout colourant; this was a perfect time to apply the colourant as the Pro-Clean had prepared the grout joints and would make a good bond with the colourant. I used three coats of white grout colourant in the end, each one applied by hand with a small brush. The colourant is basically painted on top of the existing grout and any excess wiped off the adjacent tile before it dries. It’s an epoxy based formula that becomes a long-lasting barrier protecting the grout and making it much easier to clean.

Following this I cleaned the tiles down again, this time with Neutral Tile Cleaner and then turned my attention to the stained silicone sealant around the base of the shower tray which was cut out and replaced with fresh new white silicone.

I gave the shower tray a clean as well and the final result was a very fresh looking shower cubicle which will soon back in action once the other trades finish their installations.
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Changing Ceramic Tiled Grout Colour in a Greenock Bathroom

This bathtub with shower over was at a house in the old shipbuilding port of Greenock within the historic county of Renfrewshire. I’m not sure you can appreciate it from the before photograph below, but the grout was white and was starting to discolour. The owner of the house didn’t want it to get any worse and asked us for help.

Preparing the Grout

We discussed the options and the benefits of applying a grout colour which would not only change the colour but also add a layer of protection over the grout which would be much easier to keep clean going forward.

With the decision made we set about cleaning the grout first with a Grout Colourant Pre-Treater that cleans and etches the grout resulting in a better bond with the grout colourant. This was followed by rinsing the grout with water to remove any dirt and remove the traces of pre-treater before drying it off with a heat gun ready for the next step.

Grout Colouring

The customer had decided on a Chocolate grout colour, so it would blend in with the brown tiles more effectively. So, once the grout has dried two coats of Tile Doctor Grout Colourant were applied over the grout with a small brush. This product is basically painted on top of the existing grout any any excess wiped off the adjacent tile before it dries. It’s an epoxy based formula that becomes a long-lasting barrier protecting the grout and as I mention before making it much easier to clean.

Last step before leaving was to strip out the stained silicone sealant between the top of the bath and tile and replaced with fresh new white silicone to match with the white bathroom suite.

The job only took a day to complete and the owner was very pleased with the way the tiles now looked.
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The photographs below are from a set of Terrazzo steps outside a house in Glasgow which had completely lost their colour after being subject to years of weather staining and believe me we see all sorts of weather up here in Scotland. The owner of the house wanted them restoring back to their natural state but naturally concerned about safety didn’t want them shiny or slippy in anyway.

Cleaning Terrazzo Steps

I could see tackling the different surfaces of the stone stairs would be tricky so rather than opt for a cleaning product I decided to use a set of diamond encrusted burnishing pad fitted to a handheld flex machine.

I started with the very coarse 50 grit pad lubricating along the way with a little water and moved up through the medium and fine pad until the job was finished. Now normally when working on stone this is followed up with the application of a very fine pad to restore a polished appearance but clearly in this case that would not be necessary. In between the application of each pad the steps were rinsed with water to remove the slurry generated in the burnishing process.

One complete I left them to dry out for a few days; fortunately I had timed my visit within a warm weather window so I was confident they should be dry when I returned.

Sealing Terrazzo Steps

I returned a few days later and after checking the stone had indeed dried out I sealed the Terrazzo with three coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is a breathable impregnating sealer suitable for external application. Being an impregnator it protects the stone from within by occupying the pores in the stone where dirt might otherwise become ingrained, it also enhances the natural colours in the stone and as you can see from the photograph below the steps now look much pinker.
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Porcelain Tiled Floor & Grout Restored in Bearsden near Glasgow

The photographs below are from a 55m2 Porcelain tiled floor that we worked on recently at a house in the town of Bearsden which is an affluent suburb of Glasgow. The floor was laid well with large format tiles which were in good condition however like most floors the grout had become stained and was now patchy and inconstant in appearance.

The owner of the property thought we may need to replace the grout however I was confident we could resolve the problem without having to resort to that.

Deep Cleaning Porcelain Tile and Grout

To get the tile and grout clean a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Pro-Clean was applied to the floor and grout lines and left to soak in for ten minutes. Pro-Clean is an effective tile and grout cleaner that has a strong alkaline formula so it’s safe to use on all types of tiled floors including natural stone.

The solution was then scrubbed in with a rotary machine fitted with a black scrubbing pad and the recessed grout lines were scrubbed by hand using a narrow stiff brush. Once this was completed the floor was rinsed with water and the now soiled cleaning solution extracted with wet vacuum.

This cleaned up the tiles nicely and also the grout, however although improved some of the grout was still discoloured and inconstant in appearance so I recommended we apply a grout colourant which would fully restore the appearance.

Applying Grout Colourant

I let the floor dry off completely following the clean before applying a Light Grey grout colourant, one of the ten different types of grout colourant we offer, which seals and rejuvenates the grout joints. Other colours include White, Black, and Cappuccino.

The colourant is applied using a small brush and then you wipe off any excess that gets on the tile before it gets chance to dry. It’s a laborious process however it was made easier by the large format tiles which meant there was less grout to apply the colourant too than usual.

As you can see the grout nows looks much neater and cleaner, also the epoxy formula of the colourant adds a barrier over the surface of the grout that will protect it from future discolouration and make it much easier to clean.
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