Cleaning & Sealing Geometric & Encaustic Tiled Floors
Peter Thompson of Original Features ( Restorations) Ltd provides a step-by-step guide to cleaning Victorian geometric and encaustic tiles
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When choosing to clean and protect Victorian tiles the householder has a choice between using traditional techniques or modern alternatives which provide a less labour intensive solution. Individuals who want a totally traditional finish can oil the tiles, rather than use an acrylic sealer. But be prepared, they will need re-oiling on a weekly basis. If the traditional method is the preferred solution choose an oil which is colourless e.g. clear Slate Dressing from fireplaces shops to avoid 'yellowing the floor'. Yellowing is a term given when a mixture of linseed oil and beeswax is used on Victorian tiles causing the tiles to yellow over time. Keeping the tiles clean is also made more difficult by the sticky nature of linseed oil which helps to attract dust and grime.
Ensure the floor is dust free and any residue from carpets e.g. adhesives or rubber underlay are scraped off and removed. If there are any paint splashes they should be removed using a liquid paint stripper (not gel) e.g. Nitromors Craftsman in the yellow can, with some medium grade wire wool. Use heavy rubber gloves during the cleaning process and wash off immediately any paint stripper which comes into contact with your skin.
During the first clean use KF Tile Restorer to help remove any dirt on the floor working over sections no more than one square metre in size. A small amount of the restorer liquid should be placed in a bucket and diluted with 10 parts water. Using a scouring pad, wet the designated area generously with the solution and leave for 10 minutes before scrubbing vigorously. If the floor is particularly dirty, you may need to increase the strength of the solution. But, the solution should never be used neat.
Once the whole area has been scrubbed, rinse off with plenty of water, lifting as much of the dirty water off as possible with a cloth or sponge mop.
Once the whole floor has been cleaned, give it a final rinse to make sure that all residues are removed and allow it to dry. In warm dry weather, the floor may dry in an hour or so, but in cold damp weather, this make take several days. Do not try to seal the floor before it is totally dry. If you do leave the floor to dry over several days use some form of covering, except plastic or newspapers, to protect the tiles from footprints etc.
Using a sealer called HG Golvpolish pour a small amount onto the floor, and using a fluff free cloth, wipe over the surface in straight lines. When one coat has been added to the floor, and it has dried, apply a second coat. When wiping the solution ensure you wipe in straight lines at 90 degrees to the first coat. This will help reduce smearing.
Once the floor is cleaned and sealed, it will only need an occasional mop over every 2 weeks. Do not use strong domestic floor cleaners e.g. Flash as they can attack the seal. If after a year or so the sheen on the floor has faded simply top the sheen up with another coat of HG Golvpolish.
If the floor tiles are laid directly on earth or a lime bed they should not be sealed as this stalls the floor's breathing process leading to damp problems.
Safety: Please remember that some of the chemical above are very strong and can cause burns if used incorrectly. Always read the instructions on containers carefully and wear gloves and overalls when undertaking the work.
Original Features ( Restorations) Ltd can be contacted by Telephone on 020 834 85155. Or visit their website at www.originalfeatures.co.uk
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