This customer in Esher requested help renovating their Victorian tiled pathway which as you can see from the photograph below was looking very neglected and in a poor state of repair. As well as some damage and missing tiles, dirt had been come ingrained and, in some places, there was vegetation growing between the tiles.
When working on external Victorian tiles like this example you really do need to have warm weather and I will often put requests for restoration work like this one on hold until the spring on summer.
Restoring a Heavily Soiled Victorian Tiled Path
To remove all the vegetation and clean up the tiles, I applied a mixture of acid-based Tile Doctor Grout Clean-up and left it to dwell and soak in for a good thirty minutes. This product removes mineral deposits from the tile and will neutralise salt problems such as efflorescence.
The solution was worked into the tiles using a rotary floor buffer fitted with a coarse 100-grit diamond pad. The industrial diamonds in the pad skim the surface of the tile exposing its original colour. All dirt is washed away and removed using a wet vacuum. The tiles were then left to dry.
While drying I carefully removed all the broken tiles with a hammer and chisel. Old Victorian tiles are super tough but often brittle so care must be taken when removing a single tile as very often the one next to it will pop out as a result some tiles should just be left where they are or you end up replacing half the path. I do have to warn customers that due to the age of the installation an “as new” result is an unrealistic expectation. These paths are often over 100 years old and are susceptible to our weather. I often tell customers they can expect some “Characterful” features once the job is done.
Once the path was cleared of debris, I set about cutting and fitting replacement tiles which I had managed to source earlier. Victorian tiles are still very popular and there are several companies in the UK where you can find a good match for your project.
Sealing a Victorian Tiled Pathway
The weather was excellent so it wasn’t long before I was able to move onto sealing the tiles with a couple of coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow. This is a fully breathable sealer that will cope with the weather and as its name suggests it enhances the colours in the tile, the new sealer will protect the tiles for ingrained dirt going forward making the path very easy to clean. Also, the new sealer did a great job of blending in the new and replacement tiles.
Once complete the path was completely transformed and looked so much healthier. Naturally there were some “Characterful” imperfections but as I mentioned earlier this just echoes the history of the property.
For aftercare cleaning I recommended the use of Tile Doctor Neutral Tile Cleaner. Most tile cleaning products you find in supermarkets are simply too strong for the sealer and can degrade them prematurely.