I was contacted in February last year by a homeowner in Surbiton regarding the Victorian Path at the front of their property which was in a really bad state. I’ve restored a number of these pathways in the past so I was more than happy to pop over and provide a quote for doing the work. I did mention though that February was not a good time to do the work due to the poor weather and that the work would be done in the spring at the earliest.
The path was indeed in a bad state as described so after survey the path and making detailed notes it took me some time to put the quote together. There was extensive damage in two areas and a large crack close to the house. Original vintage tiles are generally available though sometimes stock can run low. I took notes of size, colour, and number needed while the customer made me a cup of tea. Happy with the quote we agreed I would return in May for three days to do the work.
Restoring a Damaged Victorian Tiled Path
This type of job takes lot of preparation, the two areas had to be totally cleaned out, broken tiles removed, mud and foliage disposed of. Once that was done, I set about cleaning up the path and removing old tile adhesive with a power chisel where needed.
Next up was cleaning the remaining existing tiles. Using a yard broom, I spread five litres of Tile Doctor Acid Gel over the whole length from door to pavement. This was left to soak in for thirty minutes so it could really get to work breaking down the ingrained dirt. While this was working, I introduced in my weighted buffing machine, attached a coarse 200-grit diamond burnishing pad, and added some iron bars to weigh the machine down. More weight means improved contact and therefore a better result. Working my way from road to the front door the machine was run over each tile slowly removing the grime and ingrained dirt in the process.
Once complete, all residue and dirt was rinsed off the path and removed with a wet vacuum cleaner. After a quick wipe over with warm water the tiles were left to dry in the sun.
Repairing a Victorian Tiled Pathway
The following day I returned to carry out the tiling of the two gaps. Since quoting for the work in February I had plenty of time to source replacements that were an exact match for the originals. Victorian tiles are still very popular and there are several companies in the UK where you can find a good match for your project failing that there’s always eBay.
Armed with a bucket of adhesive and a tile cutter I spent the whole day laying what is essentially a tile pattern jigsaw. The path was then left to dry overnight. I also taped the area off like a crime scene to ensure pedestrians would steer clear.
Sealing a Victorian Tiled Pathway
The weather window held out and the next day I was able to move onto sealing the tiles with Tile Doctor X-Tra Seal. This is an oil-based sealer that is fully breathable sealer and will cope well with the ravages of the UK weather. 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 looked like it had only just been laid and was completely transformed by the work I had done. Needless to say, the owner of the property was very happy with the outcome and I bet the postman will be surprised the next time he visits.
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.