Restoring Victorian Grade II Listed Building Floor for Persimmon Homes

Earlier this year we had the privilege to be involved in the restoration of a large Victorian tiled hall at Stone Cross Manor in Ulverston which is being sympathetically redeveloped into nineteen apartments by Persimmon Homes at a reported cost of £4 million. The magnificent Grade II-listed stately home was built in 1874 for Myles Kennedy who was a Limestone Quarry owner and chairman of an Ironworks.

The property continued to be occupied by the Kennedy family until 1943 when it was requisitioned by the military who then sold it to Lancashire County Council in 1946. The council used it as a boarding school for some decades and allegedly had the central oak staircase removed so the hall could be used to play indoor football. Since that time, it has had different owners and states of disrepair until finally being acquired by Persimmon who contacted us to quote for restoring the floor to its former glory. This would be no easy task and would require plenty of help. However, we are a resourceful bunch and being part of a large network of Tile Doctors means we were able to draft in other Tile Doctors to assist.

Stone Cross Manor Ulverston

Before we took the job on, I went over to survey the floor and was immediately taken aback by the sheer size and scale of the project. The impressive Victorian hall has now had its large wooden staircase rebuilt and this sits in the centre of a series of architectural stone columns.

The floor was in a sorry state though and it certainly had a story to tell. At some point in its long history sections of the beautiful Victorian tiles had been cut out for the installation of central heating and then back filled with cement. There were also other areas that had been given the same treatment for some inexplicable reason. I suspect that the floor must have been covered in carpet during its later life to hide the mess.

Victorian Tiled Stone Cross Manor Hall Before Restoration Victorian Tiled Stone Cross Manor Hall Before Restoration

The biggest problem was the realisation that with so many tiles missing the only way we could get exact duplicates would be to have them made by a company such as Craven and Dunhill. They are specialist tile manufacturer who date back to 1872 and can reproduce old tiles using the same tones and colours to match the originals. This was a high spec job, so this was the right approach however the price for the moulds and the time needed to manufacture threatened to push the cost of renovating the floor off the scale.

Victorian Tiled Stone Cross Manor Hall Before Restoration

We discussed this with the developer and manged to come to a compromise by reusing tiles from another room in the property. Many of the tiles in that room had been damaged and were beyond restoration however there were enough tiles in good condition to fulfil our requirements in the main hall. They would have to be carefully lifted and cleaned but the tiles matched the colour and tone, size and texture to the main hallway perfectly. When you look at the before and after pictures on this page you will really struggle to see any difference and this is rare on old floor like this, the only exception being the black tiles underneath the radiators where a matching tone wasn’t available.

Rebuilding a Large Victorian Tiled Floor

The first week was spent lifting and replacing broken tiles, it was a large floor area of about 120m2 which was set to be the main showpiece of the building, so it had to be right. As part of the floor prep it was also necessary to level parts of the floor with the application of a a self-levelling compound. We brought in Cardiff Tile Doctor Julian Iaconno to run this part of the job, he is an absolute master tiler and one of the best Victorian Tile installers in the country. At one point there was three of us working on the floor in order to keep to schedule.

Victorian Tiled Stone Cross Manor Hall During Restoration Victorian Tiled Stone Cross Manor Hall During Restoration

Deep Cleaning a Large Victorian Tiled Floor

The second week was spent cleaning the floor various Diamond burnishing pads, moving though increasingly finer girts until we achieved the desired finish. We also used a lot of Tile Doctor Grout Clean-up and Pro-clean to remove the old grout and dirt from the recycled tiles. As is always the case on a building site you get a lot of tradesmen who like to have a look at what we have done and walk all over our nice clean tiles, thus leaving dusty footprints everywhere. I must give credit to the Site Foreman for keeping these guys out although best intentioned they weren’t helping with the cleaning process, so all doors were locked off and access was limited to the site foreman and Tile Doctor only.

Victorian Tiled Stone Cross Manor Hall During Restoration Victorian Tiled Stone Cross Manor Hall During Restoration

Sealing a Large Victorian Tiled Floor

Victorian Tiled Floor Stone Cross Manor Hall After Restoration Victorian Tiled Floor Stone Cross Manor Hall After Restoration

We applied a Matt finish sealer called Colour Grow, which copes very well with potential damp issues that can cause problems with old floors with no damp proof course, it’s also excellent at bringing out the colour of Tiles whether Clay or Stone. Four coats of Colour Grow were applied to the Victorian tiles and being such a large floor area, it took a few days to fully seal the floor.

Victorian Tiled Floor Stone Cross Manor Hall After Restoration Victorian Tiled Stone Cross Manor Hall After Restoration

We cannot praise Persimmon enough for the dedication they have shown in the restoration of this historic property which has had a chequered past and will now have a long future.

 

Source: Listed Building Floor Restoration Service in Lancashire

Original Mosaic Floor Restored in Warrington Grade II Listed Building

Around five years ago Tile Doctor was asked to quote for restoring the Mosaic tiled floors in the former Warrington Technical College which is a Grade II listed building that was built in 1901. Tile Doctor are the biggest restorative tile network in the UK and we often get asked to quote for restoring old floors like these. Although we quoted for the work, nothing happened, and it now appears the local borough council had put the work on hold until they could come up with a fully costed plan to fully restore it.

It took some time, but I’m pleased to report that a plan did evolve and a joint venture between the council and a developer has now restored the building to its former glory and is now home to several restaurants and bars spread across its three floors.

The Treasury Building Palymra Square The Treasury Building Palymra Square

The restoration plan included preserving the main stair enclosure along with the original features which includes oak panelling and thankfully the beautiful Mosaic floor tiles. Having previously quoted for the latter and with the main building works complete we were asked to return and restore the floors ASAP at what has since been renamed as “The Treasury Building of Palymra Square”.

On the first day I was given a large vase full of mosaic tile pieces which the developers had collected during the building works and figured would come in handy later.

Mosaic Tile Collection

Day 1 – Preparing and Cleaning the Mosaic Flooring

Starting at the top of the building my first job was to remove the builders rubbish and sweep both floors. I then washed both Mosaic floors with Tile Doctor Pro-Clean using a strong 1:3 dilution with water. After leaving the cleaning solution to soak in for a few minutes it was scrubbed in using a black scrubbing pad fitted to a weighted buffing machine.

Cleaning Mosaic Flooring Warrington Treasury Building Cleaning Mosaic Flooring Warrington Treasury Building

This process brought out the dirt and dust that had been ingrained in the tiles turning the cleaning solution into a grey slurry which was then removed with a wet vacuum. It was a large floor and I had to repeat the cleaning process a couple of times to remove the layers of dirt, but the result was worth it and by the end of the first day the colours and design of the floor was really standing out.

Cleaning Mosaic Flooring Warrington Treasury Building Cleaning Mosaic Flooring Warrington Treasury Building

Day 2 – Replacing Missing Mosaic Tiles on the Top Floor

On day two I started work to repair the floor where the mosaic pieces were missing using the collection of mosaic tiles the builders had kindly left me at the start of the restoration. It was quite a jigsaw that involved looking through the hundreds of pieces that had been collected, finding a suitable piece and if necessary shaping it with a grinder so it could fit in the pattern. I used a flexible tile adhesive and then left them to set overnight.

Repairing Mosaic Flooring Warrington Treasury Building Repairing Mosaic Flooring Warrington Treasury Building

Replacing the missing mosaics on the first floor was a slow process which ended up taking up much of the second day.

Day 3 – Replacing Missing Mosaic Tiles on the Top Floor

My plan on day 3 was to continue the restoration work on the top floor and ensure the repaired areas were level with the rest of the floor. I attempted to use a 50-grit milling pad fitted to weighted floor buffing machine for this but found the segments on the pad would catch the edge of the replaced pieces and knock them out of place. Clearly this was not going to work so I changed tack and smoothed them down using a set of graded hand-held Diamond burnishing blocks. Again, there was lot to do so this work took up much of the day; some might say I could have worked around this but I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I like to ensure a job is done right.

Day 4 – Burnishing Mosaic Tiles on the Top Floor

The next step was to use a set of Tile Doctor Burnishing Pads to clean and restore the finish of the mosaics. The pads which are encrusted with industrial diamonds are applied with a rotary floor buffer in sequence from coarse to extra fine. The first pad is a coarse 400-grit and is applied with only water for lubrication, it removes minor scratches, sealers, and the top surface dirt.

Cleaning Mosaic Flooring Warrington Treasury Building Cleaning Mosaic Flooring Warrington Treasury Building

Working in sections, I applied the pad across the floor, rinsing with water in between and picking up the soiled solution with the wet vacuum. I then repeated this same procedure with the medium 800-grit pad which is the first stage polishing pad again rinsing with water after use. The next two pads are a fine 1500-grit and extra fine 3000-grit which really build up a high-quality polish on the stone. This last pad is applied at the very end of the process when the floor is dry and is run over the floor using a small amount of water which is sprayed onto the floor.

Day 5 – Restoring Mosaic Flooring on the Ground Floor

The next day we started on the ground floor which consisted of a large main lobby and hallway running off it. The mosaic pattern in the lobby featured an impressive oval zodiac design with two restaurants looking on to it behind wood and glass panelling. It must have taken a long time to lay back in 1901 and we were quite often stopped by people that worked there saying how nice it was seeing the wonderful floor being restored to its former glory.

Cleaning Mosaic Flooring Warrington Treasury Building Repairing Mosaic Flooring Warrington Treasury Building

The ground floor Mosaics had the same issues as the first floor however the experience gained restoring the first floor meant I was able to crack on quite quickly and completed the repairs in a single day.

Day 6 – Burnishing Mosaic Tiles on the Ground Floor

On the sixth day I proceeded to burnish the Mosaic flooring on the ground floor and hall using the same system as before

Burnishing Mosaic Flooring Warrington Treasury Building Cleaning Mosaic Flooring Warrington Treasury Building

With two large areas to cover I found the burnishing of the ground floor and hall using the 400, 800 and 1500-grit pads as before took up the whole day. After finishing the floor was given a final rinse to remove the slurry and then left to dry out overnight.

Day 7 – Sealing Mosaic Flooring

I returned early the next day to complete the polishing process using the 3000-grit burnishing pad which further builds the polished appearance of the floor. Once this was done the floor was sealed using two coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which is an impregnating sealer that adds stain protection to the floor and enhances colour. With two floors to do I was able to work on one floor as the sealer on the other dried.

Sealing Mosaic Flooring Warrington Treasury Building Sealing Mosaic Flooring Warrington Treasury Building

The owners were very pleased with the work we did and have asked us if we can come back every two months to maintain the floor and keep it in tip top condition. Having a maintenance plan in place for busy tiled areas like these are a good idea if you want to keep your floor looking its best.

Polishing Mosaic Flooring Warrington Treasury Building Polishing Mosaic Flooring Warrington Treasury Building

 

Source: Mosaic Tile Cleaning and Restoration Service in Warrington, Cheshire