Cleaning Victorian Tiles

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"Having 45 years knowledge and experience since starting my apprenticeship in 1972, I believe I can help with your enquiry. Please email me, give me a call, or text me."

Mike Lyons (Cardiff Stone Care)

p.s. "If you'd just like some information on cleaning and restoring tiles and stone (or installations) please text or call me on 07889 123451 at any time".

Cleaning victorian tiles

Cleaning victorian tiles or Edwardian tiles, especially if you want to revive the original colours, is a process that releases the dirt off the surface and also the soiling that sits deep inside the tiles.

This will have accumulated over 100 years or more and isn't possible with a mop and bucket, no matter how hard you rub the surface. It takes specialist cleaners to achieve the type of finish that will return the tiles back to their former vibrant colour.


This style of tiling is all but forgotten and was in it's heyday a true art form in construction terms. The skills needed to lay hundreds if not thousands of individual pieces of tile in a formative pattern would have put the old tradesmen at the highest level of recognition back in the Victorian era.

You can identify Victorian tiles by the varying bright colours of squares, triangles and rectangles that are used to create repetitive patterns and borders that make up the floors of homes that date from around 1860.

They were also used in churches, pubs, shops and palaces, so quite a diverse array of settings to find them in. Often they now look subdued in finish but can be cleaned to look quite amazing and what's more can be kept that way for years and years.


The cleaning Victorian tiles process, is normally started by carefully applying an alkaline solution. This is a chemical that in a diluted form will begin to release the many decades of dirt and soil that has been slowly but surely compressed into the surface.

Although made from clay and being quite robust, the continual use over time by literally millions of footsteps will have taken their toll and have been virtually impossible to release.

By 'moving' the cleaning solution over the tiles repeatedly it will begin to 'open the surface' and increasingly remove more and more the longer the cleaning solution is used. When a suitable time has elapsed this can be vacuumed off and the process repeated until you achieve what seems to be the impossible and see signs of the finish from yesteryear.

Occasionally there will be paint and cement left on the floor and different chemicals will be used to release these, without damaging the surface and certainly without danger of losing the colour.

A great deal of rinsing is necessary to then remove any residues left on the tiles so that a perfectly cleaned floor remains....and is allowed to dry. This might take a few days before any sealants can be used to protect the floor.

In some cases tiles might be damaged or worn and can be replaced with reclaimed tiles or with new replica tiles being sourced from stockists.


After cleaning Victorian tiles it must be sealed and you must take into account whether or not the floor needs to 'breathe', by this I mean that normally the tiles would have been laid on an ash or lime base and there will be no damp proof membrane that we have in modern homes.

To be absolutely sure that no problems arise a breathable sealant should be used, these come in a matt finish which 'locks the colour' or an enhanced version which' deepens and 'highlights the colour'. These penetrate the tiles and are long term sealants.

The chemical make up of these seals will prevent soiling and repel water on the surface but still allow the floor to breathe, allowing any moisture or dampness to be released.

The alternatives, where great care should be taken, are the satin or gloss finishes that give instant gratification and leave a shine on the floor which are known as 'surface or topical sealants'. If there is no need for the tiles to breathe they will look good short term (and can be renewed quickly) but will not last if problems arise!


The benefits of sealing victorian floors are that they stay cleaner for longer, are more resilient to wear and the vibrant colours will remain indefinitely if cared for with a moderate amount of gentle cleaning with specific cleaners.

All cleaners are easily accessible from local stores or the internet.


Aftercare is so important but is also so easy to do. All that is needed is a solution added to your mopping water that gently takes away dirt and mess without affecting the sealants that would have been applied.

The solutions for cleaning Victorian tiles are 'neutral cleaners' that are not acidic or alkaline which are both ends of the chemical spectrum, but instead safe and easy to use.

These are specified by all the companies that I use for my work and is the same for every brand. You'd be making the best investment ever by continuing to use these cleaners for as many years as you want your floors to remain in excellent condition.

Free quotation and more information

p.s. "If you'd just like more information on tile and stone cleaning, installation or restoring of tiles and stone please text or call me on 07889 123451 at any time".


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Areas covered - Cardiff | Penarth | Newport | Chepstow | Barry | All of South Wales