You may be fortunate to discover an original stone or floor tiles under an unwanted carpet. Perhaps previous owners left an exposed but neglected original floor? Features such as older floors may be detailed in the listing if it is of historic interest. It is never advisable to remove coveted features without careful consideration and the correct permissions in place where required.
In the corner of my office sits a small mountain of literature including current and past issues of magazines, such as English Home, Period Living and World of Interiors. These well established magazines are full of stories about properties, their owners and offer practical suggestions on how to tackle a variety of projects.
The aged patina of an old floor tells a story about past occupants and substantiates the authenticity of the building.
It may seem daunting to repair a floor embedded with a century’s worth of grime and use. However, it may just need deep cleaning and resealing, work that doesn’t always require specialist help:
- Research expert recommendations for what to use.
- Specialist products are available, but can be costly.
- Work in an inconspicuous area of the room to start with.
- Never use bleaching agents.
- Some floor waxes can trap dirt, discolour and can make the tiled surface a slip hazard.
- Use water sparingly.
When traditional floor coverings were made and installed, modern floor products would not have been available. Therefore, their lasting power is not only a testament of quality but evidence to the early methods of maintenance, served them well. Do a little research into traditional methods of preservation and maintenance. It may prove cost effective in the long run.
Our Old Floor
The kitchen floor had been a victim to many eras of change. Past trends had been layered upon one another, including carpeted rugs and vinyl of man-made materials. Removal of these layers provided a historical glimpse of the room’s evolution. The finds proved both positive and negative, when revealing what lay beneath.
We found an entire old quarry tiled floor. However, residue of bitumen and other old adhesives were evident, the floor felt damp–even wet in places. Some tiles were pitted and lamination of the surface layers, meant replacements would be required. Initially we feared it was some form of rising damp from the foundations and that the whole floor would have to be replaced.
As luck would have it, replacement wasn’t necessary. Upon closer inspection we found that the sub-floor wasn’t damp, and it was the unbreathable layers that had suffocated the natural composition of the tiles, causing a sweat barrier to build, which resulted in lamination of the surface.
One of our trusted building team and I, painstakingly restored the floor by carefully lifting only the completely perished tiles. We replaced these with reclaimed ones from an old church. Adhesive residue was carefully removed, using good old-fashioned elbow grease and a little help from specialised floor products. We applied a soft sheen, breathable liquid polish to seal the surface. To finish, a natural woven rug with no rubber backing placed under the kitchen table added texture and warmth underfoot.
Chic in the Shabby
Today, the floor is not without its blemishes, and occasional salts still rise to the surface but wipe away easily. In conclusion, the effort to preserve the floor tiles was worth it. The overall effect is an authentic feature that retains the stories of the past, provides us with a robust surface for everyday life whilst protecting a little bit of history for future custodians still to come.