The communal entrance to the house has an original (1880s) tiled floor. It could be an impressive space, although thanks to ‘fire safety regs’ and a succession of negligent managing agents who took no care of the building at all, it had become rather bare and sad.
The worst thing I’d noticed was the paint splatters – not just a few, but complete coverage – as if successive decorators had simply not put down dust sheets before painting. WTF? These are beautiful, Victorian tiles and nobody thought to even put down a bit of newspaper before painting! See what I mean –
We have the same tiles in our hallway, as they carry on through, although we only have ‘half’ a hall. Anyway, I took it on myself to clean up the floor. Having asked the builder who’d been working on our porch, he confirmed there was no easy way to remove the paint, apart from elbow grease.
First of all I cleaned the floor as best I could with basic soapy water. I trawled the internet for information, and got some useful tips from the Period Living website and Historic England. Then I got down on my knees with a Stanley knife blade and scraped. Gingerly at first, then realised these tiles could take some pressure. Not all the paint would come off – there were several layers and some was clearly old, oil-based paint that had permeated the fabric of the tiles.
I also scraped up all kinds of gluey nastiness where carpet had been laid in the past. Around the edges are holes and nails where floor covering had been nailed down. I ripped a few cloths on those nails, but thankfully not my hands.
Several days (buckets of soapy water, and Stanley blades) later, I was done.
Next I searched for the best cleaning material to use, as all the advice was to avoid chemical cleaners. I found the stuff I needed – Spirit Soap. I didn’t need much – you dilute it with water and mix in well – it has a gloopy consistency and doesn’t smell nice. Scrub well into the tiles, leave to sink in, then wash off with clean water. I can’t tell you how many buckets of filthy, scummy water came off the floor! And I thought it was already reasonably clean!
Finally, I applied a satin finish which the builder had left us. This smelt more pleasant and the colours of the tiles were finally coming up. It did leave the floor quite slippery though, but it’s finally looking more presentable. Not perfect, alas, but short of bringing in the professionals it’s probably the best that can be done.