Victorian floor tiles in a domestic location, if largely intact can be transformed with a careful and considered approach. We recommend that a professional is consulted before proceeding with such works, as the process of restoring Victorian, Edwardian or Georgian geometric mosaic tile schemes requires skill and attention to detail.
One key element is sourcing the correct materials for the repairs. If you have some time to source the materials for the job, or if your appointed tiler is unable to provide satisfactory matching material then the guide below will be helpful.
Restored Victorian floor tiles
Restored Victorian hall tiles
Buying and sourcing reclaimed tiles
- Check with your neighbours if they have any spare tiles. Look out for construction/ renovation work in the surrounding area. Similar local period properties will likely have the same or similar designs and may have spare available due to modifications and construction work.
- Salvage yards, reclamation and specialist restoration companies all will tend to hold stock of salvaged originals as these are preferred over modern replacements for repairs. Once you find a source, send details of what you're looking for in advance to avoid wasting time. You may not find all the colours and shapes required and invariably you will have to mix old and new, try to maximize old where possible. Colour matching your existing tiles can be done easily if you have some loose tiles as samples. If not then images and photographs for reference are helpful along with sizes. Remember original tiles tend to me imperial in size as opposed to metric.
- When buying salvaged tiles make sure they are free of mortar on the back and the sides of the tiles. To remove mortar form the underside is messy and time consuming, and something that a specialist should undertake, whilst the removal of grout is easier and can be done with for example with a pait scraper (a sharp blade with a handle).
- Try to ensure the tiles have been salvaged from an interior floor as in general they will be in better condition. Avoid dished tiles or tiles that seem too porous.
- When using salvaged tiles, the base on which they are fixed will need to be lowered or the tile thinned to allow for a neat level finish as space will be required for thin set mortar. Old geometric tiles tend to be approximately 12 mm thick and were laid directly onto wet cement or a lime based mortar. In which case, when they become dislodged they cannot be simply stuck back down using an adhesive as they will sit proud of the surrounding tiles.
- Repairs can also be carried out with modern matching replacements. Important factors here are the size and the colour. There are limited number of manufactures of reproduction tiles but within these ranges are very good colours that can be bought in varying sizes for repairs.
- Tiles can also be sourced through various online classified advert websites.