Old floor advice

Questions, answers and advice for people who own or work on houses built during the 20th century.

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vinb
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:53 pm

Old floor advice

Post by vinb »

Hi all, I'm so glad I found this site! I live in a vintage loft conversion that was formerly an office building built at the turn of the century. When the building was converted into condos in the late 80s, the developer carpeted over everything.

After I purchased my unit, much to my surprise I discovered the original maple hardwood floors (which I was able to restore). In addition, I discovered that there is also original mosaic tile flooring in the foyer and hallway areas. However sometime in the past they were covered with vinyl tiles. It looks like the developer pulled the vinyl tiles up and spread carpet adhesive on top of old tile adhesive in addition to using self leveling cement in certain areas.

I was almost at the point of just tiling over the existing floors. However doing a little research revealed that some folks had luck removing the old adhesive using steam and boiling water. So last night, I got out my iron and a wet towel and am happy to report that I'm slowly able to scrape up the old stuff away to reveal the beautiful mosaic tiles underneath!

I have a question on what to do about the cleaning and areas that need repair. I've seen old buildings with tiles such as this with patches of cement to fill areas with holes and chipped/missing tiles. I'm fine with this as it just adds more character. However I'm not sure what kind of cement to use. Along with the patches of cement, I've seen restored mosaic floors coated with some sort of high gloss to bring back the shine. Is this regular floor wax or something more along the lines of a varnish? What is the best thing to use to buff the old tiles?

Thanks!

PS. Any other advice to make removing the adhesive would also be appreciated.
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Sacto Diane
Posts: 592
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2004 1:04 pm
Location: Sacramento
Contact:

Re: Old floor advice

Post by Sacto Diane »

I don't have any secret tips for stripping the floor other than what you are doing. It just takes time and elbow grease. As far as the tile, there are on line resources that you can use to try and match the missing tile. Companies such as American Restoration tile can try and do a color match for your missing pieces.

http://www.restorationtile.com

Diane

vinb
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:53 pm

Re: Old floor advice

Post by vinb »

Thanks for the link Diane, I will definitely check them out. I bought a wall paper steamer and its working like a charm. The heat from the steam makes removing the old mastic and self leveling cement like butter. Once I get everything up, I will tackle cleaning off the residue then do some tile & grout repairs. I've attached an updated picture. I'm so happy at what I'm uncovering so far!
Attachments
Progress
Progress
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pqtex
Posts: 1319
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:03 pm
Location: Beaumont, Texas

Re: Old floor advice

Post by pqtex »

I would be tickled pink to find that lovely floor beneath everything! How lucky you are. I think you will be able to repair missing tiles. Keep showing your progress.

Jill
Image
My great-grandparents' 1913 farmhouse

Too bad the spam got so bad. Some of us have been spending time at the new community for folks with a love of old houses at wavyglass.org

vinb
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:53 pm

Re: Old floor advice

Post by vinb »

I wanted to post an update on the progress of my hidden tiles. I found an easier way to remove the layers of mastic/paint. I'm using Soy Gel which is a soy based low VOC paint stripper. I let the stuff sit for 15 hour or so, enough to soften up the mastic to be scraped off. The left over residue comes up easily with soapy water and a mop.

I'm still not done and have quite a bit more to do as the tiles run all the way down the hallway into a bathroom and a couple of walk-in closets. I've attached a picture of the progress in my foyer area. As you can see there are several areas that will need repair where there were once walls.

I reached out to restorationtile.com and initially the owner seemed pretty helpful and got my info to send out some samples. He also shared some instructions on how to clean the floors but never received the samples. I found another place that immediately sent out samples and was very helpful. So anyone looking for historic tiles check out oakparktile.com. Update: I got some samples from restoration tile and I must say the tile size and colors are spot-on!

I've attach a couple of pictures. I still need to give the floors a good scrub down then a coat of sealer. A spot test using some Bar Keeper's Friend resulted in gleaming white tiles :).
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Last edited by vinb on Sat Mar 08, 2014 9:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Sacto Diane
Posts: 592
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2004 1:04 pm
Location: Sacramento
Contact:

Re: Old floor advice

Post by Sacto Diane »

Looks good. Keep up the hard work. The gratification of bringing back an old feature is one of the best parts of owning an old house. I love showing off my handiwork that I've done over the years. Too bad about restoration tile. I've ordered samples from them but never did use their tile in a project. Sounds like to found an alternate source.

Good luck on the rest of the stripping!

pqtex
Posts: 1319
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:03 pm
Location: Beaumont, Texas

Re: Old floor advice

Post by pqtex »

I saw this link to World of Tile on Retro Renovation's facebook page. http://retrorenovation.com/2011/07/10/w ... 20-photos/ I'm not sure if they carry what you're looking for, but it might be a good source to check out. Good luck...loving your progress!!!

Jill
Image
My great-grandparents' 1913 farmhouse

Too bad the spam got so bad. Some of us have been spending time at the new community for folks with a love of old houses at wavyglass.org

PowerMuffin
Posts: 1497
Joined: Tue Nov 07, 2006 11:42 am

Re: Old floor advice

Post by PowerMuffin »

Geez, I would be over the moon to find that in our house. Good for you - your labor was worth it!!
(other)Diane

vinb
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:53 pm

Re: Old floor advice

Post by vinb »

Thanks for the comments and the link. I was doing a little more research regarding tile repair and read that trying to remove one tile could damage neighboring tiles. Not only would it be easier, but one site suggested that in the case of historic tiles, it may even be better to just patch the holes with tinted mortar or an epoxy mixed with colored enamel to match the surrounding tiles. I was thinking maybe this may be the best route for the white tiles. I was planning to not even tackle the darker tiles as the damaged areas are far and few in between and not that noticeable. The tiles are 3/4" squares, so I'm not sure it would be an easy task to drill/chisel out and replace the cracked ones. Anyone ever patch instead of replace vintage tiles?

catherineb
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:45 pm

Re: Old floor advice

Post by catherineb »

Low infrared heat also softens tile adhesive and rug adhesive in minutes or seconds. Sure not 15 hours of soaking. If you have lots to do and maybe some paint stripping, too, invest in a UL-listed one rather than a cheapy.

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