Uncovering original features

Seeking distraction from our roof woes we’ve made a start on the kitchen. When we viewed the house there were units at floor and eye level to the right of the oven. What we didn’t realise was that these were freestanding units which the previous owner took with her when she left. So we had a lot of floor space, with very little work surface. Some may see this as a problem, but we saw it as a perfect excuse to do some shopping!

View of kitchen

p.s. check out the cobwebs on the side of the oven!

We have always loved the freestanding oak kitchens that we discovered a few years ago in Simply Dutch in North Yorkshire. Not only are they amazing quality, they have the added bonus of needing minimal work to fit. Definitely a huge plus point at the moment!

Breakfast Bar Island

Shopping for breakfast bar island units

While waiting for the units to arrive, we started considering our options with the floor. One of the first things you notice when you walk in is how uneven it is. The existing floor was self-adhesive wood effect strips, which over the years had worn away where the floor was higher, and was starting to peel up in places. We pulled a couple of inches up and found that they had been stuck directly onto cork tiles.

Now I could spend the next few hours conveying in extensive detail just what we feel towards cork tiles, and more importantly, the vile rubber/latex/uber-glue substance that was used to stick these monstrosities onto our kitchen floor. However, in order to stay sane I shall keep to more positive things; namely, what we eventually found under the  the Evil Glue From Hell….

We have only gone and uncovered the original Victorian floor!

Black and red quarry tiles

A layer of sticky fake wood strips, a layer of cork tiles, a layer of Acme glue and finally Victorian quarry tiles

Sadly we only have about half the original floor, as the kitchen was extended at some point to include the scullery. While the original kitchen side of the room has the lovely red and black quarry tiles, the scullery floor was removed at some point and laid with concrete and some rather strange green quartz tiles. While they did look kind of nice, they were very badly damaged and when we realised they wouldn’t have been original, we decided to cut our losses and remove them.

Damaged green quartz tiles

Green quartz in the scullery, sadly beyond repair

Nonetheless, we’re chuffed with our find 🙂 And even better, our local reclamation yard had another 300 identical tiles which we quickly snapped up.

The main bulk of the work has been to get the tiles cleaned up as best as we can. The best technique so far has been to use white vinegar on top of the cement to start dissolving it. Then, using a chisel and a hammer, chip away as much of the cement as possible. A nylon scrubbing brush also helps agitate the edges of the cement, making it much easier to remove. There are normally some small areas that are a bit more difficult to remove, but a scraper seems to do the trick.

It’s slow progress, taking about an hour to clean up 10 tiles. But it’s worth it to see the end result:

Cleaned up quarry tiles

A weekend well spent!

But it’s not all good news. The concrete subfloor in the scullery half is very uneven and bowed in the middle. Our fridge legs are at the minimum setting on the back, maximum on the front and it’s still leaning forward! We’ve been unsure about how to handle it. Either we cover the concrete with self-levelling compound and tile onto that, or we dig out the concrete, lay a mesh screen and lay a new concrete screed. So do we take the quick fix and risk further movement on the dodgy concrete? Or do we reach for our trusty sledgehammers and SMASH?

View of the kitchen with scullery tiles removed

Ready for Phase 2

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3 thoughts on “Uncovering original features

  1. Well done, floor looks beautiful, why cover such a lovely floor? Well worth the effort you have both put in, can’t wait to see the finished floor.

    Like

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