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What Are Victorian Floor Tiles?
Victorian Floor Tiles
Victorian floor tiles are vitrified, grade 5 porcelain tiles laid in geometric patterns. They've rapidly grown in popularity recently due to people trying to restore original features to their Victorian-era houses
Encaustic tiles (as pictured to the right) are also sometimes referred to as Victorian tiles but these are usually just used as feature tiles in areas such as fireplaces due to their cost and level of detail. In this hub, I'll be referring only to the more common, smaller Victorian floor tiles that can create many different geometric patterns when combined.
As the image below would suggest, Victorian floor tiles are commonly used to create paths or in interior hallways and are composed of a centre pattern (a checkerboard in this case), encompassed by a patterned border that is then surrounded by plain 'buffer' tiles.
History of Victorian Floor Tiles
Victorian era geometric floor tiles are based on the patterns found in medieval churches and cathedrals (think Westminster Abbey). Some have put this influence down to the rising middle classes of the Industrial Revolution attempting to add 'class' to their houses by imitating the houses of the aristocracy that only master-craftsmen were able to create.
During the Victorian era, it was common to tightly pack tiles together without any grout lines. This was related to the ongoing development and availability of cement. Because of the lack of grout lines, it was beneficial to a tiled floor's stability for the tiles to interlock and hold each other in place.
Later tile patterns from the Art Deco period show tiles arranged with differing shades to create an isometric projection on the floor. An example of this is the 'Grafham' pattern featured on this Victorian floor tiles site.
Brands, Patterns and Customisation
Victorian floor tiles are among the most expensive flooring type, especially when buying from an independent tile retailer. This is party due to the materials and production process involving ultra-fine dust clay that is pressed and then vitrified but also down to the lack of manufacturers.
There are only two larger scale Victorian floor tile producers in the UK, Olde English and Original Style. Olde English tend to be slightly cheaper but in my opinion Original Style tiles are of a higher quality with a wider tile colour, size and shape selection.
Each producer has their own range of patterns that they suggest making from the tiles they produce but there is a lot of overlap in these patterns between the two companies. For example an Olde English Rutland is identical to an Original Style Warwick and an Original Style Braemar is the same as an Olde English Monteith. However, Original Style do offer more patterns as they produce hexagonal tiles unlike Olde English.
One of the great things about Victorian floor tiles is that they offer you a chance to get a bit creative as both tile manufacturers also sell individual tiles and give the dimensions of these tiles. This means that you can customise your own unique pattern for your own house.