I recently removed a layer of linoleum from my bathroom floor and
discovered a really cool pattern of black and white tile. After some
research on the internet, I found out that this particular pattern was
popular in the 20's and 30's. The patter has 1" black tile in the
center with 1" x 2" white tiles around the center black tile in the
form of a windmill. My question is...what is the material. It looks
and feels like grantite or marble. It doesn't feel like plain old
ceramic tile. Also, when I drilled through it to reset my toilet
anchor bolts, it was VERY, VERY hard. Was granite or marble tiles
commonplace back in the 40's and 50's? It also appears, due to the
grout lines, that each and everyone of those small tiles were laid
individually. ANy info on this tile system would be greatly
On 16 Nov 2003 20:13:02 -0800, email@example.com (Mitchell) wrote:
That is likely unglazed porcelain tile. The are sometimes referred to
as "encaustic" tiles. Very hard and very dense, as tiles go. Even
without a glaze, incapable of absorbing significant amounts of water,
which is good for a bathroom. Also, somewhat slip resistant.
Around our town, there are many old commercial buildings with this
type of tile floor. They were available in many colors, although most
are somewhat muted and 'earthy'. Since the color runs all of the way
through the tile, many of these old floors still look great, even with
heavy wear patterns.
You can still find such tiles and they aren't expensive.. Just talk to
your local tile/stone shop. Skip the big box home centers, as they
likely won't even know what you are talking about. That said, most of
the newer stuff has what they call a 'cushion' edge; basically a
slight rounding to soften the edge profile. Most of the old stuff had
sharp, square edges.
Thanks David. Your explanation sounds just like what I got.
Fortunately, the tiles are in great shape...just a LOT of elbow grease
to get the mastic from the linoleum removed from the floor. I am
using a combination of Strypeeze, a small wire brush, and alot of
small circles!! It appears that each tile was individually laid, as
opposed to todays's 12" x 12" mats with embedded small tiles. Do you
know if this was the practice during the late 40's, early 50's? The
pattern does not show any signs of 12"x12" mats, in fact, there are
very small irregularities from each grout line to the next. If this
the case, WOW!
On 17 Nov 2003 20:02:17 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org (Mitchell) wrote:
Don't know what the practice was in the 40's and 50's. A couple of
pieces that I pried up in my old bathroom, which I'm guessing are
original to the 1905 house construction, showed no signed of a backing
scrim. Most of the modern mosaic type tiles have some type of backing,
which is really just for holding alignment when they go down. Coarse
jute/natural fiber or rubber dots are common.
I also found my beautiful white 1" hex tile floor under some hideous
striated pink sheet vinyl. There were a couple of minor hariline
stress cracks, which I don't really mind. There was a larger area,
around 40 sq. in., from a previous owner moving the toilet, which had
to be dug out and patched. After bringing the mortar substrate up to
proper level and letting it cure, I set the individual tiles with
thinset. Did them all at once, and noticed that, in batches, they tend
to self center. You can kind of jiggle them with a hard rubber float,
like you would use for grounting. With their small size, the setting
mortar tends to work up between the joints and form the grout line. As
the thinset began to cure, I carefully cleaned the grount lines.
Don't be too afraid to use some scotchbrite pads with an abrasive
cleaner, like comet, and really scrub on that floor. Since the color
runs all of the way through the tile, you are not going to hurt it.
Just to be sure, check in hidden location to verify. If you have a
orbital sander, like for woodworking, with a hook-n-look fastener
backing, you can cut a piece of the scotchbrite pad to fit and use
that with a slurry of Comet.
It WILL look good when done. You have to wonder why someone would put
sheet vinyl/linoleum over such a floor.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.