Written by Hugh Metcalf

5 ways to recreate the Victorian floor tile look

The Industrial revolution paved the way for mass tile production, where both quality and quantity were unrivalled, and the striking Victorian floor tiles which defined the period, are as sought after today as they were when they rose to popularity in the mid-19th century.

Victorian floor tiles run the gamut from monochrome to colour and commonly feature a tessellated geometric print, made from encaustic tiles. Encaustic means ‘burnt in’ and refers to the method of making, which involves the pattern and colour being made up of different coloured clays (usually two-six) rather than a glaze and are super durable. Timeless and beautiful, here’s 5 ways to recreate the Victorian tile look in your home…

1. Easy lay styles

If you love the authentic texture of the grout lines that come with a traditional Victorian tile design, then there are options out there that make it easier to lay. Mosaics by Post can offer custom designs affixed to a mesh backing, meaning they can be laid in one go. Likewise, Topps Tiles’ range of Victorian-inspired flooring comes in easy-lay sections, with optional borders too.

How to create the Victorian tile look

Photo: Topps’ Tiles

2. Patterned Victorian floor tiles

Classic black and white (or terracotta) chequerboard tiles, either set in a diamond shape or a square, with a decorative border were a defining feature of Victorian front paths. Geometric print tiles and herringbone, diagonal and chevron patterns filled kitchens, bathrooms and hallways and remain a popular choice as they’re stylish, easy to clean and can make a smaller hallway look bigger. The Brompton Borough tiles from Ca’Pietra are a great example of this.

Hallway Victorian pattern flooring printed tiles

Photo: Brampton Borough tiles, Ca’Pietra

3. Uncover and restore original tiles

If you live in a period property and have uncovered original Victorian floor tiles, then you’re in luck. Due to the high quality with which they were made, many Victorian tiles have stood the test of time, although may need a deep clean. Try the BAL ceramic floor cleaner and a lot of elbow grease. Make sure you don’t use any type of wire brush or metal scourer on the tiles.

A Victorian pathway style

Photo: Topps’ Tiles (its geometric Osterley range with stars and squares is reminiscent of bigger London houses around Osterley Park in Victorian times).

4. Buy reclaimed tiles

If you do have tiles to restore (the Victorian Society offers good advice on how to repair loose tiles), or even a whole floor to replace, then buying reclaimed tiles is a safe bet. For your first port of call, try the Vintage Floor Tile Company, they have the largest collection of reclaimed original tiles in the UK. The tiles come from all different kinds of properties, including churches and cathedrals and all have their own story. For a Spanish take on the Victorian geometric styles, Bert & May offer fantastic reclaimed tiles.

A Spanish take on Victorian style from Bert & May

Photo: Manarola encaustic tiles by Bert & May

5. Victorian floor tile vinyl alternatives

Vinyl tiles get a bad rap, but luxury vinyl tiles are extremely durable, but also relatively soft underfoot compared to ceramic tiles – a consideration worth thinking about if you have small children. They come in a wide spectrum of designs, including Victorian-inspired styles like the Dovetail luxury vinyl tiles by Harvey Maria. Similarly, the realistic effects and textures make it look elegant whilst it is durability also means it is easy to clean and keep in good condition.

Blue kitchen with Victorian style vinyl flooring

Photo: Dovetail luxury vinyl tiles, Harvey Maria

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