Victorian Tiling History/geometric floors

Victorian Tiling & Geometric Floors

When it comes to covering a floor with a durable decorative finish none can compare to the geometric tiled floor of the Victorian era from the years 1850 -1920.I am a tiler by trade but am absolutely awestruck with these floors after having seen so many of them with all their beauty,order and the precision that I know it takes to lay them!

Originally these tiled floors were first laid as decorative,durable floor coverings for churches around 1850s.It is difficult to say exactly what influenced the design of these floors but what we do know is that at that time the Eastern Oriental countries had largely influenced the Architecture and design of the Victorians. It is also said that churches all aimed to point their entrances towards the East as this is where the sun rises.So with the churches always looking to the East, it is likely that the Oriental countries had some effect on the outcome of these geometric tiled floors.

The dazzling array of colours and precise patterns eventually led to these floors becoming very sought after and an undeniable symbol of status and class within ones home.Not to mention that they were among the most durable surfaces available for floor decoration,and they still stand strong now after a 100 years.

Unfortunately these geometric floors were too expensive for the Victorian middle class and were used mainly by the wealthy and for special buildings.Then by the end of the 1800’s the tiles themselves became massed produced and more readily available to the average Victorian Joe.

The average Victorian held a set of values that one finds less these days.These values were along the lines of order,sophistication,education etc.

These values were expressed in the Victorian persons home to a very high degree.This changed the meaning of the word “home” for the Victorian. A home was seen as a place where one lived their beliefs and values and usual activities included things like playing the piano,educating the children and entertaining guests.In fact it is said that there was often very little evidence around the home to suggest what the owner did as an occupation.So this says to me that there was a pre-determined idea for what a home was supposed to be,and that it was not merely a place to lay ones head.

The Victorians did not have much to spend their earnings on in terms og high street chain stores they spent much of their income on their homes.The choices of decoration they used had meaning that displayed the thinking of the people at that time. In believing in all the afore-mentioned values along with the importance of mathematics and decorative expression in those times, its no wonder these floors with their logical orderly yet colorfully stunning layout,were such a hit!

These tiles were used allot! And by allot I mean everywhere! They tiled their walls,many floors within the home and out.Unfortunately I have never had the privilege of seeing a household left in tact with all its Victorian tiling but one can only imagine the sensory awesomeness the scene would produce!

The tilers themselves laid these tiles with precision and skill beyond many of the tilers today.The reason I believe this is that these floors were originally laid with micro spacing between the tiles..That means the spacing is invisible but still exists to compensate for fractional material movement.When modern tilers lay these floors they use 2 millimeter spacing 99% of the time.Spacings give a tiler “play” when their tiling is a bit off here and there (as is usually the case).However with no tile spacings a tilers measurements and work has to be 100% perfect.I have laid a few of these floors this way and I can say for sure that they take twice as long and need non stop measuring and double checking of ones work.It certainly reduces the profitability of the work!

It might be a bit of a hype,but I believe the Victorian tiler possessed a certain quality that’s harder to find today. It’s hard to say what made them so good but these days people are more worried about the less important things in my opinion!

So in summary, if you happen to remove your old floor covering and find one of these tiled floors beneath.Restore it and just remember there is allot more to it than meets the eye.

We are London tilers that are passionate about these floors and regard them as the pinnacle of the tiling trade.We aim to do them the same way the Victorians did them.